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Times New Roman, 14 Pt. February 3, 2011

Posted by KG in Etc., FS Life, State.

In one of those great second season West Wing episodes, Sam asks the immortal Ainsley Hayes to edit a 23-page position paper down to three pages.  Twenty-three pages!  Fellow bureaucrats, can you imagine?  My experience the last few months in the Department tells me that paper only gets shorter the higher it goes up the food chain.  Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if over at the non-fictional West Wing they communicate via punctuation.

I’ve been working within the Department central machinery for long enough that writing at significant length has become a challenge.  This is fantastic for both Twitter and text messaging, but a terrible affirmation of my own technology-aided short attention span.  These days paper longer than a few pages drives me mad.  Bullet lists are so much easier.  Also of note is that it’s paper, vice “articles” or “stories.”  

The most frustrating part of this is that my brain thinks this is zero-sum.  With all my writing and work reading coming out as declarative, simple sentences, reading in my personal life is just that much harder.  Comic books?  Ooh, colors and pictures!  Easy.  Newspapers also seem fine.  But  a history of the Middle East in the early 20th century?  I’ve been trying to finish that thing for months.  Back when I was younger, I could have knocked that book out in a week.   Somehow work has caused me to lose the monastic discipline I had to read complex, rich texts.  Of course, work may just be a scapegoat, and I might just be getting dumber

If it is actually work, there may be a bright side.  I could be Army, and be knee-deep in slide decks.



1. Phil - February 4, 2011

When did “powerpoint presentations” become “slide decks” anyway?

2. John Crippen - February 10, 2011

Fromkin’s book is great! The only thing that slowed me down (and I’m older than you by far) is having to stop and say to myself “doh, we’re doing that again” over and over as I read it.
Glad you mentioned it though, I need to re-read it now that we’re over here.

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