Former Democratic governor of Ohio Ted Strickland tried to live on minimum wage for a week and, in his own words, he “didn’t make it.”
In an op-ed for POLITICO, Strickland explains how he failed in his attempt to live for just seven days on $77, the amount the “Live the Wage” campaign estimates is left in a 40-hour minimum wage employee’s weekly pay of $290 after accounting for taxes and housing. Strickland, a Harvard fellow and well-off political operative, was clearly unprepared for just how quickly expenses added up. He had spent his $77 by Thursday after realizing his meager budget left him without the money necessary even to pay for public transportation.
Here’s why this matters: because both writing and storytelling comprise, at the most basic level, a series of word choices. Words are the building blocks of what we do. They are the atoms of our elements. They are the eggs in our omelets. They are the shots of liquor in our cocktails. Get it right? Serendipity. Get it wrong? The air turns to arsenic, that cocktail makes you puke, this omelet tastes like balls.
2. WORDS DEFINE REALITY
Words are like LEGO bricks: the more we add, the more we define the reality of our playset. “The dog fucked the chicken” tells us something. “The Great Dane fucked the chicken” tells us more. “The Great Dane fucked the bucket of fried chicken on the roof of Old Man Dongweather’s barn, barking with every thrust” goes the distance and defines reality in a host of ways (most of them rather unpleasant). You can over-define. Too many words spoil the soup. Find the balance between clarity, elegance, and evocation.
High, squeaky notes. Screeching soprano solos. Unintelligible opera divas. There are a slew of stereotypes for how soprano voices sound at the top of their range. Even exceptionally talented singers struggle to be understood when singing high notes. Is it just a matter of technique, or is there something else going on? As it turns out, soprano voices are limited more by physics than by skill, and here’s why:
Lauren Ackerman, who you might recognize as wuglife, is on Lexicon Valley talking about what happens to vowels at high pitches. It’s fascinating, contains cute animals, and I definitely learned things while I was editing it, so you should check it out.