Friday, September 14, 2007

Another Bush speech, another slogan

So now it's "Return on Success," a slogan vague enough to need it's own official government fact sheet.

"The principle guiding my decisions on troop levels in Iraq is 'return on success,' " Bush said in his televised speech last night. "The more successful we are, the more American troops can return home."

Judging by our level of success to date, that won't be anytime soon.

"Return on Success" replaces a long list of previous upbeat slogans, including "Victory," which replaced "Plan for Victory," which replaced "Stand Up, Stand Down," which replaced "Freedom is on the March," which replaced "Stay the Course," which replaced our all-time favorite, "Mission Accomplished." Nothing like a good slogan to get the patriotic juices flowing.

Of course, I'm sure a missed some of them. There have been so many. These days, it's as hard to keep up with Bush's changing slogans as it is to keep up with his changing missions in Iraq. The more recent ones seem less memorable, probably because they're running out of ways to rephrase the same old, same old.

In last night's speech, Bush also described our mission in Iraq as "evolving" interesting choice of words, I thought, for a guy who doesn't seem to believe in evolution. But if he's looking for signs of "intelligent design" in our Iraq policy, I think it's safe to say he might as well give up.

As Peter Scheer notes on the blog, TruthDig, "The mission is “evolving” because it is the best way to conceal that there is no longer a coherent mission, if there ever was one."

While the president keeps changing his slogans and redefining our mission in Iraq, one thing doesn't change: his determination to keep us mired in Iraq through the end of his term in office...what better way to postpone the day of reckoning for his many failures and to try to blame the mess he's made on someone else.

Oh, and if you're wondering who he plans to blame next...just look in the mirror. You've heard the recent rumblings about the only way we can lose in Iraq is if Americans give up by giving in to their frustrations and impatience with the war? Well, I know a set-up when I see one.

P.S. If you're actually thinking maybe we should just be patient just a bit longer, I urge you to review this War Room blog post, and to remember the Iraq War is costing us approximately 100 U.S. lives and between $2 billion and $3 billion per week. Yes, you read it right -- that's per week.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Old Neocons never die...

They just get appointed to the Hoover Institute, a conservative think tank at Stanford University. That appears to be the only possible explanation for the appointment of Donald Rumsfeld, the totally discredited former Secretary of Defense, as a visiting fellow there. According to this article in the SF Chronicle, Rumsfeld will "participate in a task force examining national security and world peace in the post-Sept. 11 era."

Friday, September 07, 2007

Framing Science

I got an email from an editor last spring, asking if I'd be interested in writing an article on framing for Science & Spirit magazine. Oh yeah, definitely!

Actually, S&S Editor Larry Witham first contacted me several years ago, when he was still a freelancer and I had just started teaching, asking to use some material from my graduate thesis in a book he was writing.

I was happy to oblige...I mean, how often do you get readers for something titled Framing Reality: Shaping the News Coverage of the 1996 Tennessee Debate on Teaching Evolution? (Well, a condensed version was published in the Journal of Media and Religion in 2003, which I thought was seriously cool, but that's it.)

And that would have been the end of it...except in April Science magazine published a provocative article on Framing Science by Matthew C. Nisbet and Chris Mooney. That article prompted a lot of debate and discussion, both on the Science site and on Nisbet's Framing Science blog.

It also prompted Witham, who had just joined S&S as editor, to remember me and ask me to write an article on framing for them. And that's how I ended up spending the week after the end of the spring semester writing a magazine article.

My article, The Power of Framing: Pitching Science in a Mass Media Age, appeared in the July/August issue. I wish I could link to it, but it wasn't one of the articles they chose to post online. Rats! So the best I can do is show you a picture...yes, that's it -- that's my article!

500 days

The Bush countdown has reached a landmark: just 500 days left in office.

Of course, it's daunting to think how much he can still screw up in the next 500 days.

Too bad we couldn't just move up the election to this fall and get on with it. The 2008 presidential campaign is in full swing already, so what have we got to lose?

P.S. Thanks to Dona for giving me this nifty keychain so I can track the countdown.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Taking it online

Whew! It's been a busy couple of weeks, what with the start of classes at SJSU and adding a third class that I wasn't originally scheduled to teach.

This semester is an interesting experiment. I'm teaching two sections of Journalism 61, with one regular "on ground" section that meets twice a week and one fully online class. The class I added is Mass Comm 100W - Writing Workshop, which I'm teaching as a blended class, meeting once a week with about half of the assignments being blogged. Ought to make for an interesting comparison.

I'm running all three of my classes through WordPress blogs (gotta love that "pages" feature for syllabi and such) at (both Jour61 sections) and

Normally, online classes at SJSU are administered through a system called WebCT, based on Blackboard. I spent some time this summer talking with the WebCT folks on campus and came to the conclusion that it didn't have a lot to offer. WebCT probably works OK for lecture classes with multiple choice tests, but it's not set up to accommodate writing classes. So I said to hell with it and decided to use blogs instead.

Each student in my fall classes is required to set up a blog, even those in the on-ground section (though they won't post as many assignments on their blogs as students in the blended and fully online classes). I've subscribed to my students' blogs to more easily track their assignments via Google feed reader. That seems to be working well.

I'm also posting one lecture a week from the "on ground" class as a podcast -- the jury's still out on how well that's working, but at least I should get better at podcasting by the end of the semester.