Like most writers, I'm an omnivorous reader. Friends ask me, "What are you reading now?" and I have a hard time answering because when I stop to think, I realize I'm reading a dozen books at once, dipping into this one, skimming through that one.  Continue reading...
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Some people see me as successful. I don't think I'm the least bit talented at anything apart from organizing. (My idiot-savant ability at taking chaos and transforming it into order is useful but in the talent department it kind of sucks. It's like being spectacularly good at checkers or vacuuming the living-room.) But I have one other useful attribute. Grit.  Continue reading...
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"Let the facts speak for themselves" — for writing non-fiction, that's as good a single rule as any I know. If Bobby did ride his bicycle to the store, the strongest, clearest, and plainest way to put that fact into words is: Bobby rode his bicycle to the store.  Continue reading...
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You may wonder why, shortly after waking up every morning, I head upstairs to my office and lie down on the floor and cover myself with a blanket. You'd think, after seven hours of sleep, I wouldn't need to lie down again. But I'm not just lying down; I'm meditating.  Continue reading...
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A group of doctors paid me to edit a report a few years back. Their work — not a medical study, but a document aimed at making a political point — horrified me. When I ran it through readability stats, it earned a grade 14 rating.  Continue reading...
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Writing and reading philosophy are two human activities famous for their inherent difficulty. If philosophy is thinking about thinking, writing philosophy is writing about thinking about thinking, and reading philosophy is reading writing about thinking about thinking.  Continue reading...
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As keynote speaker at the 2015 American Copy Editors Society meeting, lexicographer Ben Zimmer showed off the resources in the Vocabulary.com Dictionary as part of a talk on "Nitpickery, Debunkage, and the Joys of Getting It Right." Not surprisingly, ACES attendees live-tweeting the address were more likely to take note of Zimmer's singing, rapping, and discussion of language anachronisms in "Mad Men" and "Downton Abbey."  Continue reading...
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