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Sunday, March 4, 2007 -- 10:16 pm

I have had occasion, in my line of work and in the ordinary course of life, to encounter my share of the deranged and unstable. Many of them are perfectly capable of pulling themselves together to act coherently for specific occasions -- court appearances, for example. But their condition is almost always betrayed by their writing, which is often quite incoherent and, to the extent coherent, delusional and/or inflammatory. Writing, to me, has always felt like a much more immediate form of expression than speech; the frankness of people's e-mail correspondence (as it is introduced in employment litigation) suggests that I'm not unique in this regard. Although it's certainly easier to edit one's writing to mask one's true thoughts on a matter, it doesn't seem that people generally do. And so I have a working hypothesis that when trying to judge people, if I find a significant discrepancy between someone's writing and their personal conduct, I should form my judgment based on their writing.

Sunday, March 4, 2007 -- 10:07 pm

Prefaces are an interesting exercise. I haven't had occasion to write one myself in quite a while, since most of the writing I've been doing has been of the grueling, persuasive sort, rather than the fun sort that warrants a reflective preface. But for us youngish sorts -- youngish in our sophomorism, if edging out of youth proper -- there's an urge to write the preface first, because that's the fun part: we look at the preface as a canvas for our ambitions in the work to come, assuming we achieve them. But of course there's no guarantee that our ambitions will be realized, and if the project was worth undertaking in the first place, the chances are that we'll emerge from it changed, and possibly having outgrown or at least revised our original ambitions. But there's a practical reason for postponing the drafting of the preface until we have something meaningful to say, too: because in executing our work, we'll no doubt have unexpected insights, as well as be compelled to capitalize on unforseen accidents. It's so much more convenient to rationalize these in retrospect.

Sunday, March 4, 2007 -- 8:41 am

Colloquial Zooscatology:

I've noticed that in English has a rich collection of colloquial scatological idioms. I wonder what their provenance is. For example,

Sunday, March 4, 2007 -- 8:38 am

I've been away, and busy. Lots of catching up to do.