Wednesday, April 20, 2011


58. From Australia. On whether I should refer to myself as "we" in a one-person grant proposal.

The "we" in a paper is grammatically a royal plural but I think the best way to think of it is as [...] once described to me - it's like the author and the reader working through the argument together: "we solve this differential equation to get ..."

This doesn't sound so good if you are talking about your achievements: "we obtained our PhD from the University of [...] in 2009". In this circumstance, I'd suggest using "I".

59. "Swing it over the left shoulder. That's the right shoulder. Come on I can see you! Swing it over the left shoulder. One, two, three, four, five. Good. Do it again. The left shoulder. Left. One, two, three..."

60. Dinner conversation. 

"I'd love to be FBI", I tell him. "I get to have a badge, and then hold it up to show to people: I'm FBI."
"But you can't be FBI."
"Why not?"
"Because you are not in America." 
"I can fly to America."
"But what can you do?"
"I have.... a mathematical ability," I say, slightly unconvincingly. 
"Can you shoot?"
"Have never touched a gun." 
"Then you can't be FBI. Me, I'd prefer to be NSA or CIA." 
"Why? In no movie you'd see people go, I'm NSA."
"OK, then I'd prefer to be CIA."
"Still, CIA doesn't show a badge and say, I'm CIA."
"CIA doesn't need to show a badge. CIA just kills people."

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