Let Us Now Praise Squamous Men

by Henry Farrell on July 14, 2010

Brayden King “plays around”:http://orgtheory.wordpress.com/2010/07/14/who-do-you-write-like/ with one of those toy textual analysis tools.

bq. Who do you write like? Enter a few paragraphs of your text in this website’s analysis engine and it’ll spit out a famous author whose writing yours closely resembles … It turns out many sociologists’ writing resembles the prose of H.P. Lovecraft, whose guiding literary style was “cosmic horror” and who is associated with the subgenre weird fiction.

This begs further discussion, and, if people have the talent and inclination, mash-ups.



Jacob Christensen 07.14.10 at 2:34 pm

Based on a blogpost on Sven Otto Littorin, I was diagnosed as the next Isaac Asimov.



Utisz 07.14.10 at 2:38 pm

Orwell. Which I take as a compliment.


Charlie 07.14.10 at 3:14 pm

I was wondering if the site just gimmicks you, but I’ve tested it with actual etexts of James Joyce, Kurt Vonnegut and Daniel Defoe, and it gets them right.


Aulus Gellius 07.14.10 at 3:20 pm

My dissertation so far looks like H. P. Lovecraft, apparently. I suspect the site is unable to distinguish between Latin words and made-up adjectives.


goldie 07.14.10 at 3:24 pm

I translate many social science texts, so I dropped in some samples from books on my hard drive and got results ranging from Edgar Allan Poe (for a critique of rational choice theory) to Dan Brown (for a book on democratic political theory). Given the absurdity of these results, which I assure you no human reader would reproduce, I question the value of the tool.


gabriel 07.14.10 at 3:40 pm

Apparently George Orwell wrote the first three paragraphs of “Politics and the English Language” in the style of Leo Tolstoy. Either Orwell was doing something spectacularly clever (and I have no idea what) or else the machine might be a little flawed. That and it claims I wrote a paper on economic history in the style of Mario Puzo.


Substance McGravitas 07.14.10 at 3:41 pm

I plugged in some of this speech by Sarah Palin and got “I write like Dan Brown.”


Jacob T. Levy 07.14.10 at 3:46 pm

Blog post was Lovecraft, introduction to a paper was Nabokov. I’m with goldie on this one.


Cannoneo 07.14.10 at 3:49 pm

The dissertation got Lovecraft, the book revision got Orwell. Which roughly matches my intentions (and the advice of editors).


CJColucci 07.14.10 at 3:55 pm

I plugged in one of my more “philosophical” blog postings and was told I write like — Stephen King! I’ve never read King. Maybe I should. And maybe I can become as rich as he is.


y81 07.14.10 at 4:07 pm

I plugged in the language I had written for one of my loan agreements, and got Charles Dickens. I don’t know what this result means.


Keith 07.14.10 at 4:09 pm

Apparently I write like Stephen King, Vladimir Nabakov, James Joyce and Chuck Palahniuk, depending on which writing samples I used. Now if only I could be as commercially successful as King, as well regarded as Nabakov and as innovative as Joyce (I could do without being as gimmicky as Palahniuk though).


CJColucci 07.14.10 at 4:13 pm

I plugged in a short speech I gave at a lawyer’s luncheon and was told I wrote like J.D. Salinger. I think I’ll hide now.


CJColucci 07.14.10 at 4:18 pm

Last one. I plugged in a legal brief on a first amendment issue and was told I write like Robert Louis Stevenson. Now I’m thoroughly confused.


NomadUK 07.14.10 at 4:27 pm

Strangely, I appear to write both like H G Wells and J K Rowling. I’m not at all certain what that implies, or about whom.


ajay 07.14.10 at 4:50 pm

My dissertation so far looks like H. P. Lovecraft, apparently

ABSTRACT: I am forced into speech because men of science have refused to follow my advice without knowing why…


ben w 07.14.10 at 4:53 pm

I put this post in and was told that I write like Dan Brown.


HP 07.14.10 at 5:00 pm

Douglas Adams. I think that means I win.

I plugged in some paragraphs of some particularly tricky CFD software documentation I’d written about visualizing velocity fields. I suspect that the mix of simple declarative sentences with imperatives is reminiscent of the Hitchhiker’s Guide (the book within the book).

Either that, or my technical writing is hilarious.


Crystal 07.14.10 at 5:01 pm

Having had to read so many sociology journal articles back in the day, I can testify to the nameless eldritch ichor therein.


