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People often think that editors are there to read things and tell people “no.” Saying “no” is a tiny part of the job. Editors are first and foremost there to ship the product without getting sued. They order the raw materials—words, sounds, images—mill them to approved tolerances, and ship. No one wrote a book called Editors: Get Real and Ship or suggested that publishers use agile; they don’t live in a “culture” of shipping, any more than we live in a culture of breathing. It’s just that not shipping would kill the organism. This is not to imply that you hit every sub-deadline, that certain projects don’t fail, that things don’t suck. I failed plenty, myself. It just means that you ship. If it’s too hard to ship or you don’t want to deal with it, you quit or get fired. –“Real Editors Ship,” Paul Ford, Ftrain
The geography of the brain ought to be taught in school, like the countries of the world. The deeply folded cortex forms the outer layer. There are the twin hemispheres, right brain and left brain. (We may be of two minds.) There are the four lobes: frontal in front, occipital (visual cortex) in back, parietal (motor cortex) on top, and temporal behind the ears. There’s the limbic system (seat of emotion and memory) at the center. There’s the brain stem, whose structures keep us awake (required for consciousness) or put us to sleep (required for regeneration of neurotransmitters). –“What is Consciousness,” Priscilla Long, Adbusters
Consistency is not one of Brooks’s hobgoblins; he has no qualms about changing his mind. His list of reversals is testament to his intellectual flexibility—or flabbiness, depending on your angle. His view of suburbia has dimmed, based on his new appreciation for communitarianism. Back in 2008, he strongly opposed the bailout of GM. “I might have been wrong about that,” he says. And of course there’s Iraq. As late as 2007, he called Iraq “one of the noblest endeavors the United States, or any great power, has ever undertaken.” He knew the war was profoundly anti-Burkean. But it suited his quest for “national greatness”—a gauzy vision of conservatism he and Kristol had been pushing since 1997. “It was an unfortunate deviation from my core philosophy,” he says. –“A Reasonable Man,” Christopher Beam, New York
More from TedRoss:
Years of consideration preceding the inclusion of the word “phat” in Random House’s 1996 Compact Unabridged Dictionary:
Scientists created crash helmets that stink when cracked and fruit flies to whom blue light smells delicious.
In Belize, a construction company bulldozed a 2,300-year-old Mayan temple to make road fill.
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“This is the heart of the magic factory, the place where medicine is infused with the miracles of science, and I’ve come to see how it’s done.”