“But the very desire to automate personal sentiment through plagiarized algorithmic authorship exemplifies disregard for too many things: the art of conversation, the sincerity of conviction, the effort required to make caring gestures, and, frankly, the respectful acknowledgement that underlies meaningful gestures of etiquette.”—Google’s Creepy Patent to Automate Your Social Media Voice
“Small human beings learn by mimicking and so they learn patience by mimicking patience. Perhaps this means that a larger human being somewhere many thousands of generations back took a long and patient breath as the smaller human being in his or her arms squirmed. Perhaps the smaller human being saw this long and patient breath and internalized it and began to understand. Perhaps all of the patience in the world is a copy of one sigh.”—Paul Ford, What I’ve learned from fatherhood
“Writing is hard work. A clear sentence is no accident. Very few sentences come out right the first time, or even the third time. Remember this in moments of despair. If you find that writing is hard, it’s because it is hard.”—William Zinsser, On Writing Well
“I think the big downside of today’s ambient contact is that it makes us too present-focussed. Psychologists talk about something called “recency”—our tendency to assume that whatever is happening to us right now is the most important thing going on. It’s a long-standing bias in our psychology, long predating the Internet. But modern media have made it worse. By “modern” I’m beginning with, probably, the telegraph, and certainly the newspaper. When you read the novels of the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century, they’re already complaining about people being far too fascinated with the events of the day instead of paying attention to history. And this got seismically worse once cable TV realized that you could keep everyone riveted to their seat with live coverage of basically anything.”—Clive Thompson
“When my wife and I found out that we were having a girl—and I hope this doesn’t sound sexist or anything—the women I talked to all said the same thing: “Never be afraid to hug your daughter.” They told me to hug her so much more than I think I should. It might seem weird, but no little girl says, “My dad hugged me too much.”—Merlin Mann on The Great Discontent
“The story—from Rapunzel to War and Peace—is one of the basic tools invented by the human mind, for the purpose of gaining understanding. There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.”—Ursula K. Le Guin
“Our society has reoriented itself to the present moment. Everything is live, real time, and always-on. It’s not a mere speeding up, however much our lifestyles and technologies have accelerated the rate at which we attempt to do things. It’s more of a diminishment of anything that isn’t happening right now—and the onslaught of everything that supposedly is.”—Douglas Rushkoff, Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now
“So, let us not be blind to our differences. But let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”—John F. Kennedy
Undeterred in the face of all odds, undaunted by the fear of failure, and forged in the battlefields of some of the most terrifyingly technical, and capital intensive challenges that any human being could choose to take on. Somehow he comes out alive, every time - with the others guy’s head on a platter. […]
So if you work for Elon you have to accept the discomfort. But in that discomfort is the kind of growth you can’t get anywhere else, and worth every ounce of blood and sweat.
“The only rule that ever made sense to me I learned from a history, not an economics, professor at Wharton. “Fear,” he used to say, “fear is the most valuable commodity in the universe.” That blew me away. “Turn on the TV,” he’d say. “What are you seeing? People selling their products? No. People selling the fear of you having to live without their products.” Fuckin’ A, was he right. Fear of aging, fear of loneliness, fear of poverty, fear of failure. Fear is the most basic emotion we have. Fear is primal. Fear sells. That was my mantra. “Fear sells.”—World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
“Comfort sells easier than happiness. Comfort is easy. It requires no effort and no work. Happiness takes effort. It requires being proactive, confronting fears, facing difficult situations, and having unpleasant conversations.”—10 Things Most Americans Don’t Know About America
This is where I currently am with my book. Caught in the sheer undiluted slog of Part 3, where every sentence feels difficult, forced, and wrong. I can only hope I get through to some easier ground soon…
You can’t create without waste and mess and sheer undiluted slog. You can’t create without pain. It’s all part of the process, it’s in the nature of things. So in the end every major disaster, every tiny error, every wrong turning, every fragment of discarded clay, all the blood, sweat, and tears – everything has meaning. I give it meaning. I reuse, reshape, recast all that goes wrong so that in the end nothing is wasted and nothing is without significance and nothing ceases to be precious to me.
