#21

Hello my friends,

Last weekend I finished Chanel Miller's illuminating memoir, Know My Name. You may recall reading about the woman who was raped behind a dumpster at a Stanford frat party—that was Miller. Her victim impact statement, which was published by Buzzfeed in the summer of 2016, was read by millions. At the time she was known as Emily Doe, a pseudonym used to protect her identity. Now we know her real name, and we're not likely to forget it. If Know My Name isn’t soon taught in high schools across the world, it should be.

I won't try to summarize Miller's story here. Her impact statement does that better than I could. Instead I'll tell you what I came to appreciate by reading her book, which is that enduring the aftermath of sexual assault is like crawling through hell. In particular, the ordeal of seeking justice is horrendously costly, not just financially but also spiritually and emotionally.

If you’ve ever wondered why it’s so common for victims of sexual assault to stay silent, Know My Name has your answers. If you’ve ever nodded along silently while someone told you there needs to be more support for victims, but you didn’t know enough about the issue to respond substantively, Know My Name will inform you.

Though the topic of the book is a heavy one, Miller’s writing is eloquent, conversational, and ultimately uplifting. It’s a privilege to spend 350 pages in her company. Highly recommended.


Links

Five Writing Tips

7 minutes | Alex Danco | 2019

I’ve read (and given) a lot of writing advice, so I’m always pleased when I come across plausible-sounding tips I haven’t heard before. This article had four such tips:

  • Overcome anxiety by publishing before you distribute.

  • Beat writer’s block by never starting with a blank page.

  • Introduce parallel tracks of thought by saying "meanwhile" more.

  • Develop a more authentic style by regularly reading your own published writing.

>>> Read it

Type I and Type II progress

10 minutes | Benjamin Reinhardt | 2020

This post makes a distinction that I’ll keep in mind when thinking about progress. Type I progress is that which expands the frontier, like when we invent something new. Type II progress is that which catches up to the frontier, like when we distribute existing inventions to people who don’t have them yet.

>>> Read it

Unconventional strategies for practicing Spanish

15 minutes | Devon Zuegel | 2019

A great list of tips for practicing a foreign language. I’m not currently practicing a language myself, but I love the general pursuit of finding unusual ways to practice a skill. Here are a few of my favourites from this article:

  • Translate your own writing—blog posts, essays, etc. This is a good way to learn vocabulary related to topics you care about.

  • Start a Twitter account where you only write in the language you're practicing, and only follow people who speak that language.

  • When speaking, fill in the gaps in your vocabulary with "Spanglish”. Indicate with your tone of voice that you're taking a complete guess with the word you're about to say. If you guess right, great! If not, you'll be corrected.

>>> Read it

Self-Knowledge by Looking at Others

5 minutes | Eric Schwitzgebel | 2019

Interesting reflections on how we often aren't aware of how we are feeling until we interact with others.

When I come home from work, stepping through the front door, I usually feel (I think) neutral to positive. Then I see my wife Pauline and daughter Kate—and how I evaluate them reveals whether in fact I came through that door grumpy.

>>> Read it

The Sound and the Story: Exploring the World of Paradise Lost

30 minutes | Philip Pullman | 2019

I’m a big fan of Philip Pullman’s YA fantasy series, His Dark Materials, so I was interested to read his reflections on Paradise Lost, his main inspiration.

>>> Read it


Tweets

My friend Matthew is teaching courses on the history of science and AI this semester. He’s going to share many of his teachings in this thread:


Until next week,

David


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