I just learned I only have months to live. This is what I want to say. – The Boston Globe

What a storyteller. Boston Globe journalist Jack Thomas, who wrote about his impending death a few months ago, made me laugh out loud several times in this touching essay. Very powerful. He was 83. I’ve had the privilege of having spent more than 60 years working for newspapers. There was not a day when it wasn’t a pleasure to go to work. Any doubts I had about newspapering as a career were dissolved on my paper route one Friday night in March 1953. I picked up my bundle of 45 copies of the Record that were tossed from a truck…

What Jonson meant by Shakespeare’s “small Latin and less Greek”

Jonson famously eulogized Shakespeare thus:     For if I thought my judgment were of years I should commit thee surely with thy peers, And tell how far thou didst our Lyly outshine, Or sporting Kyd, or Marlowe’s mighty line. And though thou hadst small Latin and less Greek, From thence to honor thee I would not seek For names, but call forth thund’ring Aeschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles to us…   The apparent dig “though thou hadst small Latin and less Greek” is, according to Tom Moran, a hypothetical, akin to the King James translation of 1 Corinthians 13:1: “Though…

The karyotype of Pimelodella cristata (Siluriformes: Heptapteridae) from Central Amazon basin: with a discussion of the chromosome variability in Pimelodella I, as the Editor (i.e. no as the Author of the Article) can confirm that it is OK to proceed; you have, however, to get also the reply from the Author; thank you. Nevertheless, Figures 1-3 should be somehow inserted within the main text of the paper. And I do not know why my reply is automatically directed to Frank Franco…?

Some scholarly journals have a more rigorous peer review process than others. Source: The karyotype of Pimelodella cristata (Siluriformes: Heptapteridae) from Central Amazon basin: with a discussion of the chromosome variability in Pimelodella I, as the Editor (i.e. no as the Author of the Article) can confirm that it is OK to proceed; you have, however, to get also the reply from the Author; thank you. Nevertheless, Figures 1-3 should be somehow inserted within the main text of the paper. And I do not know why my reply is automatically directed to Frank Franco…? Update: The page has been edited.…

I Was Taught From a Young Age to Protect My Dynastic Wealth

One of the heirs to the Disney fortune explains (and critiques) the mindset of the super-rich. If your comfort requires that society be structured so that a decent percentage of your fellow citizens live in a constant state of terror about whether they’ll get health care in an emergency, or whether they can keep a roof over their family’s heads, or whether they will simply have enough to eat, perhaps the problem does not rest with those people, but with you and what you think of as necessary, proper, and acceptable. –Abigail Disney Source: I Was Taught From a Young…

Why I Left Academe to Become a Science Communicator: The pursuit of academic research was too narrow for me.

From explaining the effectiveness of social distancing for preventing the spread of COVID-19 to communicating earthquake preparedness plans to the public, scicomm efforts are vital for helping turn research into action. Yet despite scicomm’s importance, it remains a hugely overlooked, underdeveloped and unknown area in academia. Academics are trained to communicate with other academics, and jargon-filled research papers prevent broad audiences from engaging with and understanding impactful scientific discoveries.

Make your case stronger – argue against yourself

Academic argument depends on being able to produce the best possible information, presented in a convincing sequence. But we are usually advised we also need to take account of counter points. We need to consider and deal with different positions and troubling information. Wearing blinkers while arguing trips us up, stops us being credible. An obvious way to address the negative is to find alternative views in the literature, or in the public realm. It’s straightforward then – just cite and counter. Right? Well, maybe. Simply mentioning and summarily dismissing may not be enough. You may need to understand more…

I absolutely adored Spock. Loving Dad was much more complicated.

A great father-son story, written by Adam Nimoy, son of Leonard Nimoy. I was 10 when “Star Trek” debuted in 1966, and I was reading Spider-Man comics and listening to the Beatles at home in LA — a very different experience from having to deliver newspapers in the dead of a Boston winter. Dad’s zeal for work had its downside. His career always came first. He was not one to come to Little League games, for example — a regular source of disappointment for a boy who just wanted to please the father he so admired. For many years, we…

For years, I’ve tried to work my way back into the middle class

Well-meaning people tried to encourage me by pointing out how far I had come. “You’re working!” they said, “You’re housed!” And the declaration I found most diminishing: “I’m so proud of you!” I was 52 and I did not mark my progress by those measurements. Rather, I marked my progress by how far I had fallen. What did it mean that I was earning enough to rent a room in someone’s house when just a few years ago, I had owned a three-acre horse ranch in Oregon? One of the most debilitating symptoms of post-traumatic stress is that people who…

MAGA World Is Splintering: Following the riot at the Capitol, Trump supporters are having an existential crisis on Twitter.

