Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

A Contraction for "Here are"

November 12th, 2008 No comments

I was just writing an email and wrote “Here’s my notes.” Since “notes” is plural, that’s incorrect, and I should say “Here are my notes.” A contraction fit the spirit of the email better, though. In speech, I say, “Here’re my notes.” I wonder if other people do? If they do, then “Here’re” is a legitimate contraction.

Categories: words, writing Tags:

Punctuation: The Possessive of Lists

November 3rd, 2008 1 comment

The rule for punctuation of the possessive of items in a list is that you put the “‘s” only after the last item (source, e.g.
this site). Thus:

“I went to John and Mary’s house.”

That sounds right. How about this?

“I went to John, Mary, Joe, Andrew, and Matilda’s house.”

That sounds right too.

Categories: writing Tags:

Science Fiction as Prior Art

August 25th, 2008 No comments

In 1934, Heinlein was discharged from the Navy due to pulmonary tuberculosis. During a lengthy hospitalization, he developed the concept of the waterbed, and his detailed descriptions of it in three of his books constituted sufficient prior art to prevent a US patent on water beds when they became common in the 1960s[9].

(from Wikipedia, Robert Heinlein. Footnote 9 is to a WSJ article)

Categories: law, writing Tags:

A Good Sentence on Rescuing Banks

August 6th, 2008 No comments

I liked this sentence from Prof. Buiter’s blog, both in sound and sentiment:

I will refute his argument, focusing mainly on the case against bailing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, unless this involves the euthanasia of the existing shareholders of the two GSEs and a material haircut for their creditors.

Categories: Economics, writing Tags:


June 19th, 2008 No comments

From my latex notes at

This is tricky in Latex, because while you can define new counters, I
can’t see how you would attach their values to labels. The \label
command can only be used in environments that have their own counters
(such as \begin{equation}), and you can’t fool those environments into
adding to a counter without having them print the value on the printed
page somewhere. So I used Tex programming, like this. I create a new
counter named \fignum and then attach it to a label called \1f, \2f, and
so forth, advancing the counter in between. I used \edef rather than
\def because \edef inserts the value at the particular time, while \def
would repeat the command \number\fignum each time \1f was written.



\advance\fignum by 1


Example: Figure \1f says this. The second part of it, Figure \1fa,
says something different. Figures \2f and \2f-a say something still

This is plain Tex, not Latex.

You need to write backslash-1-f rather than backslash-f-1. I’m not
sure why– it must be that the number gets interpreted as doing
something special to the definition rather than being part of the name.

You have to remember to put your definitions earlier in the document
than when you use the term defined. You could put them all the start,
actually, but then you might forget to re-order them when you change the
order of the diagrams.

I think you can advance the fignum variable by a negative number if you
want to.

Categories: computers, writing Tags:

Some Literary Words and Phrases

June 17th, 2008 No comments

Here are two phrases I came across recently:

“Augustan redundancy in writing”

“adjectives are noun hungry”

From come some literary terms:

Anaphora: A repetition device wherein the same expression (word or words) is repeated at the beginning of two or more lines, clauses, or sentences. “When Jamie saw him throw the baby, saw Van throw the little baby, saw Van throw his little sister Nin, then they moved.

Litotes: this is when you understate an idea in order to convey the opposite idea. This is normally done through the use of a negative negative before one of the words in order to express a strong affirmative.

Metonymy: Like synecdoche, this term refers to figurative language that uses particular words to represent something else with which they are associated. Metonymy is when one term is substituted for another term with which it is closely associated (“crown” or “sceptre” stands duty for “monarch”).

Trope: Any of several types of diversion from the literal to the figurative. The so-called “four master tropes” are irony, metaphor, metonymy, and synecdoche) A few new ones have recently been invented: see aegis, catachresis, kenosis, perruque. cf figures of speech.

Categories: words, writing Tags:

Co-opting Your Opponent’s Issues

May 12th, 2008 No comments

Steve Teles talked about a good idea in a conference here last weekend: the idea of going on one’s opponent’s issue ground in politics and beating him on his own terms. His paper was on Compassionate Conservatism. Here are perhaps other examples. The paradigm is:

“Liberals say X helps Y, but X actually hurts them.”

