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Are Writers Made or Born? by Jack Kerouac (transcribed for the first time!)

I transcribed this article from two image files at the Writer’s Digest website. I have introduced line breaks of my own to make the text more readable online.

This is a six minute read. Kerouac reserves the word “genius” (and his attendant praise) to those who originate a writing style, those “born” to write. As he puts it, anyone can write but not everybody can invent a new way of writing.

This is a well planned piece by Kerouac. Notice how he echoes or repeats the use of ‘five thousand’: “five thousand writing class students, “five thousand university trained writers,” and “five thousand ‘trained’ writers plus Joyce.” These echoes are all made at distinct, different points in his work.

Notice, too, the depth of Kerouac’s study and reading of the Great Books. You might think a Beat writer would have laughed off the classics when developing a new way of writing but Kerouac didn’t. This man _studied_. Only the Great Books provide a wellspring deep enough to inspire new thoughts. Although Tom Clancy is an excellent writer, no one will ever pen a Great American Novel by reading how Jack Ryan breaks into a locked file cabinet.

[Thomas Farley, (link to this post) September 18, 2022]

The text of this article and post is available here in .pdf format (internal link)


BY Jack Kerouac

Writer’s Digest, January 1962.

Paragraph 1

Writers are made, for anybody who isn’t illiterate can write. But geniuses of the writing art like Melville, Whitman or Thoreau are born. Let’s examine the word “genius.”

It doesn’t mean screwiness or eccentricity or excessive talent. It is derived from the word gignere, (to beget.) And a genius is simply a person who originates something never known before. Nobody but Melville could have written Moby Dick. Not even Whitman or Shakespeare.

Nobody but Whitman could have conceived, originated and written Leaves of Grass. Whitman was born to write a Leaves of Grass and Melville was born to write a Moby Dick. “It ain’t what you do,” Sy Oliver and James Young said. “It’s the way atcha do it.”

Five thousand writing class students who study “required reading” can put their hand to the legend of Faustus but only one, Marlowe, was born to do it the way he did.

Paragraph 2

I always get a laugh to hear Broadway wise guys talk about “talent and genius.” Some perfect virtuoso also who can interpret Brahams on the violin is called a “genius,” but the genius, the originating force, really belongs to Brahams; the violin virtuoso is simply a talented interpreter – in other words, a “Talent.”

Or you’ll hear people say that so and so is a major writer because of his “large talent.” There can be no major writer without original genius. Artists of genius like Jackson Pollock, have painted things that have never been seen before.

Anybody who’s seen his immense Samapattis of color has no right to criticize his “crazy method” of splashing and throwing and dancing around.

Take the case of James Joyce. People said he wasted his talent on the stream of consciousness style when in fact, he was simply born to originate it. How would you like to spend your old age reading books about contemporary life written in the pre-Joycean style of, say, Ruskin or William Dean Howells, or Taine?

Some geniuses come with heavy feet and march solemnly forward like Dreiser. Yet no one ever wrote about that America of his as well as he. Geniuses can be scintillating and geniuses can be somber, but it’s that inescapable sorrowful depth that shines through – originality.

Paragraph 3

Joyce was insulted all his life by practically all of Ireland and the world for being a genius. Some Celtic Twilight idiots even conceded he had some talent. What else could they say, since they were all going to start imitating him? But five thousand university trained writers could put their hand to a day in June in Dublin in 1904 or one night’s dreams, and never do with it what Joyce did with it: he was simply born to do it.

On the other hand, if the five thousand “trained writers” plus Joyce, all put their hands to a READER’S DIGEST-type article about “Vacation Hints” or “Homemaker’s Tips” even then I think Joyce would stand out because of his inborn originality of language insight.

Bear well in mind what Sinclair Lewis told Thomas Wolfe: “If Thomas Hardy had been given a contract to write stories for the SATURDAY EVENING POST, do you think he would have written like Zane Gray or like Thomas Hardy? I can tell you the answer to that one.

