Making them up as I go (2)

1. Tell the truth.
2. Entice, or fail.
3. To emphasize, summarize.
4. If it ain't short, it don't work.
5. Be clear.


And so I don't forget:
Don't explain. Just tell a story.
Don't argue. Just say things that make sense.
Expect people to be bored by the writing, and shorten it.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Hints on how to write papers and blue books


I don't write blue books, not for a while. The title here is taken from J.P.Sommerville. The hints and tips may be found here. I like his first three general points:
  1. Answer the question
  2. Organize your answer
  3. Be precise

It seems I tend to drift a bit, especially at the opening. I need to think more about cutting out the drifty parts of what I've written, leaving only the parts I want people to focus on. In other words: Answer the question.

I'll try to remember.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Illiterate versus Just Plain Stupid

From W3Schools: "Tip: The <div> element is very often used together with CSS, to layout a web page."

No. Unacceptable. It has to be this way: "Tip: The <div> element is very often used together with CSS, to lay out a web page."

"Lay out" has to be two words. Why? IMAGINE THAT YOU ARE DOING IT. Then you have to be able to say: "I am laying out the web page." Two words.

It would be obviously wrong to say "I am layouting the web page." It would be stupid. I know the Age of Reason is behind us and all, but that doesn't mean this has to be the Age of Stupidity. Don't go there.

It would be okay to say "I am working on the layout" because the layout is a thing. But you would never say "I am workoning the layout," right?

Saturday, April 15, 2017

"This is reality, whether you like it or not."

The title is from Willa Cather, at Orange Crate Art. It reminds me...

I worked for a time with a bunch of foreigners, Czechs from Czechoslovakia, from before the days of the Czech Republic. There were minor problems with the language.

The boss and his number one man didn't get along at all. Number one never liked anything the boss thought we should do. One time the boss said we should do so-and-so. Number one responded, saying "I don't like that..."

The boss replied, saying we would do it anyway, "whether you don't like it or not."

It was just perfect.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Maybe a comma after "literally" would help

Some years back, in The Atlantic:
But the federal government stuck to its guns, literally suppressing an armed anti-tax uprising in western Pennsylvania in 1794, known as the Whiskey Rebellion.
That sentence would have been so much better if the word "literally" applied to the imagery of sticking to guns, rather than to the fact of suppressing a rebellion.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

WHEN and THEN it is

some phrases on phrasing

so i am talking about inflation in the 1970s
and the policy response to inflation
and how policy sometimes creates a recession

and i get to the point where i say
if policy creates a recession
then the resulting unemployment is due to policy

but i go back and change
"if policy creates a recession" to
"when policy creates a recession"
because the words are stronger

by logic i should say
"if this, then that"
but now i have when and then

we did get recessions in the 70s
so 'when' is not wrong, but
IF this THEN that is BASIC

it bothers me a little
evidently, for i am writing
but i'm sticking with when and then

Thursday, January 26, 2017

"Narrative Economics"

From Narrative Economics and the Laffer Curve by Timothy Taylor:
The point of Shiller's talk is that while a homo sapiens discussion of the empirical evidence behind the Laffer curve can be interesting in its own way, understanding the political and cultural impulse behind tax-cutting from the late 1970s up to the present requires genuine intellectual openness to a homo narrativus explanation--that is, an understanding of what narratives have force at certain times, how such narratives come into being, why the narratives are powerful, and how the narratives affect various forms of economic behavior.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Fiscal versus Physical, and something else

Fiscal: TWO syllables. FISS-CUL

Physical: THREE syllables. FIZZ-UH-CUL

Too many football players say the word physical with only two syllables. Too many economists say the word fiscal with three syllables. These people are specialists. How can they confuse those words? How dare they!

Here's another one:

Systemic: Three syllables. To me the word means within the system.

Systematic: Four syllables. To me the word means regularly and repeatedly, as if the result of a basic misunderstanding.

If a problem is "systemic" (three syllables) it means the problem is within the system.

If a problem is "systematic" (four syllables) it means the problem is that you misunderstand the system.

In the realm of economics, the difference between "systemic" and "systematic" is particularly important: Is there a problem with the economy, or is the problem that we misunderstand the economy?

Unfortunately, economists too often use the word "systemic" when they mean (or should mean) to say "systematic".

Conveniently, their mistake leads them to think that there is a problem in the economy instead of in their thinking.