Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

Writing and Department Names

October 5th, 2013 No comments

Journalism is being merged with Telecommunications, and they’re intending to call the new department “Media”.

Since they’re thinking of new names, it’s a good time to comment that all these names violate two basic rules of writing: 1. Shorter words are better than longer, and 2. Anglo-Saxon is better than Latin or Greek or French. “Telecommunications” is particularly bad in this respect. “Media” at least trips off the tongue, being reducible to two syllables.

So how about a “Newswriting Department” or “News” or “Writing”? It’s OK if it also includes the economics of news, the technology of news, email, etc. as subjects.

I’d also like to see English renamed Reading, and Mathematics renamed Rithmetic, but then I’m more unconventional than most professors.

(ps.– I admit that my own “Business Economics and Public Policy” department has a rotten name. Evolution has shortened it to “Bus Econ”, though.)

Categories: academia, words, writing Tags:

Notes on Books for American Literature for High School

September 12th, 2013 No comments

I have starred what is most important.

*A Eugene O’Neill play. O’Neill is the best American playwright; really he’s the best English-language playwright since Shakespeare. Long Day’s Journey into Night: A one-day play, somewhat autobiographical, about a retired actor, his two grown sons (both failures in their own ways), and his morphine-addicted wife, who relapses after a cure they thought might finally work. Read more…

Categories: books, education, writing Tags:

Points of Writing Style in the Internet Age

September 8th, 2013 No comments

I was just downloading a copy of The Merchant of Venice and noticed that it had no line numbers, which would make it harder to cite when I excerpted it for students. But then I realized that most people looking up my cite wouldn’t use the Act-Scene-Line numbers anyway— they’d do a computer search on the file using the first three words of my quote. Thus, really what needs to be in the cite is just the author, work, and hyperlink, and the author speaking—-the character so that the reader can know that about the quotation without having to look it up.

The same idea goes for page numbers of quotes to books that are in the public domain. In fact, those books will be *better* cited than modern ones, since page numbers differ between editions. It is often useful, too, to put the chapter or section name.

Categories: writing Tags:

Conservatives typically define their groups concentrically

August 21st, 2013 No comments
Categories: conservatives, liberals, Sailer, thinking, writing Tags:

Should Punctuation Be Inside or Outside of the Quotation Marks?

August 9th, 2013 No comments

Is the following paragraph punctuated as it should be?

The phrase “value of the gift” in 26 U.S.C. § 6324(b) means what it says––not “dollar amount of the gift at the time of donation”, but “what the gift is worth”. “Value” is not “face value”.

Read more…

Categories: Uncategorized, writing Tags:

Why Are the Books of the Bible Written So As To Conceal their Writers’ Identities?

July 28th, 2013 No comments

I’ve started reading Meir Sternberg’s The Poetics of Biblical Narrative after hearing about it from Professor Atwood shortly before he left for Mongolia. It’s good. In chapter 2, he shows how similarly an ancient Rabbi and a modern Bible scholar reason in trying to establish authorship. Who wrote II Samuel? Read more…

LoPucski: Making Statutes Readable

July 25th, 2013 1 comment

Professor Bainbridge tells us of Professor Lopucki’s new paper on how to format and annotate statutes to make them more readable, which uses Delaware’s corporate code as an example.

LoPucki, Lynn M., The Readable Delaware General Corporation Law (July 10, 2013). UCLA School of Law Research Paper No. 2013-14. Available at SSRN:\

Here’s an example. Read more…

“A Public Statement Concerning Sexual Abuse in the Church of Jesus Christ” = “Another Chance to Condemn Conservatives as Secret Child Molesters”

July 24th, 2013 7 comments

What an evil document is “A Public Statement Concerning Sexual Abuse in the Church of Jesus Christ”! It pretends to be a confession, but it actually is a condemnation of other people. But then the signers don’t dare make any specific accusations. They make general accusations that are slanderous, while helping to protect sin by careful lack of specifics. The Baylyblog does a good job of discussing the Statement and talking about what churches really ought to be doing about sexual abuse, but there’s more to be said. Here are a couple of notable sentences from the Statement:

“Recent allegations of sexual abuse and cover-up within a well known international ministry and subsequent public statements by several evangelical leaders have angered and distressed many, both inside and outside of the Church. These events expose the troubling reality that, far too often, the Church’s instincts are no different than from those of many other institutions, responding to such allegations by moving to protect her structures rather than her children….Institutions ranging from the Catholic Church, various Protestant churches and missionary organizations, Penn State, Yeshiva University High School, the Boy Scouts, and all branches of our military have been rocked by allegations of abuse and of complicity in silencing the victims.”

Read more…

Categories: Ecclesiology, liberals, religion, writing Tags:

Numerology, Global Warming, Moral Relativists, Truth Relativists, and Leo Strauss

December 14th, 2009 No comments

From Bryan Caplan:

If you think Rothbard was harsh on Hayek in Rothbard vs. the Philosophers, here’s what he has to say about Leo Strauss’s Thoughts on Machiavelli:

First, something should be said about the manner, the texture, the methodology of this book, which is really so absurd as to be almost incredible. It is based on the assumption, explicitly made at some points, that Machiavelli was a true Devil-figure, i.e., that he was evil, and that within this framework, he was all-wise, all-seeing, omniscient, etc… Taking his two books The Prince and The Discourses together, the result is that whenever Machiavelli contradicts himself in any way or omits something of note or puts in a particularly weak (to Strauss) argument or makes an error, Strauss immediately and persistently assumes that this simply couldn’t be and that there must be some deep, twisted, hidden meaning to all this.

Rothbard then savages the famed Straussian method of interpretation:…

First, Strauss’s flight into numerology. On page 48, he remarks on what is to him the strange and wondrous fact that Machiavelli’s Discourses have 142 chapters, the same number of chapters of Livy’s History. To me, this is not at all surprising, since the Discourses are proclaimed to be a commentary on Livy’s History. But this is enough for Strauss. This “strange fact” he says, “makes one wonder whether the number of chapters in The Prince is not also significant.”… On and on we go, until finally, on page 52, Strauss makes his crazy numerology explicit: “This is not the place to give further examples of Machiavelli’s use of the number 26, or more precisely, of 13 and multiples of 13…” And off we go further expecting at any moment to be introduced solemnly to the Mysteries of the Great Pyramid and the manacle of Dr. Fu Manchu.

