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Archive of posts filed under the Literature category.

Unfinished (so far) draft blog posts

Most of the time when I start writing a blog post, I continue till its finished. As of this writing this blog has 7128 posts published, 137 scheduled, and only 434 unpublished drafts sitting in the folder. 434 might sound like a lot, but we’ve been blogging for over 10 years, and a bunch of […]

Spin

Yesterday all the past. The language of effect size Spreading to Psychology along the sub-fields; the diffusion Of the counting-frame and the quincunx; Yesterday the shadow-reckoning in the ivy climates. Yesterday the assessment of hypotheses by tests, The divination of water; yesterday the invention Of cartwheels and clocks, the power-pose of Horses. Yesterday the bustling […]

Some people are so easy to contact and some people aren’t.

I was reading Cowboys Full, James McManus’s entertaining history of poker (but way too much on the so-called World Series of Poker), and I skimmed the index to look up some of my favorite poker writers. Frank Wallace and David Spanier were both there but only got brief mentions in the text, I was disappointed […]

“The Prose Factory: Literary Life in England Since 1918” and “The Windsor Faction”

It’s been D. J. Taylor week here. I expect that something like 0% of you (rounding to the nearest percentage point) have heard of D. J. Taylor, and that’s ok. He’s an English literary critic. Several years ago I picked up a copy of his book, A Vain Conceit: British Fiction in the 1980s, and […]

Genius is not enough: The sad story of Peter Hagelstein, living monument to the sunk-cost fallacy

I sometimes pick up various old collections that will be suitable for bathroom reading, and so it was that the other day I was sitting on the throne reading the summer 1985 issue of Granta, entitled Science. Lots of great stuff here, including Oliver Sacks on Tourette’s syndrome, Thomas McMahan on Alexander Graham Bell, and […]

The new quantitative journalism

The first of the breed was Bill James. But now we have a bunch: Felix Salmon, Nate Silver, Amanda Cox, Carl Bialik, . . . . I put them in a different category than traditional science journalists such as Malcolm Gladwell, Gina Kolata, Stephen Dubner who are invested in the “scientist as hero” story, or […]

Letters we never finished reading

I got a book in the mail attached to some publicity material that began: Over the last several years, a different kind of science book has found a home on consumer bookshelves. Anchored by meticulous research and impeccable credentials, these books bring hard science to bear on the daily lives of the lay reader; their […]

How an academic urban legend can spread because of the difficulty of clear citation

Allan Dafoe writes: I just came across this article about academic urban legends spreading because of sloppy citation practices. I found it fascinating and relevant to the conversations on your blog. The article is by Ole Bjørn Rekdal and it is indeed fascinating. It begins as follows: Many of the messages presented in respectable scientific […]

“Stop the Polling Insanity”

Norman Ornstein and Alan Abramowitz warn against over-interpreting poll fluctuations: In this highly charged election, it’s no surprise that the news media see every poll like an addict sees a new fix. That is especially true of polls that show large and unexpected changes. Those polls get intense coverage and analysis, adding to their presumed […]

Macassar

Some of the discussion of yesterday’s post reminded me of a wonderful bit from Life on the Mississippi: When I was a boy, there was but one permanent ambition among my comrades in our village on the west bank of the Mississippi River. That was, to be a steamboatman. We had transient ambitions of other […]

Are you pro or anti-biotics?

Paul Alper points to this news article by Susan Perry: Probiotics have been overhyped and rely on ‘shaky’ science, reporter finds Although some of these studies’ results may be promising, they aren’t strong enough to support the long list of claims currently being made by the manufacturers of probiotic products. . . . Perry links […]

Some folks like to get away, take a holiday from the neighborhood

Saw a couple of plays, both excellent. Fun Home. Compared to what I remembered of the book (which I also thought was excellent), the play seemed to be more about her family and less about Bechdel herself. But that worked for me. Bechdel’s story won’t be shared by everybody, but we all have families. The […]

These Twin Names Match, But Aren’t “Matchy-Matchy”

I love this stuff: Alice/Celia: This subtle anagram yields two charming classics with completely different sounds. Beckett/Marlowe: Two playwrights representing two of the hottest contemporary name styles, double-t names and hidden-o names. Zoe/Eve: These Greek and Hebrew “life” names look similar on paper, but not spoken aloud. Rima/Amir : These mirror-image Arabic name make a […]

For Opening Day

From John Lardner: A young ex-paratrooper visited Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, one day, and addressed some language, as ball fans will, to Mr. Leo Durocher, the Brooklyn manager, himself the most polite and clean-tongued gentleman in the national pastime when his mouth is shut, which is a hypothetical situation. I should really stop here because this […]

“Chatting with the Tea Party”

I got an email last month offering two free tickets to the preview of a new play, Chatting with the Tea Party, described as “a documentary-style play about a New York playwright’s year attending Tea Party meetings around the country and interviewing local leaders. Nothing the Tea Party people in the play say has been […]

My namesake doesn’t seem to understand the principles of decision analysis

It says “Never miss another deadline.” But if you really could never miss your deadlines, you’d just set your deadlines earlier, no? It’s statics vs. dynamics all over again. That said, this advice seems reasonable: The author has also developed a foolproof method of structuring your writing, so that you make effective use of your […]

Grizzly Adams is an object of the class Weekend at Bernies

It just came to me when I saw his obit.

Mars 1, This American Life 0

Palko points to the ultimate takedown of Mars One, courtesy of Sydney Do and Andrew Owens. At this point, shooting down the financials of Mars One seems a bit of overkill, something comparable to debunking the statistical expertise of Satoshi Kanazawa or Daryl Bem, or questioning the quality of publications with the name “Edward Wegman” […]

Comedy book with surefire can’t-miss formula, misses

The other day at the library I noticed a pink-covered book, “We Killed: The Rise of Women in American Comedy.” It was filled with interviews. Cool! I checked it out and . . . jeez was it boring. It’s hard to imagine you could interview a bunch of comedians and come up with something so […]

“David Brooks And Jeremy Paxman To Judge The Golden Giraffes”

I don’t think I have much of a chance here, not because of the judging—I’d trust Brooks and Paxman to recognize good writing—but because the competition includes some heavy hitters, including Dan Davies with a meta-blog-post called The Verjus Manifesto, Sara Paretsky on The Detective As Speech, and Charles Pierce with . . . well, […]