Snapping Turtle
The personal blog of David W. Guth
Copyright 2015
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Blogging my way from Tornado Alley to your computer screen, these are the personal observations of David W. Guth.  There are a lot of people online with nothing much to say.  I am not one of those folks.  I hope that you find my comments insightful, provocative and occasionally amusing.  I am a college professorJayhawk Journalist and writer.  I am not software engineer.  I am a content guy. Whatever this blog may lack in flash will be more than made up for in substance.  From the photo (left) you may also assume that I have East Coast roots -- I grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore and am a proud Terrapin. The purpose of this blog is simple: I want to practice what I teach.  How can a guy talk to students about social media if he doesn't participate in the online discussion?  So here is my foray into Web 2.0.  I also want to demonstrate that writing doesn't take a lot of words: My blog entries will brief. If you wish to comment on anything you read, please feel free to do so at dguth@ku.edu.  I'll answer you directly or in this space as the demands of my real life permit. And now, the legal stuff: Opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of his employer, his publisher, the Internet service provider or that of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball.  Unless otherwise noted, the contents of this blog are the intellectual property of David W. Guth - which means they are copyrighted.  So there!

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Testudo's Tales

Vol. 9 No. 4 -- The Return
January 23, 2015

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It's a beautiful thing to return to your home town and be welcomed back as a rock star. It's an experience everyone should enjoy at least once in his or her life.  I was born in Baltimore City and lived most of my first three years in Baltimore County. About a month shy of my third birthday in 1955, my family moved across Chesapeake Bay to a home two miles outside of the Eastern Shore hamlet of Royal Oak. Specifically, I lived on Goose Neck Road.  Our home was on Tar Creek, just off of the Tred Avon River. Across the water - about a mile by boat and 23 miles by car - lay the town of Oxford. There I stayed for the next 15 years until September 1970, when I moved to College Park to begin my freshman year at the University of Maryland. Although I had departed the Delmarva Peninsula, I never stopped considering myself a citizen of the Eastern Shore. Although an expatriate for nearly 45 years, I always have worn the title of Shoreman as a badge of honor.  I love the place, yet I know my destiny lies elsewhere. I now live - and will probably die - in Kansas. That's why every chance to return to Talbot County is a treasured opportunity. But last week, I experienced something different.  I returned to make two presentations about my book Bridging the Chesapeake, A 'Fool Idea' That Unified Maryland. My first presentation was at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in Saint Michaels. Even adding to my excitement of returning to the town where I went to elementary and junior high school was the fact that the museum is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year -- and as a Boy Scout in 1965, I had participated in the CBMM's dedication ceremonies. (I was part of the honor guard that raised the flag on a light ship that served as the centerpiece of the ceremonies.) The staff at the museum was gracious and made me feel welcome. And I was overwhelmed by the size of the turnout for my talk. After the talk, I signed books for a number of people who all were very kind, complimentary and had their own Bay Bridge stories to tell. I had a similar experience later in the day when I crossed the Chesapeake and spoke at the Annapolis Maritime Museum. By the end of the day, I experienced a happy exhaustion - glad that was over, but not really. To be truthful, the book is not even remotely a best seller. But that was never the point of this exercise.  Everyone has a book inside of them. Unfortunately, not everyone writes his or her book. However, I wrote mine. And knowing that the effort is appreciated by my fellow Marylanders has made
the long - and at times difficult - journey on which the writing of this book had taken me one of the most satisfying experiences of my life.
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That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.
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Vol. 9 No. 3 -- Framing America
January 19, 2015

