Baseball: Two of My Favorite Sayings

I love baseball movies, and I love Bull Durham more than all the rest combined. Here are two sayings by the female protagonist that should explain how I feel about both baseball and the film:

“Walt Whitman once said, ‘I see great things in baseball. It’s our game, the American game. It will repair our losses and be a blessing to us.’ You could look it up.”

“Baseball may be a religion full of magic, cosmic truth, and the fundamental ontological riddles of our time, but it’s also a job.”

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Style, Voice, Tone, and All That

The writer I most admire is David James Duncan, author of The River Why, which I think is the perfect book about fly fishing. He’s worth listening to; the following is from his My Story as told by Water: confessions, druidic rants, reflections, bird-watchings, fish-stalkings, visions, songs and prayers refracting light, from living rivers, in the age of the industrial dark:

“Language has vertical limits. Not just any speaker can pack up his speech and tote it at will to a higher elevation. Where there is a will, there is as often a major embarrassment as there is a way. Like a gymnast on parallel bars, the speaker or writer who successfully conveys exaltation must possess sufficient mental muscle to hoist himself above the level of everyday verbiage without appearing to strain. Again like the gymnast, he must be able to lift all of himself, all by himself.”

What Duncan has done here–and why I quoted him at length–is to eloquently articulate how to elevate your style and tone in the eloquent, articulate style and tone that best serves essayists like you!

"Autism’s First Child"

is the title of an extraordinary article in the current issue of The Atlantic. The authors are both eloquent and sensitive; Donald, the subject, was generous to allow interviews that must have been somewhat stressful. The remarkable community in which he lives is a paradigm of acceptance of what and who’s “different.” You’ll also find it interesting for what it says about current thinking on autism, which may lead you to think about how your own mind works.

We’re No. 12!

A very recent study by the College Board reports that the United States in no longer number one in the percentage of young people with college degrees. Instead, out of 36 developed nations, the U.S. ranks 12th.

An op-ed by New York Times staff columnist Bob Herbert analyzes why here.

Mr. Herbert asserts that students need to take some of the blame. He quotes the president of the College Board, who says that students need to work harder.

Read the column. Think about possibly responding to it in your Essay 3. Or just read it and post a comment here.

If you have a scanner, learn to use it!

Many of you have all-in-one machines with a scan function. Every time, however, I ask someone to e-mail me a scanned item as an attachment, I hear, “Yeah, but I don’t know how to use it.”

You need to learn how, so practice.

Tip: When scanning a multi-page document, save it as a PDF, not as a JPEG. Why? Because a JPEG contains only one page per file; a 10-page paper in 10 different files is inconvenient for both you and me. Learn to make a multi-page PDF, please!

Another reason for learning to create a PDF: A PDF version, unlike a word-processing (DOC) version, cannot be easily changed by the recipient, whereas a DOC version can be.

Neil Gaiman on Writing

“‘For his seventh birthday, Gaiman received C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia series. He later recalled that “I admired his use of parenthetical statements to the reader, where he would just talk to you…I’d think, “Oh, my gosh, that is so cool! I want to do that! When I become an author, I want to be able to do things in parentheses.” I liked the power of putting things in brackets.'”

(Biography Today. Detroit, Michigan: Omnigraphics. 2010. pp. 90–91. ISBN 978-0-7808-1058-7. Cited by Wikipedia, Neil Gaiman entry).