Talking Chairs
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11 posts for PR pros

“I am surprised to see how much I have written; with stories, even a page can take me hours, but the truth seems to flow out as fast as I can get it down.”—from Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle.   Having recently published my 300th blog post, I can now say with assurance, “I wrote a blog about that once,” whenever my colleagues bring up random discussion topics. Below are a few posts of mine that might be useful to corporate communicators and PR pros: Does a friend or loved one have trouble with hyphens? Heading off hyphenation headaches Have trouble...
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8 more logical fallacies to avoid

It’s great to have the courage of your convictions, but you need more than that to put forth a winning argument. In last week’s post, I offered 11 logical fallacies and why it’s important to recognize them in what we see, read and hear. Such fallacies weaken arguments; employing them can make you and your organization less credible. Here are a few more logical fallacies to be aware of: 1. Anecdotal evidence Using personal experience or an isolated example instead of a valid argument or compelling evidence to state your position; often used to dismiss...
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11 logical fallacies to avoid

In a time of fake news, “alternative facts,” Newspeak, and attacks on credible journalism, I’ve focused on teaching my kids how to recognize logical fallacies in what they see, hear, and read. Logical fallacies are errors in reasoning that weaken arguments. Once you start looking for them, they’re shockingly obvious. How many of the following logical fallacies can you spot in one day? 1. Ad populum — arguing that because “everyone,” “Americans” or “the majority” thinks or does something, it must be true and right. Example: Whether Earth is flat or...
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Can you complete these great first lines...

For this week’s post, I offer readers a distraction. Take a break from writing that social media post, white paper or annual report message, and test your literary knowledge. Fill in the blanks for these renowned first lines in literature: 1. “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking ____________.” “1984” by George Orwell 2. “In a hole in the ground there lived a ____________.” “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien 3. “It was a pleasure to ____________.” “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury 4. “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from...
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What “Would You Rather” do?

On long car trips, my kids will often play “Would You Rather?” If you haven’t played, the game poses a question beginning with, “Would you rather…” and then offers a choice between two good options or a choice between two equally unattractive options. Answering “neither” or “both” is against the rules. With my kids, their questions mostly involve superpowers (Would you rather be invisible or be invincible?); eating things (Would you rather eat a bug or moldy bread?); and school activities (Would you rather be in the science lab all day, or in art class...
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There’s a journal for that?

My youngest sister is in graduate school, earning her PhD in neurobiology. She is surviving the “publish or perish culture” and her team’s work has been published in a number of research journals. This week, I was reading one of her papers when I became intrigued with the titles of the academic and research journals in her citation list. It seems there’s a journal for every topic, no matter how obscure or specialized. So I set out to find exactly how obscure and how specialized, and these are the journal titles that I found. Antipode (offering a radical analysis...
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13 inspiring quotes from Westworld

The winter months are a great time to catch up on TV series and movies that you never had time to watch. During my recent break, I discovered “Westworld .” “Westworld” is a western/science fiction series based on Michael Crichton’s original 1973 screenplay. The show is a writer’s dream. It features well-written, quick-witted, pithy dialogue. Literary allusions are everywhere as characters routinely quote Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll and Mary Shelley. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the series: 1. “These violent delights have violent ends.” —...
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21 hilariously mangled metaphors

Let’s look at a figure of speech that—when used incorrectly—can leave your readers dazed and confused. A metaphor is a figure of speech that describes an object by comparing it to another unrelated object. Our workplace had become “Westworld,” but with sloppy programming. When used correctly, metaphors help us paint pictures with words, adding depth to our writing. When used incorrectly, the result is quite the opposite. Here are examples of mangled metaphors: That’s a kettle of fish of a different color. You’ve buttered your bread, now lie in it. Never...