Maurice Meilleur 07.14.10 at 5:08 pm

The first four paragraphs of my dissertation sound like Dan Brown, too. Which sucks, because I hate Dan Brown.

Of course, I hate my dissertation, too. So maybe this is not an insult but an affirmation.


Aulus Gellius 07.14.10 at 5:48 pm

It occurs to me, on further thought, that my dissertation may quite possibly become a record of the unspeakably horrifying experiences that drove me to madness, offered as a warning to others. It certainly has tended that way, at times.


jrb 07.14.10 at 6:05 pm

I put in a few paragraphs by Dickens (from Bleak House, I think) and was told I write like Daniel Defoe. So I put in a few paragraphs from Moll Flanders and was told I write like … Daniel Defoe.


Colin Danby 07.14.10 at 6:05 pm

Five successive paragraphs of Edmund Burke are written like James Fenimore Cooper, Jonathan Swift, George Orwell, Charles Dickens, and Jane Austen. Talented guy.


Ted Lemon 07.14.10 at 6:09 pm

Oh hell yeah, apparently I also write like Leo Tolstoy (a blog about politics) and Dan Brown (a blurb about DHCP on Wikipedia). I think the conclusion we can draw here is fairly obvious. I wonder if there are any good drugs that work on multiple personality disorder…


chris 07.14.10 at 6:12 pm

It’s interesting that either they didn’t include Austen in the possible responses, or nobody has gotten her yet.

Come to think of it, are there *any* female authors in the test’s response set? Oh wait, someone mentioned Rowling.

P.S. Since when is Palahniuk a famous author? Maybe this is a clue to the test’s origin? Or even its ulterior purpose…


MattF 07.14.10 at 6:15 pm

I seem to get Stephen King pretty consistently. It’s the short sentences, I’d bet.


Ted Lemon 07.14.10 at 6:20 pm

Wow, it took me twenty tries, but I finally got one that sounded like H.P. Lovecraft–a blog post I wrote a while ago discussing coffee and LISP. Seems to fit in with the supposed trend. On the other hand, I got Dan Brown three times (owie!), Chuck Pahlaniuk twice (cool!), James Joyce once (that’s just weird), Stephen King twice (I’m going to try to feel good about this), and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once (wow).

If there is any validity to this analysis tool at all, which I doubt, I think it’s necessary to provide it with a larger sample than a paragraph.


Ted Lemon 07.14.10 at 6:23 pm

I got Rowling once, for a short blog I wrote on a rather adventurous mistake on a Google bicycle map that I reported to Google. The James Joyce one had a couple of lines of C code in it.


Salient 07.14.10 at 6:25 pm

According to the analysis website, Brayden King’s blog post, which posits that it takes having “Lis as a coauthor” to make him write like Nabokov, is written in the style of Nabokov (as is this comment of mine, allegedly; I suspect Nabokov is set as a default from which some writing samples deviate, because this comment sure as hell doesn’t sound like anything ol’ Vlad would have written).


John M. 07.14.10 at 6:29 pm

Kurt Vonnegut & George Orwell. I wish I did, but I don’t. I could not come close.


ECW 07.14.10 at 6:31 pm

I put in paragraphs from each chapter of my book manuscript. Got one Dan Brown, four Vonnegut’s, and one James Fenimore Cooper. Looks like the first and last chapters need revision. I’ll be happy once all six chapters read like Vonnegut.


Salient 07.14.10 at 6:35 pm

Also apparently Edward Bulwer-Lytton writes like Charles Dickens, which confirms my longtime suspicion that the iconic first line was supposed to be “It was a dark and stormy night, it was a bright and cloudness night; the rain fell in torrents (for it is in Paris that our scene lies) — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies); it was the time of water still and serene in puddles in the dull glow of moonlight, it was the time of water rattling along the housetops and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness; it was the worst of times, it was the best of times…”


Left Outside 07.14.10 at 6:40 pm

Fuck this for laughs…

I got Dan Brown.


josh 07.14.10 at 7:06 pm

I’ve analyzed several passages by Orwell. One is in the “style” of H.G. Wells. One in the style of James Joyce. And one in the style of Isaac Asimov. None in the style of Orwell.
I also analyzed a couple of passages by Christopher Hitchens. Neither are in the style of Orwell, as one might think (he would). One is in the style of Kurt Vonnegut, and the other in the style of — Mario Puzo.
My own writing apparently ranges from Vonnegut (whom I’ve never read, amazingly) to Orwell, to Lovecraft, to Dan Brown.
This post, apparently, is in Vonnegut.


mrearl 07.14.10 at 7:26 pm

Indeed Nabokov maybe a flattering default, considering this produced him:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Call me Ishmael. Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary. I was born in Little Rock, had a childhood sweetheart.