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President Obama and Congress will engage in a uniquely American act of statecraft Tuesday night, the State of the Union. The President will give his vision of where the nation should be headed, followed by a Republican response. But the evening will not be so much about what is said as it will be about how it is said. In the world of communications research, there is a concept known as framing. Essentially, the manner in which one shapes a communication in an effort to have it understood with a particular meaning is referred to as framing. Think of framing a picture: The manner in which it is framed influences what the viewer sees by emphasizing some aspects of the view and deemphasizing others. Framing is commonplace in political rhetoric. However, within the context of the dysfunctional American dialectic, framing is become harder to do. Just last week, Gallup reported that a higher percentage of Americans identify themselves as “liberal” than at anytime within the last generation. For years, Republicans have been able to frame "liberal" as being wasteful and extravagant public spending. They also were successful in casting liberals as weak on crime and national security. However, “being liberal” is seen by an increasing number of people as a badge of honor. “Being a liberal” means being one who honors the social contract between the American people and the U.S. Constitution. It also means compassion. For many, the meaning of being a “conservative” has also changed. It was once synonymous with fiscal responsibility, a strong national defense and an adherence to basic American values. However, the actions of many self-proclaimed conservatives have blurred that frame. They are seen by many - but not by themselves - as racially and culturally intolerant individuals stuck in the past. This picture of conservatism is probably as unfair as the Reagan-era view of liberalism. The tragedy is that people at both ends of the political spectrum are so strident in defense of their political philosophies that they, in essence, assume the frame assigned to them by their adversaries. In the absence of constructive compromise, little is accomplished. It used to be that American elections were won in the middle. But that wasn't the case in 2014 and the prospects of 2016 don't appear much better. And that feeds how the rest of the world frames the United States, as a impotent and hypocritical giant in decline.

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That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.
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Vol. 9 No. 2 -- Two-Word Answers
January 8, 2015

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There was an episode of the old NBC-TV prime-time drama West Wing, in which the staff of President Josiah Bartlett encouraged him to get into the habit of giving 10-word answers to every question. The staff saw that as a way of reining in Bartlett's intellectual loquaciousness. As I think of the growing field of 2016 presidential candidates, I've decided to do the West Wing eight better by describing each potential candidate in just two well-chosen words. First, I'll start with the democrats, in no particular order. Hillary Clinton - power seeker. Joe Biden - beer buddy. Elizabeth Warren - windmill tilter. Jim Webb - who cares? And Bernie Sanders - socialist nutjob. Now, let's look at the more lengthy list of republicans, again in no particular order. Bobby Jindal - nervous nellie. Rick Perry - blunder boy. Ted Cruz - Canadian bacon. Ben Carson - Trump wannabe. Donald Trump - human wannabe. Rick Santorum - frothy evangelist. Mike Huckabee - barbequed evangelist. Marco Rubio - half-baked. Scott Walker - tea baggage. Chris Christie - Jersey bridgetender. Rand Paul - libertarian astronaut. Paul Ryan - wonkish jock. Jeb Bush - bad brand. John Kasich - Ohio's votes. And Mitt Romney - standing by. Of course, depending on your own political leanings, you might come up with entirely different descriptions.  Actually, there's one description that seems to fit all of the aforementioned: not presidential. And lest we forget, there's Barack Obama - still president.

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That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.
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Vol. 9 No. 1 -- Grumpy New Year
January 1, 2015

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For all I know, 2015 may be the year I win the lottery.  Or it could be my last year on this earth.  Uncertainty is the nature of life.  I'd like to move into this new year as an optimist believing that the world will become a better place. However, this new year I'm feeling a bit grumpy. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that 2015 is going to be another bad year - maybe worse than 2014. On the international scene, it appears that China and Russia will continue to act recklessly as the leadership in both countries try to divert attention from disastrous economic and political policies. Nor is there any sign that the Islamic world is prepared to take ownership of actions that discredit their own professed faith. (How can plain old dumb ass murder be construed as an act of faith?) And, of course, there's that nut job in North Korea. Nationally, constructive engagement in public debate has been replaced by petty posturing and confrontation. And I am not just talking about the politicians. The American people used to be the most optimistic people in the world. However, we are becoming a nation of litigating whiners.  Locally, the Kansas legislature will have to address a budgetary disaster of its own making. Just this week, the courts scolded lawmakers for failing to properly fund education. Unfortunately, the early signs are that the governor and the legislators will tackle the budget crisis in the same manner in which they have addressed almost every major issue in recent years: Listening to vague and unproven ideology ignoring common sense. I know that it is up to the optimist or the pessimist in us to determine whether the glass is half-empty or half-full. However, this is Kansas, where many feel - the drought be damned - that our future lies in draining the water from that glass as fast as we can. Yup, 2015 is shaping up to be a real downer.  However, I am holding out hope that this screwed-up world will bring all of us pleasant surprises in the coming year. (Maybe Hillary and Jeb won't run.) But most of all, I hope the new year will bring us peace. I think we've earned that. And yes, I will resolve to be less grumpy.

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That's it for now. Fear the Turtle.
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