He would have written like Thomas Hardy. He couldn’t have written like anyone else but Thomas Hardy. He would have kept on writing like Thomas Hardy. Whether he wrote for the SATURDAY EVENING POST or CAPTAIN BILLY’S WHIZBANG.”

Paragraph 4

When the question is therefore asked, “Are writers made or born?” one should first ask, “Do you mean writers with talent or writers with originality?

Because anybody can write, but not everybody invents new forms of writing. Gertrude Stein invented a new form of writing, and her imitators are just talents. Hemingway later invented his own form also.

The criterion for judging talent or genius is ephemeral, [ed. note – added the comma] speaking rationally in this world of graphs, but one gets the feeling definitely, when a writer of geniuses amazes him by strokes of force never seen before and yet hauntingly familiar (Wilson’s famous “shock of recognition”).

I got that feeling from Swan’s Way as well as from Sons and Lovers. I do not get it from Colette, but I do get it from Dickinson. I get it from Celine, but I do not get it from Camus. I get it from Hemingway, but not from Raymond Chandler, except when he’s dead serious. I get it from the (sic) Balzac or Cousin Bette, but not from Pierre Loti. And so on.

Paragraph 5

The main thing to remember is that talent imitates genius, because there’s nothing else to imitate. Since talent can’t originate it has to imitate or interpret. The poetry on page 22 of the New York Times, with all its “silent wings of urgency in a dark and seldom wood” and other lapidary trillings, is but a poor imitation of previous poets of genius like Yeats, Dickinson, Apollinaire, Donne, Suckling . . . .

Genius gives birth. Talent delivers. What Rambrandt, Brandt or Van Gogh saw in the night can never be seen again. No frog can jump in a pond like Basho’s frog. Born writers of the future are amazed already at what they’re seeing now, what we’ll all see in time for the first time, and then see imitated many times by made writers.

Paragraph 6

So in the case of a born writer, genius involves the original formation of a new style. Though the language of Kyd is Elizabethan as far as period goes, the language of Shakespeare can truly be called only Shakespearean. Oftentimes an originator of a new language forms (sic?) is called “pretentious” by jealous talents. But it ain’t whatcha write. It’s the way atcha write it.


Writer’s Digest’s image files.

External Link (s)

Interesting discussion of this essay:


Wilson’s “famous shock of recognition”? More fully, Melville, “Genius all over the world stands hand in hand, and one shock of recognition runs the whole circle round”.

Samapattis: The Britanica offers this on Buddhist meditation, “[F]our further spiritual exercises, the samapattis (‘attainments’): (1) consciousness of infinity of space, (2) consciousness of the infinity of cognition, (3) concern with the unreality of things (nihility), and (4) consciousness of unreality as the object of thought.”

Celtic Twilight idiots: Followers of the material Keats and his like penned regarding Irish folklore.

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The Content Mill as Crime: A Look at Urban Writers

May 12, 2023 Update: If you’re really desperate to work for these fools, try using the A/I tool ChatGPT to produce your content. You’ll get nicely done writing in literally seconds on any topic imaginable. If they say it’s A/I generated, e-mail me and I’ll give you a hint to defeating the latest detection schemes, principally the method used by Good luck.

Original article:

One cent a word. Going up to two cents a word.

I once did a number of writing jobs for They’re a content mill and I was paid $25.00 to $35.00 an article, depending on if I supplied photographs. Articles were about 750 words.

Although that was the lowest I had ever been paid for my writing (I think my best was 73 cents a word for American Heritage), I accepted it because I could pick the work, I got a byline, and it was resume building while I did other things.

Today I got an automated invitation to apply to Urban Writers. (external link) Another content mill. Fine.

The application started out well because they preferred a knowledge of SEO, CMOS or other style guides, and whether one had recently finished an MS of at least 20,000 words. All that meant decent skills which implied decent wages.

Totally wrong. A penny a word, advancing to two pennies a word.

Outrageous, disgusting, and totally disrespectful to the writing community. My cat can’t live on a penny a word.

In my years of editing, I found the fastest writers could complete 750 words in about two and a half to three hours. That includes simple research. Other writers might take six to eight hours if the subject was complex.

Given that time, a penny a word means $7.50 for three hours of work. That’s $2.50 an hour provided the text doesn’t have to be rewritten and if it passes Copyscape. That’s not poverty wages, that’s prison pay.

Send out query letters instead, apply to other employers, volunteer to write articles for a local newspaper, do anything but buy into this built in misery. I’ve written on this before (internal link).

Oh, and they need an editor:

“Are you willing to working [sic] directly with an Editor?”

Nice. I doubt I would capitalize the word editor, either. But I’m sure they want perfect copy for that one cent a word. Not only are these people criminal, they’re illiterate idiots. The rest of their pitch was as pockmarked with grammatical errors and poor English as was their opening. Enough said.

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A Few Good Lines From a Few Good Men

Thomas Guy Farley Testifies in Court on

LTJG Kaffee: Mr. Farley. Did you build the website

Judge Randolph: You don’t have to answer that question!

Farley: I’ll answer the question. You want answers?

LTJG Kaffee: I think I’m entitled to them.

Farley: You want answers?!

LTJG Kaffee: I want the truth!

Farley: You can’t handle the truth!

Son, we live in a world that has poorly written pages, and those pages have to be revised and edited by men and women with keyboards. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep to pay for content and you curse someone having to edit it. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know — that revising that copy, while costing a few dollars, probably saved your company’s reputation and my existence, while grotesque and expensive to you, saves that public image you’ve built up.

You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that page — you need me on that page.

We use words like “revising,” “SEO,” “editing.” We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending literacy and first page ranking on Google. You use them as a punch line.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very keywords and on page SEO that I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it.

I would rather that you just said “thank you” and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a keyboard and start revising. Either way, I don’t give a DAMN what you think you’re entitled to!

LTJG Kaffee: Did you build that writing website?

Farley: I did the job —

LTJG Kaffee: — Did you build that writing website!


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An Incredible Paragraph from Stanton Delaplane (Updated post)

This is San Francisco Chronicle reporter Stanton Delaplane (internal link) interviewing a rancher in 1941 about the poor roads in Siskiyou County, California.

Delaplane quotes the cattleman enough as needed for a newspaper article and then rephrases the farmer’s thoughts into wry poetry. (For reference, Sacramento is home to California’s state capitol and the slow moving legislature there which controls funding for all state projects.):

They were worn out, he said, from yammering at Sacramento for 30 years with no results. “It gets so bad here in the winter folks can’t hardly get out of the back country,” he said. In fairness, he added that there wasn’t any place to go particularly when you did get out but people being what they are, they want to get out anyway.

That is Mark Twain brought to life.

This paragraph is Kerouac’s Roman candles in On The Road, “[E]xploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue center light pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!'”


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What Content Authority Means in SEO and Why it is Important

January 2, 2021

What Does Content Authority Mean?

Content authority means a website that Google considers an encyclopedic reference to a particular field or topic. Any practitioner in a highly competitive market should have this Wikipedia like presence if they can afford it.

Mark the word, “If.” A website like this is expensive and costs must be compared beforehand against other choices like ad buys. The goal, of course, is for a post or page to eventually appear on page one of Google search results without buying ads to do so.

Making a website attractive to search engines is what’s called search engine optimization or SEO.

What makes up this encyclopedic reference? Dozens, scores, perhaps hundreds of pages and posts full of content.  Content for non-media companies gets primarily expressed through the written word in posts and pages. For now.

Videos get placed higher in search results than written content on the same subject. This will continue and video production will increase substantially in the next few years.

Still, written content remains and will remain the basis of searchable pages and posts; anything written now can be the script of any video produced later on.

Posts, pages, or video, everything comes back to the written word.

How Does Developing a Content Authority Website go in Practice?

Identifying Topics

Let’s assume a criminal defense attorney who handles DUI/DWI. Clients will of course ask the question, “What happens when I get arrested for being under the influence?” The practitioner knows that question only hints at a broader subject. There’s pre-arrest, arrest, and post-arrest questions. So be it.

