Saturday, May 26, 2007

Class, Study and Repeat

EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. - Three words can summarize my past two weeks at my pre-Wall Street Journal copy editing internship residency at Temple University: class, study and repeat.

Readers, I and 11 other Dow Jones Newspaper Fund interns have been holed up in Philadelphia for these two weeks---I returned from Philadelphia yesterday---with minimal contact with the outside world (notwithstanding one afternoon excursion to the heart of downtown Philly, which I get to later) and minimal internet access. My room at Temple had no internet access, and our professor only allowed us maybe an average of half an hour a day to check our e-mail, surf the Web, etc. The rest of the time was spent doing a variety of "fun" things like:

1. trying to commit to memory most of the Associate Press Stylebook;

2. trying to acquaint ourselves with the geography of the entire world---in other words, learning the names of all the countries and capitals of the world, not just of the United States; and

3. other things which required a lot of memorization and, above all, commitment.

A lot to put on anyone's plate, I'd say! Our daily schedule---which we all adhered to pretty strictly---didn't make things a whole lot better. Here's how it usually broke down for me:

6:30 a.m. or earlier: I wake up, usually bleary-eyed, and dutifully do my morning-routine stuff before packing up my loads of books.

7:15 a.m.: Off to breakfast at the campus dining hall---yes, my fellow copy editing interns and I had to eat (so-so) campus food on a daily basis.

8:30 a.m.: Our day of class begins. There was never really a set time for lunch, but usually it would be somewhere in the 12:00 p.m. hour. Then we'd come back and have some more class until...

5:30 p.m.: Dinner guessed it, the campus dining hall again. ¡Muy delicioso!

Around 6:30 p.m.: We would all return to Annenberg Hall---our dorm---and brace ourselves for a night of relentless studying.

8 p.m. or 8:30 p.m.: We developed a routine in which we all met in the fourth floor study room at around either time and studied in a group: working on maps, testing each other on our knowledge of the Stylebook, etc.

12 a.m.-1 a.m.: Our study group would disband and each individual would go off to their respective rooms and either study some more or just lie down and sleep until about 6:30 a.m. or so, when the cycle would begin again. I myself sometimes went to sleep later than that, at around 2 a.m., making for about four-and-a-half hours of sleep. I think, on average, I got maybe five hours of sleep a night. I'm not used to that.

Some of my fellow interns---and myself included---characterized this residency, half-jokingly, as a kind of "journalism boot camp." They're not too far off the mark. Consider: pretty much every day we had four or five tests in our various areas of study---Stylebook, geography, spelling among them. We had to carry about five pounds of books every day to class (okay, I may be exaggerating there, but it sure did feel like it, especially since my bookbag wasn't nearly big enough to store both the hefty Webster's New World College Dictionary and the Ultimate Visual Dictionary, and so I ended up having to carry them both in my arms). We always had to go everywhere in a group, and we weren't even allowed to step off campus to explore the surrounding area nightlife or anything. Not that we had much time to do so until, maybe, this past Thursday night, of course. The lack of seven or eight hours of solid sleep a night probably took its toll for me in the last few days of class, when I found myself struggling to stay fully conscious whenever my professor---a fantastically intelligent and ingratiating man, ideal for making any kind of boot camp experience bearable---wasn't talking to us in front of the room. (I'm not a coffee drinker at all, so perhaps the fact that I didn't join some of my classmates in consuming massive amounts of it every day probably added to the inopportune moments of drowsiness.) And yes, two weeks with severely limited internet access, for all of us reared in the age of modern technology, is nearly akin to being in some sort of prison. Heck, we even had class on Saturday and Sunday!

But we all soldiered on. We had to. For the sake of at least doing well in our respective internships, and maybe for the sake of our futures in journalism, we had no choice but to do our very best at Temple.

