life as understood

by jeff carr, master of the arts, -------------------------------------------------------------------------- presumably from a couch



courtesy of Jeff |

I suppose this is as much for me as for anyone else. I've been pondering for days upon how to write this, so as to show utmost respect on this measly site for a man who has meant so much to so many. My beloved grandfather, Dr. T. H. Carr passed away in Idaho Falls on Friday at about 5:00. Until I went off to college, we lived just down the street from each other for my entire life, and I spent time there with him almost every week at some point. He's had a grab bag of various health problems for about the past 20 years or so, but he really took a turn for the worse this last summer at around Father's Day, when Sarah and I were too far away. He was an incredibly selfless man who sacrificed his time making others whole as a surgeon for many decades. As a retiree, he remained in constant pursuit of knowledge, having been engaged in learning about science, current events, sports, and all of the finer things. He cared about his family above all, claiming the theory of heterosis, which is that each generation improves upon the one previous. In speaking of this, he set the bar rather high for those of us left behind, as he himself lived a model life. I will continue to value his opinion as a man of great balance and integrity. I know he was proud of the man I've become to this point, the girl I've chosen for a wife, and my plans for the future. His pride helps to justify my own decisions.

Any attempt at documenting memories, personal sacrifices he made for me, or examples of insights he instilled within me, opening my mind to a world where people are and can be intrinsically good, is in vain. There's simply too much. I wish he could have seen me graduate from college (he missed it by a week), as I've reveled in his level reactions and advice to each of my short life's milestones thus far. I received a card in the mail yesterday, postmarked the day he died but before they had any idea, congratulating me on my achievement, signed with love from Grandma and Grandpa. That, it appears, will have to do. Fortunately, I have a lifetime worth of assurance that doing what Grandpa would have done will be a pretty safe mantra to follow. And I know he's still there, fidgeting around in his chair, waiting, and being proud.



courtesy of Jeff |

I've been working to try to hook up with some of my writer friends from here at the university whom I'm likely never to see again, with the intent of continuing to read each others' work and see if anyone gets grown-up jobs. If you are one of those people, I welcome you to my lame blog, which by the way, needs a new, less-cliche title--something probably without my name, and without the word "muse" in any form. John's is "Open the Vein," which grossed me out at first, but then the nice quote on the top explained it, validating its coolness far beyond my initial suspicion. I need something like that. Generally speaking, my titles are trite and unimpressive, despite my sometimes-embarrassing regard for good ones, like "Everything that Rises Must Converge" and "Men Without Hats." So be on the lookout for that. If you can't tell, I'm pretty much just writing now in the hopes of getting myself into the habit of writing here much more frequently, and less rantingly. Don't worry, I'll see to it that quality doesn't take a hit. We're all about quality here.


my degree of glory

courtesy of Jeff |

In about a week and a half, I will have a college degree with honors and a decent number of academic accolades. Of course, this greatly saddens me, as it appears that this development will greatly proclude the likelihood of me getting a job. The problem, of course, is that I will have a degree in English.

Taken from my department's mission statement, the goal of an English degree is more or less the following: "By studying how individuals in specific historical, cultural, and rhetorical circumstances present their ideas to others through the medium of language, our students learn how to present their own ideas persuasively. They learn to raise key questions, gather relevant information, reach well-reasoned conclusions, weigh alternative systems of thought, and communicate effectively with others."

Notice there's nothing in there about "preparing our students to be high school English teachers," as is the common pigeon-holing misconception. To me, an English education is the single most important education a person can receive, for reasons both idealistic and yes, even practical. In a survey of various employers from a few years back, effective communication skills were cited as being the single most important attribute for employees to possess. In fact, I don't want this to come out wrong, but I'm pretty confident that most of my fellow English majors are even more qualified to run a business than most business majors I've met. Of course, this begs the question:

Why can't I find a job?

My friend Will, also a next-week English graduate with honors, works at a furniture warehouse, where he is forced to handle a bunch of the store's official correspondence and other items that elude the competence of those around him. He doesn't get paid for this, though. He gets paid for selling furniture, which job he is ironically more qualified for even than his superiors. Perhaps the problem is that the skills we've learned are valuable for all fields, but not one specifically. After all, who wants an employee that could veritably excel at jobs other than their own?

