The Writing Life

James Ralph was an 18th-century content creator, scratching out a living in England’s New Economy. In an age of political, social and technological upheaval, life could be precarious for those who kept the printing presses stoked with words.

Writing in 1758, Ralph said “there is no Difference between the Writer in his Garret, and the Slave in the Mines; but that the former has his Situation in the Air, and the latter in the Bowels of the Earth: Both have their Tasks assigned them alike: Both must drudge and starve; and neither can hope for Deliverance.”

The quote comes from The Age of Authors: An Anthology of Eighteenth-Century Print Culture, a remarkable collection of writing about writing and the plight of writers. Editor Paul Keen writes that Ralph was “often dismissed as a Grub Street hack writer,” but managed to produce some important work, including the essay quoted above.

The Distrest Poet, by William Hogarth.
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The essay, The Case of Authors By Profession or Trade, Stated, marks the decline of the era when writers relied on patrons. The new commercial model of publishing was generating profits that were being denied to those slaves in the garrets, Ralph argued.

In the new world of letters, anyone, it seemed, could be an author – even women. (Anyone, that is, who belonged to the educated classes. It wasn’t until the mid-1800s that the literacy rate in Great Britain rose above 60 per cent.) Continue reading

The Liberal record, updated

 The Tyee has posted the final version of our look at 15 years of Liberal rule in British Columbia.

You can read the full story here.

117 BC Liberal Falsehoods, Boondoggles and Scandals: The Complete List

The Tyee’s updated tally of 15 years of public messes, sourced and explained.

TheTyee.caDavid Beers is founding editor of The Tyee and Tom Barrett is a long time contributor to The Tyee and before that covered B.C. politics for the Vancouver Sun. Grateful thanks to other Tyee team members who assisted in compiling this list and checking its accuracy.

[Editor’s note: This list, which combines the Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark eras, grew from an original 98 items published last week to 117 after we invited Tyee readers to suggest additions. Some definitions: By falsehood we mean promises broken or assertions that proved demonstrably untrue. By boondoggle we mean significant public money lost to waste, overruns, or ill-conceived initiatives. And by scandal we mean moments when government was revealed to have seriously broken rules or caused harm either deliberately or through neglect or incompetence. The Tyee chose these categories with the assumption that all voters, no matter their political leanings, would prefer their government tell the truth, spend money responsibly, and avoid embarrassing breaches of ethics or the law. We also present sidebar items that don’t fit the categories, but also aren’t anything a premier might put on her podium sign.]

The BC Liberal record, part 2

The second part of the Tyee’s look at the British Columbia Liberal party in power is up.

98 BC Liberal Falsehoods, Boondoggles and Scandals: The Clark Era 53

Part two of 15 years of public messes, sourced and explained. If we forgot any, please remind us.

TheTyee.ca

 

David Beers is founding editor of The Tyee and Tom Barrett is a long time contributor to The Tyee and before that covered B.C. politics for the Vancouver Sun. Grateful thanks to other Tyee team members who assisted in compiling this list and checking its accuracy.

BOONDOGGLE: Air Christy

B.C.’s high-flying premier ran up more than half a million dollars in private jet flights during her first five years in office, at times managing to squeeze in Liberal party fundraisers among the government photo ops. On at least two occasions, Clark flew on jets chartered from companies owned by wealthy Liberal backers.

BOONDOGGLE: Stanley Cup Riot Report Topped $300K, No One to Blame

After the 2011 Stanley Cup riot, the government hired former Olympics boss John Furlong and Former Nova Scotia deputy attorney-general Doug Keefe to co-chair an inquiry. Their report was criticized for letting Canucks brass, senior bureaucrats, police and politicians off the hook. The inquiry did manage to go over its budget, though, running up a bill well over $300,000. Documents showed that Furlong billed for four hours of work the same day he spoke to the International Olympic Committee in South Africa….

Read the full story here.

 

 

The BC Liberal record, part 1

The Tyee has just published the story below, which lists some of the more dubious elements of the British Columbia Liberal government’s record. I played a small part in creating it, along with David Beers and a bunch of other Tyee folks.

