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Grantland Rice's illusion to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse even made it onto a postage stamp.

The lost eloquence of the sports page

The “Four Horsemen” became part of the legend of Notre Dame football, and publicists at the University placed the four footballers on four horses for a famous photograph. And that photograph was turned into a postage stamp more than 50 years later.

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WilliamShakespeare-3

Inspiration for a genius: recent discovery of a book that Shakespeare may have used for his writing

Because Leonardo da Vinci kept a vast quantity of journals, we have a good idea about how his mind worked, what he was thinking about, and what he saw. With William Shakespeare, we have no such record. And William Shakespear is the reason we have the English language as it is today.

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highhand

The world’s most nutritious foods: relax, you’re probably eating some of them

I don’t usually venture into the realms of food and its preparation (above my pay grade, I am told), but I thought this was interesting. On the British Broadcasting Corporation site a couple of weeks ago was a listing of the 100 most nutritious foods based on research done by scientists and compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The listing […]

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The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The purpose of great literature: to make people comfortable

That’s what school officials in Duluth, Minnesota (and a few other places, unfortunately) would have you believe. The school system in Duluth is the latest to remove To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from the required reading list for ninth graders. The reason they give: the language used in these books […]

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Cades Cove Sunday morning - 1

Leonardo’s journals; eyewitness to the biggest event of the first century; football art and the First Amendment; newsletter Feb. 9, 2018

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (3,317) on Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. Hi,  This has been The Week of Interesting Things for me. Most of my weeks could take that moniker, but this one seemed especially full. I try to put a lot of interesting things I find into the newsletter, but I […]

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Ursula Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin on Art, Storytelling, and the Power of Language to Transform and Redeem – Brain Pickings

Maria Popova, the brain behind BrainPickings.com — a newsletter you should subscribe to — has written another tribute to the ideas of the late science fiction novelist, Ursula Le Guin. Le Guin, as Popova points out, has important things to say about the function of storytelling. Here is part of it: “People wish to be […]

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Teddy Roosevelt: "I am DEE-lighted."

Jim’s newsletter: Under the hood

My assumption about newsletter readers is that they are intelligent individuals, they are readers of good books, and they people who can handle the occasional challenge of learning something new.  Most of all, my assumption about newsletter readers is that they are my friends, even though I have not met all of them personally.

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Leonardo's drawings of cats

Leonardo’s journals: A large window into the mind of a genius

The mind of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) still fascinates observers even after 500 years. He was interested in so many things, and he observed the world with the mind and attitude of a scientist, mechanic, inventor, naturalist, and philosopher. He was also a writer. And an artist, of course. We know about Leonardo’s mind because […]

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ten-lost-letters-in-English

10 letters lost from the alphabet: the video

Austin McConnell has put together this fun video about the symbols that were once part of the English alphabet but that we no longer use.

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Pliny the Younger

Eyewitness to Vesuvius: Pliny the Younger and reporting the event of the century

The mountain exploded in August 79 AD. The ensuing lava flow engulfed two entire cities (Herculaneum and Pompeii) and smothered a third, Stabiae, with poisonous gas. The darkness that the clouds of dust and smoke created was, in the ones of an eyewitness, “. . . not the dark of a moonless or cloudy night, […]

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Pliny the Younger

Pliny the Younger: a top-notch Roman journalist, Part 1: An insight into the early Christian community

Pliny the Younger is never listed as a journalist, but he should be. This extraordinary Roman (he lived from 61 to about 113 A.D.) was a lawyer, politician, author, poet, and government official whose stated goal was to be famous and to be remembered. He was, indeed, all of those things. We would remember Pliny […]

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Ursula Le Guin

The passing of writer Ursula K. Le Guin sparks an important reconsideration of her work

Whatever she was, she had a special talent for keeping readers in her grip, for making them see what they had never seen before, and for making them think about what she had written long after they had finished reading.

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girl reading

A pointed, provocative post: Why You Should Stop Reading News by Shane Parrish

Parrish wisely makes the distinction between “news creators” and “journalists.” News creators simply want to gain your attention and hold it for as long as possible. He doesn’t spell it out, but I assume that in his view journalists report information that adds value to your life.

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Eugene Francois Vidocq

The ‘private eye’ in literature begins with the real-life character of Eugene Francois Vidocq

The place to look for the origins of the literary private eye is in 19th century France with the character of Eugene Francois Vidocq.

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joysofgrammar

Collecting redundancies: a strange hobby that started years ago

I wrote the post below some years ago when I was teaching a beginning writing course at the University of Alabama. I’m still at this odd hobby, though not as actively as when I was teaching. I collect redundancies. They’re cheap; they’re fun; and they don’t take up much shelf space. And they’re not hard to […]

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The Digital Reader: 8 Common Phrases that You May Be Getting Wrong; plus a bit from JPROF

Nate Hoffelder, the Digital Reader, gives us  – at a quick glance – eight phrases that we might be getting wrong. They’re all packaged neatly in a simple infographic. The phrases: for all intensive purposes (my personal favorite) reign in baited breath sneak peak mute point case and point extract revenge peaked my curiosity Hoffelder leaves […]

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Ross Macdonald

Ross Macdonald takes hard-boiled fiction to new levels of style and plot

Just when the reading world thought that the hard-boiled detective novel had reached its zenith with Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, along comes Ross Macdonald. The similarities among the lives of Hammett, Chandler, and Macdonald (whose real name was Kenneth Millar) are striking and significant: All had difficult and disruptive childhoods. Each, for a time, […]

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girl reading

New theories on why we can’t – or don’t – read

Scientists and scholars are taking a closer look at that question these days and are coming up with some interesting, and occasionally surprising, answers.

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Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler: a troubled author who raised the level of hard-boiled detective fiction

Raymond Chandler brought a level of emotional complexity to his characters that had never been seen before in hard-boiled detective fiction.

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Screen Shot 2018-01-03 at 4.25.11 PM

The 10 best true crime podcasts, profiled

For the past few weeks, I have been listening to true-crime podcasts and making recommendations to my newsletter readers. There are lots of such podcasts out there, and you have to admire the effort, dedication, and skill that it takes to put these together. The reporting on some of them is excellent. Here are the best […]

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