Re: Some of you may find this amusing

1

I think they never got past the second page, neb.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 11:43 AM
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2

By then they were already fully enlightened.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 11:48 AM
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3

But what is it, that it does efficiently?


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 11:58 AM
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4

That's actually awesome, neb. Congrats.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 12:04 PM
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5

But wait, "efficient" wasn't a back-handed compliment, was it? Was it code for "boring"?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 12:14 PM
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No, but it was sort of back-handed, being code for "you don't give the reader any help by, e.g., repeating or even highlighting as such the important parts".


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 12:19 PM
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Ah. Okay. So is that a problem as such?

"Let us review: ..."

Heh. But yeah, I don't know if I'd take that seriously or not. On the one hand, it can be helpful to you, the writer, to revisit the outline, so to speak. On the other hand, well, it can be helpful to the reader as well.

I was told back in the day that I moved too quickly, that I could use some shorter sentences (!), and/or transitional paragraphs providing review and setting the stage for the next onslaught section. Good advice overall.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 12:27 PM
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8

It may mean that your 55 pages, if not your individual sentences, are too dense, as in tightly-packed. Unpack more.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 12:32 PM
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9

He went over in greater detail what it means, parsimon.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 12:34 PM
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10

Yes, sorry.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 12:40 PM
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11

Your prose is efficient at achieving its intended purpose.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 1:43 PM
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12

neb, don't ever change.


Posted by: text | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 2:14 PM
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13

11. Funny. I was thinking of exactly that a few hours ago. Heck, when AFOE did one recently with a similar title,m I felt they should have linked that masterpiece.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 2:31 PM
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14

m


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 2:32 PM
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15

12: Least necessary advice ever.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 2:42 PM
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16

The 55 pages were his complete, unabridged translation of Das Kapital.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 5:10 PM
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complete, unabridged

See, that's the kind of redundancy that an efficient writer eschews.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 5:55 PM
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18

Not really. You could have the unabridged first volume or something.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 5:58 PM
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19

I suppose, but it would be rather odd to do an unabridged translation of only one part of a work.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 6:01 PM
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20

Usually, but most people only read the tennis school part of Das Kapital.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 6:03 PM
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21

I assume the beginning of the piece was "Call me neb."


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 6:21 PM
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22

"It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 6:29 PM
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23

You could print it double spaced, and cut the density in half.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 6:48 PM
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24

These comments are pretty efficient, and not 55 pages long.


Posted by: Merganser | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 7:41 PM
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25

These comments are pretty efficient

The thread should just be closed now.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 8:00 PM
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26

25: Right. Lest we start belaboring and repeating points in a foolish and inefficient manner. So yes, I'd like to highlight the fact that the suggestion to close the thread now is the most important part of thread.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 8:17 PM
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27

I think "efficient writing" describes perfectly what I dislike about the Bible, in a literary sense. People are always telling you (well, they're telling me) that it's an excellent story apart from its religious connotations, but don't you believe them.

Everything that happens in the Bible gets one verse -- nothing is so insignificant that it's condensed, and few are so important that they're expanded on even slightly. In the Passion in Matthew 27 for instance, it's just a staccato series of events (...and then they took him to Golgotha and then they gave him vinegar to drink and then they crucified him and then they cast lots for his clothes...

I know it's supposed to be a chronicle of sorts, but it gets to the point where you want to say "tell me more about this, if it's supposed to be so important! Enlarge."

(And then they go and give you 4 biographies of Christ and two creation stories that parrot one another half the time, and contradict one another the other half. That is not what I wanted guys.)


Posted by: Ace-K | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 11:39 PM
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28

I don't really understand 27. The Bible is a huge document written by many people over the course of centuries in a wide varieties of genres and styles. I don't think it's possible to generalize much about its literary style.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 11:43 PM
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29

Then let's say the gospels in particular?


Posted by: Ace-K | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 11:44 PM
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30

I think yu could say that about the Gospels. Even the times Jesus is telling stories he does it in a really barebones way.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 11:46 PM
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31

Sure, I suppose that's a reasonable take on the Gospels.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 11:49 PM
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32

Efficiency is next to godliness. The trinity is the highest example example of the division of labor.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06-20-10 11:57 PM
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33

I don't know. It seems to me like a triune god is just another way of saying "heavy multitasker."


