Intercultural Communication: Gaining Weight?

Here's an interesting example of the differences in meaning for a simple comment about gaining weight between English and Japanese. This example can easily be related to bypassing and the differences between connotation and denotation.

100 Best Hacks

Here is some good advice (100 ideas, actually) for the college student, starting or returning to college. And this Online Universities Website seems a useful one, more generally.



If you're looking for an up-to-date book on the rules of politeness, take a look at Robin Abrahams' Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners: Master the Slippery Rules of Modern Ethics and Etiquette (Times Books/Holt, 2009). What I particularly like about the book are the great communication examples throughout.



An article published in the New York Times, “Moving into a digital future, where textbooks are history,” discussed the changes taking place in education, specifically the move from written textbook to e-books. A flood of letters/responses are presented in the Times of August 16, 2009, many lamenting the rise of the e-book. Almost all, in my opinion, miss the point.
E-books will, without a doubt, replace the traditional printed textbook, largely because it is a more efficient medium for communicating information. Just consider what a change this will make in the teaching of communication. Just for starters: Videos of speeches can be inserted in strategic places in the public speaking e-book, interactive communication models can be presented in human communication, and a variety of dialogues—from film, television, and real life—can be integrated into the discussions of interpersonal communication concepts and principles. Generally, it seems that the more channels of communication that are used to present information, the greater the chances of communicating effectively. The traditional printed text presents information through one channel; the e-book from several. And that alone makes the e-book superior. After all, not all students learn in the same way; some will learn more about effective speech delivery from watching a video of a well-presented speech while others might learn more from reading a series of dos and don’ts. We need to provide students with learning options and the e-book provides a lot more options than does the traditional printed text.
The textbook writer will still be needed (I’m happy to say) but will have to adjust to a digital world and will have to present material in a way that capitalizes on the enormous capabilities of computer mediated communication. Actually, this is one of the things that makes textbook writing the interesting and creative experience that it is.


In the discussion of self-disclosure, we often mention the process of outing which essentially is disclosure by some third person. Originally the term was used to refer to disclosing someone’s homosexuality as a way of preventing him or her from discriminating against the gay community. So, if a politician advocates homophobic policies, outing him or her, effectively strips the person of influence.
A somewhat different form of outing occurred in an article, “Beirut, the Provincetown of the Middle East” (New York Times, August 2, 2009). Author Patrick Healy wrote in detail about gay life in Lebanon. Unfortunately, homosexuality is illegal in Lebanon and the article, as a writer from Beirut noted, “effectively outed the entire underground gay scene in a country relatively hostile to homosexuality”. I’m not sure what the motivations of the writer or of the NYTimes were in publishing such an article, but it seems the article can have enormous negative consequences for gay people and for gay establishments in Lebanon. Did the author and the NYTimes want to cause problems for the gay community? Did they want to encourage the Lebanon police to crack down on gay meeting places? Did they just want to sell newspapers? This is a good example of how revealing private information about others can have serious consequences and raises important issues about the responsibilities of the media.


ABCD Ethics Again

Re: My post of September 9, 2007 on ethics:
The one question that caused the most disagreement was the last one; it read: "My behavior is ethical when the effect of the behavior is more beneficial than harmful."
This was a bit ambiguous and perhaps the reason for the confusion. I should have said: My behavior is ethical when it benefits more people than it harms.
The explanation as to why the 5th statement is more false than true (...the burning of witches, for example, was in the interest of the majority as was slavery and discrimination against gay men and lesbians, certain religions, or different races)is even more appropriate to the rewritten statement.
Interestingly enough, the other night on Medium there was an application of this notion of ethics. Briefly, a teenager was persuaded by some malevolent character to force people to commit suicide. But, these were not just ordinary people; they were people who were going to commit horrendous crimes, e.g., killing everyone at a diner. The teen’s argument was that he was doing good work; after all, he was only killing one person to prevent that person from killing a whole group of people. When Allison protested, he told her to “do the math”—one life instead of 16. Of course, the information Allison receives in Medium is based on dreams which are often misleading. But, the argument was made very clear. If you could kill one person and in the process prevent the killing of several others, would you do it? Would that be ethical? If you find that behavior is ethical when it benefits more people than it harms,then you’d be forced to argue that killing an innocent person (and the person would be innocent at the time he or she is killed) would be ethical. Of course, we cannot predict with complete accuracy if this innocent person will really carry out the dastardly deed or not (and so the connection with Medium is certainly not perfect). And yet, we engage in pre-emptive wars, not very different from the situation depicted on Medium.


Blue and Communication

Here's another interesting article on blue and communication. Thanks, Peggy, for sending this to me.


The Meanings of Color

Here's a brief article that might prove useful in introducing the topic of the meanings of varied colors and the role of research findings in establishing any connection between specific colors and specific meanings. For the most part, the research literature says very little, as I understand it. I did find it interesting that blue is thought to be the color of communication.