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Archive of posts filed under the Literature category.

Spam names

There was this thing going around awhile ago, the “porn star name,” which you create by taking the name of your childhood pet, followed by the name of the street where you grew up (for example, Blitz Clifton). But recently I’ve been thinking about spam names. Just in the last two days, I’ve received emails […]


There’s lots of overlap but I put each paper into only one category.  Also, I’ve included work that has been published in 2013 as well as work that has been completed this year and might appear in 2014 or later.  So you can can think of this list as representing roughly two years’ work. Political […]

If I could’ve done it all over again

I’d’ve given this blog the name, tl;dr. Too late to change it now, though, I think!

Separated by a common blah blah blah

I love reading the kind of English that English people write. It’s the same language as American but just slightly different. I was thinking about this recently after coming across this footnote from “Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop,” by Bob Stanley: Mantovani’s atmospheric arrangement on ‘Care Mia’, I should add, is something […]

“Statistics is what people think math is”

My 5books interview (from 2011), where we talk about The Bill James Baseball Abstracts, Judgment under Uncertainty, How Animals Work, The Honest Rainmaker, and How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk.

Objects of the class “Objects of the class”

Objects of the class “Foghorn Leghorn”: parodies that are more famous than the original. (“It would be as if everybody were familiar with Duchamp’s Mona-Lisa-with-a-moustache while never having heard of Leonardo’s version.”) Objects of the class “Whoopi Goldberg”: actors who are undeniably talented but are almost always in bad movies, or at least movies that […]


This one is no big deal in the grand scheme of things, but . . . wow! Pretty blatant. Maybe someone could endow the Raymond Keene Chair of Cut-and-Paste in the statistics department at George Mason University. Anyway, say what you want about this dude, at least he’s classy. He steals not from Wikipedia but […]

I’ve already written next year’s April Fools post!

Good to have gotten that one out of the way already. (Actually, I wrote it a few months ago. This post is itself in the monthlong+ queue.) I don’t know how easy it is to search this blog by date to find the Fools posts from previous years.

Writing for free

Max Read points to discussions by Cord Jefferson and Tim Krieger about people who write for free, thus depressing the wages of paid journalists. The topic interests me because I’m one of those people who writes for free, all the time. As a commenter wrote in response to Cord Jefferson’s article: It’s not just people […]

Gladwell and Chabris, David and Goliath, and science writing as stone soup

The only thing is, I’m not sure who’s David here and who is Goliath. From the standpoint of book sales, Gladwell is Goliath for sure. On the other hand, Gladwell’s credibility has been weakened over the years by fights with bigshots such as Steven Pinker. Maybe the best analogy is a boxing match where Gladwell […]