Atomic Scientists Tick the Doomsday Clock Closer to Midnight




It’s now two minutes to midnight, according to the Doomsday Clock which is maintained by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. Midnight on the clock would be nuclear war.  Founded in 1945 by Manhattan Project scientists, the Bulletin uses the powerful visual rhetoric of a clock clicking down to detonation to call attention to the world’s closeness to atomic annihilation.  When the scientists change the clock’s position either forward or backwards, it attracts media attention worldwide.


Clock timeline and history,

“Keepers of The Doomsday Clock Say We’re Now Only 2 Minutes to Midnight,”


Conflicting Reviews of ‘Blade Runner 2048’ Fuel Discussion of Audience

blade-runner-box-officeBlade Runner 2048 opened to generally good reviews.  For example, Katie Walsh of the Tribune News Service calls it “a meditative and moving film, sumptuously photographed by legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins in the finest and most astonishing work of his career.”  Yet, 2048 did not do well in theaters. Lauren Jernigen of The Mary Sue tries to explain why:  “Throughout the nearly three-hour philosophy lesson [of the film], we are presented with the idea that women are only there to help move the story of men forward, rather than act as protagonists in their own right in a story very much about oppression against them.”  Simply put, suggests Jernigen, many women didn’t like the film, and some men didn’t like the film’s treatment of women. 

Analyzing two conflicting review of the same film creates the opportunity to discuss how two writers can have such different perspective on the same topic. Moreover, the contrast fuels an analysis of audience.   In addition to discussing the two reviews, students might examine other articles and reviews posted by the two publications.  Likely, readers of the Tribune News Service have characteristics that differ distinctly from that of The Mary Sue, and articles in those publications will reflect the writers’ audience awareness. 


“Blade Runner 2049: Bad Representation Is Not Representation,”

“Blade Runner 2049 is a Wondrous Spectacle,”


Bret Stephens’s Suggestions for Op-Eds

New York Times’s Op-Ed writer Bret Stephens offers tips for aspiring Op-Ed that he’s learned over the years as an editor, op-ed writer and columnist.  He begins with this one:

“1) A wise editor once observed that the easiest decision a reader can make is to stop reading. This means that every sentence has to count in grabbing the reader’s attention, starting with the first. Get to the point: Why does your topic matter? Why should it matter today? And why should the reader care what you, of all people, have to say about it?”

These suggestions may be useful for writing Activity 5.7 Write an Op-Ed Argument on page 171 in Praxis 3e.

For 14 more tips, see Stephens’s essay at



New Euphemisms May Still Be Twattle

United CEO Oscar Munoz invented the euphemism “Re-accommodate” in an attempt to soften the description of what happened when a passenger was dragged off a flight.  The public didn’t like the wording very much.  Then he tried using the wording “truly horrific event” instead, but the damage was already done.

An euphemism is a figure of speech, which means the language is not meant literally or precisely.  Generally, euphemisms are mild words substituted for ones people think are too offensive.  When the person using a euphemism doesn’t understand an audience very well, though,  poor choices of softer words can make a situation worse.

A blog entry on, “Re-accommodating the Latest Euphemistic Twaddle,” discusses Munoz’s euphemisms, and others.

Untitled euph



Read Like Your Audience Would Read

This tote’s designers may have intended to say, “My Favorite Color is Glitter,” but their poor font choice conflated the “G” of glitter with the “L,” turning their design into a statement that most would read as “My Favorite color is Hitler.”  A simple change of font would have solved the problem.  The bag’s image

Hitler went viral on Twitter, with people offering comments like these:

“How did the designers Nazi that.”

“Waking up to see the führer this tweet has created”




Salman Rushdie’s Early Letters Reflect Audience Awareness

Prominent author Salman Rushdie, in an interview published on Literary Hub, reveals that his childhood letters to his parents were “fictions” designed to please them, his audience.  He didn’t want his parents to know he was unhappy at boarding school. Rather than detailing his true day-to-day life, he crafted content to have a certain effect upon them–to keep his mother from being sad and to show his father that his money was well spent.  See this excerpt from the interview:




Letter Convinced Schultz to Add the First African-American Peanuts Character

FrankliinIn 1968, schoolteacher Harriet Glickman wrote to Charles Schulz about the lack of African-American characters in the popular comic strip Peanuts.  Glickman, concerned about the racial tensions in the United States, urged Schultz that an African-American comic character could influence public opinion.  See Glickman’s first letter to Schultz below:


Peanunts Letter2

Schulz and Glickman exchanged several letters, discussing Schultz’s desire not to offend people of color by seeming to trivialize racial tensions by adding an African-American character. Glickman solicited opinions from some African-American friends and relayed their ideas to Schultz.  The two stayed in touch, and Schultz notified Gluckman when the new character would appear in 1973.

Read the article, “How a Schoolteacher Helped Create the First Black Peanuts Character,” for more of the correspondence between Schultz and Gluckman.  Identify the arguments Glickman used to convince Schultz.  Why do you think she was successful?