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Thursday, February 28, 2013


Wikipedia Summary:
Rhetoric (Aristotle).

Painting depicting a lecture in a knight academy, painted by Pieter Isaacsz or Reinhold Timm for Rosenborg Castle as part of a series of seven paintings depicting the seven independent arts. This painting illustrates rhetorics
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations.[1] As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western tradition.[2] Its best known definition comes from Aristotle, who considers it a counterpart of both logic and politics, and calls it "the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion."[3]

Rhetorics typically provide heuristics for understanding, discovering, and developing arguments for particular situations, such as Aristotle's three persuasive audience appeals, logos, pathos, and ethos.

The five canons of rhetoric, which trace the traditional tasks in designing a persuasive speech, were first codified in classical Rome, invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery. Along with grammar and logic (or dialectic - see Martianus Capella), rhetoric is one of the three ancient arts of discourse.

From ancient Greece to the late 19th Century, it was a central part of Western education, filling the need to train public speakers and writers to move audiences to action with arguments.[4] The word is derived from the Greek ῥητορικός (rhētorikós), "oratorical",[5] from ῥήτωρ (rhḗtōr), "public speaker",[6] related to ῥῆμα (rhêma), "that which is said or spoken, word, saying",[7] and ultimately derived from the verb ἐρῶ (erô), "to speak, say".[8]

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Rhetorical Study in Ancient Greece

From the ACA Open Knowledge On-Line Guide 

Rhetorical Study in Ancient Greece
In the ancient city-state of Athens, Greece, public speaking was a central part of everyday life. To understand the importance Athenians placed on public speaking, specifically persuasive rhetorical speech, one must know the political context from which it arose. There are two main political reforms that occurred in Athens which served as a catalyst for the emerging need of public speaking and the study of rhetoric. They are: 1) the creation of a democratic state; and 2) a system of common courts (Conley, 1990).

Athens was one of the earliest (508-322 BCE) and most radically democratic governments in recorded history. Athenian democracy was founded on the principle that power should reside in the citizenry rather than a small group of elites. This principle was upheld through the establishment of the ekklesia, or Assembly. The Assembly referred to the regular meeting of the demos, or citizenry, to deliberate and vote on all aspects of Athenian life. Although women were considered citizens, only free men, whom were 18 or older and of Athenian descent could actively participate in the Assembly. Gender based exclusion from legislative activities was not unusual; in the US, women were ban from voting until 1920! That was less than a century ago. In spite of this omission, democratic participation was so highly valued in Athens that Assembly members were paid to attend meetings to ensure that even the poor could attend (Blackwell, 2003). Thus, once a member of the Assembly any man, regardless of class, was free to speak his mind. Freedom of speech was a hallmark of the Assembly since it was believed that without free speech no amount of deliberation would yield effective policy and law.

However, just because one could speak didn’t mean everyone would listen, individuals would have to learn the art of persuasive speaking to capture and keep the Assembly’s attention.

Click on "read more" below to continue reading.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Mandatory Voting?

Brookings Institute Scholar William Galston "thinks the key to less polarization in the electorate is compulsory voting.  It's the disaffected, the angry, who vote.  The Howard Beales of the world.  If everyone — including those in the less intense middle — voted, you would get fewer ideologues in office."

NPR's All Things Considered looks at whether the US should mandate voting, similar to how other countries, in particular Australia, "encourage" their citizens to vote.

On one side is an argument that we are in the most politically polarized era since the 1980's, a time that led to violence over unions, over "robber barrons" and the US going into "small wars" to pacify the masses, protect corporate interests and provide jobs. This argument, which Galston supports, would make the silent majority participate and thus bring them into the dialogue that is democracy, rather than leaving it to extremist and zealots at the two extremes of any issue. Youth, minorities and other who feel disenfranchised would then have a voice and decisions to make on their society.

What about those who now choose to vote?  Are they of the same political persuasion of those who vote?  Galston said they are more in the middle, less ideological than those on the right or the left.

The opposing view says that an educated electorate chooses to vote and that those who make a point of following the issues, thus defined as educated, are best suited to make decisions on who represents them and on ballot issues. This side says that to force everyone to vote is to force people to eat when they are not hungry or more accurately, to make them commit on candiate and issues they do not understand or follow.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Media Shapes Opinions: 90% of Americans are wrong about the one basic detail that probably matters most in the conversation, while only 6% -- 6%! -- are correct.

