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You have said that you don’t believe in going to college to learn to write. Why is that?
It’s a very bad place for writers because the teachers always think they know more than you do—and they don’t. They have prejudices….They may like John Irving, for instance, who’s the bore of all time. A lot of the people whose work they’ve taught in the schools for the last thirty years, I can’t understand why people read them and why they are taught. The library, on the other hand, has no biases.
But your books are taught widely in schools.
Do you know why teachers use me? Because I speak in tongues. I write metaphors. Every one of my stories is a metaphor you can remember. The great religions are all metaphor. We appreciate things like Daniel and the lion’s den, and the Tower of Babel. People remember these metaphors because they are so vivid you can’t get free of them and that’s what kids like in school. They read about rocket ships and encounters in space, tales of dinosaurs. All my life I’ve been running through the fields and picking up bright objects. I turn one over and say, Yeah, there’s a story. –“The Art of Fiction: Interview with Ray Bradbury,” Sam Fuller, Paris Review
In 1929, a group of teachers in Dallas — spurred on by their increased need for hospital services — came together and signed an agreement with Baylor University Hospital under which the teachers would pay $6 a year in exchange for 21 days of hospitalization. The plan grew to cover additional employee groups in Dallas; eventually the American Hospital Association encouraged other hospitals to adopt similar plans. Hospitals liked the idea because it gave them more predictable income streams and ensured that their bills were paid; beneficiaries, meanwhile, enjoyed the advantages of insurance. Thus the Blue Cross system was born. –“Health Care and the Profit Motive,” Avik Roy, National Affairs
Great leaders and their irrational fears;
spy planes powering through the clouds above New York City–a beautiful dream of Republican despair;
what is the blast radius of a fertility time bomb?
These valves and shears were the last line of defense, a supposedly impenetrable Maginot Line that made other fail-safes unnecessary. The federal Minerals Management Service, which regulates offshore oil and gas production and collects reports on spills as small as a single barrel, was so confident of the system that it exempted BP from filing an environmental impact statement for the Macondo operation. MMS commissioned studies on creative ways to cope with massive well blowouts and never implemented them. It promulgated rules and allowed the oil industry to obey them on a voluntary basis. “It turns out, by the way, that oil rigs today generally don’t cause spills,” Obama said on Apr. 2. “They are technologically very advanced.” –“Lessons of the Spill,” Peter Coy and Stanley Reed, Businessweek
More from TedRoss:
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”