V for Victory and Viral

Churchill_VJuly 19 marks the anniversary of World War II’s “V for Victory” campaign. New York Times article of the day describes it as a “nerve war” against the Nazis in occupied Europe. Launched by the BBC, championed by Winston Churchill, and executed by countless brave people in conquered countries, V for Victory was quintessential propaganda. It was also viral marketing in an era when the only computers were a handful of top-secret, room-sized machines (also part of the fight against the Nazis, used to break their coded messages).

The concept began in early 1941 with a BBC radio broadcast by Belgian refugee Victor De Lavelaye. He urged those under occupation to use “V” as a rallying symbol, the first letter in the French “Victoire,” the Flemish “Vrijheid,” and the English “Victory.” BBC editors embraced the concept, and the service beamed the official campaign to occupied Europe.

Per the NYT account, a BBC announcer with the nom-de-guerre “Colonel V. Britton” read a statement from Prime Minister Churchill:

The V sign is the symbol of the unconquerable will of the occupied territories and a portent of the fate awaiting Nazi tyranny. So long as the peoples continue to refuse all collaboration with the invader it is sure that his cause will perish and that Europe will be liberated.

Col.  Britton urged listeners to create “V” graffiti, to chalk or paint the letter on walls and pavement. The “V” theme continued as it was construed as the Roman symbol for the number “5.” Listeners were instructed to read Daniel 5, beginning with the fifth verse–the “writing on the wall” foretelling the downfall of the Babylonian empire that had enslaved the Jews.

Additionally, Col. Britton told the audience to tap out Morse code for the letter “V,” three dots and a dash for the benefit of friend and invader alike. That rhythm mimicked the opening of Beethoven’s Fifth (again, V as 5), a motif likened to “fate knocking at the door,” an extra affront to the Germans that co-opted the greatest work of one of their greatest composers. The first notes of Beethoven’s Fifth became the BBC’s call sign for its broadcasts to continental Europe throughout the war.

V for Victory spread across Europe, as one defiantly drawn or tapped “V” sparked another and another. Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels quickly countered, claiming the campaign was a Third Reich invention signifying the German “Viktoria.” The Nazis posted their “V” on banners and newspaper front pages and used Beethoven’s Fifth in their radio broadcasts. It is true brilliance when you can get the competition (enemy) to carry your message.

V for Victory was viral marketing. A major media platform, the BBC, created the spark and the people did the rest. The great communicator of the age, Winston Churchill, continually flashed the V sign for photographers, maintaining his role in the movement. Seven decades before social media let people strike blows against dictators and report from battlefields, V for Victory gave voice to Hitler’s involuntary–and temporary–subjects.

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Bass 40

2017 marks my 40th anniversary playing bass. My late mother, Ellie, gave me a bass rig for my 15th birthday, February 1977. My path to becoming a bassist is detailed in an article I wrote about encouraging my son, Brian, in his musical pursuits as I rediscovered my own love of music. The spindly instrument and puny amp that transformed me into a “rocker” are long gone, replaced by sturdier gear in years since. The early excitement of making noise (how many times can a bunch of teens play the riff for “Smoke on the Water” before the SWAT team arrives?) has also been replaced by the steady joy of making real music with a long list of marvelous players, singers and friends.

Music gave me discipline and identity. In recent years, it became a ministry as I take part in worship teams for our home church and other churches in the area. It is the heart of my personal brand as I present my passion for teaching and communication in this blog. The spirit of the jam drives everything I do. I play bass.

The Funky Adjunct, 1982.

The Funky Adjunct, 2012. “Wait! I haven’t finished that bass solo I started in 1982!”

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The Copy-and-Paste Canon: A Brief Examination of Plagiarism

From Cassandra Nix, tes teach

Below is the text of a paper I wrote on plagiarism in the first term of my master’s program at the University of Denver and have previously posted on this blog. In the Internet age, it is easier than ever to commit this act. Plagiarism can be a deliberate deception. It can be due to a lack of knowledge about using and crediting sources. We must all guard against it.

The Copy-and-Paste Canon: A Brief Examination of Plagiarism

“Plagiarism is theft.” This blunt definition comes from Susan M. Hubbuch in her book, Writing Research Papers Across the Curriculum.1 Other experts in academic writing invoke images of criminal behavior. Cheryl Glenn and Loretta Gray equate plagiarism with the piracy of films, videos, music and software.2 The message is clear: plagiarism is a major wrong.

Plagiarism is the act of representing another author’s work as one’s own. Text, data and images can all be plagiarized. This misuse of content can be overt and deliberate, or it can be subtle and unintended. A writer who respects academic integrity protocols (such as those posted on University of Denver Web sites) and who makes sincere efforts to express the work and observations of others in reconfigured language can still commit plagiarism.

Hubbach pays particular attention to unintentional plagiarism, an offense that can be avoided through careful research and writing. Lack of organization can lead to plagiarism if source material sifts into notes or a draft without proper tracking.3 Failure to put quotation marks around verbatim passages is another procedural error that fosters plagiarism.4 Even writers who studiously paraphrase original work or convey it in completely new wording can still be plagiarists if they are presenting the unique concepts and conclusions of others without proper attribution.5

Plagiarism is a serious issue due to the two fundamental failures it comprises. First, it is unlawful use of intellectual property. As Hubbach, Glenn and Gray assert, this is the same legal and ethical breach seen in other forms of stealing with ignorance (unintentional plagiarism), offering no defense. Second, plagiarism invalidates the student writer’s academic exercise. An intentional plagiarist cheats outright. An unintentional plagiarist does not delineate his or her original thinking, the ultimate goal of any writing assignment.

Plagiarism has never been so easily committed, thanks to today’s technology which provides the tools to access and manipulate a literal world of text, data and imagery. Countering this, plagiarism has never been so easily detected, thanks again to technology including systems such as Turnitin.6 Despite these policing mechanisms, the simplicity of appropriating others’ work remains compelling and insidious, creating a copy-and-paste canon—inauthentic, unsanctioned but undeniably prevalent. A thorough understanding of plagiarism will protect the intellectual and artistic achievements of others and preserve the academic integrity of students.

1. Susan M. Hubbach, Writing Research Papers Across the Curriculum (Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2005), 170.
2. Cheryl Glenn and Loretta Gray, The Hodges Harbrace Handbook, 17th Edition (Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2010), 561.
3. Susan M. Hubbach, Writing Research Papers Across the Curriculum (Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2005), 172.
4. Susan M. Hubbach, Writing Research Papers Across the Curriculum (Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2005), 174.
5. Susan M. Hubbach, Writing Research Papers Across the Curriculum (Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2005), 181.
6. Cheryl Glenn and Loretta Gray, The Hodges Harbrace Handbook, 17th Edition (Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2010), 561.

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