Rather than writing completely original pages from scratch for the client’s website, a team looks at his or her competitor’s sites to see how they cover arrest and then they model pages after those. That can be done manually, simply by looking at websites, or a web company might use ahrefs (external link, non-sponsored) is to make a topic list. Identifying existing topics is only a start because Google especially favors original page and post topics, not just the subjects every attorney covers.

Any page modeled must be rewritten to pass Copyscape (external link, non-sponsored) which is a plagiarism detection website. It searches the net for duplicate content and it can also compare an original text to what has been rewritten. Educators use it for identifying plagiarism in school reports and it is the gold standard for alerting on stolen content on the web.

Passing Copyscape means modeled pages are sufficiently different from the original to satisfy Google as new content. Failing Copyscape means content gets ranked as duplicate  and is penalized because of it. Any content creation company gives their writers access to a Copyscape account so they can check their work before submitting it .

Getting Pages Written

Assignments are handed out after the SEO lead determines which keywords the writer should include on the page or post. As well as whatever else the SEO lead decides. SEO is a dark art. There are more than just keywords to consider on the written page. Truly successful SEO techniques developed independently through extensive research and testing are rarely shared outside a company

To be clear, this ‘on page SEO’ is different than what is done in the background or off page with work like link building.

Keywords and techniques are often derived through analyzing statistics, a costly and overwhelming website for the uninitiated. ahrefs is like studying telemetry from Mars. “Great. We have all this information about ourselves and the competition. Now, what does it mean?” Editors needn’t be expert with ahrefs but familiarity is essential.

Back to writing. And time.

It’s all about time when considering the cost of a content authority website.

My experience over the last five and a half years with Philippine freelancer writers is that they can turn in a 500 to 750 word page or post in three to ten hours, three being exceptional. Figure five as average.

This assumes a writer has been given at least two or three pages to model along with any other resources an assignment editor thinks will help. The writer must fact check and research anything submitted. New writers should provide links to the web sites they used. That is time consuming for them but it saves the more highly paid editor time to fact check the writer. Writing completely original pages of course takes more time and the writer will need more help.

After submitting their work, some back and forth goes on between the writer and the editor and the person requesting the page. I found  it took twenty minutes on average to revise and edit a writer’s work. Sometimes I sent back work if the writing was badly off but I usually handled most things myself. Writers who can’t supply clean, accurate copy cost more than a job search for someone else.

Some companies promise rewriting by machine by programs called article spinners or word spinners, some powered, supposedly, by artificial intelligence. Right.

I’ve tried at least five of them to get production up with terrible results. A word spinner isn’t meant to fact check or do research; it assumes the original content is accurate and up to date which one can never do. Forgiving that time consuming point, the word spinners I tried were just electronic thesauruses. I spent more time editing their copy than it would have taken me to rewrite from scratch. None of them possessed A/I any more than peanut butter. And despite my repeated requests, none of these companies ever showed me a law office page done primarily by spin writing.

NB: January 3, 2021. I have an update on A/I and spinners at the end of this post.)

Editing and Revising Pages

To state the obvious, it is essential that an editor has a background in the field his or her writers are writing about. Foreign writers without a legal background and focused on a narrow assignment often fail to see the bigger picture. For example, the difference between misdemeanors and felonies, viewing them only by the amount of time served. Less emphatic writing results when just the opposite should occur. A misdemeanor means county jail where home and help are probably close by, a felony means a distant state prison with the possibility of being shipped out of state. And the invocation of larger laws like Three Strikes, loss of voting rights, a ban against possessing firearms once released, and so on. An editor should know these things before editing any law firm’s website.

In my case, I was a freelance legal assistant long ago in the Sacramento, California area for a number of criminal defense and general practice lawyers. As well as a poverty law firm.I assisted with trial prep, wrote points and authorities, legal briefs, interrogs, and conducted an enormous amount of research into finding case and statutory law that was on point for whatever case I had been assigned. Nearly all of this was hardcopy research, although I did get to use one of the first dedicated Lexis/Nexis terminals which was at that poverty law firm.

