Ramblings & ephemera

Ray Bradbury on what you know & how to write

From Sam Weller’s interview of Ray Bradbury in “The Art of Fiction No. 203” (The Paris Review: Spring 2010, No. 192): I learned this early on. Three things are in your head: First, everything you have experienced from the day of your birth until right now. Every single second, every single hour, every single day. […]

The Irish Church lies in creative – and evil – ways

From Patsy McGarry’s “Church ‘lied without lying’” (Irish Times: 26 November 2009): One of the most fascinating discoveries in the Dublin Archdiocese report was that of the concept of “mental reservation” which allows clerics mislead people without believing they are lying. According to the Commission of Investigation report, “mental reservation is a concept developed and […]

Mistakes to avoid in writing

From Pat Holt’s “The Ten Mistakes: Ten Mistakes Writers Don’t See (But Can Easily Fix When They Do)” (Holt Uncensored: 17 November 2008): EMPTY ADVERBS Actually, totally, absolutely, completely, continually, constantly, continuously, literally, really, unfortunately, ironically, incredibly, hopefully, finally – these and others are words that promise emphasis, but too often they do the reverse. […]

Things to say instead of cussin’

“Dear heavenly day in the morning!” “Ye gods!” “Oh fudge!” “Dirty words!” “Cheese and crackers!” “Gee willikers!”

Protected: Why we cuss

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Defining social media, social software, & Web 2.0

From danah boyd’s “Social Media is Here to Stay… Now What?” at the Microsoft Research Tech Fest, Redmond, Washington (danah: 26 February 2009): Social media is the latest buzzword in a long line of buzzwords. It is often used to describe the collection of software that enables individuals and communities to gather, communicate, share, and […]

Bush, rhetoric, & the exercise of power

From Mark Danner’s “Words in a Time of War: Taking the Measure of the First Rhetoric-Major President” (Tomgram: 10 May 2007): [Note: This commencement address was given to graduates of the Department of Rhetoric at Zellerbach Hall, University of California, Berkeley, on May 10, 2007] … I give you my favorite quotation from the Bush […]

Protected: Students, schools, civil rights, & the f-word

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One group files 99.9% of all complaints about TV content

From Christopher M. Fairman’s “Fuck” (bepress Legal Series: 7 March 2006): The PTC [Parents Television Council] is a perfect example of the way word taboo is perpetuated. The group’s own irrational word fetish – which they try to then impose on others – fuels unhealthy attitudes toward sex that then furthers the taboo status of […]

Protected: American courts and government and the f-word

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Protected: Taboo acts and language and how they work together

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Protected: Etymologies & the dictionary definitions of the f-word

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John Berryman’s suicide note

From Steve Marsh’s “Homage to Mister Berryman” (Mpls St Paul Magazine: September 2008): Berryman’s last words to Kate came on that January morning—he told her he was going to campus to clean his office. He had never said that before, she says, but Kate, who was attending Al-Anon meetings at the time, was trying “not […]

Graveyard shifts and torpedo coffins

From Atul Gawande’s “Final Cut: Medical arrogance and the decline of the autopsy” (The New Yorker: 19 March 2001): … in the nineteenth century … [some doctors] waited until burial and then robbed the graves, either personally or through accomplices, an activity that continued into the twentieth century. To deter such autopsies, some families would […]