In case you wonder why I haven’t been blogging lately, something else came up.
In case you’ve been wondering, “Where’ve you been for the last month, Josh?,” the photo above gives a pretty good hint.
Miles Nikola was born on May 4th, a healthy and beautiful 8 pounds 12 ounces. For the last month, he and his mama and I have been at home getting used to each other. It’s truly uncanny how different he is from day to day. His cheeks seem to grow exponentially, for instance.
Also, he just figured out that he can bend anyone to his will through sustained eye contact and cuteness, a dangerous precedent indeed. Once he fully masters the smile, I think we’re doomed.
I don’t recall whether I introduced you all to Roo, the dog we adopted last fall, but Miles and Roo have been getting along nicely, as you can see. Neither has quite figured out how to interact with the other, but there’s no noticeable jealousy, and I’m expecting adorable antics from the pair as soon as Miles gets a bit more mobile.
And yes, following Chad’s example, I’m taking periodic photos next to a stuffed animal, for scale. And he inherited is papa’s love of zoology and books:
I expect it’ll be a while before anyone else gets much sleep, but he, thankfully, has no problem catching a nap.
There are many adventures yet to come.
Long ago (1656), Blaise Pascal wrote an apologetic note that editors have been quoting at prolix writers ever since:
The present letter is a very long one, simply because I had no leisure to make it shorter.
Brevity is a key to effective writing, if nothing else because it’s hard to hold a reader’s attention, but also for stylistic reasons. Short sentences lend emphasis.
Alas, it’s slow and painful.
Three hundred years after Pascal, Strunk and White’s Elements of Style again emphasized the insistence on removing needless words wherever possible, one of several Strunk and White choices questioned by other style guides. Apparently, though, even White had to stand up for the occasional extra word. Maria Popova quotes this letter from White to a reader who missed the point:
Dear Mr. â
It comes down to the meaning of âneedless.â Often a word can be removed without destroying the structure of a sentence, but that does not necessarily mean that the word is needless or that the sentence has gained by its removal.
If you were to put a narrow construction on the word âneedless,â you would have to remove tens of thousands of words from Shakespeare, who seldom said anything in six words that could be said in twenty. Writing is not an exercise in excision, itâs a journey into sound. How about âtomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrowâ*? One tomorrow would suffice, but itâs the other two that have made the thing immortal.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your letter.
E. B. White
(That asterisk seems to be Popova’s who seems to fear that the reader may not catch the reference to Macbeth. What an age we live in!)
A helpful passage to bear in mind next time an editor takes too dull a blade to your writing.
Thanks to BoingBoing for this example of the importance of skepticism:
A gang of thieves in Istanbul, Turkey have reportedly been dressing like doctors and distributing sedatives door to door, telling residents the medicine was related to a test for high blood pressure. Once the victims dosed, the thieves would rob them. As part of the police investigation, officers attempted the same trick but used placebos. Apparently 86 out of 100 people who answered the door took the pill right away. Police then attempted to explain why that was a bad idea. From Reuters:
Turkish police in other provinces have also used novel methods to test citizens’ gullibility.
Officers in Adana in southern Turkey last week called at houses, announcing through the intercom: “I am a burglar, please open the door.” Police said they were stunned at the number of people who opened the door, the Radikal daily newspaper reported.
Maybe this explains why people swallow the wild tales of birthers.
Via Laughing Squid, we learn that students at the UK’s Strode College were tasked with building outfits from cardboard packaging, and one created this whimsical number. If they’d just incorporate the technology from these prosthetic tentacles, this would be the greatest thing ever.
If you aren’t following me on twitter, you really should. Like a lot of bloggers, I’ve taken to using twitter as a repository for minor commentary and individual links that aren’t quite deserving of their own blog post, but that still amuse me. So if you aren’t reading the twitter feed, you aren’t getting the full TfK experience.
So keep track of me at @JoshRosenau.