Thursday, November 13, 2008

Binomial Random Variables

You are all going to get pretty annoyed with these short posts after awhile, I'm sure. It seems like I have so much stuff going on that I just can't find more than ten minutes at a time to write. That's a shame, because I've found that it often takes more than ten minutes to write anything worthwhile (my average on this blog is four hours, including research and editing).

So, in order to accommodate my truncated timetable, I now present to you:

The Sage Words (Truncated) Guide to Writing Short Blog Entries
(or: how to meet a deadline without actually working)

In order to write a blog entry that looks like you actually put some thought into it quickly, with no preparation, it is important to have access to the following seven things:
  1. A propensity for making lists
  2. Low standards of overall quality
  3. An understanding readership (remind me to get one of those)
  4. A relatively well-maintained vocabulary
  5. An imagination with few guidelines about what's "appropriate" or "in good taste"
  6. A ready supply of junk food
  7. A better idea for your last item than this one
Once you have obtained those things, make up a quick (and hopefully thematic) title for your article. It's not terribly important to make the content match the title, it's just there for show. Put it in large, bold letters and change the color. That makes it look official, and implies that you did more than just start typing like an Infinite Monkey and pray for a good outcome. If you can come up with a pithy subtitle, so much the better.

Now, after jotting down a quick introduction, toss out a list. It can be numbered or bulletted, depending what you're writing about (if you even know yet!), but if it's numbered, use an arbitrary number (like seven) instead of an easy five or ten. Everyone does top ten lists, so stand out a little!

Now make up an explanation for whatever the list was about, followed by a brief transition. Once the transition is written...

...insert a random picture. In a case like this, the more random the better.

Next, knock off a quick summation of your points. Mention the list, the explanation, and try to make a clever remark about the picture. (If you have a hard time choosing between two clever remarks, try flipping a coin!)

Follow this with a "Big Finish". I picked this trick up by watching a lot of GI Joe and Inspector Gadget cartoons, where there's always a moralistic wrap up at the end to make up for the senseless violence. This part should speak to your reader and make them feel as if you actually had something to say, even if you made it up as you went along!

The Interwebs are full of a lot of things today. There are dirty pictures, murder plots, guides to fiscal malfeasance (and all that's just on Congress's site!); but there are still not enough actual resources. If you put some effort into it, plan your message, and craft it lovingly, you can put something really positive out there for people to react to. Something that could one day inspire or even amaze!

Or, if you're short of time, you can just make it up as you go along. Who's going to know?

-Sage Words

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