The Read from This Side of Suite 711 (12)


“B Two = Badge lacks courage to educate”  

A badge is a symbol.  A symbol, of course, cannot “lack courage.”  (Attributing human emotions to a thing is a “pathetic fallacy.”)  Stephen Crane’s novel The Red Badge of Courage takes place during the American Civil War, and the main character, Henry Fleming, comes to understand that the “red badge” of a war wound contains within itself no fixed meaning, so it does not have a fixed relation to the soldier who wears it.  A war wound does not signify any essential quality about a soldier.  It is only a symbol.  People like Henry must assign meaning to “red badges.”     

Sound familiar?

Realist writes, “Is this post redundant? Perhaps. Necessary? You tell me. Am I being opportunistic? Dunno.  . . . Here are some initial thoughts, on the plastic tags and related crap, that flashed through my head. . . .   I give these thoughts to you half-baked. I’m only following in the footsteps of my district leaders that appear to ‘do’ before they ‘think’.”

If a lesson was learned about the need for at least some sound knowledge about a topic and supporting evidence for an opinion from discussing the Blackhawks’ logo, it did not transfer to Realist’s attempt to read a badge.* 

Regarding badges, Realist writes: “I ain’t pointin’ fingers at Don. Just makin’ observations.”  In other words, the reader is to believe that the post presents self-evident facts.  However, Realist goes on to write that “If I is to point a finger in any direction, I might start raisin’ it in the direction of Jackson Blvd and Franklin Street.” 

District Office is not on Franklin Street.  This is a jarring statement that seems to have no logical referent unless readers track “opportunistic/Franklin” to, but even then there is still no logical explanation for why Realist would point an accusatory finger at this comment.    

However, this metaphoric finger pointing does serve to structure the post.  The “I” of the post whirls around and around in the lobby of HWC – like a compass needle that cannot locate True north – pointing at symbols “I” cannot decipher.  “I” blames District Office for this confusion: apparently, like some trickster god, District Office has created a world of “badges” and symbols that are “untrue.”  The post develops dizzily as “I” makes use of facades, deflecting, delusions, stereotypes and clichés in an effort to avoid recognizing the true source of confusion: “I” cannot read or write critically.

“Badges: Are we to become the Best Buy of Academia?  . . . What would our founding fathers say?” asks Realist. 

Beginning composition students often write “cut-and-paste essays” where they include outside sources but do not understand what those sources mean or how to integrate them.  Their only concern is to use “academically sounding words as a disguise” to mask their confusion or the lack of a solid research effort (  The “founding fathers” phrase refers to the comments found here ( but it does not evaluate or amplify those comments.  Similarly, “Jackson Blvd” and “Franklin Street” – as well as the title of Stephen Crane’s novel (although, as already noted, it is doubtful that Realist understood the symbolism of the red badge) – are tossed into the post just because Realist has made some cut-and-paste association between them.    

So it is no surprise that Realist sees badges as the mark of the lower classes, things that are made for the kind of people who work and shop at places like Best Buy and video game stores.  Therefore, Realist brands and/or hangs a kind of disparaging badge upon salespersons, those who wear Mario outfits, or those who wear orange body suits (DOC uniforms?) as people trained “to be slaves to work.”   

(B Two/Second Sketch to be continued)

*The link on transfer/critical thinking comes from one of PhiloDave’s posts but the to that post has not been included because it could not be located prior to this “Suite 711” installment.

The reader will note that transfer is the ultimate goal of critical thinking.  It occurs when students take knowledge and skills learned in one context – geometry, for example – and apply or transfer them to another context.  Consider the use of word problems in mathematics.  If a student truly has learned underlying concepts/problem-solving skills, then the student should be able to transfer knowledge/skills when presented with a variety of word problems.  If students become confused due to the surface detail in various word problems, then transfer has not occurred.  (Something similar happens in composition when students struggle to apply the basic structure of a five-paragraph essay to various assigned writing patterns.)  Only by getting beneath the surface details of what they are studying will students learn to think critically: they will learn to think about their own thinking, and improve upon it by evaluating what they are thinking against certain intellectual standards.  (See   

12 thoughts on “The Read from This Side of Suite 711 (12)

  1. Ok “Realist.” We get it. You are capable of critiquing your own rhetoric.

      • Totes…will someone please re-engage the feature that allowed for the posts to be truncated? This feature provided the reader with the option of reading more or scrolling past the post. Seriously…

        • It’s there, but the author has to use it. (For any interested bloggers, it’s called “Insert More Tag”).

          I don’t think anyone has ever used it, though.

          • It was engaged for the past week on the mobile site for the blog…thanks for responding.

          • Hmmm. Interesting.

            As far as I know it’s not anything we turned on or off from the poster/editor side of things. I’ll do some more poking around and see if I can figure out why it is or isn’t happening.

        • And isn’t there a way to disengage the anonymity feature? Compromise is always possible depending on what’s on the table.

          (You know, shorter posts means completion of the Five Sketches will take longer.)

  2. There are many things to do rather than pontificate. Please begin your own blog wordpress and I’m sure a link can be attached in the sidebar. Then those in a philosophical mood can read and participate in the discussion and the rest of us can keep track of what we need to know and actually use this blog for.

  3. Hi, HelloKitty.

    Could you clarify the direction to which your comments are directed?

    That is to say, after three years and several hundred posts and replies made by Realist versus 13 posts and less than 10 replies made by 12keystrokes, the request that blog authors neither pontificate nor misuse the blog seems both late and early.

    Blogs/opinion communities — many things — can reach a tipping point from which it is difficult to recover. (See

    Of course it is perferfectly fine for people to have different preferences. One may like Rocky Road, and another may prefer Cherry Garcia. And it’s perfectly fine for the Real-anonym-ists and others to not care about 12keystrokes’ project.

    But when Realist (and some of Realist’s admirers) botches theory/pedagogy or proves unable to reign in demonizing and damaging rhetoric, the issue is no longer about mere preferences but competency and professionalism.

    Those kinds of differences not only can be argued about, they should be. The context of Reinvention makes it even more imperative to do so.

    Finally, could you take a moment to clarify what you mean by keeping track of what needs to be known and what to use the blog for, and could you identify exactly how 12keystrokes’ project strays from that?

    Keep reading and the comments here will make more sense to you as a result. Promise.

    • All along, my feedback has been related to the length of your posts. I think the point you are attempting to make is valuable, but I’m sure you’ve lost many people who lack the time or patience to wade through your philosophical meanderings to get to the point.

      Thus, it’s more your writing style that I have problems with, but I’ve already admitted that it’s my problem not yours. You can write however you choose. However, if you want people to take something away from your project, you might try changing your approach.

  4. I suppose I am complaining that I haven’t the time to attend to the written word during midterm week.

    Or perhaps my typing skills are not up to the discussion.

    I make no accusation of anyone botching anything. I make no judgement. Using a “read more” option though would help to get more visible on the page.

    I will catch up with the blog perhaps in 2033, when I have the time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s