Links to Things

  • From the New York Times, why English is a great language for newspaper headlines with accidental double meanings.

    Since English is weakly inflected (meaning that words are seldom explicitly modified to indicate their grammatical roles), many words can easily function as either noun or verb. And it just so happens that plural nouns and third-person-singular present-tense verbs are marked with the exact same suffix, “-s.” In everyday spoken and written language, we can usually handle this sort of grammatical uncertainty because we have enough additional clues to make the right choices of interpretation. But headlines sweep away those little words — particularly articles, auxiliary verbs and forms of “to be” — robbing the reader of crucial context.

  • Here’s another New York Times article that interested me simply because it introduced me to a new word:

    In a 2004 essay, he coined a term to describe it: “solastalgia,” a combination of the Latin word solacium (comfort) and the Greek root —algia (pain), which he defined as “the pain experienced when there is recognition that the place where one resides and that one loves is under immediate assault … a form of homesickness one gets when one is still at ”˜home.’”

  • Catherynne Valente explains what publishers do, and why books are not cheap, and why, no matter how long Kindle owners hold their breath, they’re not getting cheap ebooks or a vibrant self-publishing industry anytime soon:

    I’ve read the slush pile. And in this Orwellian post-publishing dystopia, you will be, too. The mass of ebooks will be unedited, badly written, and horribly presented. And while this is an unpopular thing to say, that’s pretty much the state of self-publishing now. There are a few great self-published projects, and they are buried in an Everest of trash. Essentially, a reader acts as an acquiring editor, sifting through the mediocre, offensive, awful, and laughable for one good book. And readers will usually give up after a few burns.

  • Ann Leckie, on how stories shape thinking, and why we therefore need to think about what stories mean:

    The way to have control over how the metaphors and stories you ingest affect your thinking is to know they’re doing it and to be aware of how they’re working. You have to think about them to do that, have to question them. If you’re a writer, in my opinion you should be doing that as a matter of course, just to improve your abilities. If you’re not a writer, well, pick your own level of analysis. If that’s just “Squee!” fine. But just because you don’t see the subtext doesn’t mean it isn’t there, and worth questioning.

  • Finally, Dan Nadel has new information on Herbert Crowley, the cartoonist who created one of the most interesting entries in Nadel’s book Art Out of Time, the brief, bizarre strip The Wiggle Much. Unfortunately, as I write this Nadel’s current blog is having technical problems and this post seems to have vanished, but if it reappears, be sure to take a look—it included some tantalizing cameraphone photos of Crowley’s sketchbooks.

1 thought on “Links to Things

  1. And THIS is why I occasionally press those links from the comments of blogs I read. From Paul to here. I thoroughly enjoyed the reviews, and as a bloke who sometimes fears he enjoys writing about writing almost more than the end-product itself – ditto for comics – the links were fascinating too. I just thought I’d say “good stuff”!

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