A commentor says

I’ll try and briefly say something about Strauss’s manner of interpretation. Strauss was informed by two traditions of interpretation–the Greek and the Talmudic. If he sometimes went overboard in his detective work (and I won’t deny he did), it is well to remember that he viewed himself as restoring to our historical and philosophical memory a “forgotten kind of writing” that had been forgotten because modern assumptions (or presumptions) had themselves been taken overboard.

My comment there is

Applying numerology to Machiavelli sounds wrong,but that he writes in units of 13 is an interesting point. What is his motive? Maybe just clarity (i.e., 13 is the optimal number of sections for any book), but that’s interesting too, and a sign that he was very careful about his writing.

I like the earlier commentor’s point about Strauss noting that there is an older way of writing that we have forgotten. After all, a lot of people *did* believe in numerology. Thus, with medieval Christian and Jewish writers, we ought to pay attention to their chapter numbers, something I otherwise would ignore. If a scholar says something is important in document A (the mystical signfiicance of numbers, the importance of stretching the truth to persuade the public about global warming, the subjective nature of all knowledge), we should use that in thinking about what he writes in document B.

Categories: reading, Strauss, thinking, writing Tags:

How to EXTRACT & SAVE PICTURE From an Microsoft Word (MS Word) Document

December 6th, 2009 No comments

All the top googled webpages on this topic do it wrong or require special software, so this is important advice. The hard part is to save the undegraded, full-quality, image file that is entangled in the MS-Word document. I finally found that WebCoolTips does aone of its three methods right, so here it is.

MS Word, typically stupid, provides no obvious way to do this. One’s first thought for a workaround is to Save As the file as an HTML file with embedded images. MS Word does that, and even saves every single one of the images in both a big and a small size. That’s just a devious Microsoft trick. The big-sized image is still much worse than the original– 4 to 10 times as small, by my two trials. You need to do something different. (The HTML approach, by the way is what you get from the official Microsoft support site—idiots! They’d make more profit if they spent a little more and hired talented staff.)

Here is what to do.

  1. Launch Microsoft Office Picture Manager (It was provided with my version of MS Office, in a subfolder named something like “Accessories”)
  2. Open your MS Word Document.
  3. Right click and copy your image.
  4. Go to Picture Manager
  5. Browse to the folder of your choice, and do Edit-paste to save the clipboard content as an image.
  6. Go to that folder to get your image.
Categories: computers, microsoft, writing Tags:

Periods and Commas: Inside Quotation Marks or Outside?

November 29th, 2009 No comments

(1) At VC, commentor John Blake said,

…. a direct quote requires enclosed quotation marks: “No more of this,” he said. Said he, “No more of this.” In the second instance, a period after the last quotation mark would be redundant.

Citations or indirect quotes do NOT enclose quotation marks: Chronicles admonish, “From the fury of the Norsemen, good Lord deliver us”.

Those are good examples for the problem. Pure logic, the defense commonly used for the British rule, requires that redundant comma:

Said he, “No more of this.”.

The Norsemen quote looks funny. The period at the end is too far from the final word, because the high-up quotation marks separate it off. Also, the reader expects some punctuation at the end of a sentence, and there isn’t any at the end of the quoted sentence. If it ends there, adding a period would be fine as part of the quotation. If it doesn’t, then really there should be three dots, like this:

Chronicles admonish, “From the fury of the Norsemen, good Lord deliver us…”.

or this:

Chronicles admonish, “From the fury of the Norsemen, good Lord deliver us….”

I don’t like the look of either sentence. What should I do?

(2) The tradeoff is not really Form versus Function. The aesthetic problem here is not completely subjective, and is not distinct from clarity. The period is objectively far from the last word, under the British rule. And if something looks odd in a paragraph, it distracts the reader, reducing clarity.

Commentor Henry Schaffer said:

Several people have pointed out that the American rule alters the quoted material. A long time ago I wrote a short computer manual, and put gave an example — essentially _quodlibet_’s one — I wrote the equivalent of:

Enter the command “cp foo/bar”.

The editor changed this for the distributed version to read:

Enter the command “cp foo/bar.”

This version of the instruction didn’t work, but the defense was that it was grammatically correct and mine was not.

Another commentor says:

As to following sentence ending periods with two spaces, that is an excellent rule, even with non-fixed width fonts because it distinguishes sentence ending periods from abbreviation marks. Also, fixed width fonts are the best for any and all computer work, and even for e-mail.

Another commentor gives these examples:

Jones assured me, “You have nothing to worry about.”

Hale said, “Give me liberty or give me death!”

Still, Obama assures us, “We will be better off after this reform bill passes”!

What makes you think that your only choice is, “Give me liberty or give me death”?

He spoke of “blue skies,” “black nights,” and “green grass.”

He spoke over and over of “blue skies,” “black nights,” and “green grass”; I got bored and left.

Another gives

“Kicking the ball through the uprights is called a ‘field goal’, and is worth three points.”


Categories: writing Tags:

Godless Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamations

November 28th, 2009 No comments

Here’s a comment I posted at the Baylyblog, on the subject of Obama’s godless Thanksgiving Proclamation:

I’m glad Threegirldad checked previous proclamations. He’s right that Ford 1975 and Carter 1978 omit God.

Carter 1977 and 1979 carefully talk about other people giving thanks to God without doing so directly in the Proclamation (like Obama 2009, which does quote George Washington thanking God). Carter 1980 does thank God (“As we pause on Thanksgiving to offer thanks to God…”) Maybe losing the election earlier that month chastened our born-again President.

He’s wrong on Nixon 1969, though:
“Yet Lincoln knew that the act of thanksgiving should not be limited to time of peace and serenity. He knew that it is precisely at those times of hardship when men most need to recognize that the Source of all good constantly bestows His blessings on mankind.”

Ford 1975 has quite a modern ring:
“On the eve of our 200th year, Thanksgiving Day should be a day of special reflection upon the qualities of heart, mind and character of the men and women who founded and built our great Nation. Let us join in giving thanks for our cultural pluralism. Let us celebrate our diversity and the great strengths that have come from sharing our traditions, our ideas, our resources, our hopes and our dreams.”

Ford 1974 is more traditional:
“It is a time when the differences of a diverse people are forgotten and all Americans join in giving thanks to God for the blessings we share – the blessings of freedom, opportunity and abundance that make America so unique.”