1. X = Immigration, Y = Mexican-Americans

2. X= the minimum wage, Y = poor people

3. X= easy divorce laws, Y = women

4. X= low penalties for crime, Y = blacks

5. X= unions, Y = workers

We need a good name for this tactic. It is not the same as Co-Opting, really, or Issue Stealing

Italics and Asterisks

May 1st, 2008 No comments

For emphasis, I wonder if *asterisks* might be better than italics. They convey different impressions; that is certain. Asterisks are more masculine, more heavy-hitting, which is sometimes but not always desirable. For titles of books, however, asterisks are all wrong, since there emphasis is not desirable. Write not *Huckleberry Finn*, but Huckleberry Finn.

Categories: writing Tags:

February 8th, 2008 No comments

A Short Speech and a Bye-Ku. Stromata Blog has two good entries. One is an all-purpose stump speech from one of Mark Steyn’s readers:

My friends, we live in the greatest nation in the history of the world. I hope you’ll join with me as we try to change it.

The other is an original bye-ku for Dennis Kucinich as he drops out of the presidential race:

He could have gone far
if that saucer had landed
little green voters.

Categories: politics, writing Tags:

January 7th, 2008 No comments

Poetry to Memorize. Jough Dempsey has a good poetry page, good both for its selection of memorizable poems, for its poems as poems, and for his commentary.

One of the best aspects of learning a poem by heart is that you get to take a poem inside of yourself. It becomes a part of you. That sounds touchy-feely, but it’s true. When you memorize a poem it is no longer just a poem, but your poem. It’s in your head, and you can call it up from memory as you would any other experience.

He has “Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost, “For Whom The Bell Tolls” by John Donne, “Musée des Beaux Arts” by W. H. Auden, “Tears, Idle Tears” by Alfred Lord Tennyson. They aren’t easy to memorize, but they are good poems.

Categories: poems, writing Tags:

January 5th, 2008 No comments

Penmanship. A good page on penmanship, featuring scans of old instruction books, is “Lessons in Calligraphy and Penmanship” . I was looking for a cursive alphabet page for my daughter and couldn’t find any page that had all the letters in cursive upper and lower case in beautiful handwriting. “ALPHABET PRACTICE – WRITING WORKSHEETS” has good dotted worksheets for all-caps or all-small and for individual letters repeated over a page that are at least acceptable in quality.

Categories: art, writing Tags:

December 31st, 2007 No comments

Armamentarium 1: the equipment and methods used, esp. in medicine
2: matter available or utilized for an undertaking or field of activity–“a whole armamentarium of devices”

Categories: words, writing Tags:

October 25th, 2007 No comments

HTML-Expanding Thumbnail Images. Highslide is javascript for putting a thumbnail image to show up in your HMTL page and for another, larger, file, to appear if it’s clicked upon. (Click here to read more.)

Categories: HTML, software, weblogs, writing Tags:

October 17th, 2007 No comments

Negative Reviews and Inframarginal Subsidies for Investment. MR emailed me recently asking me to look at part of a review by RM of his recent book. As you can see, the review says the book’s theory is “remarkable”, quotes at length including a diagram, and then implies that the theory is wrong, without saying why. (Click here to read more.)

Categories: finance, Japan, price theory, reviews, writing Tags:

Is Not Necessarily Equal To

October 4th, 2007 4 comments

At lunch at Nuffield I was just asking MM about some math notation I’d like: a symbol for “is not necessarily equal to”. For example, and economics paper might show the following:

Proposition: Stocks with equal risks might or might not have the same returns. In the model’s notation, x IS NOT NECESSARILY EQUAL TO y.

Click here to read more

Categories: math, notation, statistics, writing Tags:

Shoulder Muscles and Handwriting

September 29th, 2007 No comments

"Tips for improving your handwriting," by Dyas A. Lawson sounds worth trying.Click here to read more

Categories: beauty, handwriting, writing Tags: