Kurt Vonnegut's Idea for a Reality TV Show

I've been reading commencement speeches by Kurt Vonnegut, which are well-remembered today for mordant wit, dark humor and prophetic warnings about where society was headed. There was no one greater at sending freshly minted college graduates into the world with their skulls full of newfound doubt and grave misgivings. In his 1974 Hobart and William College commencement speech, Vonnegut talked about the Louds, a family in Santa Barbara, California, who let a documentary crew film their private ... (read more)

Dear Students, My Job is to Kill Your Dreams

When the novelist Kelly Braffet was in high school, she had the worst English teacher of all time: One day, Mrs. Smith told us to write about what we wanted to be when we grew up. I wrote about wanting to be a writer. I wrote about how I'd loved books as long as I could remember and was never happier than when I was deeply immersed in a story. I probably added something about wanting to win the Pulitzer by 25 and the Nobel by 30, because that was the kind of obnoxious kid I was. I didn't really ... (read more)

Obama's Speech to Schools No Reason to Freak Out

The lead story in today's St. Augustine Record feeds the hysteria over President Obama's planned speech to the nation's schoolchildren Tuesday. "Parents may pull kids from Obama talk," the headline reads, "Some St. Johns parents fear political message." Instead of covering what Obama's going to say to students, which will be a non-partisan call for kids to study, do homework and help the country by bettering themselves educationally, the Record leads with idiotic spin from Florida Republican ... (read more)

Auto-Tune the News: The Early Years

Eight years ago, Evan Gregory of the Gregory Brothers, the mad geniuses behind the Auto-Tune the News YouTube videos, gave the commencement speech at Swarthmore College for the class of 2001. The speech, which ended up on NPR, is partially delivered in pirate. ... (read more)

Rogers Has Four Alma Maters

Sarah Palin switched colleges six times in six years: the University of Hawaii-Hilo (a few weeks), Hawaii Pacific University (one semester), North Idaho College (two semesters), University of Idaho (two semesters), Matanuska-Susitna College (one semester) and then back to the University of Idaho (three semesters), where she graduated in spring 1987 with a degree in journalism. I thought I was insane for attending four colleges: Stephen F. Austin State University (one semester), Richland Junior ... (read more)