Ford 1976 is actually the most God-laden Proclamation I’ve seen. Maybe almost losing the primaries to Reagan and then losing the election to Carter improved his focus (and got him to fire some liberal speechwriters):

“Traditionally, Americans have set aside a special day to express their gratitude to the Almighty for the blessings of liberty, peace and plenty that have been bestowed upon a grateful Nation.
The early settlers of this land possessed an unconquerable spirit and a reliance on Divine Providence that remains a part of the American character. That reliance, coupled with a belief in ourselves and a love of individual freedom, has brought this nation through two centuries of progress and kept us strong.
As we cross the threshold into our third century as a sovereign and independent Nation, it is especially appropriate that we reaffirm our trust in Him and express our gratitude for the unity, freedom and renewed sense of national pride we enjoy today.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GERALD R. FORD, President of the United States of America, in accord with Section 6103 of Title 5 of the United States Code, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 25, 1976, as a day of national thanksgiving. I call upon all Americans to join on that day with their friends and families in homes and places of worship throughout the land to offer thanks for the blessings we enjoy.

Let each of us resolve this Thanksgiving Day to make the coming year one in which our every deed will reflect our constant gratitude to God. Let us set a standard of honor, justice, and charity against which all the years of our third century may be measured.

Let us make this Thanksgiving a truly special one.

Categories: religion, Thanskgiving, writing Tags:

Spelling Out Numbers vs. Writing Them Using Digits

November 23rd, 2009 No comments

Professor Eugene Volokh has a good idea:

Any thoughts on what the rule should be here? My sense is that numbers written using digits are much easier to quickly absorb, so I tend to write them that way whenever they refer to something that people might want to use in calculations or comparisons. I’d say, for instance, that “These books tend to sell for 20% below their list price of $8 to $10,” rather than “These books tend to sell for twenty percent below their list price of eight to ten dollars.” But when counting people or things in contexts where the count likely doesn’t need to be grasped as a number suitable for calculation or comparison, I spell out the number, for instance in “There are eight reasons why this law is a bad idea.”

Categories: writing Tags:

The Singular "They"

November 21st, 2009 No comments

I just posted something like the following at VC as a comment on a post on grammar.

Prof. Volokh, I’d value your opinion on what is a much harder question than whether “Everyone thought they were right” is valid, which is the singular “they” as applied to organizations. Here’s an excerpt from a student paper:

“The US Navy took the lead in this research. They saw an opportunity…”

This is common in educated speech, but it is against the rules of style. It is contrary to parallelism, but in accord with the good realization that organizations are not real persons. What should we do?

Categories: writing Tags:

A Good Sentence

November 20th, 2009 No comments

A good sentence from Jonah Goldberg:

Indeed, some of us will always be sympathetic to Mrs. Palin if for nothing else than her enemies. The bile she extracts from her critics is almost like a dye marker, illuminating deep pockets of asininity that heretofore were either unnoticed or underappreciated.

Categories: liberals, writing Tags:

Citing Web References

November 7th, 2009 No comments

Here’s a webpage in a common citation style:

Thumma, Scott, and Warren Bird. Changes in American Megachurches: Tracing Eight Years of Growth and Innovation in the Nation’s Largest-Attendance Congregations. Hartford Institute for Religion Research. 2008. Web. 1 Oct. 2009.

The word “Web” and the pointed brackets are unnecessary, whereas it would be useful to give the meaning of the date, thus:

Thumma, Scott, and Warren Bird. Changes in American Megachurches: Tracing Eight Years of Growth and Innovation in the Nation’s Largest-Attendance Congregations. Hartford Institute for Religion Research. 2008. Http:// Viewed 1 Oct. 2009.

Wikipedia has a neat link for every article in the “toolbox” in the left column that tells you how to cite the article in a large number of citation styles. See, for example, All of the citation styles are defective, failing to follow the principle of omitting useless keystrokes and of including all relevant information (a shocking number omit the date that the article is written!).

I would also drop the “Viewed” information entirely. It is true that webpages change or disappear, but I don’t think knowing that the author viewed it on a particular day is very useful, particularly since the reader will usually know the year he viewed it from the year he wrote the text. And the location information should logically, be in one place, with the year information separate. Thus, what’s better is:

Thumma, Scott, and Warren Bird. Changes in American Megachurches: Tracing Eight Years of Growth and Innovation in the Nation’s Largest-Attendance Congregations. Hartford Institute for Religion Research. Http:// (2008).

I thought about making Wikipedia an exception since it changes so often, but I looked and saw that Wikipedia always has a date of last change, which should be cited as the publication date. That date is at the bottom of an article, like this:

This page was last modified on 8 November 2009 at 05:09.

Categories: internet, writing Tags:

Valedictions: Yours Truly

October 25th, 2009 No comments

Wikipedia’s article Valedictions is good. It talks about differences between England and America, and about French, German, and Hebrew valedictions. I don’t like “Yours sincerely”, because though I suppose I am always sincere, it seems inappropriate for describing the contents of a typical letter. “Yours truly” is always apt, nicely conventional, and sufficiently uncool. Cheers, Best Wishes, and Best Regards have their places too.

Categories: email, words, writing Tags:

Verbs in Writing

October 1st, 2009 No comments

Via Marginal Revolution, here are some rules for good writing from Michael Nielsen.

Use the strongest appropriate verb: Identify the verb in every sentence, and ask if you can improve it, perhaps eliminating adjectives and adverbs in the process. This is simple and mechanical, but often yields great improvements with little effort.

Beware of nominalization: A common way we weaken verbs is by turning them into nouns, and then combining them with weaker verbs. This bad habit is called nominalization. Contrast the wishy-washy “I conducted an investigation of rules for rewriting” with the more direct “I investigated rules for rewriting”. In the first sentence I have nominalized the strong verb “investigated” so that it becomes the noun “investigation”, and then combined it with the weaker verb “conducted”.

Categories: writing Tags:

"In God we trust. All others pay cash."

June 30th, 2009 No comments

“In God we trust. All others pay cash.” That’s a wise saying, useful to keep in mind when lending money and hearing excuses.

Categories: thinking, writing Tags:

The NPR "All Things Considered" News Style

April 5th, 2009 No comments

From Pastor Wegener in Zambia on Baylyblog:

There used to be serious articles on core doctrines of the faith: progressive revelation, inerrancy, the Trinity, original sin, justification, sanctification, the Day of Judgment, hell, etc., all of them written by learned pastors and theologians.

