Society and politics
What is the difference between a discourse analyst with training in linguistic methodology and a blogger or the reader of a blog? Discourse analysis relies on the human capacity to understand text but it is also embedded in the social practices of discussing and inferring the meaning from text. The following example of a simple computer-generated graphical representation of Obama's speech (courtesy of Wordle.net) in many ways does the job of half an academic paper. It presents the data and lets the reader infer meanings (particularly in comparison with other speeches).
Obama and swaying fields of corn was a major theme of his 30-minute pre-election and then Elizabeth Alexander's poem at the inauguration brought it home during the inauguration:
Liberalism and Western style democracy have not been able to help realize the ideals of humanity. Today these two concepts have failed. Those with insight can already hear the sounds of the shattering and fall of the ideology and thoughts of the liberal democratic systems.
I was just listening to the UK Prime Minister's Question Time. I don't do it very often, because the questions and answers are predictable in content and not particularly informative, but maybe I should tune in more often to get a sense of the tone of the exchange.
As I was listening, I was struck by the tone social conservatism, law and order and peaceful environment for the law abiding citizens. It felt to me like a representation of a yearning for return to the 1950s (or rather our rosy image of the 50s).
Franklin as inventor, socialite and statesman, and take a look at the Tercentenary Exhibition in his honor, now open in Philadelphia.
The headline is the only thing of interest here. It is an example of several things. On the one hand, it shows how easily a person's personal tragedy can be abstracted away from the larger symbolism (Terry Shiavo last year and Charles Kennedy this are other examples).
Another great interview on onthemedia.org. This one dealing with the reliability of expert predictions (in the media and in general).
On The Media-- THE GUESSING GAME
PHILIP TETLOCK: When an expert has very, very strong opinions on an issue, when the expert places a high value on simplicity and has little patience with contradictions or ambiguity, and when the expert is making longer-term predictions, that expert's likely to go off the cliff.