Category Archives: beyond the column

I see someone who sees rude people

Amy Alkon–better known as the Advice Goddess–was featured on The Today Show this morning, weighing in as an expert on rudeness (she’s the author of the book I See Rude People).  Check out the clip!

I always think it’s fascinating to see and hear writers speak, and find out if they sound at all in real life how they sound in your head.  In this segment, for example, it’s a little jarring to see Amy (usually known for her unapologetic straight shooting) say, “I think strangers should treat each other more like neighbors,” in a soothing voice.  It’s not that she’s contradicting herself–I think you can call it as you see it with the adulterers who ask you for advice, and still be kind to children and gracious to the waiter.  It’s just not the tone I expected her to take, given the zingy (sometimes too zingy) one liners and black leather jacket I’m used to seeing in her column.

She certainly came off as more elegant, however, than the two guests who were on the show live, and who (ironically) proceeded to interrupt one another, cutting each other off and practically elbowing each other to get in the last word on how manners have disappeared from our e-society.  Matt Lauer looked a little afraid.


Amy Dickinson on Apologies

Who better to deconstruct the art of the apology than an advice columnist?

Amy Dickinson spoke on this topic today on NPR’s Talk of the Nation.  The piece was inspired by Ginni Thomas’ recent attempt, via voicemail, to elicit an apology from Anita Hill, who accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in 1991.  The show then spins off into emails and phone calls from listeners.  Listen or read a transcript here.

The lesson?  In short, demanding apologies doesn’t work.

I must say–Amy’s been on NPR for years, but I’ve never heard her before…I like her voice–it’s very calm, but firm.

A for Improvement….

Holy wow!  Remember Graham Norton’s “agony aunt” column in the Telegraph?  I used it as an example last month to sum up what I look for when I read a new advice column for the first time–and while I was at it, I griped a bit about the interface (which featured dozens and dozens of identical images of Norton’s face)

The column never showed up again in my advice feed until October 8th, and I confess I didn’t check it until today, when another new column appeared.  And imagine my surprise and delight to discover a totally redesigned page!  It looks more like, well, like any of the other mainstream columnists, now.  In fact, the style of the cartoon reminds me more of Savage Love than anything else.

Nice work!

Stranger and Stranger

Well, that’s curious…..

Looks like the “fresh advice” feed over on the right, which includes Dan Savage’s column in The Stranger, is now somehow picking up everything in The Stranger’s blog. Will investigate.  In the meantime, enjoy reading about the changing leadership of the Cascade Bicycle Club…..?

On distracting/misleading ads

What’s wrong with this ad?

Hello bright and busy ad. Clearly you are annoying, but are you also nefarious?

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A look inside the first look

On the recommendation of a reader, I spent some time tonight poking around the Daily Telegraph‘s weekend advice (or “agony aunt”) column, “Pillow Talk,” which is written by TV personality Graham Norton.  This post is a peek at the process I go through pretty much every time I visit a new column for the first time.  Since I lack fancy, eye-tracking software, we’ll all have to settle for poorly (but colorfully) annotated screenshots (thanks, Google Docs Drawings!)

1) The first look:

Looks like.....a newspaper website

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Friday-ja vu

Last Friday and this morning both featured duplicate letters.  Last week, Margo published a letter that appeared in Prudence’s live chat a couple of months ago.  This morning, Amy published a letter that Prudence published yesterday.  Hmmmm…….

Last Friday’s Dear Margo:

Dear Margo: I am a young (early 20s) Muslim woman. For more than 10 years, I chose to wear a scarf on my head, but my problem is that I don’t want to wear it anymore. I started wearing it on my own because I believed in it, but I’ve been reconsidering for several years now after much thought and study.

I wish I could just take it off, but there are problems. One, my family is very religious and would freak out if I did. (I tried to bring up the subject once, and they were horrified.) I am a college grad currently looking for a job but haven’t found one yet, so I’m stuck at home and, therefore, financially dependent on them. Two, should I take it off, the small, tight-knit Muslim community in which I live would talk endlessly about it, which would “ruin” my family’s reputation. At the moment, they are held in high regard, particularly my dad, who is seen as a religious leader. I don’t want to shame my family or alienate myself from them, which is what would happen if I took it off. We are close. Just to make it clear, my family members are not religious extremists in any sense, just devoted to their religion and terrified that I am drifting away from it. What to do?

— To Wear or Not To Wear

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