I feel like I have learned a great deal throughout the course of my college education, and I remain extremely proud of my English degree. It will indeed prove immeasurably useful in my life, and I don't, nor will I ever regret it for a second. I've loved it.

They say "you can do anything with an English degree," but they don't offer a single specific suggestion. I now have one year before grad school, and I am in desperate need of suggestions. Or just jobs. Would anyone be willing to part with either?

Is there any way to suggest discrepancies or fallacies in the media without sounding like a conspiracy theorist? I hope I don't commit myself to endless profiling and labeling with this post, but honestly, I think something needs to be done about mass media in the United States. Let me preface this by saying that the situation is probably worse in just about every other country, so no complaint about that. I just think we should hold ourselves to a higher standard, and we have no one to blame for the current situation but ourselves.

Mass media contains a shameless liberal bias. There, I said it. Now, you probably all immediately think I'm a gun-toting, warmongering, racist, backwoods Republican, but in case you missed it, I voted for Obama. I belong to neither party. And I don't believe the media is any sort of grand conspiracy. In fact, I very much agree with the sentiment of Bozell and Baker: "though bias in the media exists, it is rarely a conscious attempt to distort the news. It stems from the fact that most members of the media elite have little contact with conservatives and make little effort to understand the conservative viewpoint. Their friends are liberals, what they read and hear is written by liberals." Such a minor oversight in this line of business, unfortunately, has broad, sweeping effects. Where can we turn for balanced truth? According to a study done by two university professors in 2004, 18 out of the top 20 mass media outlets in America had a significant leftward lean. Now, obviously it's hard to know about the objectivity of any such study, but please check it out here and see for yourself. The stats are toward the bottom. Anyway, it's not the fact that it's liberal that scares me. Not in the least. It's the fact that it's nearly a monopoly. Obviously every imperfect newspaper or magazine or news network run by imperfect people is going to produce bias of some sort, but what's dangerous is the power they possess to completely alter the thinking of unwitting citizens, simply by shifting the labels of "right," "left," and "center."

Fox News is considered "conservative media" and is generally regarded as unprofessional, but who's labeling it that way? According to the aforementioned study, Fox is in fact one of the two of 20 that lean right, but also, it's statistically closer to the so-called center than CBS, NBC, and ABC. Fox is called conservative media, but liberal media is known simply as national media. Newsweek has a department called "Conventional Wisdom." Well, that sounds like it must be balanced, right? Well done, rhetoric. This past weekend, I read through the last four issues of Newsweek, and found in each edition of "CW" deifying, unstinting praise for the president and anyone aligned with him. and continual bashing on all things right. That's nothing new. It's been that way in every single issue I've read. The notable quotes page from an issue this past month included a very kind apology from President Obama for his Special Olympics slip-up on the Tonight Show--an honest flub. Still, they printed the apology, not the quote itself. I'm no advocate of mudslinging, but the quote page during the Bush administration was a constant litany of examples of him screwing up here and there and everywhere. Can you imagine what would have happen if Bush would have made that remark instead of Obama?

I could go on with plenty more examples, but there's no point. Doing so makes me look like...well, something bad. Media bias an untouchable topic, unfortunately, which makes for pretty good job security for those involved. It's just a shame that we have to deal with the fact that media is a business, and liberal politics is what sells. Successful journalists are those who connect with people. But the GOP is the party of personal responsibility, and who wants to hear that? It's far easier to agree with the policies of a party reliant on the mantra of collective responsibility, and therefore have someone else to blame our problems on. If we don't take enough personal interest in discovering the truth, maybe this is exactly what we deserve. I just wish there was a way for people to get the unbiased, unmitigated truth when they want it, whatever it may be. Then, they could actually understand the notion of thinking for themselves, (which notion, I might add, has been completely commandeered by the liberal left as well--nice job with that one).

So there's my rant for today. I'm sorry if I've lost some respect now. Maybe I read too many dystopian novels. Again, I have absolutely nothing against the intellectual left. I just don't like it being sneakily forced upon me. Liberals should understand that tendency. They're not supposed to like it either.