Today’s Word: lodestar (noun) –  The lodestar (LOHD-star) is Polaris, a.k.a. the North Star, which sailors used to navigate by. We use the word to refer to anything that serves as a guide. Example from A.A. Milne in HappyDays: “Since I have known you, you have been the lodestar of my existence, the fountain of my inspiration.”

Did You Know?: It has never rained in Calama, a town in the Atacama Desert in Chile.

Worth Quoting: “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” – Stephen King

What I’m Reading Now: I saw it in the airport and read it on the flight from Baltimore to Fort Lauderdale. Fox 8, by George Saunders, is an illustrated (line drawings by Chelsea Cardinal) story whose protagonist is a talking fox. Saunders is a huge favorite of mine. His stories are both emotionally compelling and also wokely-smart. Fox 8 is less serious. Its ambition seems to be more about giving a bit of joy during the holidays than depicting the gestalt of our times. A good holiday gift for friends that read literary fiction.

Check It Out:

The NYT on “How to Be More Empathetic”… Huh?

The New York Times was once a newspaper I was proud to read. I can’t say that anymore. For perfectly understandable commercial reasons, it has given up any pretense at publishing thoughtful writing. It just shovels out the absolute thinnest pablum on whatever idiotic group-think topic is on top of the charts. And it publishes writers that couldn’t get a B- in an undergraduate class in writing when I went to college.

Here’s an example…