Tyson Adams

Putting the 'ill' back in thriller

Archive for the tag “Comment”

Isabel Allende’s scorn for genre fiction

science-fiction-vs-proper-literature

Literature vs Genre: jetpack wins!

There is a storm brewing. In the latest of the long line of insults by literary fiction against genre fiction, Isabel Allende has taken a pot shot at crime fiction. Now apparently she hates crime fiction because:

It’s too gruesome, too violent, too dark; there’s no redemption there. And the characters are just awful. Bad people.

But that didn’t stop her writing a crime mystery. It also didn’t stop her saying that the book was a joke and ironic. I think the word she was actually looking for was hypocrite.

I’ve never really understood the people who read or write stuff they don’t enjoy. Sure, I read some really boring science journal articles, but that’s because I enjoy knowing stuff. If I’m going to sit down and read a book, I want that 10-20 hours of entertainment to be, well, entertaining. If I’m writing, which is a much longer and more involved process, why would I invest that much time in something I’m not enjoying doing?

So to some extent, I understand why Isabel decided that her mystery had to be a joke and ironic. But that is also the crux of the problem, she doesn’t seem to understand that she is also insulting readers and fans of genre fiction. I think the book store in Houston, Murder by the Book, that had ordered 20 signed copies of her novel, did the right thing in sending them back.

Now you can write a satirical or ironic take on a particular genre or sub-genre of fiction. But when you do so it has to be because of your love of all those little things you’re taking the piss out of. If you do it out of hate then you can’t turn around and try to sell it to the audience you are taking a pot shot at. I think this stuff is stupid, you’re stupid for reading it, but I still want you to pay me for insulting you.

I get a little sick of snobbishness toward genre readers and writers. Do genre readers and writers take pot shots at literary authors for their lack of plots, characters who have to own a cat and be suffering, and writing that is there to fill pages with words and not actually tell a story? No. We’re too busy reading something exciting.

It would be great if people just enjoyed what they enjoyed and stopped criticising others for enjoying what they enjoy. Enjoy.

See also:

http://www.fictorians.com/2013/03/04/literary-vs-genre-fiction-whats-all-the-fuss-about/

What the author meant

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I’ll admit it: I did English Literature in high school. I wasn’t particularly good at it. I’ll exclude all my other excuses as to why I didn’t do well in Lit – like my general lack of motivation in school and desperate need to complete the final level of DOOM – and blame my poor grades on the above graphic.

Obviously not the graphic itself, that would be silly. I mean the message that the graphic is trying to relay, and not just that the curtains may be blue. In school and even now, I find that literature is often over-interpreted. I remember clearly one example of this when we were forced to study Shakespeare’s MacBeth. Studying a play by reading it already had me wanting to throw stuff at the teacher, as plays are meant to be watched, not read. But I remember the teacher being adamant that there was a very important juxtaposition and allegory in the comedic scene of the drunken porter.

If you can’t remember this scene in MacBeth, suffice to say it is one big joke about how being drunk makes you pee and ruins erections. Dick jokes never go out of fashion.

Apparently there is a lot of deep and meaningful stuff going on….. Dick jokes can be deep and meaningful. I always thought that MacBeth chucked in that joke scene because the rest of the play was so dark, and it gave his actors a chance to change costumes before the next act. Essentially, I thought that it was just a necessity and the master playwright had made it fun for the audience. My teacher disagreed.

But that is the thing, unless Shakespeare wrote down his intentions, or there are some amazing insights recorded from his time, then it is just conjecture, or playing with themselves. Occam’s Razor would have us take the simplest answer that fits and not try to overcomplicate things.

That isn’t to say that there isn’t deeper meaning in any artistic work, far from it. But a lot of the deeper meaning is about the reader’s projection as much as what is/was written. Take as an example the list that the wonderful Mental Floss put together:

http://mentalfloss.com/article/30937/famous-novelists-symbolism-their-work-and-whether-it-was-intentional

Many famous authors, many misinterpretations.

Now some authors and genres love to go overboard with the hidden meanings, or at least like to make it seem deep and meaningful (see Steve Hely’s satire on this). Some authors just do it accidentally as part of including various themes and ideas in their work. But literary analysis really does take that interpretation to another level.

Essentially, why can’t people just enjoy a book?

