Tag: Group Writing July 2018

Understanding Lawyer Jokes


Lawyer jokes. They are very common. They are hardly the only jokes by profession. There are jokes for every sort of musician and singer, for instance.

Q. What does a violinist use for birth control?
A. His personality.

Member Post


I used to frequent various critical forums on the Internet. I learned a lot by participating in these groups/Websites. (For instance, my series on Critiquing: 1 2 3 4) Two thoughts from that time I would like to share today are about reciprocity and wall-breaking. (No, this conversation has nothing to do with Trump.) Reciprocity […]

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The Light Bulb Comes On


I hated studying history. In my high school years, history was pure drudgery. I still remember my teacher: a little man, balding, with black framed glasses. The problem wasn’t the difficulty of his classes; it was his approach to history. Every few days we were assigned a section to read in the history book and we were to answer the list of five to eight questions at the end of the chapter. Yawn. We were expected to know events and dates; we didn’t need to know much more than that.

So when it was time to go to Cal. State Long Beach (it wasn’t Cal. State University yet), I was excited to know that we’d have plenty of choices about the classes we could take. Then I learned about the basic requirements. Which included Western Civilization. Not again, I thought. But I figured I’d get through the pain of boredom early so I took the class in my first semester. Little did I know that it would change my life.

I was a bit encouraged when I met the professor. Her name was Donna Boutelle, and her primary area of study was the Middle Ages. She was a small woman, shorter than I am, and her face was prematurely wrinkled, giving her an impish quality. That impression was only strengthened by the twinkle in her eye, her hearty, raspy laugh, and her dry sense of humor. My memory of her would always be of her holding her thin cigar (in a holder, of course) in the corner of her mouth. She looked like a miniature gangster. And I loved learning with her.

Understanding Understanding


A while back on Twitter, someone asked what people wished they had known before getting married. I thought about it for a while, and decided that it was the wrong question. It’s not what I wish I had known, but what I wish I had understood. I knew what was important. I’d seen examples, both positive and negative. I could tell you what was important, but for a long time I didn’t really understand it. And it turns out there’s a big difference between knowing and understanding. (Which is also something I knew but didn’t really understand.)

I know a lot, and a lot of what I know isn’t all that useful. (Unless you’re wanting a ringer for your Trivial Pursuit team, in which case I’m your man.) But the more I know, the more I realize not only just how much I don’t know, but how much I don’t understand. Knowing some fact is the “what,” and maybe the “when” and “where” as well. Understanding is the “why” and the “how.” People like to say that you don’t really understand something until you can explain it simply. There’s some truth in that, but it only goes so far. I can repeat a simple explanation without really understanding it, and sometimes the simple explanations get in the way of true understanding. Some subjects are really complex and there just aren’t good simple explanations. (Reason #93 not to get into serious political debates on Twitter.)