29 October, 2007

Plain English?

Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), a first term member of the House is proposing new legislation that will require the Government to write future documents, forms and memos (etc) in Plain Language. He has been interested in the usage of simple wordings since the Iowa Supreme Court changed the wordings of Jury Instructions in 1983. Concerns over the deciphering of government "gobbledygook" are as old as the Constitution itself. Advocates claim that simplifying these necessary communications with the general public will decrease costs and streamline many processes. The Center for Plain Language lists 3 Principles of plain language:

Material is in plain language if the audience can:

  • Find what they need
  • Understand what they find
  • Use what they find to meet their needs
They aim to increase the all-pervading american dream of 100% efficiency. Fortunately, life and culture are not solely based on "'writing reasonably short sentances,' 'Preferring active voice,' 'Using clear, informative headings,' 'Omitting unnecessary words' and 'Having a readable design.'"

I see this as the ultimate admission of our nation's educational failure.

Problem: Our children cannot read and understand the technical wordings of Government forms.

Their Solution: Make the forms easier to understand.

My solution: Spend more money on education than _____________. I'm sure you get the picture.

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18 October, 2007


  • Dennis Hastert is most likely resigning early. He has held the post of Speaker of the House for the longest ever. I can't believe that my college is naming a new poli-sci/econ building after him. I take that back...I can believe it but that's the sad part. If we are going to name buildings after famous alums who have made significant contributions to society without involving themselves with their Alma mater post graduation, why not name the new film/arts building after Wes Craven?
  • The new Radiohead CD: In Rainbows is, imho, excellent. Thom Yorke's new direction in The Eraser definitely shines through here, ephemeral background synths, ostinato beats, echoing vocals and a lighter feel remind me strangely of early Russian animation. These elements seem to connect this album with the more deliberate, chill songs from OK Computer and The Eraser's Harrowdown Hill or Cymbal Rush. Why early Russian animation? Dystopian Lumage.
  • Day 4 of Post-Conference recuperation. I'm going for a bike ride today.
  • At the conference, I talked to Edward Gilbreath, author of Reconciliation Blues, A Black Evangelical's Inside View of White Christianity. The book is insightful and quick. It sold very well. I'm in the process of reading it and I'll write more later. From our conversation, he encouraged me to write about my own experiences regarding Race and Christianity. JP Paulus has been encouraging me to write about it since I started this thing. Ok...you got your wish. I won't be able to publish the full thing here for privacy reasons, but it will still be entertaining.
I need to walk in the woods and soon.

Now playing: Radiohead - Reckoner

11 October, 2007

not-quite-live-blogging the 2007 CCDA Conference 3

So you may have gathered that I'm not actually attending the CCDA Conference, I'm merely organizing it. I think that sometimes, I like to pretend that I'm more important than I am. It's just easy to adopt this quick-moving, fast-talking style that cuts to the quick instantly. When you do this all the time and you have a reason for it, people understand generally quickly. However, when you do not have a reason for acting this way, people see through you and learn to despise. I only caused one minor snafu, and hopefully it won't have major repercussions. While very tired, I still have energy.

I was wondering about whether or not I could handle this kind of stress. It is trying, and I do have fun getting sympathy from random people, but I realized today that I can handle it. I actually handle it pretty well. I don't flip out on people, I don't scream...I do get terse, but I can be very flexible. Ok, enough about myself. I'm just happy to realize that I can handle crazy situations. I was talking to a really smart guy the other day and he told me that my flexibility came from growing up in a stable family. My ability to adapt was enhanced by my home life. We may be more influenced by our grandparents than we think.

Noel Castellanos is now officially the new Executive Director/CEO of CCDA. The Board voted on Tuesday and made the official announcement at the first plenary session last night. Noel gave a very nice speech to the crowd. He took his jacket off at one point and threw it off the stage. Apparently, he's lost a lot of weight lately. He also invited everyone to come running with him at 7 AM.

I have more signs to hang up.

Maybe I'll get to see some of the conference soon.

09 October, 2007

not-quite-live-blogging the 2007 CCDA Conference 2

Rudy and I are g-chatting from diffferent rooms here. He's in the boring board meeting. I'm being swamped by willow creek literature. Why aren't the lanyards here yet? Who is giving the evening training? "Can you stay here for an hour and be our techie?" Someone pay the photographer. Watch out for the union spies. Nobody has cash? TIP SOMETHING!
- What do you mean I can't eat the left-over food on your silly table? You're going to throw it away anyway. I know health codes! You just want money! -

Everyone is treading as lightly as possible while trying to balance efficient time management. The art of the harried rebuke. I met Mary, a professor at North Park's Community Development Masters program. Rudy is excited that I'm here.

Here's how to survive here:

  • Write everything down
  • Copy all the files
  • Back it up twice
  • Bring everything with you
  • Memorize everything else
  • Use tasteful Pastel colors
  • Print out Hard Copies
  • Scan the Hard Copies
  • Copy the Soft-Hard Copies to your Jump Drive.
  • Don't lose your Jump Drive

not-quite-live-blogging the 2007 CCDA Conference

I won't be at most of it, I'll be too busy freaking out over volunteers. So far, I've been able to see Rudy and H. Spees and I interacted (awkwardly) with JP himself! It's an all-day CCDA Board Meeting. Yikes. They're having a good time.

Up today:

  • 2 volunteer trainings
  • 160 workshop packets to finalize
  • 2000+ nametags to verify and attach to lanyards
  • 2000+ people to verify and attach to...uh...
  • Somehow I have to find some workers for Saturday night.
St. Louis is a pretty place. I'm staying at the Adam's Mark Hotel right next to the Arch.

Time to set up the Projector for the Board during their amazing looking lunch break.