More recently, I was a content management specialist for Infocus Web Marketing. InFocus deals only with law office websites. (external link)

to be continued. . . 

Would you like to know more about writing and editing? I am for hire!

I get the job done without asking or handholding. I won’t bluff my way through if I’m not sure but I take initiative when I am. SEO isn’t my strength — writing and editing is. My old boss is John at inFocus and he will recommend me. (e-mail link)


Some of my writing related to this page (all internal links)

More on Writing for Machines (More on business writing for bots and algorithms)

Do I Need to Repeat Myself? (Business writing must incorporate SEO techniques)

Deeper into SEO (A Berkeley Writing for Social Media course fails)

Who/m are We Writing For? (The end reader today may not be human)

— Non-sponsored video links

SEO Fundamentals. No SEO lead can fully work without ahrefs.

Video and SEO and Rankings.  Interesting but overly optimistic view.

January 3, 2021 update on A/I and spinners

I tried Rytr this morning with poor results despite positive reviews from people I now think are Rytr affiliate members who make money from signups. I asked customer support to show me any website primarily built with Rytr and that I was especially interested in the legal field.

They responded that Rytr shouldn’t be used for “Legal writings” [sic]. Much later they said in broken English, “Rest, we don’t keep a track of where our content is getting used.” In other words, they have no references. Any person or company who is proud of their work or product has references. They don’t.

It remains that I have not seen any website of any kind primarily made with a spin writer. Let’s call these allegedly A/I powered writing programs dead for building web pages and move on. Vaporware.

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Proust and Thinking about Thinking

Proust and Thinking about Thinking

Did anyone ever think more about thinking than Marcel Proust? (internal link)

Or is that the wrong question?

We hold more conversations with ourselves than with anyone else. But do we record them and write them down? Proust detailed his character’s inner monologue to an astounding degree.

He also well described day to day events but we have other authors as good or better at doing that.

From The Sweet Cheat Gone.

“Mademoiselle Albertine has gone!” How much farther does anguish penetrate in psychology than psychology itself! A moment ago, as I lay analysing my feelings, I had supposed that this separation without a final meeting was precisely what I wished, and, as I compared the mediocrity of the pleasures that Albertine afforded me with the richness of the desires which she prevented me from realising, had felt that I was being subtle, had concluded that I did not wish to see her again, that I no longer loved her. But now these words: “Mademoiselle Albertine has gone!” had expressed themselves in my heart in the form of an anguish so keen that I would not be able to endure it for any length of time. And so what I had supposed to mean nothing to me was the only thing in my whole life. How ignorant we are of ourselves.

— translator unknown

From The Guermantes Way:

It has been said that silence is strength; in a quite different sense it is a terrible strength in the hands of those who are loved. It increases the anxiety of the one who waits. Nothing so tempts us to approach another person as what is keeping us apart; and what barrier is so insurmountable as silence? It has been said also that silence is torture, capable of goading to madness the man who is condemned to it in a prison cell. But what an even greater torture than that of having to keep silence it is to have to endure the silence of the person one loves!

Robert said to himself: ‘What can she be doing, to keep so silent as this? Obviously she’s being unfaithful to me with others.’ He also said to himself: ‘What have I done that she should be so silent? Perhaps she hates me, and will go on hating me for ever.’ And he reproached himself.

Thus silence indeed drove him mad with jealousy and remorse. Besides, more cruel than the intangible enclosure, true, but an impenetrable one, this interposed slice of empty atmosphere through which nevertheless the visual rays of the abandoned lover cannot pass. Is there a more terrible form of illumination than that of silence, which shows us not one absent love but a thousand, and shows us each of them in the act of indulging in some new betrayal?

Sometimes, in a sudden slackening of tension, Robert would imagine that this silence was about to cease, that the letter was on its way. He saw it, it had arrived, he started at every sound, his thirst was already quenched, he murmured: ‘The letter! The letter!’ After this glimpse of a phantom oasis of tenderness, he found himself once more toiling across the real desert of a silence without end.

