Alphabet of the Obsolete

Saw this fun graphic on LinkedIn recently and thought all my word loving peeps would enjoy it too 🙂 Happy Monday!

Wrong Hands

alphabet of the obsolete

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The Old Astronomer To His Pupil by Sarah Williams

A couple months ago I went to a local planetarium for a star watching party and as I gazed upon the sky, I was reminded me of this poem verse, “I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night,” from The Old Astronomer To His Pupil by Sarah Williams. I somewhat forgot about the memory until I was reminded of that night when I saw news of the Falcon 9 launch happening in several days not too far from where I live. The famous verse is often attributed to Galileo Galilei but nope, it’s from Sarah Williams, a 19th century English poet and novelist (I love this verse and astronomy so much I even have a t-shirt of it). Here is the poem in it’s entirety – enjoy!

Reach me down my Tycho Brahé, I would know him when we meet,
When I share my later science, sitting humbly at his feet;
He may know the law of all things, yet be ignorant of how
We are working to completion, working on from then to now.

Pray remember that I leave you all my theory complete,
Lacking only certain data for your adding, as is meet,
And remember men will scorn it, ‘tis original and true,
And the obloquy of newness may fall bitterly on you.

But, my pupil, as my pupil you have learned the worth of scorn,
You have laughed with me at pity, we have joyed to be forlorn,
What for us are all distractions of men’s fellowship and wiles;
What for us the Goddess Pleasure with her meretricious smiles.

You may tell that German College that their honor comes too late,
But they must not waste repentance on the grizzly savant’s fate.
Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.

What, my boy, you are not weeping? You should save your eyes for sight;
You will need them, mine observer, yet for many another night.
I leave none but you, my pupil, unto whom my plans are known.
You “have none but me,” you murmur, and I “leave you quite alone”?

Well then, kiss me, – since my mother left her blessing on my brow,
There has been a something wanting in my nature until now;
I can dimly comprehend it, – that I might have been more kind,
Might have cherished you more wisely, as the one I leave behind.

I “have never failed in kindness”? No, we lived too high for strife,–
Calmest coldness was the error which has crept into our life;
But your spirit is untainted, I can dedicate you still
To the service of our science: you will further it? you will!

There are certain calculations I should like to make with you,
To be sure that your deductions will be logical and true;
And remember, “Patience, Patience,” is the watchword of a sage,
Not to-day nor yet to-morrow can complete a perfect age.

I have sown, like Tycho Brahé, that a greater man may reap;
But if none should do my reaping, ’twill disturb me in my sleep
So be careful and be faithful, though, like me, you leave no name;
See, my boy, that nothing turn you to the mere pursuit of fame.

I must say Good-bye, my pupil, for I cannot longer speak;
Draw the curtain back for Venus, ere my vision grows too weak:
It is strange the pearly planet should look red as fiery Mars,–
God will mercifully guide me on my way amongst the stars.

If You Want Quality Writing, Stop Offering Crap Pay

I was scrolling through freelance writing job posts on LinkedIn yesterday and I came across one that struck a nerve with me. Not because of the company or content topics, but the compensation…$5 for 400 words?! Are you kidding me??? That’s not even minimum wage. I know compensation in freelance work is a tricky subject, especially when it comes to writing. Per word rates and flat fees vary but even $0.01 per word (what the rate in the job post breaks down to) is appallingly low by most standards.freelance writer job ad.jpgQuality content, especially when research is involved, takes time. The sad thing is this isn’t the first time I’ve seen this happen before. The only people I can see accepting this pay rate is people from other countries. Now, there’s nothing wrong with hiring people from overseas but don’t be surprised if there are grammatical errors, plagiarism, and bad/outdated SEO practices like keyword stuffing.

I understand that if you’re a startup or small business, it might be hard to justify paying an experienced freelance writer at a higher rate than somebody who’s cheap. Really, I get it. But you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it in the end. Cutting corners on your content (whether it’s for your website, videos, or sales collateral) may benefit you in the short term, but it won’t lead to more sales in the future and it could even damage your brand’s image.

I think Kristina Halvorson, CEO and founder of Brain Traffic, sums it up best: “Better content means better business.”

A Letter to a Prospective Lexicographer

Curiosity about lexicographers struck me today when I watched a video in my Facebook news feed about the difficulty of defining millennials’ usage of “basic” from the point of view of a lexicographer. I started to wonder, “How does someone become a lexicographer? Maybe this something I can do?!” But after reading this very interesting post, I think I will just admire this calling from afar.

harm·less drudg·ery

We regularly receive letters from people who want an editorial job at M-W and ask for more information on lexicography. It’s my job to answer those letters. Here is the response I wish I could send.

Thank you for your interest in becoming an editor at Merriam-Webster.  I am happy to share some information on the field of lexicography with you.

There are only three formal requirements for becoming a Merriam-Webster editor. First, we respectfully ask that you be a native speaker of English. I think I should break this to you now, before you begin shopping for tweeds and practicing your “tally ho what”: we focus primarily on American English. It’s not that we don’t like British English and its speakers. Indeed, we have an instinctual, deep love for any people who, upon encountering a steamed pudding with currants in it for the first time, thought, “The name of…

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Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr with Poetry

I was scrolling through Facebook this morning at MLK Day posts and I came across this poem from singer Chris Crocker. I loved it so much I just had to share it. Dr. King is such an inspiration and I think his words are as relevant today as they were when Dr. King was alive. Although he’s not physically with us anymore, Dr. King’s message and character will live on forever.

mlk-poem-chris-crocker

Source: facebook.com/ChrisCrockerOFFICIAL

When Running Was for Weirdos [Video]

Over the last couple years, I’ve gotten into running partly from my desire to get fit but also because races are actually pretty fun! So far, I’ve completed two half marathons (currently training for my third), one 15k, five 10ks, and numerous 5ks. Running is so popular nowadays that it’s hard to imagine that it wasn’t too long ago when people would have thought you were weird if you liked to run for exercise, let alone enjoyment. That’s why I thought this video from Vox was an eye-opener, and it made me appreciate those who dared to stap on their sneakers and leave the haters in their dust. Check it out!

The “Avoid Adverbs” Rule is (Very) Wrong

Ahhh…the poor maligned adverb. I completely agree with Matt Moore’s 2012 post (and not just because we share the same last name) that there is a time and place for adverbs. Yes, we should avoid sloppy writing and be precise with our words, but that doesn’t mean adverbs should be avoided at all costs. On the contrary, adverbs are a basic tenet of language. “To advise young writers to get rid of all their adverbs is like advising a pitcher with four great pitches to throw only three of them — it’s professional suicide,” Cris Freese, Writer’s Digest.

Matt Moore

Nope, wrong

As a writer, you’ve heard the “rule” about never using adverbs. This rule is wrong for two reasons:

  1. There is nothing wrong with adverbs.
  2. There are no rules in writing… unless you are a weak writer.

What’s wrong with adverbs?

Not using adverbs is the bastard mutant off-spring of some excellent writing advice: be  precise in your wording.

  • Don’t say “very big”. Say “enormous” or “huge”.
  • Don’t say “said quietly” but rather “whispered”.

“Very big” is sloppy writing. I agree with that.

I also agree that adverbs can distance the reader or fill in details the reader should be filling in. Mark Landen knocks this idea out of the park in his blog post.

But this does not mean you have to excise an element of grammar. Eliminating adverbs is like eliminating gerunds, adjectives or any grammatical form. That is, there’s a difference between taking issue with…

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