OK, I *love love love* my job, love being an economist, love teaching, love talking to policymakers and firms about technology and policy … but I am having serious career envy of Lisa Gold (as represented at her new blog), who did research for Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle trilogy. If I got this kind of endorsement from him:
Ms. Gold roams at ease through the most difficult and recondite topics, like an Indiana Jones of the world of letters.
I think I might just expire in ecstasy. Being able to immerse oneself in problem solving by doing literary research through the arcana of centuries would just be too.much.fun.
Her blog also promises to offer lots of advice for writers and researchers, which will be useful even to those of us whose daily perambulations involve more mundane non-fiction. Take, for example, the usage note from the Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus for “utilize” that she quotes:
This is a puff-word. Since it does nothing that good old use doesn’t do, its extra letters and syllables don’t make a writer seem smarter. Rather, using utilize makes you seem like either a pompous twit or someone so insecure that he’ll use pointlessly big words in an attempt to look smart… What’s worth remembering about puff-words is something that good writing teachers spend a lot of time drumming into undergrads: “Formal writing” does not mean gratuitously fancy writing; it means clean, clear, maximally considerate writing.
I think I’m in platonic syntatical love … And I’m definitely going to use her advice in teaching my freshman seminar this fall!
Massive hat tip to Cory Doctorow for the link.