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I don't mean to be a cynic, but...

Isn't this simply common sense?

Girl who says something we already know

Nothing wrong with spreading good will, but to be lofted up for it seems a little silly to me.


Every time a nerd is snubbed, it raises his chances of being hit by a car!

If that were true, I would have been run over so many times, my entire body would be covered with tread marks.

Every time a poet has moments of illumination, satan kills a kitten :)

Honestly, though. Yay! We have one person that has a cool thing to say because of what happened to said person in high school. The only thing that will save her is a strong command of the English language.

The actual study of ethics seems sort of ridiculous, regardless ... humans trying to logically prove that they're human.

1 infant stuck on track A. 5 adults stuck on track B. You get to control the railroad switch.

Try engineering ethics on for a different perspective ;)

Since this was filed under "bitching", I'll add just one more tidbit...

This is exactly the kind of thing that gets me laughed at because I'm from Minnesota :)

Every time a nerd is snubbed, they get an extra skill point! Just try not to put them all -- awww... into "Obscure 2nd Edition AD&D Character Creation Variants" ... /sigh.

It seems that someone experiencing spiritual growth, admitting publicly that she was a jerk and is trying to make amends the only way she can is an odd choice for the "bitching" category.


I'm not bitching at her. I'm bitching at the people who think that her story is worth a medal.

Some people really like to pat each other on the back, and many north-midwesterners have that quality in embarrassing spades.

Let's say the girl had been more empathetic. The story would have then read, "He asked me to hold his kitten, and I accepted. After cuddling the kitten for several minutes, I gave it back to him. Three hours later, he was dead." That's not really inspirational, either.

huitz, she is among 13 finalists for a national [ie, not northern midwest] essay contest and her essay is based on how that experience shaped her. i guess i'm not sure why you wouldn't pat her on the back.

christa, we shouldn't be awarded for something so simple.

It would be like me getting an award for eloquently explaining why young children shouldn't play in a busy street.

It's inherently obvious!

huitz, not that it matters much in this context but...are you a writer?

meaning: have you ever written stories about things that have happened to you or have affected you in some way during your life?

writers, like artists, are often shaped by occurrences and events that shape their character and their lives. the ability to draw inspiration from any event, tragic or no, and be able to turn it into a story is a tremendous feat, regardless of its basis or focus. So another bunch of writers want to congratulate her for her work. big deal. It's not as if they're asking YOU to pat her on the back, right?

If Linda Hanson hadn't been affected in some way by this girl's story she wouldn't have found it worthy enough to print in the DNT. If she hadn't written about it, you wouldn't have even known about this girl's story and therefore wouldn't have spent the time it took to post it on PDD.

Good job, though...I missed the story in the paper...so even though you weren't too hip to the intent, this girl's story moves forward.

How do you feel about Dylan winning a Pulitzer?

What Zra said. It's not about the incident per se, it's the impact on her life that provides for compelling reading. Isn't that what great literature all about, anyway? The impact of life's little experiences on us? Look at O. Henry's Gift of the Magi -- so the guy gave his wife a comb for her hair and a woman gave her husband a watch chain for his watch. Big deal. Remember the Wonder Years? It was all about these little everyday incidents that had an impact on the actor's later life. I would have liked to read this young woman's essay, or at least an excerpt from it. Hope she wins.

Regarding the line from the comment above: "Some people really like to pat each other on the back, and many north-midwesterners have that quality in embarrassing spades."

Well, in my experience growing up in the Midwest, many people here - more so than other areas of the country - make a great effort to avoid drawing attention to themselves, even if it is for something good. And given that mind-set, they also don't know how to take a compliment when it comes. For related reading, check out Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon Days.

I don't know the if trait applies to this essayist - Did she seek the honor? Did someone else nominate her? - but, in general, the Midwest is Modesty Central.

Huitz: The award isn't for the small event, but rather for (in your words) the "eloquently explaining." How can you judge her so harshly when you didn't even read the essay in question? How do you know the writing isn't impeccable? You don't. You're judging something based on a very shallow understanding of what it is.

Through this way of thinking, a crappy book about genocide is more important that an amazing piece of literature about mundane things, simply because of the subject matter.

It's not the inspiration that counts, it's what you do with it.

That said, the subject of overcoming hypocrisy seems like an important one to me.

Wow. Everyone sides against me. I guess I lived in Colorado too long.

Zra: yes, I have written about life experiences, but not something so basic as *be nice to people because something I regret happened to me when I was young*. That's the part where -- from friends -- I can hear a big "Are you kidding me?!"

No, my friends are not judgmental creeps, either.

I'll openly admit that I overstepped my bounds a little, because I haven't read the essay yet.

Much of my criticism has to do with the study of ethics in general, but maybe it should focus more on the reporter?

In any case, people give away awards for almost anything. I just noticed it happened more often in this part of the world. The contest in question is, in fact, a national one, so my words don't have much of a leg to stand on. Maybe, I just think it's stupid when people are given a big "hurrah" for something that most everyone else practices in real life all the time (I'm talking about the subject material, not the writing).

So, I suppose I levered a story to make a commentary on local news. Sorry that wasn't clear in the OP.


In response to "genocide", there's actually a really enlightening book called "Speaker for the Dead" by that Orson Card fella; that is, if you're geeky :)

Since Linda Hanson covers religion for the DNT, and it is probably a bit difficult to find great inspiration in the Hot Dish Supper Du Jour story, she probably jumped at the chance for something more unusual. And it IS a national award, therefore locally newsworthy.

But the proof is in her writing, I agree.

(And seriously, in the DNT story, I was expecting the KITTEN to get whacked.)