Today, we’re taken on a journey as the free lance author recounts her confusion on some topic (like fashion or global warming or endangered species) and how she decided to investigate this topic and went to a conference put on by evangelicals on her topic.

She tells us how her plane was delayed and she had trouble checking in to the conference hotel, and missed her first session, but how it was okay, cause she ran into the seminar leader in the restaurant and ate lunch with him and how he was nice and funny and normal even though a great man.

Then she details all the difficulties in coming to any firm conclusions on this topic and tells us how nuance and humility are really important and necessary, but we can be sure of this, and then out comes some platitude worthy of a 7th grader in Sunday school.

My comment:

I like that description of the modern, PBS, style of article– the “one person’s experience” style. You should write it up further as a parody and post it on the web. Another good parody would be to do a math or science article in that style.

The style is pernicious not only because it displaces content but because it makes it easy to convey a point of view unfairly, without argument. You simply find or invent anecdotes that make your side look good and the other side bad without seriously engaging the issue. I recently saw Rob Bell’s “Bullhorn Man” (at CGS), a good example.

Categories: media, theology, thinking, writing Tags:

Missile Submarines

March 7th, 2009 No comments

Pater Hitches wrote a very good blog post on his experience going on a missile submarine. I’ve reprinted it here, since it didn’t print properly in its original format.

Categories: britain, global warming, writing Tags:

Obama’s Favorite Rhetorical Fallacy?

February 26th, 2009 No comments

Karl Rove notes Obama’s love for straw men:

On Tuesday night, Mr. Obama told Congress and the nation, “I reject the view that . . . says government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity.” Who exactly has that view? …

Mr. Obama also said that America’s economic difficulties resulted when “regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market.” Who gutted which regulations?

Even in an ostensibly nonpartisan speech marking Lincoln’s 200th birthday, Mr. Obama used a straw-man argument, decrying “a philosophy that says every problem can be solved if only government would step out of the way; that if government were just dismantled, divvied up into tax breaks, and handed out to the wealthiest among us, it would somehow benefit us all. Such knee-jerk disdain for government — this constant rejection of any common endeavor — cannot rebuild our levees or our roads or our bridges.”

Whose philosophy is this? …

Categories: obama, thinking, writing Tags:

"Who I conclude"

February 17th, 2009 No comments

I have a post on the stimulus bill where I write something like:

(1) “I have listed economists who I conclude would prefer no stimulus bill at all to the stimulus bill that Congress has passed.”

That sentence bothers me. Compare it with:

(2) “I have listed economists whom I conclude would prefer no stimulus bill at all to the stimulus bill that Congress has passed.”

Which is better? We say “who would prefer”, not “whom would prefer”. In ordinary language, uneducated people, and perhaps the educated, would say “who I conclude”.

On the other hand, I think educated people would say “whom” if they were thinking hard. If “who” is to be in the accusative case, it should be “whom”. But “conclude” is not a transitive verb.

Perhaps this is how it should be:

(3) “I have listed economists who, I conclude, would prefer no stimulus bill at all to the stimulus bill that Congress has passed.”

But that doesn’t sound right to me either. Any ideas?

Categories: stimulus, words, writing Tags:

Posner and Judicial Writing

February 12th, 2009 No comments

It seems that Judge Posner is having a good influence on judicial writing. The 7th Circuit Lott v. Levitt opinion (via Volokh Con.) written by Evans with Ripple and Sykes signing on, is clear, pleasant, and uses contractions, even in an opinion whose subject is the fine detail of choice of law and writing pleadings:

The principle of waiver is designed to
prohibit this very type of gamesmanship—Lott is not
entitled to get a free peek at how his dispute will shake out
under Illinois law and, when things don’t go his way, ask
for a mulligan under the laws of a different jurisdiction. In
law (actually in love and most everything else in life),
timing is often everything. The time for Lott to ask for
the application of Virginia law had passed—the train
had left the station.

Categories: economists, international law, writing Tags:

Steyn on Obama At Sea

February 7th, 2009 No comments

I’m glad Obama won. He has inspired Mark Steyn to reach new heights in his writing, and if Art trumps Wealth, that is all to the good. From “Obama, All at Sea“:

So how’s that going? Jesus took a handful of loaves and two fish and fed 5,000 people. Barack wants to take a trillion pieces of pork and feed it to a handful of Democratic-party interest groups.


Jesus picked twelve disciples. Barack seems to have gone more for one of those Dirty Dozen, caper-movie line-ups, where the mission is so perilous and so audacious that only the scuzziest lowlifes recruited from every waterfront dive have any chance of pulling it off. The ends justify the mean SOBs: “Indispensable” Tim Geithner, wanted in twelve jurisdictions for claiming his kid’s summer camp as a business expense, is the only guy with the savvy to crack the code of the U.S. economy. Tom “Home, James!” Daschle is the ruthless backseat driver who can figure out how to steer the rusting gurney of U.S. health care through the corridors of power. Charles Bronson is the hardbitten psycho ex-con who can’t go straight but knows how to turn around the Department of the Interior.

And, of course, there’s the lovable dough-faced shnook in the front office, Robert “Fall Guy” Gibbs. He didn’t do nuthin’ wrong, but, when seven nominees die in a grisly shootout with a Taxable Benefit Swat Team in the alley behind the Senate, he makes the mistake of looking sweaty and shifty while answering routine questions.


A president doesn’t have to be able to walk on water. But he does have to choose the right crew for the ship, especially if he’s planning on spending most of his time at the captain’s table schmoozing the celebrity guests with a lot of deep thoughts about “hope” and “change.”


Far worse than his cabinet picks was President Obama’s decision to make the “stimulus” racket the all-but-sole priority of his first month, and then outsource the project to Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, and Harry Reid.


Appearing on The Rush Limbaugh Show last week, I got a little muddled over two adjoining newspaper clippings—one on the stimulus, the other on those octuplets in California—and for a brief moment the two stories converged. Everyone’s hammering that mom—she’s divorced, unemployed, living in a small house with parents who have a million bucks’ worth of debt, and she’s already got six kids. So she has in vitro fertilization to have eight more. But isn’t that exactly what the Feds have done? Last fall, they gave birth to an $850 billion bailout they couldn’t afford and didn’t have enough time to keep an eye on, and now four months later they’re going to do it all over again, but this time they want trillionuplets. Barney and Nancy represent the in vitro fertilization of the federal budget. And it’s the taxpayers who’ll get stuck with the diapers.


