Category Archives: writing

Lionel Shriver removed as judge of literary competition for questioning a diversity algorithm

Four days ago I reported on a piece author Lionel Shriver published in the Spectator: a criticism of UK Penguin/Random House’s (PRH) striving for diversity in its authors and employees in the form of a questionnaire. The piece, called “When Diversity Means Uniformity,” accused PRH of being “drunk on virtue”, and pointing out two problems […]

One space or two after a sentence?

I have arrived in Paris, the weather is gorgeous, and I look forward to reacquainting myself with what I consider the world’s most beautiful city. If I had a gazillion dollars, I’d buy myself a pied-à-terre in the Sixth Arrondissement, near where I lived for six months in 1989-1990, but overlooking the Seine and the Louvre. […]

Lionel Shriver’s full speech on literature and cultural appropriation

On September 11 I wrote about an article in the Guardian by black Australian Muslim author Yasmin Abdel-Magied. Her piece, “As Lionel Shriver made light of identity, I had no choice but to walk out on her,” describes how Abdel-Magied was deeply triggered by a speech by novelist Lionel Shriver (We Need to Talk About Kevin and other books) at […]

A writer who doesn’t proofread

I’m not quite sure who this fellow is, but he’s apparently a professor in the Department of Creative Writing at the University of California at Riverside. It’s thus a bit disturbing that a writer doesn’t proofread his own personal self-promotion page. I count at least five errors on this section of his introduction page:

Reader’s wildlife photographs: Cleo update and two birds

As I said in the Hili Post, today is part of Labor Day weekend all over the U.S. Don’t expect much substantive, as everyone is on vacation, nobody wants heavy reading on a holiday, and I have a ton of stuff to do before I leave for Poland, Sweden, and Atlanta in late-ish September. In the […]

The New Yorker bloviates on the Germanwings crash, citing the Bible, Shakespeare, and Conrad

So someone probably told New Yorker staff writer Philip Gourevitch that he had to write a few words about the Germanwings plane crash, and about the horrific likelihood that it was a suicide combined with mass murder. There’s not much to say about it, really, because we don’t know much now, but that’s never stopped the New […]

Hemingway app judges writing—badly

Oh well, another technical failure: the inability of computer programs to judge the quality of writing. The program at issue is the Hemingway App, which has apparently achieved some renown for being able to parse writing and suss out the awkwardness, the passive voices, the over-use of adverbs, and so on.  It’s supposed to help you […]

Can you write proper English under pressure?

Well, I thought I could, as I have to write these posts between 6 and 8 a.m. every day, and there’s precious little time for revising.  Then reader Diane G. called my attention to a timed online test at usvsth3m called “You can’t write proper English under pressure.” What a challenge. There are eight tests, […]

An essay for the language police

I’m not averse to making fun of erroneous language use; after all, I often post signs that I find humorously ungrammatical, and have criticized awkward and incorrect usage I’ve found elsewhere.  Where I draw the line, though, is when someone uses a language error to dismiss the entirety of what someone says.  That’s happened twice […]

A few words and phrases I hate

Addendum: I forgot the near-universal mis-placement of the word “only.” For example, “I only ate one piece of toast” (really? what else could you have done with it?) instead of “I ate only one piece of toast.”   First, this one, which I heard on the news: “The facts on the ground. . .” Or […]