Since Ms. Hanson covers religion for the DNT, I wonder if she would have written about his had the conclusion not been "and now she's going for a master’s of divinity degree."

Since no one will probably read the book I mentioned, I'll just throw a quote out. Please ignore at your leisure. I hope this is not illegal :)

"Since we are not yet fully comfortable with the idea that people from the next village are as human as ourselves, it is presumptuous in the extreme to suppose we could ever look at sociable, tool-making creatures who arose from other evolutionary paths and see not beasts but brothers, not rivals but fellow pilgrims journeying to the shrine of intelligence.
Yet That is what I see, or yearn to see. The difference between raman and varelse is not in the creature judged, but in the creature judging. When we declare an alien species to be raman, it does not mean that _they_ have passed a threshold of moral maturity. It means that _we_ have."

--Demosthenes, Letter to the Framlings

Well, this is the US section you're talking about after all. It's the section famous for publishing such hard-hitting, shocking news as the near-Christmas-time story of Duluth East mothers who send care packages to their daughters at college(no kidding). At least this article you're referencing involved someone who accomplished something out of the ordinary.

The whole US section is just a cover for the wedding and engagement announcements, if you think about it...

- girl makes essay
- girl gets recognized
- girl has sob story that I've seen 10 times before
- girl applies it to "ethics"
- we cry with her
- everybody happy

I can watch "Pay it Forward" for the same shameless kick.

It just doesn't warrant a news story. Maybe for the tourist plug, but that's about it.

I don't mean to be a bad person here, but where's the discriminating logic?

I smell a fish. My bad.

Huitz, in order to make your quotation at least semi-legal, I believe you have to attribute it to the real life author, not the in story author.

Hope that helps. I love Orson Scott Card, by the way.


Yeah, I left it out for artistic purposes.

I wonder if having the author's name in the same thread counts. I should start studying law.

exactly what kind of accomplishment would one have to have to get a 'pat on the back' according to your standards?

know what i think? i think you didn't read the article. i think you read about four paragraphs, thought it was trite and then decided to dis it. i think some people called you on it and you were like ... 'oh, crap. i should go back and read that.' then you made a commitment to stand behind your previous dissing [pride and all], knowing deep down that you read the story incompletely and incorrectly.

its an honest mistake.


This is not that fun. Yes, I read the whole article. No, I'm not surreptitiously trying to command a thread. I just haven't read the original essay (and, I assume neither have you; big assumption, after all you might be the author :).

It can be an honest mistake to rush to judgment, but _you_ can't really be serious about this.

I don't think it matters anyway, because both you and I know that I won't agree with most of what the essay says. Boo hoo.

Quiz me on the article if you want?

Well, like I said: "patting each other on the back" is more common in this neck of the woods. Please don't be mad at me for stating the obvious.

To be honest, I'm not quite following how this part of the country is any more self-congratulatory than any other. If anything, after growing up here & moving away for a few years, what I've experienced is much like what Andrew described above--generally, I find people here to be quite modest. Most people I know around here's default response when receiving a compliment is, "Oh, geez, it's no big deal."

I think this is less about self-congratulation, and more about the subject matter being too "nice."

Mary said:

"Oh, geez, it's no big deal."

I don't have a problem with that sort of attitude, but it does turn out to be the certain turn of the screw that makes some people look, um, silly.

In other words, your very argument sort of proves me right by accident.

I'll explain. People who say "Oh, geez, it's okay" all the time have a tendency to be the type of people who pat each other on the back often.

Sociologically, I don't necessarily see that as a bad thing. What I see as a bad thing is what I said in the original post.

To superficially quote from that Geico commercial...

"Humans behaving humanly ... brilliant." (sarcasm intended :)


I don't know how we'd go about proving one way or another that people who accept compliments/accolades sheepishly are more likely to give out compliments than other people (I'm no sociologist, is there some way to measure such a thing?), but even if it is the case...why does that make them look silly?

I lived out west for a time, as well, and it seems to me that people out there have just as many fluff pieces in their newspapers as we do around here... ;+)

Mary, so you admit it's fluff?


So a UWS student writes an essay that is nominated for a prize from a New York-based foundation....

How does that translate into, as you put it, "the kind of thing that gets me laughed at because I'm from Minnesota"? I don't think the Elie Wiesel Foundation was desperate for entries ... so someone high up in that organization must have saw something they liked in her writing. And again, the prize is awarded from New York, not New Ulm.


And, a local student who has been nominated for a national prize is featured in the local newspaper....

What a shock!


Your argument would carry some weight if she was featured in the paper purely for writing that essay. But that's not the case. She's up for a national award. Whether you like it or not, that's newsworthy in any part of the country.

And by the way, if "saying something we already know" disqualifies a writer from getting recognition, there are an awful lot of Pulitzers and other awards that are going to have to be returned.

Yes, I think the story in the paper is pretty typical human interest fare--as someone mentioned earlier, it appeared in the US section, which is full of that kind of stuff. I don't think her essay being nominated for a national award is fluff, though. Like Andrew said, it's a story about a local person in a local newspaper--and it's noteworthy, even if it isn't some hard-hitting journalistic exposé or something like that. It's of interest to the community, so why not have a write-up about it in the paper?

I guess at the heart of this, I just don't see how giving someone a moment in the sun for something like this is such a bad or embarrassing thing.

I think maybe it was the "laughed at" comment that pissed most every poster off. My apologies. But 'tis true with some of the nicest people (non-Duluthians) that I've hung out with. Maybe, I should focus my critique on a larger circle?

No, I don't think so. So, my gripe will remain with DNT, and also, even, the girl that "thought she could".

I promise I'll eat my words if the essay is really good.

This thread has grown tiresome. Please cease and desist.

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