Saturday, September 30, 2006

The intersection of Sports and Politics, again

An article on "Daily Kos" (via Raw Story) suggests that when Mike Tirico announced former President Bush during the New Orleans v. Atlanta game (on Monday night), ESPN manufactured fake "cheers" and broadcast those cheers. Further, the article claims that ESPN favors Republicans and disfavors Demcoracts.

The story revolves around an argument by authority, which the author does not provide backing to support it. Anayway, it is interesting as a concpiracy theory or to reflect the paranoid style (see Richard Hofstader's "Paranoid Style in American Politics"

ESPN is owned by the Mickey Mouse Corporation, which seems to favor elephants to jack asses. But, personally, I think ESPN is biased towards masturbation: "ESPN's Rick Majerus, on a Kentucky-Tennessee college game announced: "At this point in time, the game's over ... but I'm starting to look for Ashley Judd so I don't have to go home to the adult videos tonight."

This argument also revolves around an argument by authority. However, I do not care whether or nor Majerus provides backing for his warrant.

Interpreting the Words of Bush:

File this under: “Why Hermeneutics Matter.” From Political Wire

"In a recent CNN interview, President Bush suggested history would judge the Iraq war as "just a comma." He repeated the statement today in Alabama. While it seems an odd thing to say, a Political Wire reader suggests it's designed to speak to the religious right while not unnecessarily alarming others. In other words, it's a classic example of "dog whistle politics" used to energize his base.

The Christian proverb Bush was evidently referring to is "Never put a period where God has put a comma." In essence, trust in God to make a bad situation better."

In the Presidential Debates of 2004, President Bush always discussed abortion in terms of Dread Scot, meaning he does not like how the Supreme Court refuses to acknowledge humans as citizens, or, he does not like how the Supreme Court refuses to acknowledge the fetus as a living being and, hence, not a citizen. Of course, others have pointed out how Bush believes in the protection of Life.

Anyway, this provides another reason why people need to pay closer attention to the connection between language and motives. This is another attempt by Bush to focus on one audience while speaking to multiple audiences.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Students petition against Turnitin

A colleague of mine recently directed my attention to this article in the Washington Post. Over 1100 students at a Virginia high school have petitioned school officials to stop using Turnitin, for they claim that the online anti-plagiarism service violates their intellectual property rights. In addition to violating their rights, students say that use of the service implies guilt and that the subscription fees paid to Turnitin could be better spent.

Much of the debate over Turnitin has centered on the intellectual property rights of students and the implication of assumed guilt that allegedly accompanies the use of the service, but little has been said, to my knowledge, about the allocation of school funds to subscribe to Turnitin. I wish to address that topic here.

The Washington Post reports the following: "members of the Committee for Students' Rights want the school to allow students to opt out. In an interview at a Starbucks near the campus, they said that they can learn about plagiarism directly from teachers and that there are other ways to catch cheaters. They also said fees paid to Turnitin would be better spent on other educational matters." Despite contrary statements by teachers and school officials, students continue to focus on the "gotcha" aspects of Turnitin. They ignore the pedagogical potential of the online service. If they would take a moment to consider the ways that Turnitin might help them learn proper citation and avoid plagiairism, then they would likely not see Turnitin as a threat but as a safety precaution or even a friend.

The argument that subscription fees could be "better spend on other educational matters" loses much of its force when the pedagogical potential of Turnitin takes center stage. When used as a pedagogical tool, Turnitin lets students find and fix instances of accidental (or intentional) plagiarism. It identifies those passages where students did not properly paraphrase or cite the work of others and gives them an opportunity to revise those portions before "officially" turning in their work to teachers. To be sure, this process is much different than traditional lecture-based methods of teaching and learning about source attribution; it's more student-centered. And most of the scholarship about the teaching of writing in the last forty years have favored the self-directed and learn-through-practice methods of teaching composition. So why should learning to paraphrase and cite sources be excluded from these proven methods of teaching writing when they are, themselves, an essential part of writing and learning to write? The answer is simple: they shouldn't.

When viewed through a pedagogical lens, it seems that 80 cents per student is not a lot of money to spend on something that effectively teaches students to cite sources. Through my own experiences as a teacher of writing, Turnitin helps students avoid plagiarism much better than any lecture on the topic. And it frees up a lot of classroom time to talk about other writerly issues and strategies.

Monday, September 25, 2006

No Child, College, or God Left Behind

No this is not about the Left Behind series.

An article from Inside Higher Education discusses the revelation that certain interests want to make college education standardized. Who needs a liberal arts educaiton when the business model works so well for CEOs.

Maybe we should quantify everything. It would save time.

William Jefferson Clinton versus Chris Wallace

Here is the interview between former President Clinton and Chris Wallace. The interview was scheduled to be about Clinton's Global Initiative. However, it seems as if there was a change of plans. President Clinton did not back down and questioned the "objectivity" of Fox as he attacked Wallace. I am not sure if Wallace thought he could outsmart Clinton. I wish someone would question our current president like this.

Part One:

Part Two:

A full, uninterupted broadcast can be found at Think Progress.