Thursday, July 12, 2012

A fresh start and a break from rants

I'm starting to feel as though this poor blog is turning into a soapbox from which I continually yell "hey, kids, get off my lawn and while you're at it, start thinking about what you're doing with that new technology."

How did that happen? I like technology. I teach some classes online and do a good job with them. I don't want to get in the position of holding up a banner for The Way Things Have Always Been Done, including handwriting, because mindlessly preserving tradition is not how I feel, yet that's how these posts are sounding to me. They're pushing me into a false corner and making me sound like someone I don't want to be.

Here's the common theme of those posts: I just want people to pay attention to what they're doing when they adopt something shiny and new and to think about the consequences of it more than 5 minutes down the road.  There, I've said it, and now I'm going to shut up about it for a couple of months.

So for a while, you can come here safe from MOOC musings, alarm about the liberal arts, and ridicule of what our new educrat overlords have in store for us this week. (Well, maybe a little of the last will find its way in.)

I'm off to the Land of No Internets soon, so posting will be light anyway. The real reason, though, is that I want to write about something less stressful for now.


sophylou said...

While I understand completely, I also want to say that my hunch has always been that that false corner is exactly where the educrats want you (us, everyone) to be: either you're with them, or you're a Luddite who wants everyone to return to using quill pens. A binary rather than a spectrum, when a spectrum is probably more accurate...

undine said...

sophylou--so true! The whole system of binaries is really leading to that with us or against us mentality.

dan said...

undine said...
Maybe the scare quotes crept in there by themselves? That'd be my defense. (Hope you feel better.)

July 12, 2012 7:22 PM
dan said...
Subject: scare quotes: who coined the term and when and why the word "scare"?
Like others here, I am an advocate of ''scare quotes,'' (scare quotes
mine). I also think they are useful
punctuation tools for academic papers, newspaper opeds and even news
headlines. However, having done a little research on the origins and
coinage of "scare quotes" as a term, I now believe that the term is
mis-named and meaningless as it currently exists, since there is
nothing "scary" about them. It is impossible to find the first coiner
of the term, but it happened long before 1946 when US writer Carey
McWilliams used the term (with a hyphen: "scare-quotes") in a
nonfiction book he was writing about California and Upton Sinclair
works. Newsweek magazine used the term for the first time in 1993 in
an article by Peter Plagens about Roy Lichentstein's art, with the
author saying "Lichtenstein puts 'scare quotes' around the entire
field of art." Thing is: ask most anyone if they know who coined the
term first and when and why and you will not find a soul who knows. So
my question is this: why are we in 2012 using a writing term whose
origins and coinage nobody knows and can "fact check" (scare quotes
mine) and whose first word "scare" has absolutely no meaning in terms
of scaring anyone? My last question is this: could we find a better,
more meaningful word for this term, keeping the usefulness of it alive
and the use as well, but giving it a better ("new and improved) name
such as either "flag quotes" -- meaning that something has been
"flagged" by its use, or "spot quotes" meaning something has been
''spotlighted'' by its use? Or any other terms that you can think of
that might fit the "bill," so to speak? They have also been called
''sneer quotes'', ''distancing quotes'', ''mendacity quotes'' and even
''greengrocer's quotes'' and there's a list of dozens of other names.
''Scare quotes" for some reason that cannot be explained seems to have
caught on in both the UK and the USA, with less frequent use in
Australia or New Zealand, and the term [scare quotes] is now so
''embedded" in the culture and the blogosphere that it's going to be
difficult to replace it with a more meaningful and reader-friendly
term. Stiil, I wonder if a new term for this "thing" might help
clarify its meaning and its use. Your views?

July 12, 2012 11:00 PM
dan said...
qusetion re i heard that this meaningless and mis-named term was coined by philsophers in an academic setting, maybe 80 years ago. Why do grad studentrs so often talk about scare quotes? and how did the term itself ebcome embeded now in our culture? re ''Seriously, what was my obsession with sarcastic scare quotes? They are everywhere, littering my chapter --- really only this first, lumpy, apprentice chapter --- with their sarcasm and explanatory shortcuts. But in a lot of cases, I don't want to simply remove the scare quotes and let the words stand --- like "good behavior" and "nobility" and "purity" --- well, maybe purity would still work there --- so I have to rewrite each damn sentence. And I keep finding more of them! Stupid scare quote compulsion! I don't "hate" you, scare quotes, I hate you! With no irony at all!

July 12, 2012 11:04 PM
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