In Roald Dahl’s Car: “‘[My stories] can be pretty horrible. They don’t always end well; there’s often a twist in the tail. Actually, I think I’m writing funny stories, because they can be very comical. There’s such a narrow line between the macabre and laughter.’ I could sense him smiling as he said it.”
Sometime between May 3rd and May 7th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!
- Connecticut OKs Bill Pledging Electoral Votes To National Popular-Vote Winner: “The bill adopts an interstate compact that's officially called ‘The Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote.’ The agreement won't kick in unless it's backed by enough states and other voting areas to claim a majority of Electoral College votes. In addition to Connecticut, the other jurisdictions in the pact are California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington state, along with Washington, D.C.”
- The original iMac: 20 years since Apple changed its fate: “Sitting in the Flint Center in 1998, it would have been impossible to imagine the Apple of 2018. But without that day, and the product that Steve Jobs unveiled on that stage, it’s hard to imagine that Apple would have ever had the chance to become what it is today.”
- One space between each sentence, they said. Science just proved them wrong.: Bah! Science did no such thing! It’s one study with a small sample size, screwball parameters (Courier? Seriously?), and a barely measurable result that only really affected those participants already predisposed to two-spacing. Sentences get one space, and one space only. (My favorite part: “Note: An earlier version of this story published incorrectly because, seriously, putting two spaces in the headline broke the web code.”)
- ‘Who Gets to Be Sexy?’: Interesting look at how the porn industry is changing. “Amateurs are flooding the internet; piracy has addled the once-dominant studios; production has atomized and scattered. But along the way, something interesting has started to happen: Women are rising up.”
- Swedish Meatballs Are Turkish? ‘My Whole Life Has Been a Lie’: “The country’s national Twitter account made the announcement in a tweet this week. ‘Swedish meatballs are actually based on a recipe King Charles XII brought home from Turkey in the early 18th century,’ the tweet said. ‘Let’s stick to the facts!’”
There’s a way out of this loop of bouncing between cluttered word processors and process-centric writing tools, a way to avoid having cater to Clippy’s every whim while not having to hide your own work from yourself in order to concentrate. People have been saying for years that Word 5.1 needs to be ported to Mac OS X; that having that program running on current hardware would be the ideal solution to all of these problems with writing tools.
The truth is, there’s a solution now that’s most of the way there: Markdown and a good text editor. That’s the new Word 5.1. Think about it: a program like TextMate (I use TextWrangler. –mh) has almost no window chrome, and opens almost instantly. You start typing, and that’s all you have to do. I bring up Gruber because he invented Markdown, which lets you do basic formatting of text without really having to sweat much else. The types of formatting you don’t need aren’t even available to you when writing Markdown in a text editor, so you never have to deal with them.
Markdown will never be unreadable by a program, because it’s just ASCII text. It’s formatted, but if you’re reading the raw text, it’s not obscured the way a raw HTML file is. Any decent editor will give you a word count and can use headings as section and chapter breaks. With MultiMarkdown the options get even crazier: render your text file as a LaTeX document, or straight to PDF, or any number of other things. All from a text file and an editor with a minimal interface.
Almost all of my writing for many, many years now has been in a text editor using Markdown-formatted text. I’m using Markdown formatting for this blog post (which WordPress then automatically translates into HTML), I’ve written many, many discussion board posts for school in Markdown format before pasting them into BlackBoard, and I use Markdown formatting whenever I’m writing email messages.
I’m in that set of people who fondly remember Word 5.1, and miss the days of having a word processor that was actually a word processor, not an overblown attempt to do absolutely everything ever related to desktop publishing all at once (even Apple’s Pages, while far preferable to any post-5.1 version of Word, is far more than just a simple word processor). My senior year of high school, I booted my Mac Classic into Mac OS 6 with one 1.44 MB floppy; another 1.44 MB floppy held Word 5.1 and every paper I wrote that year.
Those days will never come again, admittedly. But a simple text editor and Markdown formatting is all that’s really needed.
Something seems wrong about this paragraph, taken from the ‘textbook’ (actually a CD of Microsoft Word-generated HTML pages and some PowerPoint presentations) for my Domestic Violence class. Can you spot the goof?
