Stephen’s Statements A little bit of everything from Stephen Duncan Jr, a Software Developer in Portland, Oregon

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Ann Althouse on Readability

Ann Althouse writes about readability:

The real question is how sophisticated your ideas are. If you are saying simple things in convoluted prose, you're a terrible writer who doesn't deserve to be read. Point me to the writer -- like Mark Twain -- who's saying striking, new things in clear prose! Blogs, especially, should be easy to read. But blog posts should contribute something new to the mix. Do you seriously think you're doing a better job if you're writing something harder to read? Don't you think Mark Twain worked over his prose to make it readable?

Frankly, I'm disgusted by the atrocious writing I have to read every day as part of my job. Frequently, reading judicial decisions and law review articles, I struggle to get the point, I take the time to decode the eye-glazing verbiage, and when I get it translated into plain English, I see it's a pretty simple point. This kind of writing is a product of laziness, the lack of genuinely interesting ideas, a careerist effort to seem smart and high-level, and a selfish lack of consideration for the reader.

I couldn't agree more. I just hope that I'm successful in my attempts here at writing clear prose. It'd be nice to be considered interesting too, but I know I'm fully succeeding at that yet...

Friday, March 18, 2005

Discussing Laundry and UI Design With Colin Powell

Amusing blog post from a Google employee who was doing laundry at work, when Colin Powell, who was touring the site, came in. He discussed her laundry techniques, and then she got to explain her job, UI Design to him. Talk about a unique experience!

Thursday, February 3, 2005

SAT Essays?

Scorers of New SAT Get Ready for Essays

Reading this article felt remarkably similar to watching a horror movie. Revulsion and helplessness top the list of emotions that hit me as the writer banged home the subjectivity of the scores for these essays. I'm glad this came after my time for the SATs, and I pity those high schoolers now taking them.

I won't be suprised, however, if the scores on the essays do end up being so poor an indicator of the students' abilities that this could eventually be the end of the SATs. They are only useful so long as they are a reasonable predictor of success in college, after all.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Charlie Canola

Ok, until asked to take it down, I've put up a copy of the only published (that I know of) Charlie Canola Story. Enjoy.


I saw a shirt today. It had a guy in it. That wasn't unusual. Happens all the time. This shirt had something to say. That, also, was not unusual. It said its piece the normal way: a phrase printed on its front. It said: "It's OK Not to Drink." And I thought, no it's not, you'll die. From dehydration.

--Yes, this may very well be a sign of things to come. I feel I should update stuff on my blog more often, no matter how inane the update may be. Also, although this in no way matches or lives up to Charlie Canola, it definitely reminded me about those stories. If on the off chance somone responsible for the Charlie Canola stories, especially whoever actually has copies of them, stumbles across this web page, they should contact me about displaying them here on the web. For those of you who are lost, don't worry about it. Hopefully I'll get to show you what I meant in the future.