— translator unknown

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Overly sensitive types at the start of the Snowflake Era began substituting the word “problem” for the word “issue.” Today, “issues” is everywhere. Your car no longer has any problems but instead a number of issues to be taken care of.

Realizing that the word “issues” was far too soft for more serious problems, the word “problematic” came into being. Something like a problem, just less confrontational and direct. Which is the whole problem.

Here’s some nonsense from the Fresno Bee:

“Kern Valley State Prison is a maximum security Level IV prison that houses 4,600 male inmates, some of whom are considered the state’s most problematic inmates.”

Problematic? A writer can’t call these vicious murders and rapists problem inmates? The writer can’t follow common sense and reality enough to use the word “problem”? Who is the writer protecting with that language? Whose sensitivity are they damaging?

I wouldn’t use the word “some”, either, since Level IV means you are in for a violent crime. All of them are brutal and vicious thugs and we all know it. Everyone knows it. Everyone.

So, again, why is the writer using the word problematic?

A reporter’s whole job is to report the facts. Don’t write if you can’t write the truth.

These dangerous career criminals need their lives represented accurately to inform society of the risk these people pose. We don’t need a reporter with sensitivity issues. That’s problematic.

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Let’s Return to Direct Lead Paragraphs

A Wandering Lead and Three Revisions

Writers must compose direct lead paragraphs or risk losing readers. A wandering opening finds readers lost, wandering somewhere else. A direct opening can’t guarantee that a reader will continue but a clear, direct path provides an obvious trail.

Wandering lead from Salon (external link):

So lately I’ve had people passing around this article by Caitlin Flanagan about the p.c. police ruining campus comedy, which appears to be stage one of a one-two punch from the Atlantic about how p.c.-ness is ruining college in general, with the haymaker being Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt’s magnum opus about how p.c. culture is somehow not only killing academic discourse but also infecting us all with mental illness.

What a mess. Here’s one possible revision, guessing in part what the writer means:

Caitlin Flanagan writes in the Atlantic that the P.C. Police are ruining campus comedy and the college experience in general. Her piece builds on Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt’s earlier Atlantic article which asserted that P.C. culture kills academic discourse and infects us all with mental illness. I don’t agree. Let me tell you why.

Less abrupt:

Have the P.C. Police killed campus comedy and the college experience overall? Caitlin Flanagan thinks so. Writing in the Atlantic, her article builds on Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt’s previous piece which asserts that P.C. culture kills academic discourse and infects us all with mental illness. I don’t agree with this trio. Let me tell you why. style:

A poorly informed Caitlin Flanagan writes in the Atlantic that the P.C. Police are ruining campus comedy and the college experience in general. Really? Her piece builds on Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt’s earlier Atlantic article, also badly reasoned, which claimed that P.C. culture kills academic discourse and infects us all with mental illness. These three Trumpians are wrong. Sick and wrong. Here’s why.

Newspaper Leads

Here are some newspaper article leads I wrote for the West Sacramento News Ledger, a small town weekly. They respect a reader’s time by immediately telling them what the article is about.

The TBD Fest boomed into West Sacramento’s Bridge District this weekend, forming a youthful community centered on music, art, drink, and food. But noise complaints threatened to break up the sybaritic world its founders sought to create.

Social media and telephone lines blew up on TBD weekend to praise and protest the event. Common ground for all sides seemed reachable if noise levels could be better managed. Controlling that din, though, proved difficult, despite shorter hours and City monitoring. On the subject of noise that weekend, no one agrees.

California’s primary and general elections are six months and eleven months away, respectively, but political parties are busy preparing for these upcoming votes. The News-Ledger reports on three parties’ arrangements and how West Sacramento may be impacted.

If you want to get outdoors but don’t have much time, the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area the a perfect place to go. It makes up the entire area visible from the Yolo Causeway with its main entrance only three miles from West Sacramento. You’ll see birds, an unusual, intensely managed landscape, and experience a relaxing break from city pressure.

The old Washington District firehouse at 317 Third Street is being reborn as a bar and a restaurant. The once neglected landmark sits at the foot of the I Street Bridge, its renewal just part of the larger revitalizing Bridge District. The News-Ledger reached out to Bay Miry with D&S Development who answered several questions about the pioneering urban project.