BillCinSD 07.14.10 at 7:29 pm

I did some chapters of bad fiction I wrote and they came out as Dan Brown, Stephen King and James Joyce. So evidently my story may be poorly written but it will sell a hige number of copies or be nigh-impenetrable.

A random portion of my dissertation came out as Isaac Asimov, probably for all the scientific terms.

I also did the story Troll Bridge by Terry Pratchett and it came out in the style of Chuck Palahniuk, so Troll Bridge may be a fantasy Fight Club


yabonn_fr 07.14.10 at 7:30 pm

The comments up to and including Josh at 33 are, of course, Lovecraft.


Myles SG 07.14.10 at 7:33 pm

I plugged in a short speech I gave at a lawyer’s luncheon and was told I wrote like J.D. Salinger. I think I’ll hide now.

(Snickers admiringly).

That is golden. I got a good laugh out of that. What next? Joseph Conrad at a neoconservative seminar?


william u. 07.14.10 at 7:38 pm

As this exercise revealed, I haven’t written any long piece of text recently that isn’t cluttered with LaTeX math tags. That’s distressing. Once the tags are stripped out, I get Edgar Allan Poe. \Bells, \bells, \bells, \bells, \bells.


Richard J 07.14.10 at 7:40 pm

I’d love to write like James Joyce, sadly I suspect it’s closer to to Molly Bloom’s stream of consciousness at the end of Ulysses that just keeps rolling on and on like the curlsof hair down a georgian wig like a stream like a spring bearing all its sons away and yes and yes and yes and yes


CJColucci 07.14.10 at 8:00 pm

Couldn’t stay away. I plugged in the first two pages (and, so far, only pages) of my novel and was told I wrote like James Joyce. WTF? Maybe because the semi-fictional judge was named Martin F.X. Conway, but otherwise I don’t see it.


peter ramus 07.14.10 at 8:00 pm



Crystal 07.14.10 at 8:01 pm

I plugged in a paragraph from my business plan and got – Stephen King. Now, King is one of my favorite authors, but…my business plan?

Just for kicks and giggles, I plugged in a couple paragraphs of G.W. Bush’s farewell speech and got…H.P. Lovecraft. That is just so fitting, somehow.


Substance McGravitas 07.14.10 at 8:21 pm

I went to this page and had it chew on the Sarah Palin text I mentioned above (specifically the paragraph that says “as Plato had said: Be nice to everyone”) that was judged to be Dan Brown. Rearrange the words via Markov chain and she is now Ray Bradbury.


Irrelephant 07.14.10 at 8:33 pm

Three random essays: Kurt Vonnegut. James Joyce. Mark Twain.

Probably because I use the word “motherfucker”. A lot.


etbnc 07.14.10 at 9:25 pm

First try: Margaret Atwood.

Perhaps I should have stopped there. Second sample: Dan Brown.

Thereafter it seemed to alternate between Dan Brown and others. Chuck Palahniuk, Dan Brown. Nabokov, Dan Brown. Arthur Conan Doyle, (now there’s a mystery!) meet Dan Brown. Dickens (best of posts), and Dan Brown (assume obligatory joke here).

Seems like Dan Brown might be the program’s catch-all default, or its reference baseline for everyday English.


Salient 07.14.10 at 9:57 pm

Someone elsewhere on the Internet discovered if you copy and paste the word “butts” repeatedly the analysis program spits out Shakespeare, and alternatively, copying and pasting the word “cock” results in a score of James Joyce. So for those of you whose professional academic work was declared Joycean, consider well what that might mean…


Jeff 07.14.10 at 10:19 pm

Repeatedly writing “bollocks” yields a diagnosis of H.P. Lovecraft.


Henry (not the famous one) 07.14.10 at 10:22 pm

I also used Dickens–the first two paragraphs of Bleak House–which were, surprisingly enough, written by Ernest Hemingway. But not so surprising when you reread them–I’m guessing that very short sentences made the difference.


ffrancis 07.14.10 at 10:28 pm

Five randomly chosen paragraphs from past work produced: Fenimore Cooper, Raymond Chandler, Mario Puzo, Stephen King and Margaret Atwood. I have yet to find my true literary voice.


