Friday, September 12, 2014


How many of you remember when we relied on people like Siskel and Ebert to keep us from wasting $1.50 on a bad movie? My kids now have a rule- no movies below 60% on Rotten Tomatoes so they won't blow eight bucks on this year's Ishtar. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Rotten Tomatoes is a meta-analysis of all of reviews posted by critics and if you access it via your Flixster App, you can get user scores too. This new technology helps movie buffs such as myself avoid the old newspaper advertising technique of modifying the critics words to make the movie sound better.

"This supposed summer blockbuster is a bomb!" becomes "...SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER...!"

"A small masterpiece of dementia." becomes "MASTERPIECE!"

"Spectacular mess" becomes "Spectacular!"

You get the drift. Rotten Tomatoes has ruined it for "creative" ad writers. But don't worry about them starving, because these masters of word and phrase plucking are not in the unemployment line. Every two years they are able to find plenty of work writing political advertisements!

This year, they seem to have started particularly early, and we can look forward to two more months of misleading and uninformative material coming out of mysterious organizations with high-minded names.  

Postcards, flyers, and commercials that pluck quotes and data like my older sister used to pick the best cherries off of my grandparents cherry tree because she was the tallest.  How does one know what to believe?

While there is no "Rotten Tomatoes" for political advertising, the KASB Board of Directors has charged the staff with being a "truth machine" for claims about Kansas Schools.  This is a charge that we take very seriously.  The bad news is that the real truth is often complex, and if time is not taken to understand the whole story, voters can be easily misled.  Finding out the facts requires work, and listening to an explanation of the issues.  Is there really more money in education? Is there more money available to be spent on students and teachers? Is the money being provided by the feds, the state, or by local efforts? It gets complicated.

I encourage readers to take the time to learn the facts.  Read "The Tallman Education Report" and Ted Carter's blog to become more informed.

Someday, we may have Flixster for politicians.  Until then, we have Mark and Ted.  Put them to work for you!

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