As President Obama warned on Tuesday, “A failure to act, and act now, will turn crisis into a catastrophe.” If you’re of those moonstruck Obammysoxers still driving around with the “HOPE, NOT FEAR” bumper stickers, please note that, due to an unfortunate proofreading error at the printing plant, certain nouns in that phrase may have been accidentally transposed.


But, alas, the foreigners made the mistake of actually reading the “stimulus” bill, and the protectionist measures buried on page 739 sub-section XII(d) ended, instantly, the Obama honeymoon overseas. The European Union has threatened a trade war. Up in Canada, provincial premiers called it “a march to insanity.” Wait a minute: I thought the Obama era was meant to be the retreat from insanity, a blessed return to multilateral transnational harmony?

As longtime readers will know, I’m all in favor of flipping the bird to the global community. But at least, when Rummy was doing his shtick about “Old Europe,” he did it intentionally. To cheese off the foreigners entirely by accident before you’ve even had your first black-tie banquet is quite an accomplishment. Protectionism is serious business to the Continentals. Oh, to be sure, if the swaggering unilateralist Yank cowboy invades some Third World basket-case they’ll seize on it as an opportunity for some cheap moral posturing. But in the end they don’t much care one way or the other. Plunging the planet into global depression, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter.


The bloated non-stimulus and the under-taxed nominees are part of the same story. I’m with Tom Daschle: I understand why he had no desire to toss another six-figure sum into the great sucking maw of the federal treasury.


Tom and Tim Geithner and Charlie Rangel and all the rest are right: They can do more good with the money than the United States government can. I only wish they followed the logic of their behavior and recognized that what works for them would also work for every other citizen.

Categories: humor, obama, writing Tags:

University Policies (The Pace Resolution)

February 4th, 2009 No comments

A great quote from our b-school dean, Daniel Smith:

Some faculty members voiced concern with the precedent the resolution would set and the scrutiny future chairs or guests would face.

“This isn’t a policy,” Tanford said. “It says nothing about future cases. We’re saying this one, we thought, was not handled well.”

Smith said he would abide by such a policy if one existed.

“If the university is going to adopt a formal policy that requires administrators to, number one, screen all candidates for endowed chairs on their personal beliefs and, number two, submit that data to groups on campus for approval, then we would certainly abide by that.”

Some info:

  • BFC Membership, 2009.
  • The Pace resolution: Drafts of November 18, 2008 and January 29 2009.
  • Some past Poling Chairs: Dollens, Evan Bayh, Skinner,
  • A Metaphor to Derail the Stimulus?

    January 31st, 2009 No comments

    Where Nations Go to Die is Mark Steyn at his finest. Read the whole thing, but here is the most exquisite part:

    The more interviews Speaker Pelosi gives explaining how vital the STD industry is to restarting the U.S. economy, the more I find myself hearing “syphilis” every time she says “stimulus.” In late September, America was showing the first signs of “primary stimulus”—a few billion lesions popping up on the rarely glimpsed naughty bits of the economy: the subprime mortgage racket, the leverage kings. Now, the condition has metastasized in a mere four months into the advanced stages of “tertiary stimulus,” with trillions of hideous, ever more inflamed pustules sprouting in every nook and cranny as the central nervous system of the body politic crumbles into total insanity—until it seems entirely normal for the second-in-line of presidential succession to be on TV gibbering away about how vital the federalization of condom distribution is to economic recovery.

    The Nietzschean Democratic Party!

    Categories: Economics, humor, poetry, stimulus, writing Tags:

    Style in Bible Translation

    January 27th, 2009 1 comment

    From the Baylyblog obituary of author John Updike:

    In 1967, when no evangelically-acceptable translation had yet arisen against the KJV, Dad wrote a column in Eternity Magazine suggested that a new translation be undertaken with a first draft written not by biblical scholars, but by fine English writers based on the King James and American Standard versions. Only after this initial English draft was complete would Greek and Hebrew scholars take up a second draft where revisions for accuracy would be made. As first draft authors, Dad suggested Frank Gaebelein, Betty Elliott, W.H. Auden and John Updike.

    Categories: religion, translation, writing Tags:

    Movies: Doubt and W

    January 22nd, 2009 No comments

    I found favorable and interesting-in-themselves reviews of Doubt and W. by Steve Sailer.

    Categories: art, movies, writing Tags:


    January 21st, 2009 No comments

    I see that James Heckman has run into the problem of rascally, incompetent, Third World typesetters. I had endless problems with the 4th edition of Games and Information, and I think I would have spent less energy on it if I’d typeset it myself.

    According to Heckman, there are literally hundreds of errors in the
    document and the mathematical symbols are, he says, a colossal mess,
    even with subscripts on the line following the symbol to which they
    pertain. Authors can’t be held responsible for incompetence by
    typesetters. Michael Sobel has similar problems with his paper. You
    say this is “hard for me to imagine,” but you don’t have to imagine
    anything: We will send you the copy-edited paper and the type-set

    In short, this is a problem that has occurred in the past when
    typesetting has been shipped to 3rd world countries; it is a problem
    that occurred at the AJS some years ago, and it is ia problem that
    occurred with Blackwell some years ago.

    Another email:

    I received your letter Wednesday announcing that you would not
    honor what Blackwell and Stolzenberg promised me-a fresh look at the
    galley proofs for my paper I have an email from Blackwell promising
    me this and my lawyer said that my case is strong based on that
    email Jennifer will send you the email

    The timing was intended to disarm me Your letter contained a mass of
    misinformation I did not change my paper in any way that would
    affcet Sobel’s comments What did happen was that sobel and i were
    given galley proofs with numerous careless errors and we were
    promised that we could see the new proofs I assume Stolzenberg has
    lied to you as he has to me I insist on withdrawing my paper from
    this Journal under these circumstances If this is not done I will
    sue Blackwell,Stolzenberg and your organization Withdraw the paper
    or I sue

    Categories: publishing, typesetting, writing Tags:

    President Obama’s Inaugural Address

    January 20th, 2009 No comments

    Thoughts on President Obama’s Inaugural Address.

    I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

    A good start. He says “our ancestors”, and that is correct to do, even if his father was an immigrant, and would be correct to say even if both his parents were. And he is gracious to President Bush.

    We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

    A gesture of respect to God, which is good.

