George Saunders is a gem.
There’s this theory that self-esteem has to do with getting confirmation from the outside world that our perceptions are fundamentally accurate. What Doug does at this meeting is increase my self-esteem by confirming that my perception of the work I’d been doing is fundamentally accurate. The work I’ve been doing is bad. Or, worse: it’s blah. This is uplifting–liberating, even—to have my unspoken opinion of my work confirmed. I don’t have to pretend bad is good. This frees me to leave it behind and move on and try to do something better.
My Writing Education: A Time Line – The New Yorker
English is a mutt and it’s the best thing. I love dives like this, into the history of a language. Well, at least this one.
Why is English so weirdly different from other languages? by John McWhorter — Aeon
I also think if you’ve got writer’s block, you don’t have writer’s block. You have reporter’s block. You only are having trouble writing because you don’t actually yet know what you’re trying to say, and that usually means you don’t have enough information. That’s the signal to walk away from the keyboard, think about what it is that you don’t really know yet, and go do that reporting.
My father was really, really the author of my particular personality. He gave me a million different pieces of advice, but one that comes up all the time is: Anything that can be fixed with money isn’t worth crying over.
The New Yorker’s Susan Orlean on the magic and mystery of writing
The word “yes” is an extremely dull way to express the varied sentiments of “yes.”
Why Everyone’s Saying ‘YAAAAAASSSSSS’ Now
But here’s the thing: people will draw conclusions about your motives based on your timing and your chosen vehicle.
Ten Short Rants About #GamerGate | Popehat
In a study of more than a million Yelp restaurant reviews, Mr. Jurafsky and the Carnegie Mellon team found that four-star reviews tended to use a narrower range of vague positive words, while one-star reviews had a more varied vocabulary. One-star reviews also had higher incidence of past tense, pronouns (especially plural pronouns) and other subtle markers that linguists have previously found in chat room discussions about the death of Princess Diana and blog posts written in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks.
In short, Mr. Jurafsky said, authors of one-star reviews unconsciously use language much as people do in the wake of collective trauma. “They use the word ‘we’ much more than ‘I,’ as if taking solace in the fact that this bad thing happened, but it happened to us together,” he said.
Another finding: Reviews of expensive restaurants are more likely to use sexual metaphors, while the food at cheaper restaurants tends to be compared to drugs.
Decoding a Menu at Root & Bone – NYTimes.com
Not only did “problematic” become popular because it suits identity politics and sounds smart, it’s also highly shareable. “Problematic” bundles urgency, seriousness, and debatability into a single vague word, which is great for both sound bytes and tweets.
The Internet Has a Problem(atic) – The Awl
“Against [X]” is often not just an effective rhetorical form but also a canny career move: against X as an implicit argument for the polemicist.
Against “Against [X]” – The New Yorker