17 MAY 2017 by ideonexus

 Encyclopedia as a Directory of Associations

Every science overlaps with others: they are two continuous branches off a single trunk. He who composes an opus does not enter abruptly into his subject, does not close himself strictly within it, does not leave it abruptly: he is obliged to anticipate terrain adjoining his; its consequences often take him onto another contiguous terrain on the opposite side; and how many other excursions are necessary in the body of the work? What is the purpose of the forewords, introductions, prefaces, ex...
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21 MAY 2016 by ideonexus

 Essays Should Not Need to Argue a Point

The Age of the Essay September 2004 Remember the essays you had to write in high school? Topic sentence, introductory paragraph, supporting paragraphs, conclusion. The conclusion being, say, that Ahab in Moby Dick was a Christ-like figure. Oy. So I'm going to try to give the other side of the story: what an essay really is, and how you write one. Or at least, how I write one. Mods The most obvious difference between real essays and the things one has to write in school is that real ess...
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31 MAY 2015 by ideonexus

 Tyrrany Sets Up Its Own Echo Chamber

I think it was Utz who first convinced me that history is always our guide for the future, and always full of capricious surprises. The future itself is a dead land because it does not yet exist. When a Czech writer wishes to comment on the plight of his country, one way open to him is to use the fifteenth-century Hussite Rebellion as a metaphor. I found in Prague Museum this text describing the Hussites' defeat of the German Knights: ''At midnight, all of a sudden, frightened shouting was he...
Folksonomies: tyrrany
Folksonomies: tyrrany
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30 MAY 2015 by ideonexus

 Risk of Childhood Kidnapping are Very Low

A generation ago 70 percent of children played outside; today the rate is down to 30 percent.209 In 2008 the nine-year-old son of the journalist Lenore Skenazy begged her to let him go home by himself on the New York subway. She agreed, and he made it home without incident. When she wrote about the vignette in a New York Sun column, she found herself at the center of a media frenzy in which she was dubbed “America’s Worst Mom.” (Sample headline: “Mom Lets 9-Year-Old Take Subway Home A...
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30 MAY 2015 by ideonexus

 Pessimism in Predictions and the False Sense of Insecurity

You would think that the disappearance of the gravest threat in the history of humanity would bring a sigh of relief among commentators on world affairs. Contrary to expert predictions, there was no invasion of Western Europe by Soviet tanks, no escalation of a crisis in Cuba or Berlin or the Middle East to a nuclear holocaust.1 The cities of the world were not vaporized; the atmosphere was not poisoned by radioactive fallout or choked with debris that blacked out the sun and sent Homo sapien...
Folksonomies: perspective pessimism
Folksonomies: perspective pessimism
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23 MAY 2015 by ideonexus

 Write With Style

Newspaper reporters and technical writers are trained to reveal almost nothing about themselves in their writings. This makes them freaks in the world of writers, since almost all of the other ink-stained wretches in that world reveal a lot about themselves to readers. We call these revelations, accidental and intentional, elements of style. These revelations tell us as readers what sort of person it is with whom we are spending time. Does the writer sound ignorant or informed, stupid or bri...
Folksonomies: writing style
Folksonomies: writing style
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18 MAR 2015 by ideonexus

 The Importance of Comparative Alphabets

But when I had grasped the facts that spellings are often false, that words can be invented, and that explanations are often wrong, I found that worse remained behind. The science of phi- lology is comparatively modern, so that our earlier writers had no means of ascertaining principles that are now well established, and, instead of proceeding by rule, had to go blindly by guesswork, thus sowing crops of errors which have sprung up and multiplied till it requires very careful investigatio...
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12 JAN 2015 by ideonexus

 Prescriptivism and Descriptivism

So, you seem to be at an impasse. On the one hand, you have generations of grade school English teachers rightly warning their pupils that people might chuckle at them if they use the word ‘irregardless’. On the other hand, you have the scientific rigor of the modern linguistic community touting descriptivism as the torch-bearer of truth and enlightenment. Are you doomed to choose between a democracy of solecisms and a library of thousand-page tomes of writer’s regulations? Are things r...
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12 JAN 2015 by ideonexus

 The Futility of Linguistic Prescription

When we see men grow old and die at a certain time one after another, from century to century, we laugh at the elixir that promises to prolong life to a thousand years; and with equal justice may the lexicographer be derided, who being able to produce no example of a nation that has preserved their words and phrases from mutability, shall imagine that his dictionary can embalm his language, and secure it from corruption and decay, that it is in his power to change sublunary nature, and clear ...
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19 DEC 2014 by ideonexus

 John Cleese on Writing and Performing as Science

DAVIES: You know, and you say many times in the book that you're more a writer than a performer. CLEESE: It's always hard for people to believe that because of course, anytime they've seen me it's because I've been performing. You know, they don't go to their televisions and switch them on and see me sitting at home writing, you know? So naturally, people's image is of a performer, but the reality is the writing for me has always been the most important thing and the most rewarding thing. An...
Folksonomies: science comedy
Folksonomies: science comedy
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