The Duncan Banner


August 26, 2012

What’s written isn’t always what’s read

DUNCAN — Because a rarely seen liquid substance has occasionally fallen from the sky in the last few days, this seems a great time to make an umbrella out of some of the sticky notes that serve as my memory:

In 35 (Gulp!) years in the journalism dodge, I’ve learned an undeniable fact: The author is only half of the equation; how a reader disseminates and interprets completes the communication circuit.

A writer can pen a simple observation — something that seems universally apparent, something almost innocuous — but the meaning can get folded, spindled and mutilated as it passes through a reader’s gray matter.

Take the sentence, “The sky is blue.”

When 10 readers ingest those four words, five of them know exactly what the writer means. They nod their head in agreement (“Yes, the sky is blue.”) and go on with their lives.

However, one reader will insist, “No, the sky’s not blue, it’s more a Pilgrim gray.” One other person will launch into a scientific lecture about the sky not having any color, and what we see is sunlight reflected and filtered through dust particles.

Two readers will read “The sky is blue.” and respond, “Hmmm. What are you really trying to say?”

And here in the 21st Century cyber-communication world of sound bites and social networking, where abbreviations and emoticons are considered “writing,” the 10th person will whine, “The sentence was too long, so I didn’t finish reading it!”

n The National Foundation of High Schools says high school football continues to be — far and away — the most popular participatory sport among secondary school students. In the 2011-12 school year, nearly 1.2 million high school students were on the gridiron.

What’s interesting is: Of the 1.2 million football players, 1,561 were girls.

- There are some folks who just can’t help being stupid, but at least they could stay home.

- “I’ll be more enthusiastic about encouraging thinking outside the box when there’s evidence of thinking going on inside it.” Wry observation from British novelist Sir Terry Pratchett.

- Of all the fringe presidential candidates running in 2012, Rocky Anderson maybe one of the most fringe-est. A former two-term mayor of Salt Lake City, Anderson is the candidate of the Justice Party (Bet you didn’t know such a party existed, right?), and he’s a strong advocate of equality for gay folks.

Thing I find most interesting about Anderson, though, is he refuses to take contributions from corporations, foreign nationals and federal government contractors. Would love to see what might happen if candidates of the two major parties had such a prohibition.

- Maybe it’s unfair, but I see a red flag anytime a marketer tells me, “We’re going to pass the savings along to you.”

- “We are the freest nation in the world, except when we’re afraid.” So said John Seigenthaler, founder of the First Amendment Center.

- The word “awesome” ain’t as awesome as it used to be.

- Hedging is really not a bad thing in conducting civil discourse. When someone asks, “What’s on your mind?”, do they really want to know? Same with, “How are you doin’ today?”

- According to 21st Century Techno Man (my alter ego), he’s adopted Joe Walsh’s recent hit song, Analog Man, as a personal theme song. It’s a wonderful tune, guaranteed to touch the sensitivities and tap the toe of techno-curmudgeons.

- “Once in a while we will stumble upon the truth, but most of us manage to pick ourselves up and hurry along as if nothing had happened.” Winston Churchill said it.

- There may be a noble sentiment behind it, but the notion every young person in the USofA must have a college or technology school degree is simply a pipe dream.

- When I was growing up on the Illinois side of the Wabash River, rumor had it the reason our neighbors in Indiana were called “Hoosiers” is because after a knife fight in a tavern, somebody would pick up a lump of flesh and ask, “Whose ear is this?”

Probably not true, but we young’uns thought it was gruesomely cool.

580-255-5354, Ext. 172

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  • Governor, state Legislature have misplaced priorities

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    April 9, 2014

  • Self government key to keeping politicians in check

    Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that federal campaign laws that limit the total amount of money donors can give to political parties, committees and candidates for federal office (U.S. House, Senate, and President) was unconstitutional. The ruling will not increase the current $2,600 limit on how much a donor can give to a federal candidate in each primary and general election or the $32,400 limit that can go to a national party committee. Those limits are still in place.  The ruling will instead remove the limit on how many candidates/committees to which a donor can contribute.

    April 9, 2014

  • Legislative goals crucial to priorities in education

    I am a member of several professional organizations where I attend regular meetings, network with colleagues, and stay abreast and informed on education best practices.  The Cooperative Council for Oklahoma School Administration, better known as CCOSA, is a nonprofit organization that establishes close and continuous communication and cooperation between educators, taxpayers, and legislators to improve the effectiveness of professional school administrators and to communicate the needs of schools. Attendance this time of year is especially critical because legislators are in session.

    March 28, 2014

  • An impressive ranking that could be better

    That Duncan was named one of the best 15 communities in Oklahoma by Movoto, a national Real Estate company, is news worth celebrating.
    Of 43 places with population of 10,000 or more, as determined by the U.S. Census data, Duncan finished 15th. Norman was first, Edmond second, Yukon and Moore tied for third and Bethany was fifth.

    March 9, 2014

  • Kids shouldn’t have to pay for having punster parents

    Friends and neighbors, I’ve been cloistered in my Thought Chamber for the past few days, contemplating many high-brow philosophies and haughty hypothesis that we who think on a different level use to exercise our finely-tuned minds and remain intellectually superior to the Great Unwashed.
    As you see, the time alone has been intellectually beneficial. I just composed an opening sentence (what we in the journalism dodge call a “lead”) that’s 46 words long.

    March 9, 2014

  • The blissful serenity of No-TV Land

    Life without TV is possible. Maybe you should try it. I did. It’s a do-able thing, I tell you. I’m still here, no worse the wear, no oozing wounds, no serious loss of brainwave activity except for the slow, inexorable downhill decline that already started when TV viewing was a daily occurrence.

    Granted, two months without the tube is quite likely not a scientifically acceptable sample from which is to hold forth. But it’s the best I can do, so deal with it.

    March 9, 2014

  • Cooper’s message is to remain active

    Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the Dallas physician who coined the phrase “aerobics” more than four decades ago, who has become a world leader in physical fitness and who has saved, literally, thousands of lives by promoting the value of an active lifestyle, shared his philosophy of life here last week.

    March 9, 2014

  • Time to take the “B” out of the “Three R’s”

    Our young folks are hitting the stretch drive toward the end of another school year, during which they’ve been taught “Three R’s”, which are not really “r’s” at all.
    In case you missed it, reading is the only one of the “Three R’s” that actually begins with the letter “r.” Writing starts with a “w” and arithmetic begins with the letter “a.” There are two reasons we drop the “w” from “writing” and the “a” from “arithmetic”: 1. For poetic flow in the age-old saying; and, 2. many people have a secret yen to talk like the Beverly Hillbillies.

    February 23, 2014

  • Thank you for lettin’ me be myself again

    Friends and neighbors, hope I don’t sound like the biggest egomaniac since Donald Trump, but you know, I am the most interesting person I’ve ever known.
    Forgive me if — on first blush — that sounds like the most totally self-aggrandizing statement you’ve ever heard. And if you’ve headed to the restroom to express an editorial opinion about the statement above, I’ll stop for a couple minutes.

    February 15, 2014

  • Buzz misfired in Vanity Fair body slam of Duncan

    As the new kid in town, I’m reluctant to leap atop the ramparts to defend the honor of Duncan, Okla., my new adopted hometown.
    But to heck with that. When an out-of-towner comes into your house and soils your rug, it’s on.
    I speak, of course, about the article in Vanity Fair magazine about Duncan and the  killing last year of Chris Lane, the Australian who was gunned down in August.

    January 24, 2014