A Skewed Semiotic: When a Picture Speaks the Wrong Thousand Words

Nicholas Kristof wrote a fascinating couple of opinion articles for the NYTimes over the last two weeks, and the reason for some reader dissent and confusion in the first story appears to stem from a core misunderstanding — purposeful or not — about the image.

Here’s what Kristof wrote on February 22, 2014:

As an infant, Johnny was deaf but no one noticed or got him the timely medical care he needed to restore his hearing. He lives in a trailer here in the hills of rural Appalachia with a mom who loves him and tries to support him but is also juggling bills, frozen pipes and a broken car that she can’t afford to fix.

The first error Kristof makes — but has yet to apologize for, or clarify — is labeling Johnny “Deaf.”  Deafness is a cultural condition from which one does not get “healed” so the proper term should have been “hearing loss” since the “Deafness” was not actual, but imagined, by Kristof.

The real outrage aimed at Kristof was not over his inappropriate use of “Deaf” — but rather the way some of his readers felt he was celebrating a degenerate lifestyle of poverty in this image:

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When Sunny Gets Blue and Sunshine Blows Through the Blues

“When Sunny Gets Blue” is one of the greatest Blues/Jazz songs ever written. You can sing it slow and creeping with an oozing loss, or you can snap it up and make the song fast and raspy.  The lyric is especially keen — you can take it as a comment on a personality, or a conundrum of living in the sunshine when the world is dark around you:

When Sunny gets blue, her eyes get gray and cloudy,
Then the rain begins to fall, pitter-patter, pitter-patter,
Love is gone, so what can matter,
Ain’t no new lover man come to call.

Many of us probably have a Sunny or two in our lives — some versions gloomier than others, but today, I want to share a 10-second memory of a ray of sun.  Her friends and co-workers call her “Sunshine” and the name fits her without a fog.

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Between Virtue and Mortality: Of This Shadow We Have Known

With age comes experiential wisdom and, we hope, a certain jading when it comes to living a right life. Where once we surprised, now we are prepared; where once we were astonished, now we are bemused.

“It goes on…” is likely the best takeaway motto the elders among us have vested in the current lifetime. Life is circular and repetitive and expectation grows dark and deep as uncertainty continually erupts to corrupt the circle.

We yearn to be virtuous against our impending and inevitable ending, and in that shadow between first bursting and the final shovel is the test of our lives.  Have we behaved ethically? Were we in this world just for ourselves? Did we, in some way, serve the others among us without an expectation of a return on our investment?

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The Unrepentant: Hart Bochner Would Rather Kill You than Kiss You

Hart Bochner is one of those deliciously rare character actors who can grab a role and make it belong only to him. Danger is his essence.  You love to loathe him.  Hart usually plays the bad guy in a movie and he does the dark side so evilly well.

Over the weekend, we watched the middling 1998 movie Break Up on Netflix starring the always fantastic Bridget Fonda – who has been sadly missing in entertainment action since her 2003 car accident when she broke her back — and the always infamous Hart Bochner.

The movie stars Bridget, but the story belongs to Hart.

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On Unraveling the World and Letting the Queue Clear

We spend our lives creating, and waiting in, queues.  We do our best to manage the dead time in line and when we are responsible for the movement of any queue, we oftentimes become impatient with a process that more slowly unravels than the speed in which it tightened.

Sometimes there’s nothing to be done except to stand back and let the queue take on a life of its own and allow it to expire when the momentum of the movement is exhausted.

There are three kinds of basic queues that capture our daily lives: Physical, Virtual and Ethereal. Let’s examine them in kind.

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That Ringing in Your Ears is the Music of Your Mind

We have a horrible new neighbor living above us, and she’s young and preppy and VERY LOUD!  She bangs things on her wood floor/our ceiling all day and all night long.  She walks heavy on her heels back and forth and back again.  She drags her furniture across her wood floor/our ceiling that creates fingernails-on-chalkboard by osmosis.

I have taken to using earplugs when she’s at her most obnoxious and the earplugs do seem to filter out the precise range of her banging on our heads to make her terrorism from above us sort of tolerable.  I’ll leave the whole injustice of, “Why should I have to wear earplugs all day long so I can’t hear you being obnoxious?” question for another day.

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From Twit to Tweep: A Groundling in the Twitterverse

Yesterday, I participated in an odd, one hour, “web session” with the Twitter Small Business advertising team where you submitted questions beforehand in anticipation of getting real world answers you could use to promote your small business on Twitter.

Instead getting helpful, direct, answers I was pricked back in time to the beginning of my blogging life and the excellent startup FeedBurner service.

Do you remember this fiery, iconic, logo?

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