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Shady Characters – The secret life of punctuation

Shady Characters – The secret life of punctuation
Related:  Read laterLiterature and the ABC'S or writing it.

Why so many scientists are so ignorant Sign Up for Our free email newsletters Science has enormous cachet and authority in our culture — for very understandable reasons! One recent example is Bill Nye, the "Science Guy," who isn't actually a scientist but owes his career as a popular entertainer to his purported scientific expertise. As Olivia Goldhill points out in Quartz, Nye's answer was as self-assured as it was stunningly ignorant. The video, which made the entire U.S. philosophy community collectively choke on its morning espresso, is hard to watch, because most of Nye's statements are wrong. Nye fell into the same trap that Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Stephen Hawking have been caught up in. There's obviously a grain of truth in this. More to the point, and more practically, all of the institutions that make modern life possible, very much including experimental science, but also things like free-market capitalism, the welfare state, liberal democracy, human rights, and more, are built on philosophy.

Story Starters, Creative Writing Ideas for Fiction Looking for story starters and creative writing ideas? You've just struck gold. Here you'll find an endless supply of inspiration. Take a moment to bookmark this page so that you can find it again whenever you need new ideas. Also be sure to check out our free 3-day online creative writing course, Endless Story Ideas, which will show you techniques to come up with new fiction ideas whenever you need them. Do you like this page? Story Starters Not sure what to write about? Or get started with these Ideas for Characters, Ideas for Plots, and "What If" Story Starters. Find out about two magic phrases that make it easy to come up with great story ideas. Get 20 ideas that answer the question, "What happens next?" Browse Story Prompts About Obsessions, Life Changes, Talents, Travel, Relationships, Secrets and Habits. Use our fun Story Ideas Kit to create mix-and-match story plots. If you're looking for more detailed creative writing ideas, read on. And... Other Creative Writing Ideas Break it down

Steven Pinker: 10 'grammar rules' it's OK to break (sometimes) Among the many challenges of writing is dealing with rules of correct usage: whether to worry about split infinitives, fused participles, and the meanings of words such as "fortuitous", "decimate" and "comprise". Supposedly a writer has to choose between two radically different approaches to these rules. Prescriptivists prescribe how language ought to be used. They uphold standards of excellence and a respect for the best of our civilisation, and are a bulwark against relativism, vulgar populism and the dumbing down of literate culture. It's a catchy dichotomy, but a false one. But this does not mean that every pet peeve, bit of grammatical folklore, or dimly remembered lesson from Miss Thistlebottom's classroom is worth keeping. How can you distinguish the legitimate concerns of a careful writer from the folklore and superstitions? A rule should be rejected, in contrast, if the answer to any of the following questions is "Yes." and, because, but, or, so, also dangling modifiers

How to Write a Screenplay In this installment of A Writer’s Voice we’re going to be looking at Blue Ruin, a nice little indie thriller by Jeremy Saulnier. What’s interesting about Blue Ruin is that its main character, Dwight, does not arc in the traditional way. He doesn’t change in the way that screenplay characters typically change. In fact, the primary journey of Blue Ruin is built around... As a producer and script consultant who reads hundreds of screenplays, one of the most common weaknesses in the majority of scripts I review has to do with dialogue that is expositional, or what we call “on the nose” — where characters state exactly what they are thinking and feeling, or tell us information... With June now safely behind us, the 2013-2014 school year is officially over. The monologue is a staple of theater dating back to the ancient Greeks, but has been taboo in cinema almost from the start. When something traumatic happens, it’s said that we all experience the five stages of grief.

The Ancient Roots of Punctuation In his new book, “Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols & Other Typographical Marks,” Keith Houston reveals the stories behind esoteric punctuation marks, from the pilcrow (¶) to the manicule (☞) to the octothorpe, a.k.a. the hashtag. Many of these have their roots in ancient Greece or Rome, and have evolved over time in Medieval religious texts, Renaissance scholarship, and modern printed works (not to mention the Internet). Here, Houston, who lives in Scotland and also runs a Shady Characters blog, tells the origin stories of some of these marks. Octothorpe (#) Left, from the pen of Isaac Newton; right, detail from Johann Conrad Barchusen’s “Pyrosophia” (1698). The story of the hashtag begins sometime around the fourteenth century, with the introduction of the Latin abbreviation “lb,” for the Roman term libra pondo, or “pound weight.” Pilcrow (¶) Excerpt from a page from Villanova University’s “Rudimenta Grammaticæ” (1500). Ampersand (&) Manicule (☞) Diple (>)

25 Things Every Writer Should Know An alternate title for this post might be, “Things I Think About Writing,” which is to say, these are random snidbits (snippets + tidbits) of beliefs I hold about what it takes to be a writer. I hesitate to say that any of this is exactly Zen (oh how often we as a culture misuse the term “Zen” — like, “Whoa, that tapestry is so cool, it’s really Zen“), but it certainly favors a sharper, shorter style than the blathering wordsplosions I tend to rely on in my day-to-day writing posts. Anyway. Peruse these. Absorb them into your body. Feel free to disagree with any of these; these are not immutable laws. Buckle up. 1. The Internet is 55% porn, and 45% writers. 2. A lot of writers try to skip over the basics and leap fully-formed out of their own head-wombs. 3. 4. I have been writing professionally for a lucky-despite-the-number 13 years. 5. Luck matters. 6. Nobody becomes a writer overnight. 7. Your journey to becoming a writer is all your own. 8. 9. 10. Value is a tricky word. 11. 12.