Henry (not the famous one) 07.14.10 at 10:33 pm

I tried the following passage from Felix Frankfurter:

Though we may not end with the words in construing a disputed statute, one certainly begins there. You have the right to think that a hoary platitude, but it is a platitude not acted upon in many arguments. . . . One more caution relevant when one is admonished to listen attentively to what a statute says. One must also listen attentively to what it does not say.

and got Jane Austen. You can hear the echo, especially from a famous first line of a famous book.


Substance McGravitas 07.14.10 at 11:01 pm

Via the JanusNode, a recipe:


Benjamin Franklin’s Warm Kefir cheese mincemeat

6 cans red tiger
1 kefir cheese, stirred
3 jars fantastic cucumber
7 gallons black fly wing, strained
5 bags maple syrup
1 gallon thyme

Begin praying. Cream the red tiger with a large thingamajig. Use a food processor to combine the cucumber with the kefir cheese. Stuff the resulting potion into the red tiger. Crush the black fly wing, maple syrup, and the thyme. Spread the latter combination on to the former. Leave raw. Serves 8 friends with balsamic stomachs.


“I write like David Foster Wallace”


LFC 07.14.10 at 11:02 pm

I plugged in a recent short-ish blog post, and got back “you write like David Foster Wallace.” Weird, since I’ve read very little of his work and could never get through more than the first few pages of Infinite Jest, and I’m not a big fan either of the writers he’s sometimes grouped with. I’m inclined to think this analysis “tool” is a bit hit-and-miss.


sg 07.14.10 at 11:08 pm

The other day I wrote a blog post providing statistical proof that Paul the Octopus is a servant of Cthulhu. I pasted that in, and it turns out I write like “David Foster Wallace.”

I’m not sure what that says about Lovecraft, but I’m sure I should have just asked the Octopus…

It said the same thing about my review of Solomon Kane too, which apparently (for better or worse) is not the same style as Robert E Howard…


Keith 07.14.10 at 11:08 pm

A particular blog post/rant (linked in my name) about a gold dispensing machine and Glenn Beck’s goldbug tendencies came back as David Foster Wallace. Meanwhile, my posts on writing my novel come back as Isaac Asimov.


musical mountaineer 07.14.10 at 11:17 pm

I don’t find this all that surprising. As Lovecraft himself pointed out: once you control for batrachian horrors and rubbery doglike lopers, Dunwich and Arkham are perfect sociological laboratories, especially for studying the socioeconomic effects of immigration (both legal and illegal) from alternate planes of existence. Also, despite some naysayers’ gibbering shrieks of obscene madness, research in Sarnath often yields valuable insights for policymakers in non-doomed communities.


sg 07.14.10 at 11:21 pm

I just tried the text of Paul Keating’s bitter letter to Bob Hawke (written in today’s Australian) and found that he writes like James Joyce. I suppose they don’t have any extant texts from Nyarlathotep to compare him to.


Fred 07.15.10 at 12:46 am

I tried the poem I wrote about the new young waitress and got Rudyard Kipling. I guess I should try the poetry on the girls in the English department, though I’m sure they don’t drink Jameson like my favorite waitress. Nor wear the skirts quite so short.


Henry (not the famous one) 07.15.10 at 12:53 am

So I inputted Section 8(e) of the National Labor Relations Act:

It shall be an unfair labor practice for any labor organization and any employer to enter into any contract or agreement, express or implied, whereby such employer ceases or refrains or agrees to cease or refrain from handling, using, selling, transporting or otherwise dealing in any of the products of any other employer, or to cease doing business with any other person, and any contract or agreement entered into heretofore or hereafter containing such an agreement shall be to such extent unenforcible and void.

And was told that the 86th Congress wrote like Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde. I think we can now declare this particular tool to be completely useless.


Pär Isaksson 07.15.10 at 1:13 am

Apparently the list of references from my masters essay is written in the style of James Joyce. That’s nice I guess.


vivian 07.15.10 at 1:46 am

Arthur C. Clarke for a chunk of dissertation text without inline references, David Foster Wallace for several chunks with citations or parentheses (also a page of executive summary from work – I think it’s the bullet points). EA Poe for a (raven and bell free) research proposal that so far went nowhere.

