February 27, 2013

Daily Write: Night School

The one cop was barely able to talk he laughed so hard. The other just kept grinning and shaking his head. Sitting behind them in a classroom with an auditorium-style incline, it was easy to eavesdrop and also stare at the handgun holstered to the first cop’s calf. Man, they could not stop laughing at those fire department responders from earlier in the day.

Some guy, distraught, was clinging to an expressway overpass. Apparently, the fire department is supposed to stay clear and wait for the police to talk people down. The big joke was that the firemen got out there anyway and the guy jumped, getting killed in traffic. My classmates laughed and laughed until Public Budgeting started. 

13 minutes, 119 words - MPA class at UIC

Dr. Seuss and Copywriting

From Amanda Clark at Grammar Chic:
What Dr. Seuss Can Teach Us About Copywriting

Remember, it doesn’t matter that Dr. Seuss wrote children’s books and stop thinking there is a divide between how to appeal to an adult reader and how to appeal to the interests of a child. It’s one and the same.

“We throw in as many fresh words as we can get away with. Simple, short sentences don’t always work. You have to do tricks with pacing, alternate long sentences with short, to keep it alive and vital. Virtually every page is a cliffhanger—you’ve got to force them to turn it.” Read article.

Hunger in the US has jumped

from Daily Kos Hunger:

Viewers literally watched a hospitalized child die of starvation in the 1968 CBS TV documentary and the public was outraged. There were 10 million hungry Americans then, and now there are 50 million, in spite of good efforts inspired by the film's revelations.

When public pressure grew, then Senators McGovern (D) and Dole (R) joined forces to tackle this problem. The food stamp program was the highlighted result of congressional effort and for a time the problem seemed to be under control. But the problem was not to go away. Read article.

February 25, 2013

Fight Unhealthy Food

from The Guardian:

Yes, let's take a step back and look at the source of the problem for everyone, not just the overweight:

"Nutrient-deficient chemically-processed "food" in increasingly larger sizes is bad for all of our bodies, whether we're fat or thin or somewhere in between."

"The prices of the worst foods are artificially depressed, the big food lobbies have enormous power, and the biggest loser is the American public, especially low-income folks who spend larger proportions of their income on food but face systematic impediments to healthy eating and exercise."
Read entire article.

February 24, 2013

Copywriting Tips: KISS Your Prospects and Customers

Good-to-note web and email copywriting tips via Debra A. Jason.

1. Start out with short, simple sentences.
Start your copy with a sentence of 8 words or less. This is the average sentence length in the English language, and it is considered very easy to understand. Here’s a breakdown of how longer sentences are interpreted by your readers:
- 11 words – easy
- 14 words – fairly easy
- 17 words – standard (average reader)
- 21 words – fairly difficult
- 25 words – difficult
- 29+ words – very difficult

Read article here: Copywriting Tips: KISS Your Prospects and Customers

February 21, 2013

Daily Write: The Toaster

Not sure what made me look inside that toaster. Probably because the outside was so fingerprinted and gunky. It wasn’t like the shiny, clean toaster at home, thanks to my mother wiping and shaking it out. This toaster was in a rooming house during college, in a worn and dark basement kitchen.
Looking down past the coils while holding my bread at the ready, I saw a dead bee. A bit shocked at the location when I was only trying to make breakfast, it briefly occurred to me to either skip toast there forever or clean. Instead, I pushed my slice down, browning to medium-dark. Checking each day thereafter before pushing the lever, I watched the bee carcass get smaller and smaller until it disappeared.

February 20, 2013

Junk Food Science

The NYT's article, The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food, covers the marketing/money angle of junk food as much as the science. "The biggest hits — be they Coca-Cola or Doritos — owe their success to complex formulas that pique the taste buds enough to be alluring but don’t have a distinct, overriding single flavor that tells the brain to stop eating."

Makes me realize how difficult it is to fend off nutrient-poor foodstuffs or understand what we're being offered and fed. Armed with information, however, people can advocate.

February 19, 2013

Daily Write: The Tree

I looked down at the passenger seat at the pile of my coat, purse, some papers, gloves. Took only a second to get my right hand in the purse and feel around for that pen. Boom! A big noise and jolt from under the hood made my eyes shoot up to the road. Except there was no road. There was a big tree coming up fast. I had driven over to the right and up the curb and onto the parkway. I jerked the wheel back hard to the left. By God’s grace no one was in the oncoming lane since I overcompensated some. It took a few for me to get my bearings and realize what I had done. The kids, strapped in their car seats behind me were, thankfully, oblivious. Too young to rat me out. I continued the drive to Julia’s house and breathlessly told her what awful thing I had done. She replied without missing a beat, “Don’t ya just HATE when that happens?”
I love you, Julia.