What Should We Call Self-Driving Cars? I’ve been writing about humanless carriages a lot recently. Okay, I know, “humanless carriages” is not an actual thing that people say. There are instead “driverless cars,” and “self-driving vehicles.” If driverless cars do eventually take over the roads, what will it do to the way we talk about driving? “A driver could come to mean the machine that drives just as a computer is a machine that computes,” Alexis Madrigal wrote for The Atlantic in 2014. It’s certainly less clunky than “autonomous,” or “self-driving,” and more precise than “driverless.” More than a century ago, there was a long debate over what motorcars should be called. This was, apparently, a matter that got people riled up. The goal was to find a term that was, the Times said, “at once significant, euphonious, and short.” “Of this wretched pair,” the Times groused, “it is hard to tell which is the more obnoxious. Here in the future, we face a similar etymological conundrum.

Beyond Your Blog: Freelancing, Getting Paid to Write, and Writing for Free If you’d like, jump to a section within this post: Many of you are growing as writers and seek opportunities beyond your blog. To continue this conversation, let’s talk about freelancing and getting paid to write, and the flip side of this: writing for free and exposure. We’ve rounded up four working writers who offer different perspectives on the business of writing: Julie Schwietert Collazo, a bilingual writer/editor who has written for publications such as National Geographic Traveler and Scientific American, blogs at Cuaderno Inedito.Caitlin Kelly, a National Magazine Award winner and frequent contributor to the New York Times, blogs at Broadside.Kristen Hansen Brakeman, a writer who has contributed to the Washington Post and the New York Times‘ Motherlode, blogs at Lee Luskin, an award-winning novelist and radio commentator, blogs at Live to Write — Write to Live: a collaborative blog for the New Hampshire Writers’ Network. I work on my novel till lunch.

Lengua española y periodismo (II) Hay un hecho de gran relevancia que los periodistas latinoamericanos y españoles creo que deberíamos tener muy presente. Hay tres lenguas de impregnación universal en Occidente: inglés, por encima largamente de todos, francés, en relativa decadencia, y español, cada día más pujante, con sus 450 millones de hablantes en todo el mundo. Y, así, el periodista que pueda ganarse la vida con esa lengua parte de una plataforma, un trampolín, superior a lo que pueda exhibir no importa qué otro idioma, sin excluir grandes expresiones culturales como alemán, italiano o ruso, del ámbito europeo. Por eso me parece urgente que, sobre todo nosotros los periodistas, seamos conscientes de la necesidad de mantener una unidad viable de la lengua, aunque siempre respetuosa del genio particular de cada área reproductora del castellano. Y ¿cuál es el estado, la salud de una lengua tan múltiple? Yo diría que básicamente bueno, aunque siempre necesitado de alguna atención.

How To Become a Professional Blogger First of all, What is a pro blogger? Good question. For the purpose of this tutorial, we’ll describe a professional blogger as someone who makes their living by blogging. For many, it is a dream job. Because it can take a while for a new blog to get established, many bloggers look for paid blogging jobs. 7 Steps to Being a Professional Blogger: 1. Your niche is important. What if you are already blogging? 2. This goes without saying. Many full time bloggers run 2, 3 or more blogs. Ready to start your blog? 3. Like every professional, a pro blogger should take the time to improve their skills. Here are three top bloggers who write about running a successful blog. And while it’s good to learn about blogging, there are other skills you’ll need. 4. If you are interested in contract blogging, take the time to search out the right opportunities. This list of paid blogging jobs is a great place to start. 5. While it’s nice to get paid for writing, it will be hard at first. 6. 7.

Getting Sick in Venezuela Has Become a Death Sentence For her 13th birthday, my wife Marianella was given a child’s Swiss Army watch with a glow-in-the-dark dial. This portable treasure would soon become one of her only possessions. Seven weeks later, she was evacuated from her rooftop by helicopter as her hometown, Los Corales, and most of her friends and neighbors, were swept into the Caribbean Sea. An estimated 30,000 souls lost their lives to the torrential rains, mudslides and flooding that befell Venezuela’s Vargas state in December 1999, although we will never know precisely how many. We’ll likewise never know how many of the lost might have been saved had the country’s newly elected president, Hugo Chávez, not spurned offers of U.S. assistance on ideological grounds. In so doing, he turned back hundreds of American military engineers along with their equipment — the most advanced naval and logistical support on the planet. For all Chávez’s many faults, this may have been his most unforgivable crime. Venezuela must do likewise.

13 Browser-Based Tools For Writers Portability and accessibility are important for writers. You never know when inspiration will hit, and when it does you don’t want to be caught off guard. Professional software suites can be nice but often times are overkill, localized, and more hassle than they’re worth. Browser-based writing tools are available no matter where you go. Whether you need help with organization, a way to kill distractions, or a clean slate on which to write your words, these tools will prove useful to all of you who write on a regular basis. Organizational Tools Organization is the key to effective writing. Mindmappers. Writing Tools Writing is not a high-maintenance activity. Distraction-free editors. Productivity Tools It’s easy to write. Pomodoro Technique. Utility Tools In addition to all of the above, there are a slew of writing-related tools on the web that are unique enough to warrant their own categories. Wordcounter. Did you find any of these web-based writing tools to be useful?