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Newspaper nullification April 29, 2014

Posted by mareserinitatis in education, writing.
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Back in the dark ages, i.e., my first year of college, I was elected with four other people to be an editor of the school paper.  It was an interesting experience and solidified my interest in writing.  (I even spent some time as a journalism major!)

At the end of the year, I was responsible for putting together a flyer to send out to the incoming freshman.  It was supposed to let them know about the newspaper and inform them how to become involved, if they were interested.  I put together a traditional letter, very similar to the packet of letters that I received before arriving at the school.  However, I decided that was sufficiently boring, so I also put together a collage, pasting various clippings, pictures and other things that had actually been printed in the paper during the previous school year.  I photocopied it onto the back of the letter and was set to go.

Admittedly, I was a freshman in college and didn’t have the best taste.  Also, we had no journalistic standards.  Regardless, my choices were apparently not appreciated and the collage was pulled.  There were comments about scaring the parents of potential incoming students.  It made no sense to me as these were things we’d actually published at one point or another.  If they were freaked out by the stuff in the paper, then obviously they hadn’t been at pre-frosh weekend.

So much for journalistic freedom of speech.  (I know…apples and oranges.)

That happened almost exactly 20 years ago.  Thanks to the internet, I can put this out in public so all those poor freshman from the class of ’98 can see what they were missing out on.


Click to embiggen

Click to embiggen

So why do I bring it up now?  Because I found it the other day and took a good hard look at it.  Aside from it being a fairly interesting trip down memory lane (and a bit of a time capsule to boot), I pondered what I would do if my son, who will be entering college next fall, received something like this.

I have to admit that I’m baffled.  It was certainly goofy, but I still don’t understand what the big deal was.  And if my son received something like this, I might actually be a little amused.  I still think it’s more interesting that that stupid, boring letter.

Or maybe I’m just a warped parent.

(ETA: I suppose there is one circumstance where I might be concerned.  If my son were going to be a journalism major, I’d probably be recommending other schools.)


A flair for the mundane February 7, 2013

Posted by mareserinitatis in engineering, research.
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A few months back, we had someone from one of the local papers interview some people from our group about one of the widgets we’d been working on.  We were in a different lab than the one where we’d done all the work on the widget.

As we were talking about it, the reporter seemed rather interested and asked a lot of good questions.  Before he left, I suggested we give him a demonstration of the widget.

That was an awful idea.  We turned on all the equipment, got things set up, and…nothing.  It didn’t work.  There were a couple of points where we got something, but it was all bad data.  As we were trying to get this figured out, I could see that the reporter was obviously losing interest.

There never was an article about the widget in that paper.  After the awful demo experience, I’m not surprised.

The lesson I took away from this was to always make sure your demos work before you show them to anyone.  We did eventually figure out what the problem was (some sort of hardware incompatibility), but I wish I’d known the demo would’ve been a no-go and not made us look like dorks in front of the reporter.

A letter to the editors May 9, 2012

Posted by mareserinitatis in Fargo, feminism, societal commentary.
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This weekend, I saw a letter to the editors that was basically a “women should be kept in their place” sort of deal with a twist.  Apparently when women don’t stay barefoot in the kitchen, they are becoming tools to evil men in the world who are attempting to overthrow the traditional family.

When I get irritated with these things, sometimes I will sit down and write out a letter to burn off steam.  Usually, I don’t send these letters out, but this time I did.  And here it is, if you care to read it.  I realize it will not do anything to sway the original letter writer, but it sure made me feel better.

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