Manly? Hardly.

therapy-misogyny-756020

Currently I’m doing a writing course, a real one, one that assigns homework! For my homework I was doing some research when I accidentally came across a webpage and general philosophy that I found interesting. By interesting I mean ‘rabidly sexist garbage that demeans both men and women.’

Now I have heard this stuff before, a lot of it stems from a lack of modern male identity in the post-feminism world. Whenever you have social change there will inevitably be a push-back and level of disenfranchisement of sectors who have no clear ‘voice’. They talk about being “alpha males” and swallowing the red pill, taking control of their lives and their women. This is, of course, just the excuse that bigots and morons need to write garbage like:

  • Paternity fraud is worse than rape
  • 5 Reasons To Date A Girl With An Eating Disorder
  • Apple Should Have Never Hired A Female Handbag Executive
  • 5 Reasons Women Should Come With HoFax Reports

This sort of shit really is pathetic. Take the first article as an example: in what world is child support worse than the second most heinous physical act? (NB: the worst is still murder, although combine the two and you have a new crime novel) Now if we were actually talking about misandry then there would be valid concerns and points to be made and opinions to be listened to. If we were talking about the role of men in society and how it has changed, again, legitimate concerns and points to be made. But how does the lot of men (and women) improve with this:

It should be noted that 30 something American women are not becoming traditionally minded or anything, but rather they are simply in a desperate rush to find the useful idiot who will put a roof over her head. Once an American man goes foreign, American females both in their age 20′s and 30′s are sloppy seconds and cannot compete with non-Western women…… It takes time but your chances of finding a quality girlfriend elsewhere are better, as opposed to in the States where men have to contend with the overweight, screwed up, tattooed, walking STD incubators that are pass for women today. TS: I kid you not, this is an actual quote from one of the articles.

You see, this is not a realistic view of the world. It isn’t even a snapshot of a small segment of society. These are the views of the next generation of sexists and bigots, the kind of people that will dish out emotional and physical abuse because they are ‘real men’. These are the views of the weak and insecure. These are the articles written by frauds of men.

I leave you with Steve Shives’ wonderful take on this topic.

Also see: http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-responses-to-sexism-that-just-make-everything-worse/

Kids these days

wifiWifi

Okay, just to be serious for a moment: Do you see a difference between these two cartoons?

Some of you may have seen the awesomeness displayed on The Oatmeal in response to people stealing his cartoons and taking his authorship off of the picture. Well, here is another example. The second cartoon was the one I was going to post, but I realised that it didn’t have the creator’s signature on it and it would be good to make sure that they were able to be tracked down. Ideally I’d link to the original, but that isn’t always possible, especially when someone has decided to edit out the part that would help us all identify the author. It is clear that the author isn’t even asking for money, the cartoon is freely published on the web, yet someone has decided to remove the content creator as though they aren’t important.

Free content is great, so many people with great ideas are creating stuff to entertain others just because they enjoy it. I’m going to try and make sure the authors (content creators) are acknowledged when possible, I hope everyone else does too.

Getting your terminology right

Sometimes I cringe, sometimes I laugh, because sometimes writers just haven’t done their homework. Speaking as an avid reader (check my Goodreads stats), it often disappoints me when I see mistakes in a book, TV show or movie. In a movie it isn’t really acceptable, they have consultants whose job it is to make sure they don’t mess up. A TV show might have a consultant who will get a call during their lunch break at their real job to confirm details, the consultant isn’t really listening because they know the scene has already been filmed and the writer has just been told to check to get them out of the director’s hair. In the book there is only the author to blame – editors could care less.

Lets not delve into those little facts and descriptions that always garner criticism, lets talk terminology. Is it too much to ask to have writers use the correct terminology for things? Unless your character is meant to be ignorant, a minute on Google (or one of the competitors) should be able to tell you that a passant is the strap on the shoulder of shirts or jackets that epaulettes are attached to and that a chevron is a ‘V’ shaped insignia that is often used to signify rank and may or may not be on the epaulette or the sleeve. This is just to cite one annoying example I have recently run across. Don’t get me started on CSI – the katana is only one of many swords made of folded steel!!

Anyway, I ran across an interesting list that shows how terminology is often misapplied just to cheer everyone up: mostly me.