However, Chuck Beitz apparently writes like DFW too, while Elizabeth Anderson writes like James Joyce, so the company is good.


novakant 07.15.10 at 1:50 am

Hegel = Stephen King – wtf?


H.P. Asimov 07.15.10 at 2:30 am

I inputted a paragraph of one of my papers: Lovecraft. Deleted the second half of it: Asimov. Weird.


sg 07.15.10 at 2:44 am


I just input the last couple of paragraphs from Goebbels’ Total War speech, and it tells me he writes like Bram Stoker.

Oh Goebbels, you’re so smart you could be a man!


GP 07.15.10 at 3:33 am

I performed a few experiments with the tool. The results were disturbing.



Glen Tomkins 07.15.10 at 3:39 am

I’m not even going to submit any of my deathless prose to these sites, because my doom as a Bulwer-Lytton facsimile is a foregone conclusion.


Dr. Hilarius 07.15.10 at 5:23 am

A crime article in the New York Times is in the style of James Joyce. Perhaps I should cancel my subscription to the NYT and read Joyce at the breakfast table?


NMissC 07.15.10 at 5:46 am

Somehow the website ID’s this as Stephen King:

I got stones in my passway, and my road seem dark as night
I have pains in my heart, they have taken my appetite

I have a bird to whistle, and I have a bird to sing
I got a woman that I’m lovin’, boy, but she don’t mean a thing

My enemies have betrayed me, have overtaken poor Bob at last
And there’s one thing certainly, they have stones all in my pass

Now you tryin’ to take my life, and all my lovin’ too
You laid a passway for me, now what are you trying to do?
I’m cryin’ please, please let us be friends
And when you hear me howlin’ in my passway, rider, please open your door and let me in

I got three lane’s to truck home, boys, please don’t block my road
I’ve been feelin’ ashamed ’bout my rider, babe, I’m booked and I got to go


daelm 07.15.10 at 7:42 am

i dropped a section from a letter of complaint to my ISP in.

result: David Foster Wallace.

i’ve not read him, so i’m i’ll-informed, but i suspect the letter was less effective than i had hoped.



ceabaird 07.15.10 at 8:11 am

William Gibson. From my text written for a “How-to” manual.


chris y 07.15.10 at 9:21 am

My internal emails at work read like Stephen King. I knew I was in the wrong job.


Z 07.15.10 at 9:41 am

My research writing is in the style of David Foster Wallace. However, my Harry Potter parody is consistently in the style of JK Rowling, so I am glad.


Peter Whiteford 07.15.10 at 9:49 am

Various paragraphs from a paper of mine on the Australian tax and transfer systems come out as either James Joyce or David Foster Wallace.


alex 07.15.10 at 10:37 am

I think we can conclude that this program operates a fairly crude algorithm against a small sample of ‘types’. Therefore, it is not as much fun as one might hope.


praisegod barebones 07.15.10 at 11:15 am

A friend tells me that Ovid (in Latin) comes out as being James Joyce


Jay Livingston 07.15.10 at 12:37 pm

I plugged in an excerpt from Carrie and the program identified as Stephen King. Then I used an excerpt from Stephen King’s book on writing, in which, apparently, he writes like David Foster Wallace. So do I, when I’m not writing like Arthur Conan Doyle and Vladimir Nabokov.


toe cheese 07.15.10 at 12:42 pm

Text input was three paragraphs each consisting of the line
toe cheese toe cheese toe cheese toe cheese toe cheese toe cheese

Result: I write like
Margaret Atwood

Nothing interesting here. Move on.


lemuel pitkin 07.15.10 at 1:44 pm

Datapoints. Apparently Sarah Palin writes like H. P. Lovecraft. Also.


musical mountaineer 07.15.10 at 1:52 pm

it is not as much fun as one might hope

Boy, I’ll say. I put in a parking ticket and it said I write like a Crooked Timber commenter. In the unlikely event I’m ever invited to drink with you worthies, I’ll be sure to bring a fucking big bottle of nitrous.


Josh 07.15.10 at 1:59 pm

Everything I’ve written this year is in the style of David Foster Wallace. The essays of Chandler Davis, OTOH, are written in the style of Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe, and William Gibson. I guess the Red Scare had an effect on the man.


Salient 07.15.10 at 2:56 pm

I’m not even going to submit any of my deathless prose to these sites, because my doom as a Bulwer-Lytton facsimile is a foregone conclusion.

Okay, but then, Bulwer-Lytton writes like Charles Dickens, so you’d be in good company.