However, two years after the release of the original Minneapolis police experiment, it was replicated in six other cities. The results from these new studies were much more supportive of the deterrent effect of arrest on domestic violence. Researchers in Milwaukee concluded that while arrest deters repeat domestic violence in the short run, arrests with brief custody increase the frequency of domestic violence in the long run. On and again kick Tracey in the head. After, three more officers arrived, they still allowed Charles to wander about the gathered crowd and the other hand, these replicative experiments have also been criticized for several reasons, including the failure to properly replicate the Minneapolis experiment. Thus, although not conclusive, there is some support to suggest that arrest has an effect in delaying, if not deterring, further incidences of domestic violence.
Amusingly, apparently someone did notice this, as there’s a hyperlinked footnote that says, “Who Kicked Tracey in the head? This paragraph does not flwo together….Charles wandered the croud, which replicative statements?” Guess that got missed before finalizing the files for the CD duplication.
Of course there are virtues associated with smallness. Even the novel will grant as much. Large things tend to be unwieldy, clumsy, crude; smallness is the realm of elegance and grace. It’s also the realm of perfection. The novel is exhaustive by nature; but the world is inexhaustible; therefore the novel, that Faustian striver, can never attain its desire. The short story by contrast is inherently selective. By excluding almost everything, it can give perfect shape to what remains. And the short story can even lay claim to a kind of completeness that eludes the novel — after the initial act of radical exclusion, it can include all of the little that’s left.
An e-mail from Mom. Normally I don’t pass these kinds of things on (via e-mail or the web), especially when they’re already posted on Snopes (this one is listed as ‘Undetermined’), but this one had both Prairie and I in stitches (no pun intended) as we read through it. Lots of good arguments for the importance of clarity in writing in here!
A selection of choice writings taken from medical (and nursing!) notes!
- By the time he was admitted, his rapid heart had stopped and he was feeling better.
- Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.
- On the second day the knee was better and on the third day it had completely disappeared.
- She has had no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night.
- The patient has been depressed ever since she began seeing me in 1983.
- I will be happy to go into her GI system, she seems ready and anxious.
- Patient was released to outpatient department without dressing.
- I have suggested that he loosen his pants before standing, and then, when he stands with the help of his wife, they should fall to the floor.
- The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.
- Discharge status: Alive but without permission.
- The patient will need disposition, and therefore we will get Dr. Ward to dispose of him.
- Healthy-appearing, decrepit 69 year old male, mentally alert but forgetful.
- The patient refused an autopsy.
- The patient has no past history of suicides.
- The patient expired on the floor uneventfully.
- Patient has left his white blood cells at another hospital.
- Patient was becoming more demented with urinary frequency.
- The patient’s past medical history has been remarkably insignificant with only a 40 pound weight gain in the past three days.
- She slipped on the ice and apparently her legs went in separate directions in early December.
- The patient experienced sudden onset of severe shortness of breath with a picture of acute pulmonary edema at home while having sex which gradually deteriorated in the emergency room.
- The patient left the hospital feeling much better except for her original complaints.
- The patient is disabled with a wife from Portsmouth
- Uterus remains in place resting comfortably (after prolapse repair)
- Diagnosis: Claus-trophobia
- Comes to ED complaining of vaginal breathing.
- Patient arrived by avalanche
- Odor of alcohol on breast
- Patient stable all morning, in asystole
- Road Traffic Accident, back seat driver
- The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.
- The baby was delivered, the cord clamped and cut, and handed to the pediatrician, who breathed and cried immediately.
- Exam of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.
- The skin was moist and dry.
- Rectal exam revealed a normal size thyroid.
- The patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.
- She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life until 1989 when she got a divorce.
- Between you and me, we ought to be able to get this lady pregnant.
- The patient was in his usual state of good health until his airplane ran out of gas and crashed.
- I saw your patient today, who is still under our car for physical therapy.
- The patient was prepped and raped in the usual manner.
- Examination reveals a well-developed male laying in bed with his family in no distress.
- Patient was alert and unresponsive.
- When she fainted, her eyes rolled around the room.
- The patient lives at home with his mother, father, and pet turtle, who is presently enrolled in day care three times a week.
- Bleeding started in the rectal area and continued all the way to Los Angeles.
- Both breasts are equal and reactive to light and accommodation.
- She is numb from her toes down.
- Exam of genitalia was completely negative except for the right foot.
- While in the emergency room, she was examined, x-rated and sent home.
- The patient was to have a bowel resection. However, he took a job as a stockbroker instead.
- The patient suffers from occasional, constant, infrequent headaches.
- Coming from Detroit, this man has no children.