Posted by: Ace-K | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 12:26 AM
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34

My professional school hammers in the need for incessant signposting: "First, tell them what you're going to do. Then, do it. Then, tell them what you just did." This is with lazy/busy readers in mind, though.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 6:40 AM
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35

Did you just say something, Minivet?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 6:44 AM
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36

Executive summary: takeaways first, reasoning next, details last.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 6:58 AM
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37

A German professor once wrote in comments on a paper that my writing is "klar und einfach, ohne Schnörkel." (Paper in English, comments in German.) Ohne Schnörkel! I was pretty proud of that comment.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 7:02 AM
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38

I want to work at one of those companies where they condense the important books that all the ceo's are reading into just ten pages. even such masterpieces as who else moved my cheese? or whatever. executive summary. they advertise on the plane.


Posted by: alameida | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 9:55 AM
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39

The busy CEO only needs to know where the cheese is now, not who moved it or why.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 9:57 AM
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40

Well, and where it will be, going forward.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 10:17 AM
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41

On a going-forward basis, you mean.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 10:18 AM
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42

If you use the cheese as collateral, you don't have to worry about where the cheese is after the loan papers are signed.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 10:21 AM
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43

And the bank doesn't need to worry about where the cheese is because it can buy default insurance.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 10:23 AM
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44

43: sure, until the proliferation of synthetic cheese products triggers a collapse in the subprime nacho market.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 10:26 AM
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45

Once the loan papers are signed you have a duty to the lender to maintain the cheese, so you need to worry even more about where it is.

Of course, the market collapses always end with the GSEs taking on all the private cheese loans and ultimately foreclosing. Where do you think government cheese comes from?


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 10:29 AM
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46

Then you get government cheese.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 10:29 AM
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47

That government cheese is guaranteed!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 10:30 AM
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48

And uniformly orange.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 10:31 AM
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49

Orange you glad it didn't gouda zero?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 10:32 AM
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50

You win. I can't think of a better cheese pun.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 10:42 AM
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51

I actually don't give edam either way, comte think of it.


Posted by: Mr. Blandings | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 10:42 AM
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52

We all lose when people pun.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 10:50 AM
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53

You fail at improv, Megan.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 10:53 AM
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52: Just for that, I'm going to put the hose in the storm sewer and run it for an hour if you don't post a pun in the next ten minutes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 10:54 AM
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55

Fortunately, you are in a far away Oakland, where I'm told that water is plentiful.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 11:00 AM
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56

I have a cousin somewhere in the bay area (San something), I'll have him do it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 11:01 AM
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57

Whereas I fail at not being prickly. Does Sifu Cranky need a snack? I think so!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 11:08 AM
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58

Storm sewers are the lowest form of water usage.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 11:08 AM
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59

Sure, use puns, but then fail to defend them against the infidels. The economists call that being a free rider.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 11:17 AM
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60

I'd never make it as a CEO. I'm still stuck on the going-forward basis part of the lingo. I guess a person could talk about battle plans. There'd be front lines, maybe rear guards (or is that football?), tactics versus strategy, and powerpoint presentations, for sure. Arrows and circles can be done.

There's also the long and short (-term). Going long and going short. This sounds like football again, actually.

Going with this somewhat idle train of thought, because why not: I don't think I'd noticed before the apparent parallels between football talk and corporate-ese. Back in the day, one noticed, well, Missile Envy (Dr. Helen Caldicott). We are not so much with that kind of language any more; now it's all about teams. I hypothesize.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 11:22 AM
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Probably because you can't say "There is no 'i' in 'Missile Envy.'"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 11:26 AM
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62

You've got to give 110% Assured Destruction, son.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 11:38 AM
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63

Am I the only one who's thinking that Tony Hayward, CEO of BP, was on the verge of nervous breakdown, what with being held personally accountable, such that he had to break off, be relieved, and go to a yacht race?

It strikes me that high-level politicians are routinely subject to the kind of scrutiny Hayward was presented with. Turns out that public service is much more serious than you think it is, and the more the corporate world becomes enmeshed with it, if not downright standing in for it, the more it finds itself stunned by the repercussions.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 11:42 AM
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63: I doubt it, but just in case, we should try to scrutinize more CEOs.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 11:46 AM
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Parsimon, it's only effective if you use, say, half a football metaphor and finish it up with something about fishing. And now I have to get out of this conversation lets I find myself talking about my job.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 1:58 PM
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And now I have to get out of this conversation lets I find myself talking about my job.

Oh dear. My sympathies.

I've found myself watching random episodes of The Office recently, which are not offensive but are also not particularly funny: my response is mostly, "Really? I don't think so. You people aren't actually doing any detectable work, and it's more alarmingly depressing than funny. I don't believe it."

I may not understand what the show's supposed to be doing.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:16 PM
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You people aren't actually doing any detectable work, and it's more alarmingly depressing than funny. I don't believe it.

