I just learned that my high school English teacher, Barbara Angott, died 10 years ago. This makes me sad, because I would’ve loved to have talked with her about how much of where I am today is because of what she did for me 25 years ago.
Ms. Angott was four foot something and feisty as hell. She made us read Melville’s Billy Budd for class, while the other teacher only had kids watch the movie—a move Angott made fun of and referred to as “Budd Light."
I had Ms. Angott for AP English, and the class was nothing but writing an essay one day and getting critiqued on it the next. She used a fat red Sharpie, and her editorial marks were to cross out sentences or paragraphs and scrawl “Ugh” in the margin.
A student in class asked Ms. Angott how she thought we’d all do on the AP English exam, which was graded from 1 to 5. She thought about it for a moment and said, “Aaron will get a 5. I don’t know about the rest of you.”

I got a 5.
Thirteen years later, reporting to duty as the new Cato Institute staff writer, the skills Ms. Angott taught me—writing quality prose quickly—meant I rarely got requests for substantial revision from @David_Boaz. And DB is the toughest editor you’re likely to find.
I wouldn’t be where I am today without Barbara Angott. Teachers matter, and there’s almost nothing more admirable or worth celebrating than a great teacher who made a lasting impact on her students.

Also, Ms. Angott had a cat named Chairman Meow. Which is amazing.

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More from @ARossP

11 Jun
This problem I pointed out earlier, that political philosophy spends too much time on HOW to use state coercive power instead of asking whether that power SHOULD be used, has troubling consequences far beyond the halls of the academy. So here's a thread.
We need to start by being clear about what the state is. Governments are, at their most basic level, institutions to enable and empower some people to use coercive force, backed by threats of violence, against others. Everything else they do is just trappings on top of that.
The state is an enforced power relationship, a hierarchy that grants some authority over others, and backs that authority with force. Even if we think the state is necessary, and even if we like what it does, it's still, at its heart, a relationship of unequal power.
Read 11 tweets
9 Jun
My theory about this is that literary criticism is intellectually difficult, while pedantry, language policing, looking for "problematic" statements is intellectually undemanding.
The internet, and particularly social media, has convinced us that we ought to express an opinion about everything, and the removal of gatekeepers has convinced us all opinions are equally worthwhile.
As a result, fans imagine themselves literary critics, even though legit literary criticism demands a great deal of ability and knowledge, which most fans lack. So instead they express simplistic opinions based on easy, but non-interesting and non-insightful, heuristics.
Read 5 tweets
1 Jun
For people doing research and writing in @RoamResearch and working with RAs or interns for research help, here's a nifty workflow I've come up with that lets me assign research questions, and automatically integrate the findings into my outline. #roam
Step 1: Go through my outline and identify issues I'd like my intern to help with. I create a new block where the question falls in the outline, preface it with #[[Intern Research]], and then type out the question I'm looking for an answer to.
Step 2: Create a new page titled "[[Intern Research]]: [[Intern Name]]" and share it my intern. I then look through the [[Intern Research]] references for questions to assign, and add them to the intern's page as block references.
Read 7 tweets

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