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Showing posts from February, 2010
A handful of keys have been wiped off on my keyboard. This isn't a big deal since I can type, but it did make using passwords unusually hazardous. It cost me four bucks to get little letter stickers with letters on them so I can see the letters.

Thinking there might be a pattern to the letters, I fed them into a word generator and here is what it produced:

martens, sarment, smarten, aments, armets, mantes, marten, master, maters, matres, namers, ramets, remans, stamen, stream, tamers, amens, ament, armet, manes, manse, mares, marse, marts, maser, mater, mates, means, meant, meats, mensa, menta, namer, names, nemas, ramen, ramet, reams, reman, satem, smart, smear, steam, tamer, tames, teams, terms, trams, amen, antres, arms, astern, maes, mane, mans, mare, mars, mart, mast, mate, mats, mean, meat, mesa, meta, name, nema, rams, ream, rems, same, seam, stem, sterna, tame, tams, team, term, tram, antes, antre, arm, aster, earns, ems, etnas, mae, man, mar, mas, mat, men, met, nam, nare…

other thoughts on writing

For whatever reason, these notes on writing have been flowing my way just now.

Italo Calvino defines good writing as including "Lightness, Quickness, Exactitude, Visibility, and Multiplicity."

The best example he gives (and the source I found his list in, in the introduction to the book) is one of Augusto Monterroso's stories in Complete Works and Other Stories. (Surely one of the great titles, right there with the New Lost City Rambler's "Second Annual Farewell Concert")

The story is called "The Dinosaur", which reads in its entirety "When he awoke, the dinosaur was still there." Or maybe "When I awoke, the dinosaur was still there."
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I spoke with an old friend of mine the other day after a few years of being out of all but the most oblique touch (though it seemed like it had been about 5 minutes since we had last spoken) and was thinking how odd it was to catch up at such luxurious length with someone.

She agreed, but pointed out that it was in part because of facebook. Everybody apparently knows what all everybody else is doing because of facebook. I haven't seen it. This isn't from any point of principle or anti-technological sense (this is, after all, a blog) but I haven't felt the compelling need. Maybe it is the social networking concept rather than the screed-friendly platform of the blog. Or something like that.

But I gather one key point is to see photos, so here is the truly ineffable Miss Lark.



and another with Skye

These rules of writing from Elmore Leonard, and others in his wake, are worth your time even if it seems like this is the kind of list that comes out every spring or thereabouts. They are rules supposedly for fiction but can be retrofit for academics. Writing is writing, except for certain forms of postmodernism, I am not sure what that is.

I have egregiously violated the adverb rule, it is true.

The good academic writers (a subset far removed from the merely good academics) all can write. It is that simple, more or less. William Appleman Williams comes to mind. Michael Taussig. C. Vann Woodward. _____________.

I like Richard Ford's suggestion: "Don't take any shit if you can ­possibly help it."

But the suggestion to read, made by many of these people, is the best one.
This is a screed in the best sense-- one really worth reading. An article by Caitlin Flanagan refusing to drink the kool aid at the nexus of food faddism and educational reform.

Great opening:

"Imagine that as a young and desperately poor Mexican man, you had made the dangerous and illegal journey to California to work in the fields with other migrants. There, you performed stoop labor, picking lettuce and bell peppers and table grapes; what made such an existence bearable was the dream of a better life. You met a woman and had a child with her, and because that child was born in the U.S., he was made a citizen of this great country. He will lead a life entirely different from yours; he will be educated. Now that child is about to begin middle school in the American city whose name is synonymous with higher learning, as it is the home of one of the greatest universities in the world: Berkeley. On the first day of sixth grade, the boy walks though the imposing double doors of his …
From Opinio Juris this important discussion of the Obama administration unabashed adoption of extraterritorial killing of U.S. citizens

"Are President Obama’s Assassinations of U.S. Citizens Constitutional?

by Julian Ku

The NY Times Opinionator has a nice roundup of lefty-blog reaction to the Obama Administration’s claim of the legal authority to kill and assassinate U.S. citizens abroad (and its admission to having already done so). Most lefty-blogs seem unconcerned about this policy, with the notable exception of Glenn Greenawald. From a legal perspective, the relative lack of outrage among the lefty-blogs/Obama supporters really does open the door to charges of hypocrisy. (One searches in vain on Balkinization for the outrage, for instance). Or have they joined the “Dark Side” where such bloggers famously accused Dick Cheney and John Yoo of residing? Here’s why these assassinations/killings pose such a real legal problem, especially under their previously stated views of how U.…

snow in the south

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Surely you have read about the huge dumpings the east coast has had over the past few weeks. We have been spared huge snow fall but not fully spared the snow. Today we had a period of it but it only stuck to some grass. But any snow at all around here means full blown crisis mode. Last week we got 4 inches on a saturday and VWC was closed on Monday, Lark's school was closed until Wednesday. That is one more day of closure than there were inches of snow.

Most people just waited for it to melt. Being a Midwesterner, I shoveled. This was the first time I have used the snow shovel I moved with down here (no reason to throw it out, a perfectly good snow shovel). I moved here in 2000 and have never seen snow last for more than a couple of hours.

Ok, I am kind of behind on posting on this, here is the obligatory house in snow shot. The last time there was this much snow in Norfolk was 20 years ago so this is actually an image of archival interest only.:



Right, totally unimpressive.…
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At long last I sent off my book manuscript, which has consumed a considerable amount of my energy over the past few years, with an exponential increase in that energy consumption over my sabbatical. I can say that this is a great feeling. Actually an indescribable one. It is a solid piece of work, I am proud of it. I have to say I had a good time writing too. And I am almost certain that I never thought of good times while writing my dissertation or turning into a book. Other adjectives, ok. But this one has been fun.

Anyway, it is done for now and in the hands of the readers so I can return to the numerous other important things in life like life--nothing is so corrosive of life than hundreds of hours in front of a computer uncoiling a book. But things do need getting done at times.

So many things to do with a bunch of time, I won't even list them here. But with a daughter who amazes me more every day and a sweet wife who has been nothing but extraordinary (as I have edg…