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Can AI write good novels?

I expect that this is probably the year I’ll need to consider how my profession will change if students start relying on AI writing software. Like many people in my social media feed, this summer I’ve been playing a bit with AI image software, and thinking about how all the photographers and artists whose work is being sampled and remixed, without compensation or credit, to supply a commodity that serves someone else’s needs. “Julia was twenty-six years old… and she worked, as he had guessed, on the novel-writing machines in the Fiction Department. She enjoyed her work, which consisted chiefly…

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…

Ambiguous language in journalism: Monkey Pox and Camel Privates

Amazing lead: A veterinarian prescribed antibiotics Monday for a camel that lives behind an Iberville Parish truck stop after a Florida woman told law officers she bit the 600-pound animal’s genitalia after it sat on her when she and her husband entered its enclosure to retrieve their deaf dog. —Yousssef Rddad, The Advocate Note that this lead emphasizes the news — the most recent detail is the fact that the biting victim has received treatment for an incident that occurred earlier. Because journalism emphasizes recent events, this lead properly emphasizes the treatment that followed the incident, but in this long…

Masked, vaxxed, and settling in to watch live theater

Barebones is a little black box theater, but it fits a fantastic set and some effective practical effects. (It’s based on a Stephen King novel, so bear that in mind.) The battle of wits between complex characters who don’t make the kind of dumb mistakes that people make in horror movies was just thrilling. Great acting and direction. And the soundtrack of 80s hits and story-appropriate oldies was just perfect. The lightning punctuating the events was perfectly timed, the costumes, the props, everything intimate and credible, down to the animal doorstop and the crucifix on the wall.

Advice for alternate pathways in journalism: re-entering the workforce after taking a break; transitioning to college teaching

A colleague put me in touch with an award-winning TV journalist who took some time off for eldercare, and is now having a rough time re-entering the profession. Here’s the advice I collected, which includes the wisdom of a former student who’s now a TV producer in Houston, and also draws on other sources I use when I teach career readiness classes for English majors.

In discord with its own rules, the AP refers to an 18yo mass-shooting suspect as a “teenager,” then follows up with a different tweet describing a “a white gunman in military gear.”

The AP’s own rules say an 18yo is an adult, not a teen. In a light-hearted story about a high school event where some are 17 and some are 18, you could get away with calling them all “teenagers,” but in a serious story, it’s crucial to be consistent. This suspect is a white man. Shortly after the “teenager” tweet, the AP released another tweet referring to “a white gunman in military gear.” It’s only fair for me to acknowledge they seem to be responding to their audience. (Nobody’s perfect, of course, but @AP & lots of us on the…

Plagiarism Today Plagiarized in a Plagiarism Atonement Essay

Jonathan Bailey writes: In short, Bello, an author who admitted to plagiarizing in her now-cancelled debut novel, wrote an article about the experience and, in that article, included poor paraphrasing without attribution of an article that I wrote over a decade ago. It’s a moment that even 16 years of work in this field did not prepare me for. To be honest, even as I write this, I am still confused trying to figure out how to approach this both intellectually and emotionally. […] In short, Bello has, by her own description, a deeply flawed writing process. One that makes…

Nellie Bly statue to be unveiled at Pittsburgh airport Thursday

In 1889, Bly became famous for an-around-the-world journey she completed in a world-record 72 days, 11 minutes, and 14 seconds after her departure on a steamship from New York. The journey was inspired by Jules Verne’s widely read novel “Around the World in 80 Days.” Bly chronicled her travels in a series of articles for the New York World newspaper and ended up writing a book of her own, “Around the World in Seventy-Two Days,” published in 1890. She was born as Elizabeth Jane Cochran near present-day Burrell Township in Armstrong County in 1864. Source: Nellie Bly statue to be…

Inform 7 is now open source

Inform is a design system for interactive fiction based on natural language, and consists of a core compiler, together with extensions, kits and other resources, a number of outlying tools, and documentation, along with applications presenting the system in a friendly way on MacOS, Windows and Linux. This software had been used extensively since 28 April 2006, but by 2016 its source code was in considerable need of modernisation. In part that was wear-and-tear, but it was also the effect of years of experiment in which the code was often built without a full understanding of the concepts it was…

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.…

How to Use the Feynman Technique to Identify Pseudoscience

Simon Oxenham quotes physicist Richard Feynman: “I finally figured out a way to test whether you have taught an idea or you have only taught a definition. Test it this way: You say, ‘Without using the new word which you have just learned, try to rephrase what you have just learned in your own language. Without using the word “energy,” tell me what you know now about the dog’s motion.’ You cannot. So you learned nothing about science. That may be all right. You may not want to learn something about science right away. You have to learn definitions. But for the…

Experience: I let a baby bird nest in my hair for 84 days

He was abandoned by his flock, his nest blown from the mango tree. His eyes were tightly shut and he was shuddering, too young to survive alone. He was the size of my little finger, with feathers the colour of Rich Tea biscuits, inky eyes and a small bill like a pencil lead. I placed him in a cardboard box with tea towels, mimicking a nest, and stayed up all night, researching how to care for him. I spoke to an expert who said it would take 12 weeks to prepare him for the wild. The next day, he woke…

How Not to Hate Shakespeare

The problem isn’t Shakespeare—it’s how he’s been taught. […] Since Shakespeare’s work is “not of an age but for all time,” as Ben Jonson famously put it, I suggest that you get over your Bardophobia and embrace your inner Bardolator. Trust me, it’s worth it. First, you need to relax. You’re not stupid. You’re not a philistine. Shakespeare didn’t write in “olde English” (a common misconception), but his “early modern English” still causes problems for audiences. Shakespeare’s language is about 90 percent the same as the English we speak today, but that ten percent can be irritating. For instance, certain…

Copspeak, “the past exonerative” tense, and punching Nazis

In the Constitution, any suspect is innocent until found guilty by a court, even suspects who kneel for eight minutes on the throat of an unarmed, handcuffed person who is caught on video pleading to breathe, passing out, and dying. If the court hasn’t (yet) ruled that a death is homicide, then it’s not accurate to describe the death as a “murder” or to describe a person who has just been arrested, but not formally charged yet, as a “killer.” Having said that, the “past exonerative voice” is a powerfully descriptive name for how the journalists who are trained to…

It’s “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” 111th birthday

Interesting introduction to the history of musical annotation and copyright. The journey to that sheet music copyright began with Greek and Roman grammarians; they had developed signs to guide declamation (high voice, low voice and falling voice). Musicians adapted those signs to “[indicate] the contour of a melody.” This provided “a memory aid to singers who knew words and melody by heart.” In the mid-1000s, medieval music scholar and teacher Guido of Arezzo decided there needed to be a better way to teach novices. Consequently, he “revolutionized the music education methods of his time.” His innovations made it possible to read music, for a signer to perform a chant that he had…