The whiskey is water, the water is wine.


roac 07.15.10 at 3:31 pm

More than enough evidence in the comments to convince me that this is not worth visiting (too bad). But props are due Henry for the post title.

(Can anyone think of a rhyme for “batrachian,” BTW?)


alex 07.15.10 at 3:53 pm

I dunno, but when I put ‘batrachian’ in Google to check the pronunciation, it unprompted tells me to ‘try also: meghan o sullivan; ducats; ringworm; suspension of disbelief; squamous’, which suggests that the machines have taken over, and are writing their own, very odd, Lovecraft/West Wing mashups…


burritoboy 07.15.10 at 4:39 pm

“As Lovecraft himself pointed out: once you control for batrachian horrors and rubbery doglike lopers, Dunwich and Arkham are perfect sociological laboratories, especially for studying the socioeconomic effects of immigration (both legal and illegal) from alternate planes of existence.”

Aren’t the batrachian horrors more prevalent in Arkham’s rather declasse outskirt of Innsmouth, as opposed to the college town’s own more tweedy brands of horrors?

Many of Lovecraft’s Miskatonic professors are indeed social scientists, though I don’t believe the u had a sociology department back then. I’m sure that’s been rectified by now.


Henry 07.15.10 at 5:14 pm

bq. (Can anyone think of a rhyme for “batrachian,” BTW?)



chris 07.15.10 at 7:02 pm

@85: Nope. “Batrachian” comes from Greek and has a hard “k” sound (or properly, a sound that doesn’t normally occur in English at all), while “Appalachian” has the “ch” sound of “chair” or “cheese”.

If English had more sensible spelling, or even more sensible transliteration-from-Greek conventions, that would be more apparent.

“Kevorkian” might work if you’re not too picky.


musical mountaineer 07.15.10 at 7:36 pm

I once had a rhyme for “batrachian”,
But it was a pretty damn flaky ‘un.
The wonks and the scholars
Refused to pay dollars
So I finally had to just take a yen.


Theophylact 07.15.10 at 9:24 pm

Well, there’s always “Chairman Bob” Avakian.


lemuel pitkin 07.15.10 at 10:17 pm

Well, there’s always “Chairman Bob” Avakian.

Avakian. Now there’s a squamous man, if we consider that the main use of the word today is in reference to a cancer.

My friend Bob Fitch, who was a comrade of Avakian’s back when the RCP was the Revolutionary Union, has some great stories about that guy. Like the time in the early 70s when they were driving somewhere in Oakland and saw a couple cops standing on a streetcorner. Avakian said, “You know what we should do? Let’s shoot one of those cops. They’ll think the blacks did it and bring the hammer down, they’ll be hauling people out of their homes. And that will set off a riot — it could set off a revolution. We’ll be like Lenin and Trotsky!” And Fitch says, “You know, we’re not Lenin and Trotsky, we’re just Bob and Bob. So, let’s not.”


Jacob Christensen 07.15.10 at 10:59 pm

Couldn’t resist putting some Timberites to the test by taking the latest major post of each writer. So, who are you?

Daniel Davis – James Joyce (actually, I took one of d2’s posts from d-squareddigest but I don’t think it would change anything)

Chris Bertram – David Foster Wallace

Michael Berub̩ РIan Fleming

Harry Brighouse – David Foster Wallace

Henry Farrell – Dan Brown (the veto points post! I see an interesting topic for discussion in a freshman polsci-class here)

Eszter Hargittai – David Foster Wallace (I slowly begin to see a pattern here…)

Ingrid Robeyns – … wait for it … David Foster Wallace!

John Quiggin – well, you have one guess and one guess only …

Belle Waring – Dan Brown (the Jonah Goldberg post, so you may be excused)

Maria Farrell – …yes, she too is David Foster Wallace

John Holbo – Da … haha! Fooled you! … Vladimir Nabokov

Kieran Healy – Douglas Adams


Jacob Christensen 07.15.10 at 11:06 pm

Ooops – my sincere apologies to Scott McLemee who is indeed the H.P. Lovecraft of Crooked Timber.

I wonder if it is a good or a bad thing that none of you write like Immanuel Kant, by the way.


musical mountaineer 07.15.10 at 11:33 pm

It’s pretty clear from the context in Lovecraft that “batrachian” means “froglike”, but it’s not in my Collegiate dictionary, so I was never quite sure as to the meaning. But today I looked it up in this moldy old leather-bound Columbia Unabridged, and was pleased to find about a third of a column dedicated to “batrachian” and its cognates.