Opinion

98 BC Liberal Falsehoods, Boondoggles and Scandals: The Campbell Era 45

Part one of 15 years of public messes, sourced and explained. If we forgot any, please remind us.

TheTyee.ca

David Beers is founding editor of The Tyee and Tom Barrett is a long time contributor to The Tyee and before that covered B.C. politics for the Vancouver Sun. Grateful thanks to other members of the Tyee community who assisted in compiling this list and checking its accuracy.

[Editor’s note: Pipelines? Tax cuts? A free-range organic chicken in every pot? Elections are a great time to argue about policy options. Something all voters can agree on, however, is they’d prefer their government tell the truth, spend money responsibly, and avoid embarrassing breaches of ethics or the law. In B.C., one party has been in power for 15 years, more than enough time to reveal its proclivities. As an aid to voters, therefore, The Tyee researched the BC Liberal government’s record regarding falsehoods, boondoggles and scandals. We tallied 98 items and now invite readers to suggest more.

Some definitions are in order: By falsehood we mean promises broken or assertions that proved demonstrably untrue. By boondoggle we mean significant public money lost to waste, overruns, or ill-conceived initiatives. And by scandal we mean moments when government was revealed to have seriously broken rules or caused harm either deliberately or through neglect or incompetence. So please comb our list, and if you think we’ve missed one or two BC Liberal falsehoods, boondoggles or scandals over the years, drop us a note at editor@thetyee.ca with the subject line: “Add this to the list.”

Today we begin with the years when Gordon Campbell was BC Liberal premier, from 2001 to 2010. Tomorrow we finish with the era of his successor Christy Clark, 2011 to now. Along the way we’ve tossed in a few sidebar items that don’t quite match any of our three categories, but did cause our eyes to roll. Do send items we may have missed. We promise to add any that fit our definitions. Next Monday we’ll then publish the entire list, spanning 2001 to today. So read closely and rack your memory. With your help we might end up topping 100.]

You can find the full story here.

 

Cause for hope

Thomas Vinciguerra has written a hopeful piece for the Columbia Journalism Review that looks at the unlikely Internet stardom of copy editors.

The piece features the always-sensible John McIntyre of the Baltimore Sun, who got more than a million views for a video outlining his practical and progressive views on the singular “they.”

Says Mark Allen, of the American Copy Editors Society:

People are getting more information than they ever have, whether it’s in ink or electronically. People want to read, and they want to read without stumbling. And that’s where the copy editor comes in. The copy editor is the bridge who keeps the writer from tripping up.

You can find most anything online, including a million reasons to believe that most folks these days think clear writing went out with the Lindy Hop. But here – on the Internet! – is proof you don’t have to leave your readers stumbling around like a pub full of drunks in a three-legged race.

Shitgibbon: the saga continues

My campaign to have “shitgibbon” declared the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2017 is gaining momentum with a ground-breaking revelation in the search for the term’s origin.

Ben Zimmer reports that this delightful word was coined by the British writer David Quantick.

“I’m surprised and delighted that a word I made up in the 1980s to insult British indie rock stars has resurfaced in the context of 21st century US politics and the shitgibbon in the White House,” Quantick told Zimmer. “It’s bizarre and a very odd journey for a very silly word.”

From the irksome Mark E. Smith to a strange-haired delusionist strongman is indeed an odd journey. Let’s hope the Oxford folks are listening.

(By the way, I’m following Zimmer’s practice and dropping the hyphen from “shitgibbon.” As the Canadian Press Stylebook notes, “in North America, the tendency is to drop the hyphen as soon as a new compound becomes familiar.” I say it’s time we all got familiar with this exemplary bit of invective.)

If you can’t say anything nice . . .

. . . then you can at least be inventive.

U.S. politician Daylin Leach didn’t resort to cliché when he called President Donald Trump a “fascist, loofa-faced shit-gibbon.”

It’s early yet, but I’m hoping “shit-gibbon” becomes the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year for 2017. Turns out the word has been applied to Trump before, notably by @MetalOllie, the Hamfisted Bun Vendor.

I have to get this mug.