Are you ready for a disaster? CERT members are. CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team. There are teams across the country, often sponsored by a fire department. Here in West Sacramento, over 250 citizen volunteers in the last six years have trained in emergency preparedness and assistance.

The Sail Inn on Jefferson Boulevard is being reopened and rechristened as the Sail Inn Grotto & Bar. Launch date is late February. All aboard.

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CBS Claims Unbiased Reporting

CBS claims in their latest advertising that they offer unbiased reporting. How stupid do they think we are?

Everyone knows that reporting is biased to a greater or lesser degree. Every reporter and every editor and every network CEO has a point of view and that POV gets into every story.

We all know that. Why then would you claim that up is down?

Because you think your viewers are so stupid they would believe it.

“So much for Objective Journalism. Don’t bother to look for it here — not under any byline of mine; or anyone else I can think of. With the possible exception of things like box scores, race results, and stock market tabulations, there is no such thing as Objective Journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms.” ― Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72.

Most journalists will not admit bias. They are objective journalists. Where did this nonsensical viewpoint come from?

Thompson thought that the Columbia School of Journalism was the wellspring for the idea that highly educated reporters should tell the low masses what to think.

I rarely quote Wikipedia but they do have it correct here.

“In 1892, Joseph Pulitzer, a Hungarian-born newspaper magnate, offered Columbia University President Seth Low funding to establish the world’s first school of journalism. He sought to elevate a profession viewed more often as a common trade learned through an apprenticeship. His idea was for a center of enlightened journalism in pursuit of knowledge as well as skills in the service of democracy.”

Noblesse oblige? Stuff it.

Columbia as an Ivy League school was perfect for graduating entitled people who knew better than you or I. It continues that mission today in that a degree from Columbia is a passport into the the privileged world of the major networks, generating reporters who whine about not finding a Starbucks or Peete’s in middle America and who pay for their hotel room with a company American Express gold card.

These people used to write for Life, Newsweek, and Time. Today they line the halls of National Public Radio, The Washington Post, and the New York Times. Fox News has their elites, but with a mild conservative point of view acceptable to national advertisers.

Beyond journalism and party affiliation, however, there is a commonality among those who think they know best. Those in power with college degrees think of themselves as the officer class. Those without degrees are of course the enlisted. And officers are always superior to the enlisted. Right? They know better, right? Back to reporting.

Thompson was bitterly against Columbia’s idea that journalism was some sort of priesthood for the better good. He constantly dealt with elite reporters and knew them well. Most envied Thompson’s freedom to write what he thought, often enabled by looked down upon magazines like Rolling Stone.

“The press is a gang of cruel faggots. Journalism is not a profession or a trade. It is a cheap catch-all for fuckoffs and misfits—a false doorway to the backside of life, a filthy piss-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector, but just deep enough for a wino to curl up from the sidewalk and masturbate like a chimp in a zoo-cage.” Thompson, ibid.

Okay, maybe that characterization is overdramatic. But there is a deep, deep division between the wealthy reporters you see on the major networks and the people they report on. They think they know better.

But we know them and their bias even better.

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Fighting Wordiness

I once revised copy for a painter’s home page. The original text was only 250 words or so.

These changes were the most important. It’s not just about reducing word count but making text more direct and impactful.

Fighting wordiness never ends, even with short copy.

TG Painting will make sure it does!
TG Painting makes sure it does!

Our courteous and approachable painters are instructed to reduce workplace disturbance so your warehouse stays
Our courteous and approachable painters reduce workplace disturbances so your warehouse stays

don’t take rules of safety lightly.
don’t take safety rules lightly

The industrial coating systems last longer
Industrial coating systems last longer

Some of the signs which show that your warehouse could use a new coat of paint include:
Some signs which show your warehouse could use new paint include:

The proper maintenance of your warehouse reflects the way you manage your business and elicits confidence and trust in your clients.
Properly maintaining your warehouse reflects well on your business practices, gaining a client’s confidence and trust.