Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Around the Word

Today's trip around the word discusses the art of persuasion—in politics, in movies, and, more sordidly, for the sake of swindling teachers:
  • Meet "Ed Dante," a self-styled "academic mercenary" who has "attended" three dozen online universities, written everything from legal briefs and lab reports to Ph.D-level papers, and has completed twelve graduate theses—all for other students. Last year he ghosted around 5,000 pages on every topic under the sun, largely for cheaters he classifies as "the English-as-second-language student; the hopelessly deficient student; and the lazy rich kid." In an article for The Chronicle of Higher Education (written under an assumed name, like the rest of his work), "Dante" describes his life as a "shadow scholar" operating "from some invisible location far beneath the ivory tower."
  • "Polemics" is almost a four-letter word these days, but the true art of argument has nothing to do with the theatrics on cable television, insists columnist Lee Siegel in the Wall Street Journal. Far from any "feral opining," Siegel believes true polemics is about patiently absorbing your opponent's rhetoric first—and then meticulously undermining it by pointing out logical gaps where your counter-arguments can flourish. Who are your top polemicists to watch?
  • Sure, we've all seen a blue-faced Mel Gibson rallying Scotland's rebels, but what about speeches by female firebrands? The Eloquent Woman is going to the cinema in search of powerful oratory delivered by women on the silver screen. So far, she's catalogued Samantha's stirring address at the breast cancer benefit on Sex and the City and Norma Rae's iconic one-word speech in Norma Rae. Help populate the list with your own favorite scenes of rousing rhetoric by leading ladies.

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