5 writing tips from A. Lincoln

February 26, 2008

lincolns-sword.jpegOne way to improve your writing is to read good writers. Occasionally, if you are lucky, you come across a book on how a great writer writes. Such is Lincoln’s Sword by Douglas L. Wilson. No American president’s writings are so well known as those of Abraham Lincoln. His First and Second Inaugurals, and the Gettysburg address survive in part for the music of Lincoln’s words. But that music served a purpose; his style served the content masterfully. Here are a few things any beginning writer can learn from Abraham Lincoln, as revealed by Douglas Wilson. Read the rest of this entry »


What’s the one book on teaching you really need?

February 23, 2008

Teaching is complex. It is a craft–a series of tricks and habits. It is a social skill–requiring empathy and listening. It is an art–rewarding intuition and the ability to conjur a metaphor.

Not surprisingly, most people suck at teaching at the outset. Good teaching has a steep learning curve.

When I sat down to put together a reading list on becoming a good teacher, it struck me that almost everything on the Reading List page thus far, and everything that will follow, qualifies. Teaching is that multivariate.

So I simplified the problem. What is the one book that every beginning graduate student should read, nay, inhale, to make the most progress toward good teaching in a short period of time? Read the rest of this entry »


QoTD: Edward Tufte on the perfect scientific graphic

February 22, 2008

“Simple design, intense content.”


Two secrets to a long, healthy life: exercise and…umm…

February 21, 2008

Calvin CoolidgeA colleague of mine who knows a bit about the evolutionary biology of ethanol use, forwarded me a recent article in the European Heart Journal, entitled “The combined influence of leisure-time physical activity and weekly alcohol intake on fatal ischaemic heart disease and all-cause mortality.”

The upshot? Light to moderate physical activity (>4 h week) combined with moderate alcohol intake (4-10 drinks/week) minimized rates heart attacks and death in general in a sample of 19,329 Copenhagans. Abstention from alcohol, or 19-41 drinks/week, both tended to increase mortality in a similar fashion.

News you can use. Now it’s time for my martini.


The GTDA blogroll–43 Folders

February 21, 2008

I don’t have a huge blogroll at this site, largely because a long blogroll buries the sites that are consistently, absolutely, worth checking out on a regular basis. One such site is Merlin Mann’s 43 Folders. I like this site because Mann is tech savvy, funny, and not afraid to experiment.

The other thing I like is that 43 Folders is a wee bit agnostic about Getting Things Done, the time management system that inspired the nifty title of this blog. Ultimately, your system is your system–a series of tips and habits that accrue in your toolkit because they allow you to work effectively and increase your happiness. Toward that end, one of my goals here is to point out some promising stuff to add to your toolkit. And 43 Folders is so consistently, over the top useful, that it resides in the GTDA blogroll.

If you haven’t visited 43 Folders lately, here is a good place to start. A recent mention by NPR spurred Merlin to highlight some of the better posts on the subject of GTD. Enjoy.


There are some memes which must be…transmitted

February 21, 2008

Recovering from two back-to-back very excellent visits to colleagues  (see mental health days).

h/t Boing Boing


Saturday schadenfreude

February 16, 2008

When things just aren’t going right, find some small solace that your job does not include painting the meanest bird on the planet.