Additionally, even at its most grindingly arduous, I could certainly see the method to, and the meaning behind, the professor's madness. I mean, does anyone in their right mind actually expect us to be able to cram every single AP Stylebook entry and every single minute detail about world geography (and the professor's tests were pretty damn detailed) in one night? The point, when all is said and done, was visceral more than anything else: it was all about doing your best in tight deadlines and moving on if you didn't do something quite so well one day. In the journalism world, dwelling on past failures---something I've been prone to in my personal life, as some of you faithful readers may know all too well---is a "luxury" you can never really afford when you're faced with deadlines. Another purpose to this boot-camp style is perhaps more obvious: making you realize what you don't know and what you need to work on---I certainly learned to make checking the dictionary and looking at a world atlas a habit not only during my job, but also in my personal life in general---and also planting the seeds for a deeper knowledge of, say, geography or world leaders. These past two weeks confirmed for me that my knowledge of both those subjects---save occasional prominent newsmakers like Tony Blair, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hamid Karzai, Kim Jong-Il and others---could use some work, to put it kindly.

In fact, one of my more depressing realizations over the past two weeks is just how lame and superficial my knowledge of global affairs is compared to...well, compared to my amazing peers, all of whom were infinitely more articulate in person and more colorful than I certainly was (at least, when I wasn't near-drunk, as I was on Thursday night). My peers have clearly thought a lot more deeply on subjects revolving around journalistic ethics or the state of the field today than I have, and they have a deeper grasp of, say, the Israel/Lebanon situation than I do (my exposure to that contentious, and wearisome, topic is limited to the little bit I read in online and print news reports). In other words, they're vastly more well-rounded than I am. Have I become so one-dimensional over the years that movie knowledge---probably my one claim to fame among this group of copy editing interns, other than my standout spelling acumen---has become nearly the only deep knowledge I have? That might not bode so well for my chances at becoming a better-than-average copy editor.

Perhaps, though, that's what this internship is there for---to try this out and see how I do. Maybe I'll surprise myself and do such an impressive job at the Wall Street Journal---oh yeah, deep business knowledge is something else I lack, even with my two years of taking business courses for the aborted accounting path---that I'll be considered for actual full-time employment at the Journal instead of just interning there. Or I'll do a mediocre job and realize that this may not be the thing for me. (One time during this residency, the class did an exercise in which we had to try to pick up subtle math errors in stories; I was lucky to have picked out any at all in any of the examples, whereas the rest of my class was picking up faulty math details left and right. Is my attention to detail that weak?) Like they all say, you'll never know if you don't try. And I certainly will try.

That's pretty much it regarding my two weeks of seclusion at Temple University. Oh yeah...Stockholm Syndrome, anyone? One could compare my professor (I'll leave him nameless here, but if any of my fellow interns is reading this, you know who I'm talking about for sure) to a hostage taker of sorts, keeping us hostage in the classroom and then in our dorm rooms. But he's just so darn smart and such a tough yet pleasant presence in the classroom---a grandfatherly figure---that you can't help but admire and maybe even love him. It's almost like hostages embracing the hostage-taker. You can't help it, though. He's been directing the Temple residency for 40 years now, and he seems as sharp as he probably was 40 years ago. He's a great resource to tap in the future, if needed. (I just wonder how much of a positive impression I left on him.)

And of course, our Saturday afternoon excursion to downtown Philadelphia, the rare instance in our two weeks when we were allowed to explore outside of campus. Among the places we visited was City Hall, Reading Terminal Market (flounder, anyone?), the National Constitution Center, the Liberty Bell, and finally bustling South Street, where we all ordered authentic Philly cheesesteaks of some sort and got a kick out of a naughty novelty store named Condom Kingdom. (The back of the store was devoted to porno DVDs, and one of them was a copy of the groundbreaking 1972 porno Deep Throat for a whopping $30!) One of the most fascinating sights, though, was the Magic Garden, a startlingly inventive assemblage of trash and tile mosaics assembled over many years to create an oddly beautiful work of art. (Isaiah Zagar is the name of the man who put the Magic Garden together.) I have a few pictures of the Magic Garden on my phone, none of which really convey the amazing totality of the experience.

All in all, it was a pretty eye-opening two weeks. I wouldn't call it fun exactly, but it had its playful moments amidst the barrage of academic stuff. I start work at my internship on Monday. Wish me luck!

P.S. Two random, inconsequential things I learned in Philadelphia:

1. At the National Constitution Center, I learned that there is apparently a swimming pool and a basketball court somewhere on the Supreme Court premises. Who uses that swimming pool or basketball court? Is Stephen Breyer more of a baller than we all know???

