Archive for ‘Finding my voice’

July 8, 2012

Anderson Cooper on the personal vs the professional

Anderson Cooper on his decision to come out:

“For my safety and the safety of those I work with, I try to blend in as much as possible, and prefer to stick to my job of telling other people’s stories, and not my own…

Since my early days as a reporter, I have worked hard to accurately and fairly portray gay and lesbian people in the media – and to fairly and accurately portray those who for whatever reason disapprove of them. It is not part of my job to push an agenda, but rather to be relentlessly honest in everything I see, say and do. I’ve never wanted to be any kind of reporter other than a good one, and I do not desire to promote any cause other than the truth.

Being a journalist, traveling to remote places, trying to understand people from all walks of life, telling their stories, has been the greatest joy of my professional career, and I hope to continue doing it for a long time to come.

Anderson Cooper: “The Fact Is, I’m Gay.”  –Andrew Sullivan

June 17, 2012

The Great Explainers

I greatly admire people whom can explain complicated topics simply. Here are 2 of the greats:


“Feynman has been called the “Great Explainer”. He gained a reputation for taking great care when giving explanations to his students and for making it a moral duty to make the topic accessible. His guiding principle was that if a topic could not be explained in a freshman  lecture, it was not yet fully understood.“–via Wikipedia


“In general, we look for a new law by the following process: First we guess it; then we compute the consequences of the guess to see what would be implied if this law that we guessed is right; then we compare the result of the computation to nature, with experiment or experience, compare it directly with observation, to see if it works. If it disagrees with experiment, it is wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It does not make any difference how beautiful your guess is, it does not make any difference how smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is — if it disagrees with experiment, it is wrong.”

–Richard Feynman, via Brainpickings


We are a way for the Cosmos to know itself.via

“Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer, and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences.

…Sagan’s ability to convey his ideas allowed many people to better understand the cosmos—simultaneously emphasizing the value and worthiness of the human race, and the relative insignificance of the Earth in comparison to the universe.”

“My parents were not scientists. They knew almost nothing about science. But in introducing me simultaneously to skepticism and to wonder, they taught me the two uneasily cohabiting modes of thought that are central to the scientific method.”

–via Wikipedia


“It seems to me what is called for is an exquisite balance between two conflicting needs: the most skeptical scrutiny of all hypotheses that are served up to us and at the same time a great openness to new ideas. Obviously those two modes of thought are in some tension. But if you are able to exercise only one of these modes, whichever one it is, you’re in deep trouble.

If you are only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you. You never learn anything new. You become a crotchety old person convinced that nonsense is ruling the world. (There is, of course, much data to support you.) But every now and then, maybe once in a hundred cases, a new idea turns out to be on the mark, valid and wonderful. If you are too much in the habit of being skeptical about everything, you are going to miss or resent it, and either way you will be standing in the way of understanding and progress.

On the other hand, if you are open to the point of gullibility and have not an ounce of skeptical sense in you, then you cannot distinguish the useful as from the worthless ones. If all ideas have equal validity then you are lost, because then, it seems to me, no ideas have any validity at all.

Some ideas are better than others. The machinery for distinguishing them is an essential tool in dealing with the world and especially in dealing with the future. And it is precisely the mix of these two modes of thought that is central to the success of science.

–Carl Sagan, from, via Brainpickings

June 14, 2012

Guy Talese, The Art of Nonfiction:


When did you realize that you had talent?


Never. All I have is intense curiosity. I have a great deal of interest in other people and, just as importantly, I have the patience to be around them.

About Guy Talese

“Talese occupies the strange position of being both legendary and misunderstood. His innovation was to apply techniques from the craft of fiction to his newspaper and magazine stories, giving them the shape and life of short stories—a style, later referred to as New Journalism, which he originated in his days as a New York Times reporter in the fifties.”

From the Paris Review

June 9, 2012

Mac Lethal on You’re vs Your

For a funny, speedy grammar lesson here’s a vid of Mac Lethal about the differences between You’re and Your.

And hey, I make this mistake all the time. Also hear and here. I spell by sound which gets me in trouble with homonyms.

Mainly, I wish I could speak that fast and write verse that tightly.

June 3, 2012

“Hood Rat”, New Journalism, and what I want to do

I’m always hunting for my voice. For new ways to tell the stories I want to tell.

Recently, found this book “Hood Rat” at the Holborn Library. It’s based on over 100-hours of interviews Guardian journalist Gavin Knight conducted while embedded with anti-gang units in some of the UK’s big cities.

According to the jacket, the story is “researched on the front line and told like a thriller” — written in the present tense, third-person POV, the journalist himself invisible from the story.

There is something here that relates to what I am seeking to do: topical issue, examined systemically, based on interviews. From one review: “In its approach and style, Gavin Knight’s Hood Rat follows the New Journalism that revolutionised the form in the 1960s…His experience crosses two worlds: he does no report simply on the gangs, but also on those entrusted with the powers for bring about justice and change.”

I twigged on New Journalism, not knowing exactly what is was — it’s this: ’60s and 70s journalistic style bringing a literary style to reporting, for example Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.

New Journalism reminds me of what I’ve read about Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, meant to be an article before it became a non-fiction novel full of James Agee’s lyrical overwrought prose, and other work I’ve read about in Robert Coles’s Doing Documentary Work. 

But my thoughts are still coalescing. It’s enough to say that the research work behind “Hood Rat”, it’s fictionalized style, and ecological aim all resonate with me artistically. There is a curiosity here, and a desire to tell stories about the world as it is (especially stories that newspaper and broadcast media either ignore or are unable to report on because of their more abbreviated form) that appeals to me.

The hunt continues.