Merry Xmas!

From the great Bryan Garner:

You can buy the new, 5th edition of Garner’s Modern English Usage here.

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This can go a long way

This semester I asked a student of mine who’s in my university’s HR program whether human resources professionals needed to actually like people. (I wish I remember why I asked!)

She told me nobody had ever asked her that question before and then gave it some thought.

“You don’t have to like people. But you need to be empathetic with people.”

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Christmas season comment

I will never get used to the term “anti-woke.”

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This month we begin the eleventh year of No Contest Communications. Tierney set the tone and the theme with her inaugural posts. I especially like “On Being Forgiven.”

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Apropos The Georgia Straight

Dan Savage was not exaggerating the problems faced by alt-weeklies in recent years.

From The Tyee last week:

The crew at the Georgia Straight wrote until the bitter end, filing stories and chronicling Vancouver’s culture after the paycheques stopped flowing and the printer stopped running.

Martin Dunphy’s 32 years at the iconic alt-weekly ended with a 17-minute Zoom call, where he and the dozen-odd staff were unceremoniously fired as a new publisher bought the paper from its bankrupt owners. …

Left behind are Dunphy and his peers, who are owed thousands of dollars each in severance, vacation and unpaid wages with no clear way to recoup the cash.

“When I started at the paper, it was a few pages and we didn’t know if we’d get paid,” said Dunphy, whose first job at the Straight was selling copies of the paper on the cobblestone streets of Gastown for beer money in 1973. “And it ended the same way.”

The Tyee itself is a remarkably good journalistic enterprise that I’ve done my bit to support (should do more, though!):

We’re an independent, online news magazine from BC founded in 2003. We’re devoted to fact-driven stories, reporting and analysis that informs and enlivens our democratic conversation. Our reporting has changed laws, started movements and garnered numerous awards and the respect of our peers and readers. While some journalism gives the last word to power, we try to give the last word to ordinary folks.

Since 2009, Tyee Builders have pitched in to hire extra reporters, boost our coverage of provincial and federal election campaigns, and help grow The Tyee while other newsrooms shrink.

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Savage Love

The prose of Dan Savage is bold and crystal clear – and edifying to a profound degree. It always has been. I started reading his column in the San Francisco’s alt-weekly back in the early 90s and kept up that happy habit after I moved to Vancouver, digging threw the classifieds section in The Georgia Straight, where his column was buttressed by some pretty prurient personal ads.

This week Savage announced that he will no longer syndicate his column on the web. According to the Straight, Savage wrote his publishers and editors:

I want to thank you for running “Savage Love” and for rolling with recent changes. This has been an extraordinarily tough few years for alt weeklies (and for everyone and everything else) and I’ve deeply appreciated your flexibility as I’ve been attempting to adapt.

This isn’t a change I’m making lightly. The truth is that the many publications that ran “Savage Love” did not survive the pandemic — margins narrowed, ad rates had to be slashed, people got laid off. I’ve seen this first-hand at The Stranger [Seattle’s weekly, which Savage edited for years]. 

And that’s why I began giving the column to papers for free at the start of the pandemic, more than two and half years ago. I wish I could continue offering the column for free to appear on your websites. But I need to make this change—a change lots of other writers have already made. But, again, I will still be making the column available for free in print.

This last point touched me deeply. It’s a sentimental but serious salute to the days of publishing during which I made my own first stand.

You will still be able to read Savage’s work online at Savage.Love.

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If you hadn’t noticed …

Here we go again.

Liberals loathe the political Right’s hypocrisy and unfairness. Conservatives loathe the Left’s immorality and delicacy. The groups’ estimations of their own qualities, though, are less precise.

The question of “hypocrisy” is particularly interesting. La Rochefoucauld noted that “hypocrisy is the respect vice pays to virtue.” One can’t be a hypocrite without recognizing that virtue – that morality – exists. This recognition in itself makes hypocrites superior (in their minds) even to decent, noble liberals who discount “morality” as dogmatic and unrealistic. Think of fundamentalist Christians who think that belief in Jesus is the sole criterion to enter heaven; one’s behaviour is beside the point. To the Right hypocrisy is a good thing, and they welcome it, though they don’t typically say so.

– originally posted in basil.CA a few years back …

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Looking for new colleagues

Kwantlen Polytechnic University is a vibrant and splendid place to work. My own department – Applied Communications (in the Melville School of Business) – is looking for two new instructors. We’re a good crowd. Apply here.

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Job-seekers need their “weaker ties”

This is a really interesting study that fortifies an important intuition:

A team of researchers from Stanford, MIT, Harvard, and LinkedIn recently conducted the largest experimental study to date on the impact of digital job sites on the labor market and found that weaker social connections have a greater beneficial effect on job mobility than stronger ties.

A team of Stanford, MIT, and Harvard scientists finds “weaker ties” are more beneficial for job seekers on LinkedIn. 

“A practical implication of the research is that it’s helpful to reach out to people beyond your immediate friends and colleagues when looking for a new job,” explained Erik Brynjolfsson, who is the Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Professor at Stanford University. “People with whom you have weaker ties are more likely to have information or connections that are useful and relevant.”

Brynjolfsson co-led the first large-scale, longitudinal, experimental study on the “strength of weak ties,” one of the most influential social theories of the last 100 years. The “strength of weak ties” theory maintains that infrequent, arms-length relationships – known as weak ties – are more beneficial for employment opportunities, promotions, and wages than strong ties. …

The team’s findings are detailed in a paper, titled A causal test of the strength of weak ties that published this week in the journal Science.

The strength of weak ties theory is based on the idea that weak ties allow distant clusters of people to access novel information that can lead to new opportunities, innovation, and increased productivity. The author of this theory, Mark Granovetter, argued in 1973 that weak ties are particularly helpful in delivering new employment opportunities because they introduce novel labor market information to a broader social network.

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How to write a lede

From the Irish Times:

Having a monarchy next door is a little like having a neighbour who’s really into clowns and has daubed their house with clown murals, displays clown dolls in each window and has an insatiable desire to hear about and discuss clown-related news stories. More specifically, for the Irish, it’s like having a neighbour who’s really into clowns and, also, your grandfather was murdered by a clown.

h/t @atrios

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