“We live in a world made up more of story than stuff. We are creatures of memory more than reminders, of love more than likes. Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be messy, and painful, and almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die.”—How Not to Be Alone
“Additionally, the feeling that something must be complained about in order to be understood is a terrible way to live. There is no happiness in nitpicking something to the point where it’s no longer enjoyable. When nothing is “good enough”, nothing is good.”—Thoughts On iOS 7 “Why Wasn’t I Consulted?” Edition
“It’s so pathetic to me when somebody has to feel envy for someone else’s apparent success, not knowing anything about that person’s actual life. To go out and vilify that person because they’ve done something valuable. I think that’s such a small thing, and it makes you such a small person to try and take out the long knives and go after somebody like that. And shame on anybody who does that.”—Merlin Mann in Back to Work #120, commenting on negative reactions to Marco Arment's recent success (selling Instapaper and The Magazine, benefiting from the sale of Tumblr).
“Whatever you now find weird, ugly, uncomfortable and nasty about a new medium will surely become its signature. CD distortion, the jitteriness of digital video, the crap sound of 8-bit - all of these will be cherished and emulated as soon as they can be avoided. It’s the sound of failure: so much modern art is the sound of things going out of control, of a medium pushing to its limits and breaking apart. The distorted guitar sound is the sound of something too loud for the medium supposed to carry it. The blues singer with the cracked voice is the sound of an emotional cry too powerful for the throat that releases it. The excitement of grainy film, of bleached-out black and white, is the excitement of witnessing events too momentous for the medium assigned to record them.”— Brian Eno, A Year With Swollen Appendices (via volumexii)
“The enormous multiplication of books in every branch of knowledge is one of the greatest evils of this age; since it presents one of the most serious obstacles to the acquisition of correct information by throwing in the reader’s way piles of lumber in which he must painfully grope for the scraps of useful lumber.”—Edgar Allen Poe
“Taking someone’s idea, saying it’s horrible and bypassing any kind of discussion that may come from it is not the way things should work—especially within a community as close as ours.”—Shawn Wilkins, We Disagree and That’s Okay
Every night, just before I turn off the light, I read a few pages of a crappy novel — usually some really bad spy thriller. It takes me months to get through each book because I’m so tired at the end of the day that I rarely last more than 5 minutes before I pass out. And yet I do this, and I enjoy it, because in a weird way it keeps me sane. I spend so much of my work day reading, writing, talking, and processing, that these five minutes of fluff at then end of each day is a respite I look forward to.
So, anyway, that’s my excuse for why I recently read The Hit by David Baldacci. It’s really, really bad. But I just couldn’t stop. The plot screams B-grade action movie (hey, who doesn’t love those?), and the writing is so bad that at times I wondered if it would affect my own ability to write coherently.
I started reading some of the worst lines from the book to my wife, and it was so entertaining that I decided to go ahead and highlight each of those passages.
After careful consideration it would appear that David Baldacci is particularly concerned that his readers might not have the ability to understand the meaning of the most basic words in the English language. Here’s a few examples of actual lines from the book:
Jessica Reel had left New York and flown to D.C. She had done this because what she had to do next had to be done here.
He headed directly east, which was the direction he needed to go.
Robie looked past her. There was a set of exit doors there. Had to be a way out.
When the man had said he’d killed a potential assassin, Decker knew that the man was not exaggerating. He had killed the man.
They watched military aircraft soaring overhead and dropping bombs, which destroyed targets on the ground.
There were three ways to approach the mission. For a mission was what Jessica Reel was on.
And, just for fun, the analogy that I’m still most confused about:
Doug Jacobs’s life spread across his screen like blood on a test strip.
So, there you have it. I posted a few passages from The Hit because posting a few passages from The Hit is what I wanted to do.