1. A firefly is not a fly – it is a beetle

2. A prairie dog is not a dog – it is a rodent

Dogs and rodents are slightly different

3. India ink is not from India – it is from China and Egypt

4. A horned toad is not a toad – it is a lizard

5. A lead pencil does not contain lead – it contains graphite

6. A douglas fir is not a fir – it is a pine

7. A silkworm is not a worm – it is a caterpillar

8. A peanut is not a nut – it is a legume

9. A koala bear is not a bear – it is a marsupial

10. An English horn is not English and it isn’t a horn – it is a French alto oboe

11. A guinea pig is not from guinea and it is not a pig – it is a rodent from South America

12. Shortbread is not a bread – it is a thick cookie

13. Dresden China is not from Dresden – it is from Meissen

14. A shooting star is not a star – it is a meteorite

15. A funny bone is not a bone – it is the spot where the ulnar nerve touches the humerus

16. Chop suey is not a native Chinese dish – it was invented by Chinese immigrants in California

17. A bald eagle is not bald – it has flat white feathers on its head and neck when mature, and dark feathers when young

18. A banana tree is not a tree – it is a herb

19. A cucumber is not a vegetable – it is a fruit

20. A jackrabbit is not a rabbit – it is a hare

21. A piece of catgut is not from a cat – it is usually made from sheep intestines

22. A Mexican jumping bean is not a bean – it is a seed with a larva inside

23. A Turkish bath is not Turkish – it is Roman

24. A sweetbread is not a bread – it is the pancreas or thymus gland from a calf or lamb

What can you achieve?

There was something on the TV last night, I think it was a moth attracted to the bright screen. Fortunately the ‘moth’ flapping around didn’t distract me from someone talking about being your best. Best? There is always the question of ability and effort. No one would doubt that effort is involved in achieving something, but some people have to work really hard just to be average, just visit any shopping mall for confirmation. And what if you are lazy, are you aiming too high in your career? My inner science nerd sent me to Google Scholar to find out what various people can achieve.

Real-life accomplishments

Average adult IQs associated with real-life accomplishments:

  • MDs or PhDs (postgraduates) 125

  • College graduates 115

  • 1–3 years of college 105-110

  • Clerical and sales workers 100-105

  • High school graduates, skilled workers (e.g., electricians, cabinetmakers) 100

  • 1–3 years of high school (completed 9–11 years of school) 95

  • Semi-skilled workers (e.g., truck drivers, factory workers) 90-95

  • Elementary school graduates (completed eighth grade) 90

  • Elementary school dropouts (completed 0–7 years of school) 80-85

  • Have 50/50 chance of reaching high school 75

Average IQ of various occupational groups:

  • Professional and technical 112

  • Managers and administrators 104

  • Clerical workers; sales workers; skilled workers, craftsmen, and foremen 101

  • Semi-skilled workers (operatives, service workers, including private household; farmers and farm managers) 92

  • Unskilled workers 87

Type of work that can be accomplished:

  • Adults can harvest vegetables, repair furniture 60

  • Adults can do domestic work, simple carpentry 50

  • Adults can mow lawns, do simple laundry 40

There is considerable variation within and overlap between these categories. People with high IQs are found at all levels of education and occupational categories. The biggest difference occurs for low IQs with only an occasional college graduate or professional scoring below 90.

So there you go, now you know just how hard you have to work. And just remember, in a democracy the vote of the highly educated is given the same value as those who think mowing a lawn is mentally challenging.

E-readers are filled with garbage?

An article in The Guardian on Sunday suggested that garbage, which they defined as genre fiction, was the big seller on Kindles and e-readers. See article here.

Prepare for the irony.

Okay, irony aside, The Guardian has published a number of articles extolling the inferiority of e-readers and e-books. For example, they deride romance and erotica as genres, yet they have always sold well. They deride horror, yet Steven King has been a bestselling author for 40 years. Excuse my cherry picking, but I can’t be bothered digging out my stats sheets to bury this argument further.

For years the literary fiction and biography markets have been kept afloat by the gift and commuter sales. Commuters can’t be seen to be reading anything other than high art or an intriguing insight into some mundane public figure, whose only claim to fame was being able to stand in front of a camera at the right moments. Similarly the books people received as gifts were always some intellectual boorish bunk posing as entertainment.

