Be careful when you grab the gold


There’s a lot of eye-rolling when you teach theory to college students.

I get it.

Students want to discover the practical matters of communication. Business. Success.

I assure them they’ll thank me later.

Eyes roll.

Recently I heard from a former student confessing he has come to love theory. Today he teaches communication and is completing his PhD.

The student made the link that theory underpins practice.

Lately we’ve been talking in class about human foibles and how we make errors in judgment because of the ways our minds work.

Theory and research are soundly behind the idea that we’re prone to make errors in judgment. Continue reading

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Sounds deadly

I can see the scenario unfold:

The desk sergeant asks the officer what happened.

“Granola. Crunchy granola,” the officer states.

Seems a couple had a fight and the husband was stabbed with a spoon.

The wife couldn’t take it anymore.

The sergeant shakes her head.

“Another case of Misonphonia. When will it ever end?”

Misonphonia sure sounds like some kind of misery.

Mis refers to dislike while phonia refers to noise.

They’ve finally found a word to describe the reaction when folks can’t stomach the sound of people slurping their soup, chomping on Crackerjacks or snorting snot in their throats.

While some folks spend their days looking at ways to cure Ebola or end hunger, I spend my time avoiding folks who munch.

In my youthful days, eating in front of someone was considered rude, and food was banned on the metro and in classrooms.

So it’s hard for me when a fellow bus-rider scarfs down a burrito at our stop.

Even libraries today serve up coffee and scones, and my fellow professors down burgers and fries in department meetings. One of my colleagues even licks the top of her yogurt container.

It drives me nuts.

Barron Lerner, a professor of medicine, wrote recently in the New York Times that some individuals are so sensitive to the affront of smacking they become enraged.

And while it may not lead to mariticide like in my homemade scenario above, Lerner says the condition is real: Chewing, sniffing and sucking can send people like him and me around the bend.

I can’t stand the sound of knives being sharpened. Or someone snapping their gum.

And when we have ice cream at home, my husband’s tongue runs laps around the bowl.

But the worst is the sound of crunchy granola at 5 in the morning.

Time to hide the spoons.


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Think critically

When a politician recently ranted that universities shouldn’t be concerned with truth but rather serving the workforce, critics sharpened their pencils.

The governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, wants to gut support by 13% and refashion higher education’s mission in his state.

He wants to strike the motto that universities should seek the truth.

Pretty bold for a guy without a college degree. Continue reading

Posted in american indian, communication, education, Native Science, science, scott walker | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

I didn’t grow up in your country

Rendering by Dutch artist MC Escher

Rendering by Dutch artist MC Escher

Sometimes my college students need to set me straight about schooling in North America.

I didn’t grow up in your country, I confess.

Students scratch their heads: how can you be part American Indian and be from somewhere else? Continue reading

Posted in american indian, communication, Dutch, family values, Holland, native american, native press, Native Science, writing | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Journalistic Schadenfreude

Brian Williams pilloried

Brian Williams pilloried

As news broke in February when NBC anchor Brian Williams got caught in a reporting fib, journalists and critics rushed to pass judgment.

The New York Times, for example, packed the newspaper with stories and editorials that carved a wide swath.

One pundit said Williams’ ego finally got the better of him: that he had been courting fame and was caught in his own braggadocio. Continue reading

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Super Bowl relarity

You have to keep your sense of humor when it comes to mass media.

As scholars we take media seriously but the Möbius folds of our reality—what Jean Baudrillard correctly called hyperreality—illustrate how messages, agendas, persuasion and propaganda get tucked within an event we describe as real.

But the mixture of hyped reality with hilarity creates a relarity.

Take the Super Bowl as an example. Continue reading

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When individual choice causes harm

How ironic that American Indians were helpless against diseases brought by foreigners--diseases that today can be controlled with vaccines that some folks ignore wholesale

How ironic that American Indians were helpless against diseases brought by foreigners–diseases that today can be controlled with vaccines that some parents ignore wholesale

Vaccine lunacy is the way Frank Bruni described a recent outbreak of measles in California: why? Parents decided to withhold vaccinations from their children.

Children are taken ill with a disease that was once wiped from our memories–a disease that can blind you, make you sterile or kill you if you haven’t been vaccinated.

Bruni laid into what he called the madness, listing four key reasons why he thinks parents act foolishly in the face of concrete evidence that risks to vaccines are so low: Continue reading

Posted in american indian, authenticity, framing, Indian, journalism, Native Science, science, science communication, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments