🗂 Link: Reporter’s Toolkit

If you know, say, that the Tibetan monks’ ceremonial drumsticks were bamboo, yellow, and curved like carpetbeaters, you convey a lot more than if you say they were weird and fantastical. If one monk wore bright red-and-orange striped socks under his robe and another a watch with an expandable band, you say more than if you write that they’re not free of western influence. Details bring the reader into the room with you. Details let the reader stand at your elbow and smell, taste, see, and hear the scene. It’s hard to fake them later.

That is why I take all the notes I can afford to. I note how I feel and the time of the day and the color of the sky and exactly where I am in the city or the room. I try to record every sense – smell, taste, sound, touch, and sight. I write down what people are wearing, what they eat, and what they drive. I write whatever surprises or amuses me, whatever catches my eye even if I don’t understand why. I put down the thoughts that I am afraid will make me or someone else look like a fool. I write down the details that contradict my idea of what the story was about before I began. I write down the difference between what people do and what they say. I notice what lies outside the frame of the official “event,” and what I’m not supposed to notice. I especially write down what people do: it is the most interesting thing because it cannot be lied about.

Source: Reporter’s Toolkit

“Most people in contemporary society don’t believe in Athena”

COWEN: When you translated the Odyssey — as a reader, I think of your approach as pretty clean and direct and very easy to read, but also with a lot of psychological depth, and I prefer that in the Odyssey. But when I read, say, the Hebrew Bible, I want something a little more, maybe stentorian in tone, or a little more baroque, actually. I think a lot of people feel the same way. Why that difference? Why do we want something different from a Bible translation often?

WILSON: ..I think it’s partly just about the source text, and it’s also about the cultural perception of the sourced text. Most people in contemporary society don’t believe in Athena, so we have a different idea about how should divinity be represented in this text versus in a text where there are people who still worship the God of the Hebrew Bible, right?

From “Emily Wilson on Translations and Language,” _Conversations with Tyler, episode 63.

Link: People read books for different reasons, beyond entertainment & learning

One thing I’ve learned, writing books and then talking to people about those books and others, is that people read for wildly different reasons. I don’t only mean they read different books for different reasons – “I like mysteries, because they keep my brain occupied”; “I like fantasy novels, because they offer me a world that is fundamentally ordered and legible” – but also that they read the same books for different reasons. Wildly different. I mean sure, there is always the shared foundation of processing sentences on the page, rendering them into a kind of waking dream; but beyond that, there is sometimes zero overlap between the objectives and pleasures of different kinds of readers. The more I’ve been convinced of that, the more I’ve come to love it. It’s weird and challenging and exciting.

Source: ☄️ Week 12, elf sweep loop texture build piano east content Yanni

Link: Don’t Have Children

“After this novel, he patiently explained, there would be a second one to write, and second novels were notoriously thornier and more unwieldy than debuts. Following the inevitable sophomore cock-up, if I were lucky and stubborn in the proper measure, I would go on to tackle the magisterial third and fourth novels, and then the quirky fifth, the slim and elegant sixth, the seventh that, in some way, would recapitulate and ring the changes on all its predecessors, and so on, for as long as my stubbornness and luck held out.”
Original source: Don’t Have Children

Link: Stoicism made simple

Aside from the last, this is good advice for any advice format, I including the hustle-medium of marketing:

“– Stoicism is focused on uncomplicated theories of life
– Stoicism is so clear that you can take action from the advice immediately
– Study is not required to understand Stoicism
– The most read Stoic is Lucius Seneca. Marcus Aurelius is also very popular”

Original source: Stoicism made simple

Link: Jeff Bezos admits Amazon has ‘the weirdest meeting culture you will ever encounter’, Business Insider

In the letter, he explained that writing a brilliant, long memo requires the writer to understand the subject well. It also requires the writer to “improve results through the simple act of teaching scope.” By that he means doing a great job requires effort, not speed. “A great memo probably should take a week or more” to write, he said in the letter.

“We read [the memos] in the room. Just like high school kids, executives will bluff their way through the meeting as if they’ve read the memo. So you have to carve out time so everyone has actually read the memo – they are not just pretending,” he said.
Original source: Jeff Bezos admits Amazon has ‘the weirdest meeting culture you will ever encounter’, Business Insider

Link: Keep a common place book

“Wisdom, not facts. We’re not just looking random pieces of information. What’s the point of that? Your commonplace book, over a lifetime (or even just several years), can accumulate a mass of true wisdom–that you can turn to in times of crisis, opportunity, depression or job.”
Original source: Keep a common place book

Link: The parent trap: can you be a good writer and a good parent?

“I had experienced being judged as a mother, when I periodically left my son with my husband from the age of six months – he is six now – to go away to write. I only departed for a week at a time. But who knows what I might have done had I lived in 1940s Southern Rhodesia, trapped in a life of coffee mornings and sundowners, worrying, as Lessing did, that the time when she could openly be herself might never come.”

Original source: The parent trap: can you be a good writer and a good parent?

When bored, work on something else

I don’t stare at blank sheets of paper. I don’t spend days and nights cudgeling a head that is empty of ideas. Instead, I simply leave the novel and go on to any of the dozen other projects that are on tap. I write an editorial, or an essay, or a short story, or work on one of my nonfiction books. By the time I’ve grown tired of these things, my mind has been able to do its proper work and fill up again. I return to my novel and find myself able to write easily once more. Isaac Asimov

This reminds of a Nassim Taleb idea on book reading: always be reading many, many books. If you get bored with one, just move to the other, and keep rotating.

Millions of words

When I was about nineteen, a professor in college sat me down once with a sad look on his face and said to me, almost like he was giving a cancer diagnosis, “You’re going to be a writer.” If you’re old enough to read this, you probably already know if this is your fate, too.The only rule is you have to write millions of words continuously until your death. If you have no problem with that, you’ll probably be fine. Conversely if you can imagine not doing that, you probably shouldn’t try to be a writer.

Source: Behind the Books with Matt Taibbi

Journaling at 750 words a morning

Hey, these little types of gimcracks are always fun:

Every morning, soon after waking, you must write 750 words—equivalent to about three full pages longhand. The idea is to start while your brain is too bleary to censor itself, so you can write more freely. In general, filling three pages takes about a half hour.

When asked if it’s really necessary to do Morning Pages by hand, Cameron says yes. She says the inconvenience of handwriting compared to typing is worth it because “we get a truer connection—to ourselves and our deepest thoughts—when we actually put pen to page.”

Morning Pages aren’t supposed to be high art, according to Cameron. You write whatever comes to you. You might grumble about the weather, confess to feeling nervous about a party that night or talk about how messy your living room is. Cameron says she wakes up grumpy and tired most days, so that’s how her Morning Pages start. Cameron writes about however she’s feeling, what she sees in front of her—nothing is too banal. And if her pages say “I’m tired and grumpy” when she starts each morning, that’s okay.

But Morning Pages also push you to go beyond the superficial, because three pages is a lot of blank space to fill. According to Cameron, “the second page-and-a-half comes harder, but often contains paydirt.”

Source: This simple morning ritual uses writing as a form of therapy and meditation

The media doesn’t know what they’re talking about w/r/t Yahoo, a study in i-banker rhetoric

The notion that some in the media – who usually have no specific knowledge about Yahoo – have recklessly put forward that Yahoo is “unfixable” and that it should be simply “chopped up” and handed over for nothing to private equity or strategies is insulting to all long-term public shareholders.

This presentation is an example of many things we discuss on Software Defined Talk around large, struggling companies and the way they’re covered. Among other rhetorical highlights:

  • Check out how they make their case
  • Use visuals and charts
  • The informal nature of their language, e.g., they use the word “stuff” frequently
  • Their citations, e.g., citing themselves (I always love a good “Source: Me!”) and citing “Google Images”

These things, in my view, are neither good or bad: I’m more interested in the study of the rhetoric which I find fascinating for investment banker documents/presentations like this.

Not only that, it’s a classic “Word doc accidentally printed in landscape.” The investment community can’t help themselves.

As another note, no need to be such a parenthetical dick, below, to prove the point of a poor M&A history, just let the outcomes speak for themselves, not the people who do them.

img_4051

They actually do a better job in the very next slide, but that kind to pettiness doesn’t really help their argument. (Their argument is: she’s acquiring her friends.)

This is a type of reverse halo effect: we assume that tree standing goofiness has something to do with the business: an ad hominem attack. But, I think most billionaires probably have picture of themselves in trees, wearing those silly glove shoes, roasting their own coffee, only eating meat they kill themselves, or any number of other affectations that have nothing to do with profit-making, good or bad.