Now commuters don’t have to have the cover of their book on display and are free to read what they actually enjoy reading. Gift givers are wising up and going to wishlists and giving download vouchers. This isn’t just the end of snobbery, it is the start of truly great works of fiction.

Australian Year of the Farmer

I’m a country boy. That means I know how to drive most machinery, shoot a gun and kill my own food. It also means that one leg is longer than the other to walk around the hills.

Please spend five minutes seeing how awesome farmers are.

E-Readers Are Cool

That’s right, E-readers were the gift of gifts this holidays. Now the Pew Institute have crunched the numbers to look at who was buying them and how this has changed over time. Report here.

The researchers performed phone interviews with 2,986 people and asked them, “Are you cool enough to own the greatest gadget since Maxwell Smart’s shoe phone?” With an error rate of 2.2%, the results were as follows:

  • E-readers and tablets were owned by 10% of people in December 2011.
    • This was 19% in January 2012.
  • The proportion of people owning at least one of these two increased from 18% to 29%.
  • Tablet owners are likely to be under 50 years old and have graduated college.
    • They are also likely to make enough money to buy lots of apps and books.
  • E-readers are more popular with women and the 30-49 age group.
    • E-readers are still pretty popular with anyone under 65.
  • College graduates and rich folks also love E-readers.
  • You should own an E-reader.

I have my E-reader, the new Kindle. I still love my pile of dead tree books, but I also love my Kindle.

My Kindle and a DTB

Men don’t cry

Real men hide their feelings. Why?
Because it’s none of your fuckin’ business!
Men do not cry. Men do not pout. Men jack you in the fuckin’ jaw and say…
Thanks for comin’ out.

Being a man is largely frowned upon in our society these days. Yet, in the movies, books, even some TV shows, real men are revered. Clint Eastwood made a career out of being a man. Lee Child created Jack Reacher, a man for men and women. Even Hollywood is catching on now and having their boyish stars grow some stubble to look more like men, although Ryan Reynolds can pull off the boyish look as long as he wants.

Things you won’t hear a real man say:
Yes I would like to watch a romantic comedy.
Twilight is a terrific film series based on some fantastic novels.
I have no idea what this sport is about.
I will stop and ask for directions.
So we went back to her place and hugged.

TV Shows From Around the World

I was viewing the new series of Sherlock, written by the fantastic Steven Moffat (Coupling, Dr Who, Jekyl), when a thought occurred to me; would the deli be open to sell me an ice cream at this hour? Sadly it wasn’t, which gave me plenty of time to think about how various countries differ in the way they do TV shows and movies.

I present my musings and gross generalities about TV shows around the world.

UK - Talkies.

The best Dr Who – Tom Baker a close second.

When I think of UK TV in general I think very little action but a lot of dialogue. Not much happens in any one episode of UK TV, but all the characters have a lot to say. The best shows – often written by the aforementioned Steven Moffat et al. – are also witty and intelligent.

A great example of this is Dr Who, the David Tennant version. The Doctor is stuck in a life or death situation – lets say its Darleks about to shoot him – and yet he talks his way out of it. Any other country would have him ducking for cover. Another example is the crime drama Luther. This is more an exploration of the main character and his strained relationships and his commitment to solving crimes.

Example: Sherlock, Luther.
Outlier: The Bill (cookie cutter).

USA - Explosions and cookie cutter formats.

Cookie-Cutter was a term invented for this franchise. 

The Americans are terrific at doing formulaic shows. Their crime shows follow the same patterns each episode, the dramas have a list of top topics – also used for identifying when they have jumped the shark – and all their comedies gradually morph into dramas. They also do gun fights and explosions. More bullets are fired in one episode of US TV than in the entire year of all TV shows from the UK and Australia (NB: made up statistic that is possibly true but I’d have no idea).

As a result they can attract audiences in large numbers to watch things go bang. The longer the show runs the less ideas are used in any one episode as the formulae takes over. In fairness, compared to UK TV, series in the US produce a lot more episodes, so writers would have a harder time coming up with fresh material.

Example: CSI whatever.
Outlier: Justified, The Wire.

Australia - Soapies.

Neighbours, the long running steaming pile of dog droppings.

Aussies can’t produce a TV show that isn’t a soapie. We have tried many times, failing miserably to make the show not morph into a soapie. Sometimes we start off with a great premise and even a few episodes that show promise, but it doesn’t take long before we have just another soapie.

I don’t watch Aussie TV any more.

Example: We don’t do anything other than soapies.
Outlier: The little watched Good Guys, Bad Guys.

Western Europe - Gritty and noir.

Unit One making you squirm.

Americans have recently started (re)making European shows with more explosions. They have realised that there are so many well written shows there that they just had to copy them. Since Americans can’t handle accents and subtitles they need to redo the lot. Of course the Americans are then surprised when there is something lacking in their version.

I don’t know why, but gritty seems like a default position in every drama produced in Europe (Inspector Rex doesn’t count). As a result shows can become very dark, but at the same time are generally more substantive.

Example: The Elephant, The Killing, Unit One.
Outlier: All the same soaps and reality TV that they produce like every other country/region.

Canada - USA shows

We’re in Canada Scully; it’s a conspiracy!

If it is a US TV show, it is likely to be made in Vancouver. My theory for this phenomenon is that American actors and stuntmen on TV shows generally aren’t making enough money to afford decent health care. As a result they like to locate themselves in a country that has proper health care available. Just a theory.

One of the ways to spot an Canadian TV show versus an American TV show is how much shooting and explosions occur during any one episode. At one end you have American shows, at the other end you have Canadian shows, and right in the middle are the Canadian produced American shows.

Example: Stargate, Supernatural.
Outlier: Any show that looks kinda American but hasn’t got people shooting someone every 2 minutes.

Eastern Europe, South America & Asia
I’d like to know more as Australians don’t have many of them on our screens.

NB: I’ve tried to be as intentionally insulting to the various countries with my observations as possible. There is a lot of great TV out there, Australia makes virtually none of it, so I’m bitter, resentful and ultimately jealous.

Bah, humbug

It is the season to be jolly, apparently. The jolliest people are, of course, retailers, who are doing their impersonations of Scrooge McDuck swimming. The rest of us are just happy to have some time off work and an excuse to eat until our arteries congeal and drink until the tile floor looks comfy.

Don’t get me wrong, Xmas is a lovely time of year, but I have some issues with it.

1) It’s Xmas not Christmas.
This celebration stopped being about Christ’s birthday when shops started advertising how many shopping days there were left before Xmas. I’m glad we have the holiday but lets stop pretending it is a religious holiday. To the 16% of Australian’s (check your country stats here) who actually attend church, feel free to ignore this point. And yes I’m aware of the irony here.

2) Xmas cards.
I understand the idea of sending correspondence to family and friends and given the “holiday season” it only seems logical to catch up with people. But I’m under 40, so I have Facebook, Twitter, Email, Linkedin, mobile phones, and know how to use them. Sending cards feels like people the world over are taking a vow of technophobia in order to contract hand cramps and level a rain forest.

3) Xmas lights.
I think the goal of Xmas lights, if I am understanding them correctly, is blind people in the space station orbiting Earth. In the day and age of climate change, when we really should be cutting down on energy usage, we decide to set up a whole lot of lights to blind people. It has become a competition between neighbours and streets to see who can have the most gaudy display of flashing eyesores. The winner is usually the person or street who wake up to the electricity bill in January realising they need a second job and to sell a kidney.

4) Caroling.
Why is it that people only remember for the other eleven months of the year that they can’t sing?
Which also brings me to:

5) Xmas songs.
I’m not talking about the traditional carols here, I’m talking about the saccharine odes to love and presents that bombard the airwaves from every pop singer/group the world has to offer. These “artists” were barely tolerable in small doses as it was, but the competition to have the highest selling drink coaster means you can’t even go near a TV or radio for fear of diabetes and the desire to hug a puppy.

6) The celebrity biography.
Speaking of stocking stuffers, every Xmas there must be more celebrity biographies bought for Dads the world over than any other time of year. In fact, it is safe to say that the book reading statistics are built on this Xmas tradition of buying a book no-one wants to read for people who don’t read in the first place. Is it really a surprise that so few people read when the only book they start each year is about the mundane life of somebody with decent hand-eye coordination or a backstabbing politician proposing to tell all, but really just relating the party political line of events. I’d prefer the socks.

With that said, Merry Xmas everyone!

Dear Buddha, please bring me a pony and a plastic rocket.

Books are dead. Just kidding.

