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“Ten to 15 people call the New York Times’s obit desk every day, asking to have their unremarkable grandfather written up.”

From Jeff McMahan’s moving tribute to Derek Parfit, who died earlier this year: “A couple of years ago, when he was teaching at Rutgers, he experienced a confluence of medical problems that urgently required that he be anesthetized and placed on a ventilator. […] That he was in the intensive care unit seemed not to interest him, and he was largely incurious about what had happened and about what his diagnosis and prognosis were. Even in those circumstances, it was his ideas that mattered most. […] A nurse, having noticed how many visitors Parfit had had, exclaimed, ‘Jesus Christ had only 12 disciples – but look at you! You’re clearly a very important man. What do you do?’ ‘I work,’ Parfit replied with a smile, ‘on what matters.'”

“Authors who are women write equally about men and women, but men write overwhelmingly about men.”

Frank Bruni on the relative decline of who: “In this hypercasual culture of ours, we’re so petrified of sounding overly fussy that we’ve swerved all the way to overly crass.”

A technical term we should all use more often: catastrophic forgetting.

“According to his publisher, James Patterson has written no fewer than 114 New York Times bestsellers”. But new stylometric research “suggests that ‘author’ in its widely accepted sense isn’t always the most appropriate term for his role in the writing process.”

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