    For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

    “Khe Sahn”: very good. That won’t make the Clintons happy.

    We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost.

    “Its rightful place”? That’s an odd thing to say.

    The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified.

    This sentence says a lot. Obama thinks that the purpose of government is to help you find a job and cheap health care and make you be dignified in your retirement (what he means, of course by, “a retirement that is dignified” is not a dignified retirement, free of internet porn, pant suits, and trips to Las Vegas, but a wealthy retirement). In the past, Americans would have thought that government was for things like crime prevention and national defense, and that a government worked if it just managed not to *prevent* your from finding a job or cheap health care. Of course, modern government makes it illegal for you to find a job if it would pay less than minimum wage, and it says you aren’t allowed to get health care from anybody cheaper than a graduate of a medical school.

    Contrast with Jefferson’s First Inaugural:

    [A] wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.

    It’s such a parallel, and that Jefferson speech is such a famous Inaugural Address, that I wonder if the opposition to it in Obama’s speech is intentional. Jefferson also said:

    Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.

    Back to the present-day:

    With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense,…

    I hope he means that we won’t apologize for emitting lots of carbon dioxide or waver in defending our way of life, but I think this was probably just a mistake in editing.

    We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers.

    Interesting. Will Jews mind being demoted to third place? Hindus will like being included.

    As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves.

    Again a gracious gesture. Did Bill Clinton say things like this? It’s hard to image him doing so, but maybe I’m just forgetful.

    But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true.

    I dislike the word “values” as implying lack of intrinsic worth, but the word is pervasive, and we can imagine Bush saying the same thing. I like “These things are true”, though. It doesn’t exactly make sense, but I think he means that these good things are truly good, not just his personal preference.

    They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

    This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

    That’s the best sentence of the speech. The second “the” is the key.

    This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

    Another good phrase. It’s nice, too, because it reminds us subtly that he’s biracial.

    So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

    “Let it be told to the future world … that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet (it).”

    A good section for a cold day, even if it’s not as effective in print.

    America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

    Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

    A good ending.

    Cold Weather

    January 18th, 2009 No comments

    Peter Hitchens has it right and writes well:

    I like sitting round a hearth as much as anybody, or walking into a warm kitchen. But these things are not half so pleasant unless you have come in from the cold outside.

    Proper British cold weather is exhilarating, stimulating and good for you. … I still recall experiencing as a small child the sharper frosts of Scotland, on the Fife coast of the Firth of Forth, and finding the milk solid in the bottles on the doorstep, with the cream thrust up out of the bottle and he foil cap perched on top.

    Sometimes it brings glorious clear air, so that you can see further than at any other time of year. Sometimes it comes with mysterious fogs. I am still sad that I shall never see again the overpowering sight of an express steam engine coming into a station one foggy winter dusk in a small Dartmoor town, entirely surrounded by its own cloud of steam glowing pink, red and gold.

    When it freezes lakes and ponds, and hardens the earth, it makes sound travel quite differently, so that church bells across a long distance have a special hollow echo to them that (like the bells themselves, only more so) is uniquely English.

    Categories: art, living, writing Tags:

    "I and you": Correct or Not?

    January 16th, 2009 No comments

    Eugene Volokh wrote:

    1. I was recently reminded about the claim that “I and you” or “me and you” are grammatically incorrect — not because “I” is being used instead of “me” or vice versa, but because it’s wrong for “I” and “me” to go first. (Here’s one sample I just found online, but I’ve seen others.) But that, it seems to me, is a principle of politeness — let the other person go first — and not of grammar.

    Item 1 in the post is worth thinking about. I think it *is* a point of grammar, because I think grammar refers to the rules of speech that sound natural (“syntax”, perhaps, if we’re going to be precise).

    “I and you know” grates on the ear as much as “I doesn’t know”. Since it distracts the reader or listener, it shouldn’t be used except for a special purpose. An example of proper use might be:

    “I learned that a long time ago. I have always believed it. I and you know that it’s correct.”

    Even better, though, might be:

    “I learned that a long time ago. I have always believed it. I– and you– know that it’s correct.”

    What do you think?

    Categories: words, writing Tags:

    Today’s Sermon in Cartoon Form

    December 28th, 2008 No comments

    Categories: art, religion, writing Tags:

    A Spell Checker Story

    December 26th, 2008 No comments

    I forget where I saw this, but it’s a good story.

    I once worked at a company run by a Canadian guy who would go ballistic every time a document with misspellings or grammatical errors hit his desk. The offending author was subject to excoriating humiliation during international webcasts, conference calls and meetings.

    The President’s 2nd-in-command was a man (weasel, actually) best described as “a man Will Rogers never met”. One afternoon The Weasel went on vacation, but left his unguarded laptop logged-in and unsecured on a conference table. I spent over an hour adding all sorts of common spelling mistakes to his computer’s spell-checker dictionary. A cat could have tap danced its way across the keyboard and the spell checker would not have flagged any errors.

    I really enjoyed watching The Weasel get berated over the next few months for his error-prone reports. Why he continued to trust the spell checker even after it consistently let him down is beyond me.

    Categories: computers, jokes, writing Tags:

    A Hammerstein Rhyme

    December 16th, 2008 No comments

    Mark Steyn writes:

    For a driving rhythm number in the show Sunny (1925), Hammerstein wrote:

    Who stole my heart away?
    Who makes me dream all day?
    Dreams I know can never be true
    Seems as though I’ll ever be blue.

    Can’t see why I’m so impressed by the rhymes? Here—let me hit the italics key:

    Dreams I know can never be true
    Seems as though I’ll ever be blue.

    That’s quite a rhyme scheme.

    The entire Steyn article in The New Criterion on Hammerstein is good.

    Categories: music, poems, words, writing Tags:

    Commas and Adjectives

    December 12th, 2008 No comments

    Which version is best?

    1. Both results involve markets where consumers have heterogeneous tastes and some, “small”, consumers buy just one good while other, “large”, consumers buy two.


    2. Both results involve markets where consumers have heterogeneous tastes and some, “small” consumers buy just one good while other, “large” consumers buy two.


    3. Both results involve markets where consumers have heterogeneous tastes and some “small” consumers buy just one good while other “large” consumers buy two.

    I like version 1, because it replicates the pauses I would make when speaking. I don’t know which the grammarians would choose.

    Categories: writing Tags:

    "Beyond the planet of the crazygirls"

    December 6th, 2008 1 comment

    Tom Smith’s “Beyond the planet of the crazygirls” has an odd beauty to it.

