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Today's word on journalism

May 8, 2009

The Last WORD

The Fat Lady Sings, Off-Key, Drools

At about this time every year, like the swallows to Capistrano or the buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio, the WORD migrates to its summer musing grounds at the sanitarium —St. Mumbles Home for the Terminally Verbose.

The reason is clear, and never moreso than as this season —the WORD's 13th —peters out.

It's been a fraught year of high palaver and eye-popping transition, both good and not-so-much. An interminable presidential campaign saga finally did end, and in extraordinary and historic fashion. Meanwhile, the bottom and everything that's below the bottom fell out of the economy, with families, homes, entire industries and —of particular interest to WORDsters and the civic-minded —dozens of daily newspapers ("I don't so much mind that newspapers are dying--it's watching them commit suicide that pisses me off." --Molly Ivins). . . all evaporating. What replaces them, from the individual to the institutional to the societal? Are we looking at a future of in-depth Tweeting?

As any newsperson or firehorse knows, it's hard to turn your back on day-to-day catastrophe --we just have to look at the car wreck. But even the most deranged and driven need a rest. As philosopher Lilly Tomlin once observed, "No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."

So this morning, as a near-frost hovered over northern Utah, the unmarked van pulled into the driveway and the gentle, soft-spoken men in the white coats rolled the WORD out of bed and into a straitjacket for the usual summer trip to St. Mumbles, where the blathering one will be assigned a hammock and fed soothing, healthy foods --like tapioca, dog biscuits and salmon --while recharging the essential muscles of cynicism, outrage, sarcasm, social engagement and high-mindedness, in preparation for the next edition.
Summer well, friends.

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Feedback and suggestions--printable and otherwise--always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Professor advises students to discover their least common denominator at the 34th annual last lecture

By Connor H. Jones

April 8, 2009 - Logan | Dr. Ann Berghout Austin spoke to students, faculty and the public on Monday afternoon in the 34th annual Last Lecture.

The last lecture series is a program run by students and sponsored by USU's Honors Program. At the beginning of each year the last lecture committee receives nominations from students on what faculty member should be considered to give the coveted last lecture, after the finalists are decided honor students vote deciding the lecturer.

The premise around the lecture is right in the name, if the speaker had only one lesson to give before death or retirement what would the message be?

Dr Austin, Professor of Family, Consumer, and Human Development and Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity spoke on children calling them "my least common denominator."

Austin, who is only the fourth women to be selected as the last lecturer, spoke about the importance of finding one's own "least common denominator"(LCD).

She gave two definitions of the LCD; Definition one, the buddy definition where the LCD equals the lowest common multiple of the denominator. Definition two is what Austin explained at the reducing it down definition where the LCD equals what your life distills it down to. She explained it as the thing your life always comes back to, your bottom line in life, or the thing that makes you feel most like yourself.

Dr. Austin said that at the age of 17 she knew her bottom line was children and from that point she decided to dedicate her life to helping kids.

During the lecture Austin encouraged the people in the audience to know the importance of a strong family and to understand that more important than an adopted parent's sexual preferences is the love the child will get.

Utah is one of six states that does not allow same sex couples to adopt and one of only three states that doesn't allow same sex couples to be foster parents. Anderson said she found through years of research and study that loving parents, whether hetero or homosexual, to be the most important factor in a child's life.

As Anderson's lecture came to a close she gave a few more pieces of advice, "Use your undergrad years to pursue your passions with gusto, and immerse yourself in service because it helps you find what you truly love," Anderson said,"Have no regrets, stay positive, keep moving, listen to compliments, be persistent and willing to make changes. Just make the best choices you can and go for it."


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