2. Through the Visual Dictionary entry on the human body, I found out what a pudenda is. If you don't know what I'm talking about, go look it up (a favorite saying of our professor's, "look it up"). Or, in this case, look down. You might just as hard as we all did when we found out what a pudenda was. Certainly, we all got it right when we got tested on our knowledge of the human body.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

READ THE FOLLOWING PASSAGES FROM THE BIBLE AS IT HAS IMPLICATIONS ON THE WAR AGAINST TERROR/ISLAM and the claim of Israel that god gave them the land. If the child is an infant than the Judeo-Christian version becomes null and void and we are wasting our time and resources i.e. we could save trillions of dollars and create a more peaceful world rather than fighting against Islam the religion of Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them all).


Please note this is not a competition between faiths but an attempt to decipher fact from fiction.

Genesis 21:14 Contemporary English version se below link;&version=46;

Early the next morning Abraham gave Hagar an animal skin full of water and some bread. Then he put the boy on her shoulder and sent them away.

And Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ish’mael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ish’mael to Abram.

Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

At Genesis 22 Abraham had only 2 sons others came later. The Quran mentions that it was Ishmael that was sacrificed hence the reference in genesis 22:2 your only son can only mean someone has substituted Ishmael names for Isaac!!

NOT ROMAN NUMERALS (I, II, III,IV,V,VI,VII,VIII,IX,X) NB no concept of zero in roman numerals.

100 years old – 86 years old = 14 ADD 3 YEARS FOR ISSAC’S WEANING


Carefully read several times the above passage and then tell me the mental picture you get between the mother child interactions what is the age of the child. If the mental picture is that of a 17 year old child being carried on the shoulder of his mother, being physically placed in the bush, crying like a baby, mother having to give him water to drink, than the Islamic viewpoint is null and void. Why is there no verbal communications between mother and (17 YEAR OLD) child?

GENESIS: 21:14 - 21
So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the (17 YEAR OLD) child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-Sheba. When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the (17 YEAR OLD) child under one of the bushes. Then she went, and sat down over against him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, “Let me not look upon the death of the (17 YEAR OLD) child.” And as she sat over against him, the (17 YEAR OLD) child lifted up his voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the (17 YEAR OLD) lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not; for God has heard the voice of the (17 YEAR OLD) lad where he is. Arise, lift up the (17 YEAR OLD) lad, and hold him fast with your hand; for I will make him a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the (17 YEAR OLD) lad a drink. And God was with the (17 YEAR OLD) lad, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

The age of Ishmael at this stage is crucial to the Abrahamic faiths. If he is 17 than the JUDEO/CHRISTIAN point of view about the Abrahamic covenant is correct. This has devastating theological consequences of unimaginable proportions.

This makes the conflict between Ishmael and Isaac and there descendants a work of fiction. I would strongly suggest it is clear cut case of racial discrimination and nothing to do with god almighty. The scribes have deliberately tried to make Isaac the only son and legitimate heir to the throne of Abraham??

Please can you rationally explain this anomaly?

I have asked many persons including my nephews and nieces - unbiased minds with no religious backgrounds but with reasonable command of the English language about this passage and they all agree that the child in the passage is an infant.

For background info on the future religion of mankind see the following websites:





HOLY QURAN CHAPTER 37 verses 101 - 122

101. So We gave him the good news of a boy ready to suffer and forbear.

102. Then, when (the son) reached (the age of) (serious) work with him, he said: "O my son! I see in vision that I offer thee in sacrifice: Now see what is thy view!" (The son) said: "O my father! Do as thou art commanded: thou will find me, if Allah so wills one practising Patience and Constancy!"

103. So when they had both submitted their wills (to Allah., and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (for sacrifice),

104. We called out to him "O Abraham!

105. "Thou hast already fulfilled the vision!" - thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

106. For this was obviously a trial-

107. And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice:

108. And We left (this blessing) for him among generations (to come) in later times:

109. "Peace and salutation to Abraham!"

110. Thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

111. For he was one of our believing Servants.

112. And We gave him the good news of Isaac - a prophet,- one of the Righteous.

113. We blessed him and Isaac: but of their progeny are (some) that do right, and (some) that obviously do wrong, to their own souls.

114. Again (of old) We bestowed Our favour on Moses and Aaron,

115. And We delivered them and their people from (their) Great Calamity;

116. And We helped them, so they overcame (their troubles);

117. And We gave them the Book which helps to make things clear;

118. And We guided them to the Straight Way.

119. And We left (this blessing) for them among generations (to come) in later times:

120. "Peace and salutation to Moses and Aaron!"

121. Thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

122. For they were two of our believing Servants.

Therefore the claim that god gave the land to Israel is destroyed without the need of any WMD’s.

Volume 4, Book 55, Number 583:

Narrated Ibn Abbas:

The first lady to use a girdle was the mother of Ishmael. She used a girdle so that she might hide her tracks from Sarah. Abraham brought her and her son Ishmael while she was suckling him, to a place near the Ka'ba under a tree on the spot of Zam-zam, at the highest place in the mosque. During those days there was nobody in Mecca, nor was there any water So he made them sit over there and placed near them a leather bag containing some dates, and a small water-skin containing some water, and set out homeward. Ishmael's mother followed him saying, "O Abraham! Where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is no person whose company we may enjoy, nor is there anything (to enjoy)?" She repeated that to him many times, but he did not look back at her Then she asked him, "Has Allah ordered you to do so?" He said, "Yes." She said, "Then He will not neglect us," and returned while Abraham proceeded onwards, and on reaching the Thaniya where they could not see him, he faced the Ka'ba, and raising both hands, invoked Allah saying the following prayers:
'O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring dwell in a valley without cultivation, by Your Sacred House (Kaba at Mecca) in order, O our Lord, that they may offer prayer perfectly. So fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (O Allah) provide them with fruits, so that they may give thanks.' (14.37) Ishmael's mother went on suckling Ishmael and drinking from the water (she had).
When the water in the water-skin had all been used up, she became thirsty and her child also became thirsty. She started looking at him (i.e. Ishmael) tossing in agony; She left him, for she could not endure looking at him, and found that the mountain of Safa was the nearest mountain to her on that land. She stood on it and started looking at the valley keenly so that she might see somebody, but she could not see anybody. Then she descended from Safa and when she reached the valley, she tucked up her robe and ran in the valley like a person in distress and trouble, till she crossed the valley and reached the Marwa mountain where she stood and started looking, expecting to see somebody, but she could not see anybody. She repeated that (running between Safa and Marwa) seven times."
The Prophet said, "This is the source of the tradition of the walking of people between them (i.e. Safa and Marwa). When she reached the Marwa (for the last time) she heard a voice and she asked herself to be quiet and listened attentively. She heard the voice again and said, 'O, (whoever you may be)! You have made me hear your voice; have you got something to help me?" And behold! She saw an angel at the place of Zam-zam, digging the earth with his heel (or his wing), till water flowed from that place. She started to make something like a basin around it, using her hand in this way, and started filling her water-skin with water with her hands, and the water was flowing out after she had scooped some of it."
The Prophet added, "May Allah bestow Mercy on Ishmael's mother! Had she let the Zam-zam (flow without trying to control it) (or had she not scooped from that water) (to fill her water-skin), Zam-zam would have been a stream flowing on the surface of the earth." The Prophet further added, "Then she drank (water) and suckled her child. The angel said to her, 'Don't be afraid of being neglected, for this is the House of Allah which will be built by this boy and his father, and Allah never neglects His people.' The House (i.e. Kaba) at that time was on a high place resembling a hillock, and when torrents came, they flowed to its right and left. She lived in that way till some people from the tribe of Jurhum or a family from Jurhum passed by her and her child, as they (i.e. the Jurhum people) were coming through the way of Kada'. They landed in the lower part of Mecca where they saw a bird that had the habit of flying around water and not leaving it. They said, 'This bird must be flying around water, though we know that there is no water in this valley.' They sent one or two messengers who discovered the source of water, and returned to inform them of the water. So, they all came (towards the water)." The Prophet added, "Ishmael's mother was sitting near the water. They asked her, 'Do you allow us to stay with you?" She replied, 'Yes, but you will have no right to possess the water.' They agreed to that." The Prophet further said, "Ishmael's mother was pleased with the whole situation as she used to love to enjoy the company of the people. So, they settled there, and later on they sent for their families who came and settled with them so that some families became permanent residents there. The child (i.e. Ishmael) grew up and learnt Arabic from them and (his virtues) caused them to love and admire him as he grew up, and when he reached the age of puberty they made him marry a woman from amongst them.