The report of my death was an exaggeration – Mark Twain

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/aug/30/death-books-exaggerated
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/aug/22/are-books-dead-ewan-morrison

You know, there is nothing better than media speculators. Any possible change in an industry, government, or price of coffee and they suddenly start predicting the end of the world. Some changes, like any Apple product, are welcomed with open advertising arms, other changes, like e-books, are threatening jobs.

So how did the publishers fare this year? They lost major stores (Borders, REDGroup), had a decrease in stocking at big box stores, and had the market flooded with a slush pile. Turns out they did pretty well.

That’s right, e-books are more profitable and have generally replaced the paperback sales decline. Who’d have thought that people who enjoy reading wouldn’t suddenly stop reading? Did not see that one coming.

In financial trouble? Play dominoes!

Yes, bookstores may be generally declining, or doing their impersonation of climate change deniers, but apparently it can be solved by playing dominoes.

I reckon it is worth visiting this store for two reasons.
1) They made this pretty cool ad.
2) This looks like a store that would have just about any book you are looking for.
3) Someone needs to beat up the hippie playing guitar cross-legged.

12 Extremely Disappointing Facts About Popular Music

I had to share this list with everyone, mainly because it says a lot about quality being arbitrary.

  • 1. Creed has sold more records in the US than Jimi Hendrix

    Creed has sold more records in the US than Jimi Hendrix

  • 2. Led Zeppelin, REM, and Depeche Mode have never had a number one single, Rihanna has 10

    Led Zeppelin, REM, and Depeche Mode have never had a number one single, Rihanna has 10

  • 3. Ke$ha’s “Tik-Tok” sold more copies than ANY Beatles single

    Ke$ha's “Tik-Tok” sold more copies than ANY Beatles single

  • 4. Flo Rida’s “Low” has sold 8 million copies – the same as The Beatles’ “Hey Jude”

    Flo Rida's “Low” has sold 8 million copies – the same as The Beatles' “Hey Jude”

  • 5. The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” is more popular than any Elvis or Simon & Garfunkel song

    The Black Eyed Peas' “I Gotta Feeling” is more popular than any Elvis or Simon & Garfunkel song

  • 6. Celine Dion’s “Falling Into You” sold more copies than any Queen, Nirvana, or Bruce Springsteen record

    Celine Dion's “Falling Into You” sold more copies than any Queen, Nirvana, or Bruce Springsteen record

  • 7. Same with Shania Twain’s “Come On Over”

    Same with Shania Twain's “Come On Over”

  • 8. Katy Perry holds the same record as Michael Jackson for most number one singles from an album

    Katy Perry holds the same record as Michael Jackson for most number one singles from an album

  • 9. Barbra Streisand has sold more records (140 million) than Pearl Jam, Johnny Cash, and Tom Petty combined

    Barbra Streisand has sold more records (140 million) than Pearl Jam, Johnny Cash, and Tom Petty combined

  • 10. People actually bought Billy Ray Cyrus’ album “Some Gave All…” 20 million people. More than any Bob Marley album

    People actually bought Billy Ray Cyrus' album “Some Gave All...” 20 million people. More than any Bob Marley album

  • 11. The cast of “Glee” has had more songs chart than the Beatles

    The cast of “Glee” has had more songs chart than the Beatles

  • 12. This guy exists.

    This guy exists. That is all.

NaNoWriMo 2011 – Day 18

All of the NaNoWriMo masochists are 60% of the way through challenge 2011. I have just disowned one of my writing buddies for having already passed the 45,000 word mark.

1667 words a day didn’t seem like that much of an effort at the beginning of the month. Now I’m realising it is quite a demanding effort to be consistently creative when you have a day job, travel for work, and a lazy streak wider than a truck. Being a professional writer is no easy task, I have even more respect for them than ever.

So with 12 days left to write ~23,000 words I’m still confident, but know there are some big writing days needed. Also I may just start taking the advice of many and just write and give up on that silly idea of making sure flow and research are complete. Not that I’m blaming the internet and its plethora of interesting information for my slow writing progress, that would be rather shallow of me. Instead it is proper to lay the blame at the feet of my dog, curse her and her need to sleep on my feet in such a cute way.

Words Written: 1,505 (per day average)
Total: 27,097
Remaining: 22,903

How has everyone else fared so far?