    Categories: thinking, writing Tags:

    The Miktex Tex Processing Freeware Program

    December 4th, 2008 1 comment

    This is a post from 2005 that I’ll copy here, with the old comments as
    part of the post.

    The free Miktex ( looks to be an
    excellent latex and tex Windows processor program. I’ve been
    using SWP, and putting figures in looks to work better in Miktex.
    Miktex gets PDF’s right, which my
    version of SWP does not always do, and it processes straight from
    myfile.tex to myfile.pdf. On the other hand, it has some problems,
    noted below, which make it unhandier to use.

    (1) I have a suggestion for the standard installation
    instructions: say more
    about the Windows command prompt. I haven’t used it for years,
    though I happened
    to remember it was in Accessories. Also, the user should know that he
    can change
    the default directory in teh command prompt to wherever he keeps his
    tex input
    files– say, d:/smith/latex-input, using the Properties
    (reachable by right
    clicking the command prompt).

    (2) The command prompt requires you to type in all your commands,
    which is
    burdensome if they are long, e.g.,


    You can’t copy and paste in the usual way with CTRL-C and
    CTRL-V. What you can
    do, though is to copy to the clipboard with CTRL-C and then paste
    rightclicking on the Command Prompt program and choosing PASTE.

    I will put a comment line like this at the start of my tex

    % pdflatex chap07_MoralHazard.tex

    then I can copy all but the % part and paste it into the command
    prompt, and it

    will process chap07_MoralHazard.tex and write to

    (3) Something better would be a graphic interface to replace the
    prompt. I don’t know how to write such an interface, but here is
    what it would
    be: It would be simple: just a window in which the user could do two

    1. Browse and choose a tex file to process, e.g.,
    instead of having to type in the full name in the command prompt, and
    instead of
    having to have it in the command prompt’s directory.

    2. Issue the processing command— most simply “latex

    or “pdflatex”, or others that might be useful. There
    should be two to five
    choices, and the user would check the box of the command he wants to

    The command would take the file from (1) and put the output in the
    directory as the input.

    The interface could be fancier, but that covers what the user
    needs every
    single time he uses Miktex, and it would save a lot of tricky

    (4) Miktex is fouled up by carriage returns, even ones that are not
    hard breaks.

    Thus, before I tex my files using it I need to strip off all the
    returns, thus making all my equations, nicely separated into separate
    lines for
    visibility, into unreadable paragraphs. The solution, from Alan, the
    commentor below, is to make sure my input file is in UTF-8 Ascii,
    not ANSI. What I do in Textpad is (a) make sure it is set to UTF-8
    as the standard encoding, (b) copy the entire file, and then close the
    file, (c) open a new file and paste what I copied, (d) save the new
    file with the old file’s name, on top of it. That converts from
    the ANSI coding I initially had to the UTF-8.

    (5) The command which takes us straight from myfile.tex to the
    output myfile.pdf
    produces pdf files which are not crystal clear on the screen. The

    latex -job-name=chap07_MoralHazard temp.tex
    dvips -Ppdf chap07_MoralHazard.dvi

    do better, but then I can’t use JPG files in my input.

    (7) Will I switch from SWP to Miktex? Money is not really a
    concern for me, but
    usability is. I’ll try it for a while and see.

    on Saturday, August
    20th, 2005 at 7:26 am and is
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    13 Responses to “The Miktex Tex
    Processing Freeware Program”

    1. Alan Says:


      I am not a user of SWP myself, but I do believe there are a number
      of ways in which SWP deviates from “standard” LaTeX
      (I’ve had these cause problems when sharing files with SWP
      users). MiKTeX, along with TeXLive, teTeX, and most other TeX
      distributions will have the same issues you describe here with respect
      to SWP. That said, allow me to attempt to address a few of your

      (2) and (3): I have rarely invoked LaTeX from the command line,
      whether using MiKTeX or another LaTeX distribution. Many, if not most,
      LaTeX users use an editor that handles the direct interaction with the
      LaTeX executable and friends. SWP is really nothing more than a very
      fancy LaTeX front-end. While the editors that most folks use are not
      as fancy, they do handle all of the command line work and make
      invoking LaTeX transparent to the user. Some popular Windows-friendly
      text editors than can be configured in this way are WinEdt
      (shareware), TeXnicCenter (freeware), and Emacs with appropriate plug-
      ins (open source), though there are a number of others.

      (4): Not sure why you’re experiencing problems with hard
      carriage returns. My files are chock full of them and MiKTeX handles
      them without complaint, so I suspect SWP is to blame here. Perhaps it
      is using an odd end-of-line character? Open one of your SWP files in a
      plain text editor (Notepad — but not Wordpad — will do)
      and see if it is read correctly, or if garbage appears at the end of
      the line. Alternatively, write a dummy LaTeX file with hard carriage
      returns using Notepad and see how it goes. Finally, I understand
      there’s a way to export files from SWP in a way that is supposed
      to make them more compatible with “standard” LaTeX systems
      — if true, you might try exporting your files in this manner
      before running them through MiKTeX.

      (5): The problem here is that pdfLaTeX is using Type 3 Postscript
      fonts instead of the more desirable Type 1 fonts. Since I don’t
      use pdfLaTeX myself, I can’t tell you for sure how to change it
      (though installing the cm-super package via the MiKTeX package manager
      might do the trick). A search of the usenet newsgroup comp.text.tex
      (via should get you an answer pretty quickly,

      (6): MiKTeX does not recognize \tag because it is not part of
      standard LaTeX. To use it, you must call \usepackage{amsmath} in your
      preamble. Apparently, SWP does this for you whether you like it or
      not. Fortunately, amsmath is distributed with MiKTeX and virtually
      every other LaTeX distribution, so it should already be installed.

      (7): SWP insulates you from some of the low-level LaTeX drudgery at
      the cost of making your .tex files a little less portable. Another
      side-effect of this insulation is that you don’t always know
      what’s going on “behind the scenes,” as you saw when
      you tried to use the \tag command without \usepackage{amsmath}.


    2. Administrator Says:


      Adding \usepackage{amsmath} makes the tag command work again for
      equation special labelling.

      I still have the problem with line returns. It isn’t
      SWP– I actually write my latex files in Textpad, a text editor,
      and then used SWP only as a front-end— hence its inferiority to
      Miktex for me, since I don’t use most of SWP’s special
      features anyway. Also, the line return problem occurs when there are
      line returns in equations.