A well-kept fiscal secret

Bloomberg News published a new round of polling data last night, most of it relating to the economy and the larger fiscal debate. The results are largely in line with expectations -- most Americans prefer President Obama's debt-reduction plans over Republicans', and would like Congress to delay the sequester to avoid hurting the economy.
But there was one question in the poll that struck me as especially important: "Let's turn to the federal budget deficit. This is the amount the government spends that is more than the amount it takes in from taxes and other revenue. Is it your sense that this year the deficit is getting bigger or getting smaller, or is it staying about the same as last year?"
I put together this chart to help highlight the Bloomberg results. A 62% majority believe the deficit is getting bigger, 28% believe the deficit is staying roughly the same, and only 6% believe the deficit is shrinking.
In other words, in the midst of a major national debate over America's finances, 90% of Americans are wrong about the one basic detail that probably matters most in the conversation, while only 6% -- 6%! -- are correct.
For the record, last year, over President Obama's first four years, the deficit shrunk by about $300 billion. This year, the deficit is projected to be about $600 billion smaller than when the president took office. We are, in reality, currently seeing the fastest deficit reduction in several generations.
And yet, 90% of Americans don't believe the demonstrable, incontrovertible, entirely objective truth. It's worth pondering why.
Public ignorance on this scale is, to my mind, understandable given the political conversation. Literally every day, Republican officials proclaim that the deficit is spiraling out of control, threatening the fate of Western Civilization As We Know It. The media often fails to play a constructive role, with news organizations playing along, telling the public that the deficit is necessarily a bad thing, and that policymakers have a responsibility to address it immediately.
Indeed, for the typical American news consumer, I imagine there's an assumption that comes alongside the fiscal debate: "The deficit must be getting bigger in a hurry, otherwise it'd be stupid for Washington to invest so much time and energy on this issue, instead of other pressing matters."
But the facts are the facts, even if only 6% of the country is aware of them.

Above as printed in the Maddow Blog on 2/22/2013

Monday, February 18, 2013

I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it.

I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it.

-Groucho Marx

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Who's Watching 'House of Cards'? (And Why It Really Matters)

I am. I love intellectual suspense-drama with politics as the vehicle. And I like how Kevin Spacey is doing a character so far from his real self and doing in convincingly. While it moves quickly it is not about car chases, murders, shoot outs or massive political conspiracies. It reflects the dark side of Washington, and the human side of the city. I recommend it. It is "free" on Netflix if you are a subscriber, on demand and in HD. As for success, all that matters to Netflix is how many subscribers it can attract and how many it retains. They have very specific tracking when you watch anything and know who (not the person, but the demographic) signs on and pays for the first time and what they choose to watch. -Art Lynch. SAGACTORONLINE.
By Tim Molloy
It's possible that up to 2.7 million people watched at least one episode of the new Netflix drama "House of Cards" the day after its release.
But we really can't say.
Such an audience would rival that of some premium cable dramas, but not most network shows.
If that's the actual audience, that is.
We'd like to provide you with more than a speculative figure, but we can't. Netflix isn't releasing any numbers, and has no immediate plans to. So we're relying on some clever analysis from the broadband firm Procera, which monitored some of the country's largest cable and DSL networks on Saturday to extrapolate that between 1.5 million and 2.7 million people watched one or more episodes.
Netflix declined to comment.
Why won't Netflix share its actual numbers? Precisely to avoid articles like this one, which -- with solid numbers -- might gauge Netflix's early success against that of broadcast and cable networks.
With that apples-to-apples comparison, we could tell you with some degree of certainly who should be worried about Netflix's huge gamble on the Kevin Spacey-David Fincher political saga: Broadcasters? HBO? Showtime? 
But no one outside of Netflix knows anything. And for TV executives, that might be the scariest scenario of all.
The Internet has wounded or killed many brick-and-mortal entertainment outlets -- music stores, book stores, movie theaters -- because it can provide an entertainment experience that doesn't require consumers to leave home.
Television has fared better than other media, in part because it is arguably as convenient as the Internet -- and had a half-century head start on creating entertainment. TV and the Internet are closely interwoven, with networks and studios providing previously-aired shows for services like Netflix.
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes brushed off attempts to pit Netflix against his company's HBO in an earnings call Wednesday. He noted that many Warner Bros. shows are available to Netflix subscribers -- even as he stressed that his company is far ahead of Netflix in creating originals.
Bewkes said HBO now has 114 million subscribers -- nearly four times as many as Netflix does. He said HBO has offered original shows for 25 years, adding: "It takes a while to get it up to scale."
But that isn't the only reason Netflix has no obvious competitor. There's also the fact that Netflix is doing something no one has done before.
The video-on-demand service is pouring millions of dollars into a high-quality show that isn't actually on TV. It is also offering all 13 episodes of the first season at once, like chapters in a book or songs in an album, instead of demanding that viewers tune in at a certain time.
The question now is whether other online outlets can -- will you indulge us one card joke? -- follow suit. One advantage of not sharing its viewership is that Netflix gets to give "House of Cards" time to thrive before networks or ratings-obsessed reporters can dismiss it.

What do you think of FOX News?

Fox News Most -- And Least -- Trusted Network

From The Wrap
 By Alexander C. Kaufman
February 7, 2013 first published
Fox News has the most trustworthy television news reporters.
Or --depending on whom you ask -- the least trustworthy television reporters.

