Month: December 2012

Class a bigger factor than race in getting to college


Jason Deparle had an article in The New York Times the other day entitled For Poor, Leap to College Often Ends in a Hard Fall. It tells the tale of three young women from Galveston, Texas, who came from poor backgrounds but strove to go to college. The three women, named Angelica, Melissa and Bianca, faced difficulties both in getting to college and deciding what to do once they got there. Like many poor students, they […]

A question of suspense


When I was in graduate school at the University of Iowa, I distinctly remember the late John Bennett saying that asking questions in the first or second graf of a story was lazy journalism. Rather the journalist should form the question in the mind of the reader without having to obliquely ask it outright. John’s motto was, “Show, don’t tell.” Lee Child writing in The New York Times frames the problem a little differently. The […]

NRA Friday


Two thoughts: NRA members, your hands are covered in blood. Giving money to the NRA is the same as putting a gun in the hand of a murderer. And now a stunned moment of silence for those 28 killed today at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.

Inventor of the bar code dies


Flickr photo: Paul N. Joseph Woodland, the inventor of the ubiquitous bar code seen on virtually every consumer item, has died The New York Times reports. He and Bob Silver patented the idea in 1952, but it was ahead of its time. They earned $15,000 from the sale of the patent. The equipment necessary to read a bar code then was large and expensive. Now even the miniature camera on your smartphone can read and […]

A little bit of El Salvador in Madison


Flickr photo: VixyView Stephanie Bedford, writing for 77 Square, talks about the Salvadoran grocery store on far eastern Commercial Ave. called La Zacatecana. If you’ve been to El Salvador, you may have experienced a bit of local cuisine called pupusas. They’re hard to find in Wisconsin unless you make them at home. There’s a place in Milwaukee that makes them, and in Madison, the only place to get yourself a fresh, hot pupusa is La Zacatecana. […]

Stillness and writing


Photo: Cyndi Williams Silas House on The Art of Being Still in the NYTimes. He’s referring to young writers being still, seeing this as a common problem. He says of these young writers: They read books about writing and attend conferences, workshops and classes where they talk ad nauseam about writing. However, they spend very little time alone, thinking, much less hunkering down somewhere and actually putting words on the page. The problem is, too many […]

Joe Boydston: WordPress is saving journalism


Over at, Joe Boydston has a fascinating presentation from WordCamp Raleigh called WordPress is Saving Journalism. The presentation starts a little slow, but once it gets going it’s amazing. Boydston works for a small chain of local newspapers in northern California. And instead of using expensive, proprietary software systems, they’ve built the most integrated WordPress workflow I’ve ever seen. Reporters at their papers enter their stories directly into WordPress. The stories may go directly […]

Bare trees & winter snow


The many, many branches of winter. Photo: Daniel Stout Today we received our first snow of the winter. Climate change has played with the amount of snow we get. There were a bunch of winters with little snow. Hence, the photo above of a tree that is bare for winter in January, and there was fog that day instead of snow. The past couple of winters have brought more snow. Unnamed weather people were making […]

World War II Memento Lost for 65 Years Suddenly Reappears


This article appeared in Blizzard, a publication of the National Association of the 10th Mountain Division. World War II Memento Lost for 65 Years Suddenly Reappears by Daniel Stout (Desc 616-C) Blizzard 2011 Number 3 In early 1945, my grandfather, Ray W. Plenge, was stationed in Italy as a corporal in the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division. His unit was making its way northward through such places as Riva Ridge and the Po Valley. At one […]

Honor Flight the Movie


A new documentary from Dan Hayes about the efforts to send World War II veterans to Washington, DC, to see the WWII memorial is receiving accolades. Honor Flight is about the veterans who gave their best for their country, and the efforts to send veterans to DC just as many of that generation were passing on. My grandfather served in Italy during WWII, and he went on an honor flight to Washington, DC, in September […]