    3. Administrator Says:

      I updated the original post in light of
      Alan’s comments, so his comments won’t apply well any

    4. Stefan Moebius Says:

      On (3): Maybe a tool modelled after OggDrop
      ( would be what you need? You
      just grab the .tex or .mp or .dvi file and drag it to a floating icon.
      Dropping it would invoke the correct program based on file type and
      configuration (e.g., pdflatex or latex).

    5. Administrator Says:

      Yes, Stefan. Oggdrop is just for sound
      files, it seems. What would be a nice utility is a program that lets
      you say that any file dropped into an icon gets sent to the command
      line and processed using a particular command, with the output
      returned to the directory of the original file. I tries looking in the
      freeware site but
      couldn’t find such a thing.

    6. Harald Oehlmann Says:

      I use Textpad too (but pdftex to generate
      postscript directly).
      You can invoke the pdftex processor from the editor by assigning for
      example Cntrl-1 to invoke latex. I use:
      Menue: Config->Settings:Extras -> Add Program and edit
      properties: Parameter: $File

    7. Stefan Grosse Says:

      I also must say that using command prompt
      is a very unusual way for working with miktex. The perfect editor for
      me is winedt
      where you just have to push a button for texifying and pdf-texifying.

      With the carriage return- I noticed that there is a problem by
      opening a book chapter from your page. Winedt corrected it but I did
      not try to compile since there was a lot of scientific word stuff

      If you like to use scientific workplace with miktex as LaTeX distro
      see the notes of Prof. Söderlind:

      By the way the game trees do not look that great there is a package
      of Martin Osborn using pstricks to improve that:

    8. Misha Says:

      Actually, I have another suggestion on how
      to improve MiKTeX. It takes relatively long to load all the
      definitions and packages every time TeX starts. Wouldn’t it be
      nice if there were a running instance of TeX, that would remember all
      those .sty files. In this case, LaTeX would just invoke that process
      rather than loading the definitions again.

    9. Administrator Says:

      Thanks, everyone, for these very useful
      comments. Harald Oehlmann’s suggestion seems to work perfectly,
      though I had to set it up a bit differently than he suggested,
      perhaps because of my version of Textpad. Here is what I’ve just
      added to my latex notes in


      Harald Oehlmann told me how to do this. Here are precise
      instructions for
      running miktex from Textpad 4.7.3. Maybe other text editors have

      1. Click on Configure, then Preferences, then Tools.

      2. In Tools, click ADD, then choose DOS Command. A box will
      appear, and write
      “pdflatex a file” as a title for the tool. Then click

      3. Click on the + sign next to Tools. Several tool titles will
      including your new “pdflatex a file”. Click on it, and a
      Properties box will
      appear with various things for you to type in.

      4. Under Parameters, type in “pdflatex $File”. Make
      sure that under Initial
      Folder,there is $FileDir. Make sure none of the options boxes are
      including CAPTURE OUTPUT. Click OK when you’re done.

      5. Load a tex file into Textpad. To process it, click on Tools from
      the front
      set of headings (File, Edit, Search, View, Tools, … ) Then click
      on “pdflatex
      a file”, which you will have added.

      6. The Command Prompt window will appear, and the tex file in
      textpad will be
      processed. The PDF file will be generated as output.

      I hope I didn’t miss any steps.

    10. Bob Says:

      First, hello Eric, from the distant past.
      We knew each other at MIT.

      Here’s another simple way to compile a .tex file using the
      MikTeX texify command. (I have to admit I live at the command prompt.
      Just a matter of preference. I also live in Emacs!) I turn .tex into
      .pdf using this batch file:

      texify %1.tex
      dvips -tletter -Ppdf -G0 %1
      call ps2pdf13 %1.pdf

      You put these commands in a file called “makepdf.bat”,
      and place the file somewhere in your path. Then if you have a .tex
      file called “foo.tex”, at the command prompt you type

      makepdf foo

      and you will end up with a pdf version of your document.

    11. bob wolfe Says:


      I used to be an avid fan of SWP. I now use Miktex.

      1) I used to run into problems with carriage returns. They all
      arose when I shared files with colleagues who used UNIX. They have
      now all switched away from UNIX (despite them calling me all kinds of
      nasty names a decade ago for using Windows) so the problem is now

      2) SWP is not standard. I use a lot of math. \mbox does not work
      right in SWP. That prevented me from sharing with lots of colleagues
      who use standard latex. I think there are other things that are not
      standard in SWP. That makes it a pain to collaborate.

      3) SWP consultants used to have an attitude. Maybe the attitude
      is now fixed, so I apologize for any aspersions suggested by these
      comments. When I asked for work arounds on how to solve the problem
      of working with colleagues who use standard latex, the SWP consultants
      were extremely defensive in their responses. Not vulgar, but close to
      it. Almost as bad as the Apple community used to be towards Windows

      4) The real raison d’etre for SWP is its integration with
      Maple. Beautiful. Wonderful. I love the concept. Maple does simple
      math very well, up to algebra and closed form calculus. It does not
      do hard problems well at all, such as infinite sums. So, you have to
      do the math to see if it is right anyway, and then it is about as easy
      to type it in yourself in latex as to use the simplify verbs available
      in maple. If you are teaching calc 101 or high school algebra, then
      SWP is great. If you are teaching quantitative graduate courses, then
      be careful with SWP.

    12. Maciej Radziejewski Says:

      Your idea of having a simple IDE (point (3)
      of your original post) is already implemented in Windows! Well,

      You can browse your files using Windows Explorer. Then you can
      compile (texify) by right-clicking a TeX file and selecting an
      appropriate command from the context menu. You just have to define a
      context menu action for .tex files. I usually define
      “Latex”, but you may prefer to use pdfLatex or to call
      some batch file for more complex processing.

      Defining actions takes some knwoledge and it may be a good idea to
      suggest it to Christian Schenk to do it in the installer as an option
      (if it is not already there). You can define actions using the
      “file types” tab (in WinXP accessible from the explorer
      window – Tools – Options) or using regedit (dangerous if you misuse

    13. Eric Wilson Says:

      Maybe I’m missing something here.
      Why not use WinEdt? It’s a great editor, designed particularly
      for LaTeX. TexShop is ok for macs.

    Categories: computers, writing Tags: