Working to stand the heat in the kitchen

February 10, 2014

Dr. Isis was wronged, and improperly attacked on the internet for the situation.

Masthead from Dr. Isis's blog.  Note the shoes.

Masthead from Dr. Isis’s blog. Note the shoes.

She’s working to deal with whether to continue to write, and in what form . . .

I offered some information (links added here):

Lessons from my much more political years, and graduate study in rhetoric.

1.  You know you’ve got a movement when opposition forms against you.  That’s irritating, but it’s better than not having opposition, which means you’re failing to get your point across, most often.

2.  Clear communication, especially writing, gets a response — sometimes not the response you expected or wanted, but a response.  With practice, you can hone your message.

Cicero delivering his speech against Cataline.

“Cicero Denouncing Cataline,” in 63 BC; 1889 fresco painting by Cesare Maccari (1840-1919).  Wikipedia image

Used to be a couple of posters available to rhetoric students, both attributed to Plutarch’s Lives,  a comparison of the Greek, Demosthenes, with the Roman, Cicero.  The first, talking about the later man, said, “When Cicero spoke, the people said how well he spoke.”

The second said, “When Demosthenes spoke, the people cried, ‘Let us march!'”

Which man was the more effective orator, or rhetorician?

Demosthenes Practicing Oratory (Démosthène s'exerçant à la parole); Jean Lecomte du Nouÿ (1842-1923)

Demosthenes Practicing Oratory (Démosthène s’exerçant à la parole); Jean Lecomte du Nouÿ (1842-1923)

Effective writing makes people angry.  That’s what it should do.

From 1945 on, countless scientists wrote about “potential harms to wildlife” from chemicals put on crops, and used for other purposes.

[In 1962] Rachel Carson wrote about chemicals, naming names — especially DDT — and described little robins writhing and twitching in their death throes.  She’s credited with starting a movement.  But before that, the chemical industry teamed up to run a $500,000 public relations campaign (in 1962!), claiming Carson was hysterical, unqualified, and wrong, perhaps a communist, but not anyone you’d want your children to be around.  She calmly asked scientists to review her notes and find errors.  They found none.

Tone?  Truth comes in many tones.  The wise seek it even if they don’t like the tone it takes at the moment.

How about your experience?


Another great speech of the 21st century: Kiwi MP Williamson on the effects of gay marriage

April 20, 2013

Two great legislative speeches in about two months!  (Here’s the other one, from Colorado State Sen. Mike Johnston.)

Maurice Williamson

Maurice Williamson (Photo credit: nznationalparty)

My faith in humanity’s ability to invent rhetoric to cause us to rise to an occasion is in danger of being restored.

Here’s New Zealand Member of Parliament Maurice Williamson, National-Pakuranga, making a case for a national law recognizing gay marriage (on April 17, 2013, I think):

The bill to recognize marriage between homosexual partners passed, 77-44.

New Zealand’s National Party is described as “center-right,” or like a U.S. Republican.  Can you imagine any member of the GOP in the U.S. House or the U.S. Senate having both the guts and the wit to make this speech?

Pakuranga is also leading the polls as the most humorous name for a political district, potentially displacing Cleveland for the first time.  It’s a Maori word, actually, with a beautiful definition, from Maori lore:  “Battle of the Sunlight.”

Tip of the old scrub brush to correspondent Devona Wyant, for finding the thing and sending a link.

More:


The book on why the Democrats don’t tell their story better

September 2, 2012

Ira Glass gave an interview to the New York Times Book Review (Sunday, August 19, 2012; page 6). (All links have been added here.)

Ira Glass of This American Life

Ira Glass of This American Life

What’s the one book you wish someone else would write?

Could someone please write a book explaining why the Democratic party and its allies are so much less effective at crafting a message and having a vision than their Republican counterparts?  What a bunch of incompetents the Dems seem lie.  Most people don’t even understand the health care policy they passed, much less like it.  Ditto the financial reform.  Or the stimulus.  Some of the basic tasks of politics — like choosing  and crafting a message — they just seem uninterested in it.

I remember reading in The Times that as soon as Obama won, the Republicans were scheming about how they’d turn it around for the next election, and came up with the plan that won them the House, and wondered, did the House Dems even hold a similar meeting?  Kurt EichenwaldMark BowdenJohn Heilemann and Mark Halperin!  I’ll pre-order today.

Deucedly good question.  When I got to Washington in a permanent position, the question among conservatives was why couldn’t they tell a good story?  In 30 years, the tables have turned.  Who will tell the Democrat’s story cogently, as good as it really is?

More:


James Whitcomb Riley, Jr.

September 6, 2009

Just learned of the passing of an old friend last December, Jim Riley.  Jim was a Ph.D. student and one of the assistant debate coaches of the great University of Utah debate teams of the middle 1970s.

He was also the guy who taught me how to properly light and smoke a cigar after we nearly won the Western Speech Association Debate Tournament at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque (1974?).  Lighting a cigar properly is a skill every gentleman should have, even those who do not smoke.  He was a great friend, a wonderful life advisor, and a normal guy in a time and place when normalcy was a rare virtue.

Riley invented the famous Riley Extension as a debater for Washburn University.  The Riley Extension is an argument towards significance of an affirmative case, usually, and is boiled down to two simple questions:  “So what?  Who cares?”

The Riley Extension is now a featured piece of analysis in many Advanced Placement courses in social studies, especially history where the answering of the two questions tends to make for much better essay answers.

Here’s the memoriam note from Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming.  Jim retired from Northwest in 2005, and held the position Emeritus Professor:

Jim Riley

August 18, 1943 — December 26, 2008

James Whitcomb Riley Jr., 65,  died Friday, Dec. 26, in Wellington, Kans.

Services were held Friday, Jan. 2, 2009, at 10:30 a.m. in the Nelson Performing Arts Auditorium at Northwest College.

Jim Riley, 1943-2008

Jim Riley, 1943-2008

James W.  Riley Jr. was born Aug. 18, 1943, the son of Dr. James Whitcomb Riley Sr. and Carolyn Crenshaw Riley in Oklahoma City, Okla. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Washburn University in Topeka, Kans. He attended three years of Law School at Washburn before being drafted into the U.S. Army. He served as a military policeman in Germany and Vietnam.

Jim returned to Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, to earn his Master’s degree in Speech Communication where he also taught and coached forensics. Jim furthered his education at the University of Utah while continuing to coach. Jim later taught and coached forensics and debate at the University of Nevada Reno and Boise State University. In 1977, Jim began teaching at Northwest College in Powell.

On May 4, 1991, he was united in marriage with Laura (Barker) Hagerman. Jim retired from teaching at Northwest College in 2005 and later received the status of Professor Emeritus in the spring of 2008.

Jim was an avid outdoorsman. He had a passion for hunting, camping, cutting firewood and river rafting. His fondest outdoor adventure took him down the Grand Canyon with friends, family, and colleagues. Jim also enjoyed teaching, reading and spending time with family, friends and the family’s two dogs.

Surviving to honor his memory are his father, Dr. James W. Riley Sr. of Wellington, Kans.; wife, Laura Riley of Powell; daughter, Mallory Riley of Powell; sons Daniel Hagerman and his wife Abbey Hagerman of Laramie, Jeremy Hagerman and his wife Kelly Shriver of Olympia, Wash., Nathan Hagerman and his wife Melissa Hagerman of Anchorage, Alaska, and Taylor Riley of Powell; and three grandchildren, Mikayla Hagerman, Natalie Hagerman and Collin Poe.

Preceding him in death was his mother, Carolyn Crenshaw Riley, on Jan. 2, 2006.

In Jim’s honor, the James W. Riley Communications Scholarship fund was established to help provide quality, affordable education for students majoring in Communications at Northwest College. Applicants must have a minimum 3.5 high school GPA and must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA while attending NWC. Donations to the James W. Riley Scholarship can be made here .


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