I watch this same interview every year and every year I think I should post it so you can enjoy it too. I finally am.
Earlier today I finished reading On Writing Well1, by William Zinsser. In it, Zinsser outlines not only what it takes to write well but also rouses ones love for writing. The book is great, it’s not only fun to read but inspires me to write.
Zinsser died in 2015, and at that time Open Culture honoured him by posting 10 tips from his book which is a worthy summary:
Zinsser stressed simplicity and efficiency, but also style and enthusiasm. Here are 10 of his many tips for improving your writing.
- Don’t make lazy word choices: “You’ll never make your mark as a writer unless you develop a respect for words and a curiosity about their shades of meaning that is almost obsessive. The English language is rich in strong and supple words. Take the time to root around and find the ones you want.”
- On the other hand, avoid jargon and big words: “Clear thinking becomes clear writing; one can’t exist without the other. It’s impossible for a muddy thinker to write good English.”
- Writing is hard work: “A clear sentence is no accident. Very few sentences come out right the first time, or even the third time. Remember this in moments of despair. If you find that writing is hard, it’s because it is hard.”
- Write in the first person: “Writing is an intimate transaction between two people, conducted on paper, and it will go well to the extent that it retains its humanity.”
- And the more you keep in first person and true to yourself, the sooner you will find your style: “Sell yourself, and your subject will exert its own appeal. Believe in your own identity and your own opinions. Writing is an act of ego, and you might as well admit it.
- Don’t ask who your audience is…you are the audience: “You are writing primarily to please yourself, and if you go about it with enjoyment you will also entertain the readers who are worth writing for.”
- Study the masters but also your contemporaries: “Writing is learned by imitation. If anyone asked me how I learned to write, I’d say I learned by reading the men and women who were doing the kind of writing I wanted to do and trying to figure out how they did it.”
- Yes, the thesaurus is your friend: “The Thesaurus is to the writer what a rhyming dictionary is to the songwriter–a reminder of all the choices–and you should use it with gratitude. If, having found the scalawag and the scapegrace, you want to know how they differ, then go to the dictionary.”
- Read everything you write out loud for rhythm and sound: “Good writers of prose must be part poet, always listening to what they write.”
- And don’t ever believe you are going to write anything definitive: “Decide what corner of your subject you’re going to bite off, and be content to cover it well and stop.”
- On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction, first published in 1976, has sold almost 1.5 million copies to three generations of writers, editors, journalists, teachers and students.
I popped over to the university this evening to watch the 2022 Canada West Swim Meet. I’ve been looking forward to this meet since I learned about it months ago. The University is hosting an alumni weekend for all former Pronghorns.
I’ll be the first to admit that watching a swim meet when you don’t know the swimmers can be a bit boring but today I was not disappointed. Within the first few races I watched, Lethbridge local Apollo Hess broke a Canadian record in the short-course 50 Breast with a time of 26.63.
The rest of the alumni weekend is looking good too with tickets to the men’s and women’s basketball games as well an alumni party at the Zoo (the university pub). They’re having a draw for a couple of different prizes including a $500 WestJet voucher for one lucky Pronghorn. Wish me luck.
Bob Iger is back as CEO of Disney. Bob Chapek, who had only became CEO in February of 2020 gets his golden parachute to the tune of at least $20 million dollars.
From Alex Weprin at the Hollywood Reporter:
In a stunning turn of events, The Walt Disney Co. says that Bob Chapek will step down as CEO, with Bob Iger returning to lead the company. Disney’s board of directors announced the decision Sunday night.
Surprising that they did this late on a Sunday night but also probably a good move. It’s been no secret on Disney forums that there have been major problems with Chapek running the show. Having said that, I always thought Iger got out at the right time. In the stormy weather of today’s economic and political climate, I’m surprised he’s back but it sounds like he is too:
Iger even acknowledged in an email to Disney employees Sunday that he is returning “with an incredible sense of gratitude and humility — and, I must admit, a bit of amazement.”
Last Thursday I travelled up to Barnett House, the ATA headquarters in Edmonton, for a political engagement meeting. The ATA was updating its members on an awareness campaign for public education issues in Alberta before the next provincial election.
The meeting was pretty interesting. It was eye-opening to hear how many school divisions are hoarding millions of budgeted dollars instead of spending it. I couldn’t help notice that a lot of the biggest offenders are from the separate (Catholic) school divisions. I also liked hearing from pollster Janet Brown about how the UCP are not polling well since their new leader was chosen — though most of what she said was in this article by the CBC and I had already read it.
