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Stories and Scholarship

History, Hobbies, Characters and Curiosities

Photo of a walk along the Mediterranean.

History of this site.
Ross's website was built in summer 1995, the first year Netcraft, based in Bath, England, began keeping count. That year's total was 18,000. As of November 2011, domain names totaled 134,568,111. As of 2016, 334.6 million. This places Ross's site among the first .000053 of 1 percent of websites constructed. What did it look like way back when? Well, not so bad for hand-slung HTML.

In 2001 Ross redesigned the site using tables in Dreamweaver. But the clumsy table-model gave way to the spiffy box-model using CSS.

Launched July 2005, Ross's next site reverted to hand-coding, this time relying on that much-loved CSS.

During spring semester 2008 Ross and a colleague co-taught the university's first convergence media class. Students pressed for a convergence website using Flash, a then-dominant animation software. To comply, Ross decided to redesign his own home page using Flash. The new site, representing more work than it was worth, probably, was launched in May.

In September 2011 it was time for a home page update. The current site incorporates dropdown menus (Gad! What a pain to set up!) and a pinkish color scheme, but dropped the now-aging Flash animation.

More good reads

Journalism history research: the top five myths.

English: the packrat's dream. Ross's five top controversies of English grammar.

"The Press at the Century's Turn. Cultural icon, corporate behemoth, corrupted arbiter." Presentation for "The Coming of the Great War," symposium, National World War I Museum, Kansas City.
The growth of the mass-circulation press of the nineteenth century perhaps more than any other idea reflected the confident spirit of an extroverted age. Journalism before the industrial revolution was a pastime of artisans, often a glorified newsletter for the politicians whose subventions kept them in business. But confluence of social and industrial changes in the late nineteenth century upended the entire idea of what journalism ought to be.

Children, War and Research. Why History Matters.
It may be impossible to climb into that time machine and set the date for some fascinating historical period. But we can travel back by studying what people thought in the past, what they said, what they did, and what happened to them. We can be someone else--or at least, we can feel what it might have been like to be someone else.

For francophones. Des articles en francais.

Weird Ways of News: A User's Guide to News Values.
We all consume news, but seldom consider how it's made. Maybe we need a disclaimer:
News is a manufactured product. It is not a meeting, accident, hurricane, speech or mall walk. It may, however, be fabricated from these or other events. It may contain hidden interpretations, judgments, manipulations, and errors. These products have been shown to cause occasional emotional upset and, rarely, a need to vomit. Consumer discretion is advised.

Children, War and Propaganda.
In total war, war on an immense, world-wide scale, everyone worked. Including children of all ages. Ross's new book.

Exercise in the north country with Ross's FargoFit!
Five big fitness mistakes. Five exercises you can do outside in January. (Including Ross's favorite, the Snow Shoveler!) A cardio kickboxing class.

New! The continuing adventures of Dr. Dan Druckermann, post-cyber historian of the twenty-second century.
As a specialist in twentieth-century history, Dr. Dan considers war, peace, time, and even paper over a century of change.

Teaching, technology, and my enormous collection of obsolete skills.
What should we be teaching journalism students today? What will their future be like? It's hard to say. But history might help guide us. In this case, I'm talking about personal history.

America and Veteran's Day: Is God on Our Side?
Nov. 11 originally commemorated Armistice Day, the end of World War I. This war marked the beginning of America's military commitment to a troubled world beyond its borders. The holiday might give us an opportunity to reflect, to consider how we may search for peace. But during World War I, many more Americans searched for war.

A Dakota cowboy from France
Born of noble lineage, French, dashing, and rich, the Marquis de Morés roamed North Dakota and the world as one of the last century's expert self-promoters. He took advantage of early mass media's thirst for the dramatic, and in many ways resembled flamboyant celebrities of today. Read about Morés in the on-line edition of the North Dakota Journal of Speech & Theatre.

Blurbs in battle
Advertisers are always on the lookout for a fresh appeal and new markets. Even a world war can be used to sell. During World War I, French advertising in two major southern newspapers created a new market for soldiers and war-related products. By 1918 advertisers were borrowing war themes as metaphors to sell medicine and other products.

Red River on the rampage?
That slow muddy Red River of the North that runs to Hudson's Bay has terrorized centuries of settlers, and a hundred years of civil engineering doesn't seem to have tamed it. (Includes two illustrations!)

Cowboys and Cow Town Newspapers in Dakota Territory.
Doff your hat and spurs, sit back and read about some tough newspapers in the Old West's cow towns of Dakota Territory. This article is part of an on-line journal, Media History Monographs, Volume 3, Number 1.

North Dakota Journal of Speech & Theatre. Published by the North Dakota Speech & Theatre Association, the on-line version of this refereed journal includes a wide variety of articles covering all aspects of communication. (Ross Collins, editor, Volumes 12, 13, and 14.)

And for the not-so scholarly who like shorter articles...

New! Foolproof feast by Ross.
Impress your family and friends, disappoint your dog--because you'll have no leftovers making these recipes from Ross's kitchen. Tirelessly tested easy dishes that look harder. Heck, people will think you can actually cook! They're even (kind of) healthy!

The ultimate guide to making lefse
What is lefse? A Scandinavian soft potato-based tortilla-like bread, but bigger and thinner. It's a challenge to make, but follow my (excruciatingly detailed) guide, and you'll succeed, maybe!

Report on Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Tips from here and there

Ross's favorite n' foolproof recipes!


Dot-Coms and the Great Die-Off.
another crash in the '80s--the 1880s that is. Cows, not Coms.

Gun Control in the Old West.
You might have thought those Old West pioneers celebrated their love affair with their firearms. Not exactly.

Building a Balustrade.
To you, just some steps. To last century's finish carpenter, a pinnacle of the craft.

A saw for grown-ups.
"He thrust his left hand right in front of my face. Three fingers were missing."

Workday blog.
What do university professors do all week? More than you might think. Or less. See for yourself.

Journalism in France: A Recent History.
What would it be like if we could just shut down every publication in the country and start over from scratch? Of course, that’s impossible. Yet it actually happened once, and not that long ago.

A biography of Julie E. Poseley.

A biography of Dorothy I. Collins.

Photo: Mediterranean boardwalk, Torremolinos, Spain.