Ask the Bolshevik

Meet the UI Press is a recurring feature that delves into issues affecting academic publishing, writing, education, and other topics. Today, industry advice columnist The Bolshevik answers your questions.

bolshevikDear Bolshevik,
A female coworker swears by this hot new app called Just Not Sorry. It’s all the rage, maybe you’ve read about it. To review: the app pops up and warns someone when an apologetic tone is undermining the authority of her written communication. In my view, we should all be learning assertive, confident writing in the first place. Declarative sentences. Firm prose. Hostility to adjectives. Intolerance of adverbs. I feel that my coworker’s reliance on an app to keep her writing assertive—i.e. streamlined—is just another sign of our society-wide failure to educate the workforce. Signed, Hard for Me to Say I’m Sorry

Dear Hard for Me: I’m sorry, but you are a lunkhead. While agreeing in theory that we should all write lean, muscular English, the Bolshevik reminds you that learning to do write well (or even poorly) takes years. Very few people graduate from college fully formed. Bridge engineer or sous chef or key grip, you perfect your craft on the job. Should our appreneurs not provide a helping hand to women who need a skills nudge–really, it’s just a nudge–while they navigate the critical early years of their careers?

What about people reentering the workforce? Or who find themselves in a new job that demands a level of written communication unfamiliar to them? Or who just developed some bad habits for whatever reason? We all develop bad habits. The Bolshevik drinks like a fish! Just Not Sorry is an app that serves a purpose similar to that of the little red line which, even now, is telling me I misspelled the non-word appreneurs in the previous paragraph. Do you also advocate removing automatic spellcheck and grammar check from our word processing programs? What kind of monster are you?

Dear Bolshevik,
What would you, a card carrying member of the worldwide revolution, do if you won the Powerball jackpot? Publish socialist realist poetry about potatoes? Or denounce your prior beliefs and live a life dedicated to hedonism? Signed, Whole Lotto Love

Dear Whole: I dismiss any lottery as a tax on the poor and/or innumerate. But I also could use a billion dollars, and thus I have visited the convenience store to buy a ticket. If my numbers match, I will indeed dedicate part of the money to revolutionary agitprop, including the glorification of the working class via reality television. But the Bolshevik also enjoys the simple pleasures. They are not simple enough to fit his reservoir of disposable income, alas, but that may change, rational laws of probability willing! In that case, I will indulge the Sensual Bolshevik within in this order:

1: A hammock
2: A revolutionary new system of timekeeping that includes vodka o’clock
3: Years and years of therapy