At the end of the day, I found out that my plane was delayed and that I probably wouldn’t be able to catch my connecting flight from Calgary to Lethbridge. It turns out — very long story short, WestJet had some major computer schedule issues and after a not great two hour sleep in a hotel on Friday night I ended up driving a rental car from Edmonton to Calgary so I could catch that connecting flight on Saturday instead of waiting an extra, extra 24 hours.
Because I was driving, I now had some time to kill in Calgary. I called my sister up to see if we could meet while I waited for my flight. As luck would have it, (or as it turns out bad luck) she was bringing her oldest, Ryker, to Olds for a volleyball game. Ryker plays for the college in Lloydminster. We met up and because Ryker’s game wasn’t going to start until much later and he just wanted to hang with his team, we decided to drive to the airport in Calgary to spend some time together there.
The roads were pretty bad when we set out but we hoped with the direction of the wind, it might not be so bad when we were headed south on the highway. It was really bad, even heading south. I had my AirPods in and was chatting with Jackie while watching her taillights disappearing into the white out blizzard conditions. Suddenly she told me there were vehicles all over the highway and that I needed to stop. She told me she couldn’t stop and was going to have to pull into the ditch. She did so and never had any real issues but with the extra time to slow I was able to navigate through the gauntlet of five or six crashed vehicles both on and off the highway.
It was just last week that a cousin of mine actually died in a collision on a snowy highway and so it made this situation all the more tense.
Suddenly I saw a car in my rearview mirror approaching rapidly. I tried to speed up to get out of the way but he was coming way too fast and I told my sister I was about to get hit. I braced for impact and was surprised at just how hard the force compressed my body against the seat. I stopped the car in the ditch and after a moment got out to inspect the damage. I took this footage:
Cars continued to smash for a few minutes. A couple of semi trailers pulled off the road and crashed into the nearby barbed wire fence.
The car was still drivable and the RCMP showed up fairly quickly. They shut down the highway and since we weren’t hurt and the conditions were so cold, the officer asked if we would take some of the people that had crashed their vehicles with us. I ended up taking the very same guy that rear ended me. That was fine but also I felt annoyed that he couldn’t have avoided me and now I had to sit beside him for the drive when what I really wanted to do was call my wife and complain about how I think he had room to drive by me.
As a result of the accident I had neck spasms and a headache, so I went into the hospital to get things checked out. The doctor said it looks most likely that I have, “what they used to call whiplash,” and he added that I might have a concussion as well. His advice was to take some ibuprofen and Tylenol and if I start acting loopy come back to the hospital.
So I took the day off work — I’ve also got a cough and cold going so I wasn’t feeling that well anyway.
The lesson of the weekend is that I won’t be flying WestJet for a quick day trip to Edmonton again, and if I find myself in a huge pileup on icy roads, get as far off the road as fast and far as possible.
From Apple Newsroom:
CUPERTINO, CALIFORNIA OCTOBER 27, 2022 Apple today announced financial results for its fiscal 2022 fourth quarter ended September 24, 2022. The Company posted a September quarter record revenue of $90.1 billion, up 8 percent year over year, and quarterly earnings per diluted share of $1.29, up 4 percent year over year. Annual revenue was $394.3 billion, up 8 percent year over year, and annual earnings per diluted share were $6.11, up 9 percent year over year.
Here’s the breakdown of the numbers with year over year change.
|iPhone||$42,626 million||(up 9.7%)|
|Mac||$11,508 million||(up 25%)|
|iPad||$7,174 million||(down 13%)|
|Wearables, Home and Accessories||$9,650 million||(up 10%)|
|Services||$19,188 million||(up 5%)|
|Total Net Sales||$90,146 million||(up 8%)|
Prices are up world-wide, supplies are constrained, and exchange rates are fluctuating. These are big factors on Apple’s bottom line, nevertheless these numbers are great! Being up 8% year over year on Total Net Sales would be a great report even if the global economy was not distressed.
Check out the Six Color Charts.
I just received a copy of the book, “Political Tribalism in America” in the mail today. Subtitled, “How Hyper-Partisanship Dumbs Down Democracy and How to Fix it” this book (Amazon.ca) by Timothy J. Redmond includes a paragraph on the expectation bias and uses my backmasking page as an example of how being primed can change your perception.
From p.79-81 of the book:
The expectation bias occurs when our expectations about an outcome influence our perceptions of that outcome. To illustrate this point, go to http://jeffmilner.com/backmasking/stairway-to-heaven-backwards.html, click on the “play forward” button, listen to the clip of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”, and follow along with the accompanying lyrics (Figure 4-2). Trust me. It’s well worth the effort.
