Communication is hard

I am reminded of how hard communication is on a daily basis, both in professional terms (How do we produce content people want … and how do we make sure they see it?), and in my own home life (How do I tell my wife something that accurately conveys how I feel?).

That second one is sometimes harder than it sounds, because well, our feelings don’t always make a whole lot of sense.  And if they do, they’re complicated.  It’s not as simple as, “Me angry. You do better.”  Usually (always?) it’s more convoluted than that.

Which is why I am sympathetic — to some degree or another — to any goober who makes an ass of themselves on social media.

A former Kansas State student did just that yesterday, and she did it in an entirely upsetting way.  Racism is not a good look, nor does it reflect particularly well on my alma mater.  This is frustrating to me, as an alum, but also as a human being who wants to see the best in other people.

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Pursuit of Crappiness podcast Episode 6: All the President’s Men

As adults, we learn some important truths:

1. You don’t always need to do what you’re told.

2. You have the freedom to pass on your vegetables, but there are consequences.

That first lesson is central to the plot of “All the President’s Men,” which outlines in sometimes obsessive detail what the life of a journalist entails … both in the sexy appeal of breaking the rules to get the scoop, but also in the mundane minutia of calling, and typing, and research, and calling, and typing, and…

(You get the idea.)

Just as the mundane parts of being a journalist are the equivalent of eating one’s vegetables, I might argue that watching this film is much the same.  There is payoff to breaking the rules … but only when you eat your veggies.  And to understand cinema and its relationship to the political process (as well as journalism), this movie, a nominee for the 1976 Oscar for Best Picture, is simply required viewing (whether some might consider it dry or not).

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Pursuit of Crappiness podcast Episode 4: Spotlight

“Spotlight” is an Oscar-winning film about journalism, about spiritualism, about the power of institutions, and about priests molesting children.

That least piece of the equation might be enough to turn people away, but I can tell you two things that might change your mind if you’ve been delaying seeing the movie:

1. This movie doesn’t actually show any of these acts, nor does it very much “hint” at them with visual tricks like closed doors, creepy touches, etc. The victims in the film are largely adults, dealing with the abuse that occurred years prior. In short, the content of the film is itself digestible.

2. The actors (mostly) keep their performances reserved, while the writing and direction are intelligent in their handling of such a sensitive topic. The characters here are not cartoons, nor is the film particularly “preachy” in its intentions. It’s more concerned with telling a story, and doing it respectfully.

That the film succeeds in these matters is to its credit and makes it a worthwhile winner of 2015’s best picture (and a movie I would recommend to anyone).

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