Hear My No

“‘No’ is a word that must never be negotiated, because the person who chooses not to hear it is trying to control you.”

-Gavin de Becker, The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence, quoted in Mark Frauenfelder, “Protect yourself from violence.” Book Freak, No. 40. December 31, 2019.

“If you tell someone ten times that you don’t want to talk to him, you are talking to them—nine more times than you wanted to.”

—ibid.

A Community is Defined By Its Center and Not Its Periphery

“My sense is that you need to build up a nucleus of people who know each other and who can network and support each other [in developing a proficiency in a technology with the complexity of R.]”

—Hadley Wickham in an interview with Dan Kopf, “What’s next for the popular programming language R?Quartz. August 17, 2019.

Made me think of a Larry Wall Slashdot interview, question 7, from back in the day.

Cast Reason Aside

“You can tell time by the cry of ‘Never again’…The future is obvious. Escalating suicide, the 20-year real-terms recession, the blackout, the plagues, those people falling onto the tracks, microhomes and governments’ continued abuse of ’emergencies’, are obvious. Yet many feel it a duty to portray shock of surprise when it comes along…Human beings aren’t content to cast reason aside—it has to hit someone.” -Heart of the Original by Steve Aylett

The tidyverse style guide

All style guides are fundamentally opinionated. Some decisions genuinely do make code easier to use (especially matching indenting to programming structure), but many decisions are arbitrary. The most important thing about a style guide is that it provides consistency, making code easier to write because you need to make fewer decisions.”

-Hadley Wickham, “The tidyverse style guide.” style.tidyverse.org

Probably the definitive guide for writing R code. See also Hadley Wickham’s Advanced R.

Comforting Illusions

“William Sloane Coffin tells the story of a scientist from Harvard flying on an experimental mission in a private plane over the lake country of northern Alabama, measuring with elaborate instruments the fish populations of various lakes. Sighting two fisherman out at some remote lake he had just surveyed, the scientist figured that as a favor he would land his plane on the water nearby and tell them that his instruments had discovered that there were no fish to speak of in those waters and they would have better luck if they went on to another lake. So despite the delay, he landed near the anglers and explained the bad news to them, expecting grateful thanks. They were outraged, instantly, and told the scientist in rich Southern expletives where he could take his plane and his instruments and what he could do with them, whereupon they baited their lines once again and kept fishing. The scientist flew off, much abashed and much puzzled. ‘I expected their disappointment,’ he said later, ‘but not their anger.’…But of course we all react that way to unpleasant truth much of the time: it upsets our preconceptions and our comforting illusions and therefore angers us, and often as not we choose to ignore it. None of us wants to be told, even though deep down we may know it, that there are no fish.”

—Kirkpatrick Sale, Human Scale

Sucking Black Holes

“Avoid sucking black holes of negativity in your newsroom and your writing life. They will bring you down with them…

…”There will be some people in every newsroom who create a whirling vortex of negativity,” she told her students.

“They spend their time and energy (and yours) complaining, criticizing, blaming and spitting bile. Avoid them at all costs. Their cynical aura may at first seem seductive. But don’t be fooled. They will suck the life and energy out of you—like vampires. Stand back. Be warned. Run for your life. They are vampires. And once they suck you into their dark world, you become one, too. Twenty years from now, you’ll still be sitting in the corner of the same newsroom, spitting bile and looking for your own new recruits.”

—Christine Martin quoted in Chip Scanlon, “#15 A Page a Day, The Iceberg Theory of Writing, John Branch on Believing In What You Write, The Loneliness of Writing.” Chip in Your Inbox. January 3, 2020.

See also Hoodoos and Psychic Vampires.

A Page A Day = A Book A Year

“Lately, I’ve been following a dictum I first heard from writing coach Donald M. Murray. “A page a day,” he said, “is a book a year.”As the author of more than a dozen books, Murray knew what he was talking about. A double-spaced page of prose is 250 words. Multiply that by 365 days and you could produce 91,250 words in 2020. Give yourself vacation time and days off and you can still generate enough copy for the writing project you’ve been putting off, a body of work that you can revise.  A page a day is doable as I’ve learned over the past month, and it’s not uncommon to double that. My resolution is to keep it up. Perhaps it will work for you.”

—Donald M. Murray quoted in Chip Scanlon, “#15 A Page a Day, The Iceberg Theory of Writing, John Branch on Believing In What You Write, The Loneliness of Writing.” Chip in Your Inbox. January 3, 2020

Chip Scanlon’s newsletter is pure gold.