After walking through my backmasking page, he goes on to compare the priming one needs to hear the backward message to the priming we bring with us when we watch the news.
And as supposed backwards messages in rock music go, so go allegations of media bias. When Democrats and Republicans expect to find partisan biases in the news, they tend to find them. A study by Matthew A. Baum and Phil Gussin presented subjects with a transcript of a news report on the 2004 presidential election between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat John Kerry, and asked them to evaluate whether the material was favorable, neutral, or unfavorable toward either of the nominees. Each participant received an identical transcript that was painstakingly crafted to be balanced “in terms of positive, negative, and neutral references to the candidates.” The first section of the transcript, reproduced below, is a case in point (bracketed remarks are mine).
Good evening. We start tonight with the presidential candidates on the attack [neutral]. Today with just 13 days left in the campaign, John Kerry was explaining why he believes the president does not understand the problems of ordinary people [anti-Bush] while, for President Bush, the message was mostly about why Senator Kerry’s plans will leave Americans worse off [anti-Kerry]
But there was, of course, a twist. While the content of each transcript was the same, some subiects were told that the news report originated from CNN while others were informed that it came from Fox News. The result? Participants who believed that CNN was liberal concluded that the CNN version of the transcript favored John Kerry. Yet those who presumed that CNN was conseryative thought that the CNN news report was partial to George Bush.
Likewise, those who considered Fox News to be conservative, maintained that the Fox News version of the transcript favored Bush, while those who believed that Fox News was liberal concluded that their report privileged Kerry.
He went on to explain that some of the priming comes from party leaders themselves.
In a 2010 study. political scientist Jonathan Ladd similarly found that Democrats and Republicans were more likely to evaluate the media as biased when they were told that their party leaders believed that the media was “being too friendly with President Bush” or “being overtly critical of President Bush,” respectively. We see what we expect to see.
The scientific evidence belies the charge that the mainstream media is infused with a partisan bias. Unfortunately, when we’re repeatedly told otherwise, we expect the media to be slanted and will discern it as such. Thus, if we want to perceive the news media more clearly, we must first relieve ourselves of the expectation bias. For if we heed the scientific evidence — as opposed to the screeds of politicians or pundits — we might just start to see things a little differently.
I look forward to reading the rest of it.
I hurt my back when I crashed my bike the first week in October. It’s still bugging me.
My friend Duane and I used to go quite a bit, but this year we’ve only been out a few times. As such, it turns out my desire to race fast was more than I was ready for this season. I was headed down a steep hill near the beginning of our run in the coulees. I underestimated the friction needed to make a turn, and though I shouldn’t have, I felt a slight surprise as the wheels slipped out from under me. The next thing I knew, my face planted itself into the dirt and I came to an abrupt stop.
I dusted myself off as a woman and her dog came wandering around the corner1. Duane arrived momentarily asking if I was ok. I insisted that I was fine, nevertheless I had hit the ground pretty hard and my back has been bothering me ever since — not to mention I had some minor scrapes across my face, shoulder, forearm, hip, and shin.
I guess the lesson is simple: don’t let your enthusiasm rise above the limits of the course or the bike. Especially a bike with tread worn tires.
- In retrospect it could have been a bad collision with her and/or her dog if I made the turn so (maybe?) it was for the best
Today marks 20 years since writing my first blog post. That first post wasn’t much — my brother and I shared a blogger blog and I think we were basically our own audience at that time. I’ve since changed over to this solo WordPress blog and I’ve even added some pre-dated posts with content from before this blog existed but either way today marks 20 years since this whole endeavour started.
And on this 20th anniversary of blog posts, as many other blogs came and went, I can look back and say I’m glad I kept at it.
The Greatest Beer Run Ever: “One thing is abundantly clear: Smokey and the Bandit is still, and without much competition, cinema’s greatest beer run. And that movie managed to deliver a whole truckload of beer without doing any disservice to the Vietnam War.” — William Bibbiani, Consequence
Amsterdam: “To describe Amsterdam as an unfunny comedy would be unfair, because it’s so much more than that. It’s also a non-thrilling thriller and a not particularly mysterious mystery.” — Kyle Smith, WSJ
Blonde: “If you are hankering for a film where you are a toilet bowl and Marilyn Monroe pukes in your face, this film will not let you down.” — Bob Grimm, Reno News and Review
Luckiest Girl Alive: “[…] no one, especially not the viewer, is lucky.” — Amy Amatangelo, Paste Magazine
The Munsters: “There’s a hint of a decent origin story here but it all crumbles like a vampire at daybreak.” — Randy Myers, San Jose Mercury News