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Archive of posts filed under the Literature category.

Parables vs. stories

God is in every leaf of every tree, but he is not in every leaf of every parable. Let me explain with a story. A few months ago I read the new book, Doing Data Science, by Rachel Schutt and Cathy O’Neil, and I came across the following motivation for comprehensive integration of data sources, […]

Advice on writing research articles

From a few years ago: General advice Both the papers sent to me appear to have strong research results. Now that the research has been done, I’d recommend rewriting both articles from scratch, using the following template: 1. Start with the conclusions. Write a couple pages on what you’ve found and what you recommend. In […]

Things that I like that almost nobody else is interested in

This post by Jordan Ellenberg (“Stoner represents a certain strain in the mid-century American novel that I really like, and which I don’t think exists in contemporary fiction. Anguish, verbal restraint, weirdness”) reminds me that what I really like is mid-to-late-twentieth-century literary criticism. I read a great book from the 50s, I think it was, […]

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 […]