Links for 2009-09-22

  • "Look, if you want to save journalism, if you want to be a journalist, you need to actually perform the act of journalism. The kind of writing that we desperately need, that we may be well-informed and responsible citizens, not these bullshit celebrity-noise puff pieces. Leave that crap to transient rags like Gawker; it's their métier, says so right there on the label, and shouldn't be yours. Go find something out, something important, and tell us. It might be complicated, it might need to be explained at length, contextualized and clarified, sure. It might be difficult, but worthwhile things usually are. You'll know success when you see it, when you can't suck the marrow out of it in three lines and people all over the world are telling their audience to come to your site. "
  • "This is a story about a nearly 100-year-old book, bound in red leather, which has spent the last quarter century secreted away in a bank vault in Switzerland. The book is big and heavy and its spine is etched with gold letters that say "Liber Novus," which is Latin for "New Book." Its pages are made from thick cream-colored parchment and filled with paintings of otherworldly creatures and handwritten dialogues with gods and devils. If you didn't know the book's vintage, you might confuse it for a lost medieval tome."
  • For the record, and contrary to what most of the academic blogosphere seems to believe, English isn't a cash cow. It pretty much breaks even. The smaller class sizes offset the lack of equipment costs. The social sciences are where we really clean up, since those are chalk-and-talk classes with much larger sizes. Naturally, with different course caps in different places, your mileage may vary.
  • "The fit is an obvious one, as On Stranger Tides is about a pirate named Jack who goes in search of the Fountain of Youth."
  • "Tie-in work is, by its very nature, subject to a lot more unexpected change than other writing - it's someone else's copyright, and the writer has to live with that. It goes with the territory. That's why professional tie-in writers don't get emotionally attached to what they're working on. It's not that I take the task casually; but it's not my property, and the stewardship of it is always temporary. A pro has to be able to shrug, move on, and say: "Okay, nobody died, and the cheque didn't bounce - result! Next?""
  • "Handwriting is increasingly something people do only when they need to make a note to themselves rather than communicate with others, she said. Students accustomed to using computers to write at home have a hard time seeing the relevance of hours of practicing cursive handwriting."
  • "I've recently received a number of messages from readers of this site expressing doubts about the existence of dark matter. As someone who's researched dark matter extensively, it is my determination that dark matter most likely exists, although explaining exactly what it is is a challenge. Over this next series, I would like to lead you through the evidence, observations and discoveries that have led me to this conclusion, and I hope that I explain this well enough that it leads you to draw the same ones for yourself."
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I'm surprised that the tripe on cursive handwriting wasn't in the NYT. That would be typical of their type of "kids these days" hand wringing. The anecdote about the kid with poor handwriting is laughable; many adults have completely illegible writing. Much of my youth was spent trying to figure out what the hell my mother had scrawled on some note she had left for me on the kitchen table.

I have simply stopped writing cursive and instead use characters that others can read.