Bryson Gray, a 29-year-old rapper and Donald Trump superfan from North Carolina, wants to make one thing clear: It was a group of the president’s most loyal supporters that rioted in the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday, and nobody else. When I spoke with Gray yesterday, he said he had been “too late” to get inside the Capitol itself with the rest of the mob, which broke windows and chanted through the halls of Congress in an ultimately futile attempt to disrupt the confirmation of Joe Biden as president. So he stood outside the building with a crowd and sang…

Responding to Literature at the College Level

A new handout, based on the opening lecture I give in every literature class. I’m trying to uncouple this chunk of content, which never changes, from the “intro to the course” lecture, which is topic-specific. Your high school teachers probably praised you for summarizing what you read and perhaps relating it to your own life in an engaging way. But your college professors will probably ask you to do a very different kind of work. On a high school sports team, you earn points by playing according to high school rules, and in a high school class, your writing earns…

Motivation Amid Crisis (Autotrophic Bat)

As part of an independent study project, a graduating Seton Hill student wrote a blog about self-publishing her original collection of fairy-tale adaptations. She’s a double-major in creative writing and graphic design, and she freely adapted each story and illustrated each one in a different style. (She’ll be self-publishing her anthology soon, and I’ll certainly post about it.) Here is a reflection she wrote on staying motivated during the pandemic: Writing during a pandemic is nothing new. Neither is writing during a civil rights movement. And of course, the image of a depressed writer writing depressed writery things depressingly is…

Far-Right Twitter Trolls Won’t Admit They Were Wrong About Killing of a “Patriot” in Denver

  It was a reporter’s bodyguard, not an anti-fascist activist, who shot and killed a right-wing demonstrator who had assaulted him. The viral spread of those false claims apparently alarmed the Denver Police Department, which had taken Dolloff into custody along with the journalist he was guarding and quickly determined that they were not left-wing protesters. Less than four hours after the shooting, the department tried to stem the tide of misinformation by tweeting an update on its investigation, in which it reported that detectives had determined that “the suspect is a private security guard with no affiliation with Antifa.” The police…

Donald Trump Is a Broken Man (Assessment by Speechwriter for Reagan and both Bushes)

Powerful assessment of Donald Trump, written by Peter Wehner, a speechwriter who served Reagan and both Bushes. For context, here’s what Wehner writes about the conservative movement during the Reagan years: The conservative movement in the 1980s, although hardly flawless, was intellectually serious and politically optimistic. And Reagan himself was a man of personal decency, grace, and class. While often the target of nasty attacks, he maintained a remarkably charitable view of his political adversaries. “Remember, we have no enemies, only opponents,” the former Indiana governor Mitch Daniels, who worked for Reagan, quotes him as admonishing his staff. In his…

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Theatre Crowd Mustn’t Be Bitter

The en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try seems up­set that pubs are to be opened be­fore any theatres or mu­sic venues. But you can un­der­stand why the pubs have pri­or­ity – it’s a mat­ter of safety. Theatres are wild places where you can’t con­trol the public. So of­ten, dur­ing a show by a comic, the au­di­ence spreads viruses by for­get­ting they have a ticket for seat 19b and mov­ing across to seat 23f and sit­ting on some­one else’s lap. Once they’ve got over-ex­cited by read­ing the programme, they’re back and forth to the toi­let, spread­ing germs around. And some­times when vi­o­lin­ist Ni­cola Benedetti is…

NYPD’s Lt. Cattani offers heartfelt apology for “wrong decision” that threw his reputation “in the garbage” May 31

Cops are trained to make snap decisions under highly stressful situations. Often their training saves lives. Sometimes they deeply regret decisions they make. After thinking back on his recent behavior while working during a protest at Foley Square May 31, NYPD officer Robert Cattani offered a heartfelt apology: “I know I made the wrong decision,” he told his colleagues in an e-mail first reported by the NY Post Thursday. “I know that it was wrong and something I will be shamed and humiliated about for the rest of my life.” Sounds pretty bad. “The cop in me wants to kick…

Now Is the Perfect Time to Memorize a Poem

Powerful writing, by Matthew Schneier. Most of the essay is on the power of poetry as an oral art form. (See also Poetry is for the Ear and Poetry Writing Hacks: Top 10 Tips.) But I blogged it because of the paragraphs about the author’s father. Right now, a machine is breathing for my father, buying time in a ward I can neither visit nor see. The doctors talk a lot about time: How fast or slow he breathes — COVID comes for your breath — and how quick or sluggish his blood pressure, the beat of his heart. There…