Johann Amos Comenius, founding father of modern education

June 25, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: history, journalism, journalism education.

The name of Johann Amos Comenius rarely echoes through the halls of modern academe, but his ideas about how we should educate ourselves remain alive, and his influence continues. For instance, the American educational system of kindergarten, elementary, junior high, and high school levels is an idea that originated with Comenius. His influence runs far • Read More »

The father of modern education, the thrill of the night sky, more on Shakespeare, and giveaways galore: newsletter, June 24, 2022

June 24, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,464) on Friday, June 24, 2022. Summer arrived officially this week, although in my neck of the woods, we have already had several spells of pretty hot weather. The same thing happens at the end of the year when winter officially begins after there has • Read More »

Caroline Norton and the first challenge to the male dominance of English law

June 18, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: history, journalism, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

“I exist and I suffer; but the law denies my existence.” Caroline Norton, who wrote this dynamite sentence, knew the power of the pen. Indeed, she lived in a time when it was her only weapon, and she used it well. Doing so brought her a measure of personal satisfaction, but it also changed the • Read More »

The libel trial of Theodore Roosevelt

June 18, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: history, journalism.

Imagine a libel trial featuring an ex-president as the defendant and a future president testifying on his behalf. That happened in 1915, more than six years after Theodore Roosevelt had left the office that he loved more than any other. He spent most of his energy, which was considerable, and his waking hours trying to • Read More »

Making women legally visible, the Battle of Midway, the lethal nature of heat, and reader reactions: newsletter, June 17, 2022

June 17, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, fiction, newsletter, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,470) on Friday, June 17, 2022.   Now that America is in the midst of its first major heat wave of the season, it’s probably a good idea to consider heat itself and its effect on human beings. In terms of actual deaths of humans, • Read More »

David Simon: life on the mean streets of Baltimore and the fading power of journalism

June 12, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: fiction, journalism, reporters, reporting, writers, writing.

In 1983, David Simon had finished at the University of Maryland and was trying to make it onto the metro staff of a big city newspaper. He was stringing—writing as a freelancer—for the Baltimore Sun, covering stories around College Park and the UM campus. Simon had cut his teeth as a student journalist on The • Read More »

The Theology of Work

June 11, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

A University of California-Berkeley sociologist contends that work is replacing religion as the thing that gives structure to our thinking and meaning to our lives. This is especially true, she contends, in a place like Silicon Valley where work takes up almost every waking hour and provides a pseudo-religious context—such as, “We’re going to change • Read More »

Truckin’ bees across the country

June 10, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

Most people encounter honeybees through pictures of bees buzzing around flower blooms or possibly driving through the countryside and seeing hives in the middle of a field. More and more, people can see bees in urban areas, often atop tall buildings. But bees on tractor-trailer trucks rolling down an interstate highway? That is exactly where • Read More »

The mean streets of Baltimore, the theology of work, June giveaways, and truckin’ bees: newsletter, June 10, 2022

June 10, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, fiction, journalism, journalists, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,241) on Friday, June 10, 2022. What if Shakespeare didn’t write Shakespeare? Seriously, what if there was evidence that William Shakespeare was not the author of Hamlet or MacBeth or Richard III or Henry V or any of the other plays that we attribute to • Read More »

Belle de Costa Greene, the extraordinary life of the Morgan Museum’s librarian

June 4, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

By any measure, Belle de Costa Greene lived an extraordinary life for a librarian. During the first two decades of the 20th century, she reigned as an undisputed leader and expert in the area of art and antiquities. She was instrumental in acquiring, organizing, and cataloguing what became the world’s finest private collection of rare • Read More »

The Morgan’s extraordinary librarian, the origins of Annika, and the words of John F. Kennedy: newsletter, June 3, 2022

June 3, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, First Amendment, freedom of the press, history, newsletter, writers.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,234) on Friday, June 3, 2022. In recent days I have had the opportunity to take a look at lists of words commonly used as slang a century ago. The lists have been both interesting and instructive. Many of the phrases in these list are • Read More »

The modernity of the crossword puzzle

May 28, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

Word games have been with us since the advent of words themselves, but one of the most popular of all word games, the crossword puzzle, is a relatively recent invention. We have only had crossword puzzles for about 100 years. We owe the modern crossword puzzle to a man named Arthur Wynne, who was an • Read More »

The pitch-perfect prose of Roger Angell, the modernity of crossword puzzles, and the last chance for this month’s group giveawaysnewsletter, May 27, 2022

May 27, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: baseball, books, history, journalism, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,421) on Friday, May 27, 2022. What do you think a librarian does? The answer to that question undoubtedly depends on your point of view, but I think most of us would believe a librarian is someone who keeps books and documents in a particular • Read More »

Roger Angell, pitch-perfect prose about the game and meaning of baseball

May 27, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: baseball, journalism, reporters, reporting, writers, writing.

When Roger Angell wrote about baseball, which he did frequently but not often enough, he could put you in the seat next to him in the ballpark. It would be a good seat, not in the press box with all of the sportswriting swells and television hotshots, but right down there in the stands among • Read More »

The Cato Street conspiracy

May 22, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: history.

Even if you are well-versed in British history, it is unlikely that you know very much, if anything at all, about an event in 1820 known as the Cato Street Conspiracy. The conspiracy consisted of a cabal of a few underemployed working class men who hoped, without any reasonable chance of success, to decapitate the • Read More »

Walter Duranty and Gareth Jones: one told the truth, the other did not

May 21, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: history, journalism, reporters, reporting, writers, writing.

The contrast between Walter Duranty and Gareth Jones is stark and ultimately tragic. Duranty was the correspondent for the New York Times and covered the Soviet Union and the rise of Joseph Stalin for more than a dozen years in the 1920s and 1930s. He interviewed Stalin a number of times and always wrote favorable • Read More »

The tale of journalists Duranty and Jones, the obvious alternative to eugenics, group giveaways, and decapitating the British government: newsletter, May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, reporters, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,404) on Friday, May 20, 2022. About a century ago, eugenics was all the rage. The basic idea of eugenics was that you could identify the “better” parts of society by race, geographic origin, or social class. If we could do that, then we could • Read More »

Walking, seeing, learning

May 14, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

If you are like me—a person who loves to walk—you won’t want to miss Chris Arnade’s website,Walking the World. The author brilliantly describes his love for walking just about anywhere in the world he happens to be. He talks about how much he sees, how much he experiences, and how much he learns by simply • Read More »

Ray Bradbury’s zest for writing, the story of the grand marshal, and May’s ebook giveaways: newsletter, May 13, 2022

May 13, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, fiction, libraries, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,234) on Friday, May 13, 2022. Like millions of others in the 1990s and beyond, I was caught up in the television depictions of “crime scene investigation” and the way in which “forensic science” is used to convict people accused of crimes. Calling something a • Read More »