You know it's fiction, right?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 4:48 PM
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Sure. I thought teh funny was supposed to trade on some resemblance to, some echo of, reality, though. The Office's scenario I just can't believe at all. I haven't seen the original British version, which I understand is hilarious.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 5:06 PM
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The British version is better than the American, I'd say, but they're pretty similar in overall nature. If you don't like one I doubt you'd like the other.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 5:10 PM
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Taken under advisement. The friend who most insistently recommends the British version also highly recommends other things about which I remain silent, so as not to have an argument.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 5:25 PM
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70: Like mutual funds with very high fees and Florida real estate, or just TV shows that suck?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 5:29 PM
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I like the way the Army trains people to deliver the most important bit of information first. Since it's the Army, they need an acronym and an ugly format, so instead of a plain old thesis statement or lede or whatever it's called in other sorts of English prose, you get the "bottom line up front", delivered thus: "BLUF: [thesis/lede]", and after that you don't have to organize or anything.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 5:44 PM
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71: Like Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm, of which I've seen half a dozen episodes, and it's okay, though it's been a few years, actually, since I've seen one, but I'm not inclined to rent the whole series to watch back to back, as has been suggested.

There is, I speculate, a certain consistent style in the sort of humor at hand in The Office and Curb Your Enthusiasm, which I find myself not quite getting or appreciating. An argument would ensue if I tried to articulate it, maybe.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 5:47 PM
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There is, I speculate, a certain consistent style in the sort of humor at hand in The Office and Curb Your Enthusiasm, which I find myself not quite getting or appreciating.

Indeed, they are very similar shows. The humor comes from cringe-inducing awkwardness.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 5:50 PM
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The humor comes from cringe-inducing awkwardness.

People talked about this recently here, no?

But those shows don't make me cringe; at least The Office doesn't. They just make me shrug: this is not believable in the first place. So apparently it's not working for, or on, me. In all honesty, Seinfeld worked better at the cringe factor.

I should say that I really haven't seen Curb Your Enthusiasm for several years, and given my general respect for Larry David, I should reserve judgment until I know what the hell I'm talking about.

you get the "bottom line up front", delivered thus: "BLUF: [thesis/lede]"

This made me laugh. BLUF indeed.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 6:06 PM
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People talked about this recently here, no?

Yeah. The general upshot was that a surprising number of us have a strong aversion to this kind of cringe-humor. As you note, your reaction isn't that but something else. The cringe thing is definitely what the shows are going for, though.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 6:08 PM
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People talked about this recently here, no?

People talked about how they had talked about this. Let's see how many more layers of self-referentiality it takes to make the blog implode.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 6:13 PM
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Lately, I've been consistently annoyed by sit coms and by people trying to sell mutual funds, but only the people selling mutual funds can see me cringe.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 6:23 PM
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79

The American version of The Office is different enough, owing to its longer running, that they're pretty much distinct shows by now. Episode by episode at the beginning, the British version is possibly better for certain values of better, though admittedly I never watched past the first six.

I'm not sure how I managed to get into the American version, given just how annoying Michael Scott can be in some of the earliest episodes*, but I thought it had a pretty good couple of years in the middle. I haven't seen a lot of the recent episodes, though I've watched what's been on Hulu since I got back to the US.

*Yes, he's almost always annoying at all times. But it was much more relentless in the earlier seasons, before additional plots & stories developed.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 6:32 PM
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79: I think I haven't watched enough of it to get a sense of developing story lines, except for the occasional thing: the youngish man with a mop of hair comes to be in love with the youngish blondish woman, which seems a positive development. This is somewhat vague to me. The problem is that they're all so seemingly washed-out; and the office itself is colorless and washed out. It's rather shocking. I expect to see dust motes in the corners or something.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-21-10 6:54 PM
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81

"First, tell them what you're going to do. Then, do it. Then, tell them what you just did." This is with lazy/busy readers in mind, though.

I must protest. Punchlines are overvalued in contexts other than "______ goes into a bar" jokes and horror movies. If you want people -- here I speak primarily of adults, because I know more about adult education -- to actually absorb information or an argument, it is far more efficacious and less frustrating to them when they know what's coming. Insisting on doing otherwise is often just showing off (or, to be fair, not understanding how adults learn).


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 5:58 AM
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82

Also, the cheese puns are hilarious.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 6:01 AM
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If you want people -- here I speak primarily of adults, because I know more about adult education -- to actually absorb information or an argument, it is far more efficacious and less frustrating to them when they know what's coming. Insisting on doing otherwise is often just showing off (or, to be fair, not understanding how adults learn).

Oh, I agree it's efficacious, and I do it. It's just not in line with my own aesthetics - which I suppose could be described as "showing off."


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-22-10 6:09 AM
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