While content academic independent annalist have determined that FOX is the most bias news network, who says its bias is not true? While polls show Americans mistrust all news more than ever in tracked history, more Americans turn to television for news than ever before.
Public Policy Polling's annual survey of TV news found that when asked which network they trusted and mistrusted the most, a plurality of people answered Fox News for both categories
"When it comes to asking Americans which single outlet they trust the most and least out of the ones we polled on, Fox News once again wins both honors," PPP said in its report. “Forty-one percent of voters trust it to 46 percent who do not. To put those numbers into some perspective the first time we did this poll, in 2010, 49 percent of voters trusted it to 37 percent who did not.”
Asked which outlet they trusted the most, the 800 surveyed over the last month ranked Fox at 34 percent with PBS next at 13 percent, CNN at 12 percent, ABC at 11 percent, MSNBC at eight percent, CBS at six percent and Comedy Central and NBC at five percent each.
But even more Americans identify Fox as the outlet they trust the least -- 39 percent give its that designation with 14 percent for MSNBC, 13 percent for CNN, 12 percent for Comedy Central, five percent for ABC and CBS, three percent for NBC, and one percent for PBS.
But Fox's rankings also have the whiff of partisanship.
Democrats, unsurprisingly, tend to believe every network except Fox; Republicans don't trust anything as much as they do Fox.
“We continue to find that Democrats trust most TV news sources other than Fox, while Republicans don’t trust anything except Fox,” Dean Debnam, president of the polling group, said in a statement. “News preferences are very polarizing along party lines."

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

One of the major issues in higher education is the profit vs non-profit vs public vs vocational school return for the student investment.

This issue has been driven by high student loan defaults, high costs of education beyond what many students, in a post-recession, can hope to recover and the quality of education. This is posted with the disclaimer that my personal feeling is the University of Phoenix provides a high quality of education (as has been audited by the government and accrediting institutions) but in many cases students here and elsewhere are not properly educated as to the cost-value-return potential. I also note a strong decrease in the ability to listen, tolerance of opposing viewpoints, a willingness to do the work required for a college level education. Many students come out of high school wanting professors to teach to the test rather than for an education and understanding of the world and their field, but that is another issue entirely....

-Art Lynch

Advertising and Rebranding in Higher Ed: University of Phoenix

U. of Phoenix Reboots Advertising and Rebrands in the Process

“I am a Phoenix” is no more. The once-ubiquitous TV commercials touting student and faculty pride in the University of Phoenix have been replaced by a new ad campaign that its marketers hope will “project a hopeful, positive message for America.” It’s also designed to lay the ground for what one university executive called “a massive repositioning” of the institution.
The new ad push is hardly surprising. As The Chronicle reported this week, Phoenix and just about every other major for-profit college are scrambling to reverse more than a year and a half of enrollment declines.
Phoenix’s new “Let’s Get to Work” campaign, showcased here on the university’s YouTube feed, reflects market research that found that many Phoenix students don’t enroll for a degree per se. “They come,” said Barry Feierstein, the university’s chief operating officer, “for what the degree will do for them.”
The “hopeful, positive” part of the campaign began in September with a minute-long commercial narrated by Phylicia Rashad, whom many may remember for her portrayal of a successful working mother on The Cosby Show, a TV sitcom. Phoenix has beenshifting its focus back to working adult students, who are more likely to succeed, after years of high-flying growth built on recruiting students who fared poorly in traditional colleges and left with high debts and no degrees.
Ms. Rashad’s script makes no mention of the university (its name comes on screen at the end) but does remind viewers that, “for every one of those 3.7 million unfilled jobs, there’s someone amazing out there who deserves a chance to show the world what they’re capable of.”
Additional ads made their debut in January, including one, dubbed “Lucky Socks,” that highlights the career connections students can forge through the university’s alumni network. Phoenix has bought 63,000 pairs of the bright-red University of Phoenix socks that appear on characters in the ad to send to alumni leaders. A new ad focused on the university’s corporate partnerships is slated to have its debut this Sunday, during the Grammy Awards broadcast, and another is scheduled to air during the Academy Awards, at the end of the month.
The university has not said what it’s spending on the campaign but told investment analysts last month that its overall spending on advertising would increase by 15 percent in the next quarter. The university’s parent company, the Apollo Group, spent more than $665-million annually on marketing in the 2012 fiscal year, a sum that accounted for about 15 percent of its revenues.
Mr. Feierstein, in an interview with The Chronicle, said the ads highlight real investments by the university, including building ties with potential employers and making changes in the curriculum designed to help students achieve their career goals. “It’s not just marketing fluff wrapped around the same old, same old,” he said.
Still, the initial ad’s soundtrack might strike some listeners as an interesting choice. It’s a slow, solo-piano version of the music for “Amazing Grace,” presumably chosen to complement the narrator’s description of those “amazing” students and not for its history as a hymn about redemption.
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