One such cognate is “batrachomyomachy”. I was too impressed with the word itself to read the definition; I would guess it means making dead frogs jump using electricity (frog-muscle-power-contrivance). Wrong guess, says the internet. Anyway, this word has TWO instances of “ch” sounding like “k”, which has got to be at least a tie for first place. If anyone cares to argue this conclusion, a batrachomyomachy may result.


Salient 07.16.10 at 12:02 am

Jacob Christensen seems to have forgotten Montagu Norman, 1st Baron Norman, whose CT writing allegedly reads like Leo Tolstoy.


GeoX 07.16.10 at 12:04 am

(Can anyone think of a rhyme for “batrachian,” BTW?)


I know a lot of people–even people from the region–pronounce it “Appa-LATCH-in,” but in the nearby area of central Pennsylvania where I grew up, everyone always pronounced it “Appa-LAY-chin, with a long ‘A’ sound. I don’t know if there’s an official answer.


Jacob Christensen 07.16.10 at 12:40 am

@93 Actually, no: I deliberately left the guestbloggers and former Timberites out of my sample :-)

That said, we still miss some Dostoyevskian brooding, Kierkegaardian angst and a touch of Dante’s Purgatory on the blog.


John Gee 07.16.10 at 1:05 pm


This comment thread’s very Lovecraftian,
The algorithm seems like a daft one
I’ll say no more of it,
Except not to covet
Its verdicts – and now I just have to run


musical mountaineer 07.16.10 at 4:26 pm

I’ve been thinking about other words that have two ch‘s that sound like k. I can’t think of any, but I made up a few:

brachiochordate: any vertebrate with forelimbs.
trochanterache: what you get when someone kicks you in the hip.
nudibranchichor: the seepage from certain Lovecraftian monsters.


alex 07.17.10 at 1:48 pm

Newsflash: it’s a vanity-publishing scam:



Anand 07.17.10 at 6:04 pm

@ 82 :
> Can anyone think of a rhyme for “batrachian,” BTW?
How about Mandrakian? As in “And he waved his Mandrakian iPhone hypnotically.”

@ 97 :
>I’ve been thinking about other words that have two ch’s that sound like k.
There is Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT).


Anand 07.17.10 at 7:39 pm


Martin DeMello 07.17.10 at 8:11 pm

Grepping through the dictionary for two-ch words revealed (among others) the delightful “brachistochrone” and the startlingly common “stomachache”


Twisted_Colour 07.18.10 at 8:06 am

Garibaldi, Garibaldi, Garibaldi
I’m bettin’ that by now
He’s feelin’ pretty moldy.

This little ditty got me Mario Puzo. Ethnic profiling?


SusanC 07.18.10 at 8:05 pm

It matched me to Stephanie Meyer… who is probably the author I’d least like to be compared with in its whole database.

As people have said, it probably uses a very simple algorithm. Which is a pity, as there is some serious research being done on author identification.


musical mountaineer 07.19.10 at 5:54 pm

@101: I thought of “stomachache” after two days. Duh. “Brachistochrone” is a good one.

Nice trick with grep, there. I had lazily convinced myself there was no way to search for such words. Now, for ten points extra credit, show me a regex that can sort out “ch like ch” from “ch like k”.


Jamey 07.20.10 at 1:57 am

I came up with Cory Doctorow the first two times (I didn’t even know who that was until I looked him up) and David Foster Wallace the fourth (a couple of paragraphs related to gestalt psychology and Thomas Kuhn’s philsophy of science). After I came up with Cory Doctorow twice I was beginning to feel that I was a little bit boring so I posted a little rant about Camille Paglia tasering people to bring out their Dionysian side. That supposedly resembled Edgar Allan Poe. Which isn’t suprising since when I originally wrote that I was probably at about the same level of intoxication as he was when he wrote his stuff.


Jamey 07.20.10 at 2:08 am

I did one with some use of dialect and came up with Mark Twain. So I decided to see if the use of dialect was what triggered it. I pasted an excerpt of the authentic frontier gibberish speech from “Blazing Saddles” and it told me it resembled the style of James Joyce.

“I wash born here, an I wash raished here, and dad gum it, I am gonna die here, an no sidewindin bushwackin, hornswaglin, cracker croaker is gonna rouin me bishen cutter.”

Comments on this entry are closed.