Book Review: Climate Change Denial – Heads in the Sand

Climate Change Denial: Heads in the SandClimate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand by Hadyn Washington and John Cook
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

It takes a while to read a book during your lunch break at work. It can take even longer if the book you are reading is filled with interesting tidbits of referenced information, which then inspires you to read the original research paper. I suppose that is the best thing about Washington and Cook’s Climate Change Denial, it is filled with interesting research and arguments, all concisely expressed for anyone with an interest in the future of our planet.

Usually I have an issue with non-fiction books. Often times the non-fiction genre is filled with work that lacks credibility or validity. Non-fiction is also prone to the shouting polemic, which is all doom and gloom, and short on any solutions. Climate Change Denial is the opposite, with a very well researched base of information, well rounded and reasoned arguments and an entire chapter devoted to the solutions for both denial and climate change.

What interested me was the mindset of denial. I’ve done a lot of reading of the peer reviewed literature on climate change (hint: the world is getting warmer, it’s our fault, we need to take action now) and have been frustrated with the same debunked arguments arising time and again. Now I understand why, well, aside from the massive fear and smear campaign waged by denier groups with oil $$. I also appreciated the candid debunking and slaying of the red herrings (e.g. we need to adapt) and white elephants (e.g. carbon capture and storage) often associated with the climate change debate.

This is a great book for the climate change extension people, for those who are undecided on the topic, and a must read for politicians (this book has been given to every Federal Government minister in Australia). Those who read it now have the job of converting the deniers, logic and science will prevail, but it would be nice to have that happen sooner rather than later.

Also worth reading John Cook’s fantastic site.

View all my reviews

NaNoWriMo 2011 – Day 10: Writing is overrated!

So I’m travelling through this first fortnight of NaNoWriMo at a less than stellar pace. I’ve technically had most days free to write as much as I please. I’d imagined this would result in 10,000 word days and that I’d have that pesky 50,000 word total done before I go back to drudgery next week (or the day job, which ever term you prefer).

The reality has been much too horrid for me to bear. All of those professional authors who talked about how hard it was to hit writing targets were right. I guess that is why they are the professionals and I’m still the amateur, they must use better whips on the room full of monkeys.

Of course I have still been achieving the required writing goals, but the problem with having a day job is that it will suddenly rear its ugly head and swing me around in its mighty jaws as it seeks to devour me whole. Being on schedule might be a bad thing at this point. Maybe I should think more like a blogger or self-publishing slime-ball and just write rubbish: who actually needs the chapters to fit together?

Either way I’m enjoying writing every day, and I am actually achieving my primary goal of sitting around having fun. My secondary goal was to get into the habit of daily writing and getting sizable chunks written. That is my achilles heel as a writer, not finishing the larger projects. My writing itself is actually quite good – IMHO – and I’m continually working on aspects that need polish. As Stephen Leather said, writers do need to focus on becoming better writers.

Words Written: 1,698 (per day)
Total: 16,985
Remaining: 33,015

How has everyone else fared so far?

Creativity again

This follows on very nicely from my post on schools stifling creativity, the video of Sir Ken Robinson.

In fairness to John’s teachers, he did marry Yoko, maybe John missed the point of life.

Book sales: told ya!

There is nothing better than to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women. The other thing that is quite nice is to be right.

In fairness a lot of people were right. Konrath has been saying for years that e-books will replace DTB (dead tree books). I posted a prediction here about what the market will look like by the end of the decade. I said that e-books would win. Guess what: they are starting their winning streak.

The figures are in for the publishing industry (source: Association of American Publishers). The year to date shows strong growth in e-book revenue, declines in anything you can’t download, and that there is a growing market for Christian fiction. Maybe I should write a Christian thriller, with Jesus as the central protagonist, a man who had been forsook, turned to alcohol (well it starts out as water), and investigates paranormal phenomena in the wake of his death. I smell best-seller!

Something that jumps right out at me with these figures is that numbers don’t jump. The other thing is that e-books have essentially replaced the other mediums (if you ignore kids books). E-books have grown from 7% to 18% in 12 months – I hate the 144% figure as it is misleading, I’ve always preferred quoting figures as a proportion of the total. The change in kids books then accounts for the decline in the industry of $100 million.

E-books are doing very well.

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