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Weekly Summaries Feb 5


• Tobias Buckell tells how he got his freelance career started.

• Dvorak update: I know all my letters and lots of punctuation. Friday afternoon I made the switch entirely. I type verrrry slowly now; it’s annoying, but I had to switch bc my fingers were getting confused. And it’d be good to stop hitting ctrl-q when I mean ctrl-x. At least OpenOffice asks me to confirm that I want to quit.

Goals for the week:

Revise a lot.
Try to get Chs 1-3 ready for critique.
Do two critiques.

Writing Summary:
I’ve been revising. Not much interesting to say. Chapters 1-3 are up for review on the OWW. I’ve also handled random sticky notes throughout the book.

This week:
Revise more: through ch 10 (except for dealing with the scene that might need cut). That’ll give me a week to do the next 10 chapters and a few days for other stuff (like crits)

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Random Links

The New York Times reviews companies that sell term papers.

EDIT: Sorry, this turned pay-to-read between the time I read it and the time I posted it. A quick summary – most papers aren’t worth the money.

• Via sartorias, I’ve been listening to Pandora Internet Radio, which I first heard about when I was still on dial-up. I’m sure Columbus has a decent radio station or two, but I haven’t found one yet.

NYTimes Asst. Mangaging Ed. Richard Berke answers reader questions in the Talk to the Newsroom column.

My faves:

Q. Why do stories written by reporters need editing? … A. Many reporters here would say, Amen!…

Q. Can you please tell me how to search for articles in the papers when it [is] sent to you like this? All morning I’ve been trying to locate the articles from the Post still nothing happen. This is a part of [an] assignment. –Sharon Holquin A. I’m all for helping students with their homework. But here’s a lesson for you: Don’t ask an editor from The New York Times to lend a hand so you can access the Washington Post Web site. I’m not asking that you only read the Times. By all means, read as much as you can. But since you’re already here, why not take a look at a few of our articles? I mean, you’re already on our site and everything.

“Rewriting the Rules of Fiction” – Wall Street Journal article on fan fiction. (Haven’t had time to actually read this yet.)

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A Note on the Lack of Paragraphs

For some reason, when I edit posts imported from LiveJournal, WordPress kills all the paragraphing and I can’t put it back in.

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It’s so nice to see a good plan work out.

Members of rec.arts.sf.composition have dedicated an auditorium chair at the Minneapolis Central Library to Patricia C. Wrede, who’s provided us with an incredible amount of advice over the years.

Pat’s post is here. Beth Friedman managed to surprise her with the news, and tells the story here. With photos. Thanks to mjlayman for coming up with and organizing the whole project.

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Genius, Science Blogs, and News Decay

In Wired, Daniel H. Pink’s “What Kind of Genius Are You?” discusses an economist’s study of artists and the ages at which they created their best-known works. David Galenson found that some did their best work when young, and then faded away, while others plodded onward and only met with great success later in life.

What he has found is that genius – whether in art or architecture or even business – is not the sole province of 17-year-old Picassos and 22-year-old Andreessens. Instead, it comes in two very different forms, embodied by two very different types of people. “Conceptual innovators,” as Galenson calls them, make bold, dramatic leaps in their disciplines. They do their breakthrough work when they are young. Think Edvard Munch, Herman Melville, and Orson Welles. They make the rest of us feel like also-rans. Then there’s a second character type, someone who’s just as significant but trudging by comparison. Galenson calls this group “experimental innovators.” Geniuses like Auguste Rodin, Mark Twain, and Alfred Hitchcock proceed by a lifetime of trial and error and thus do their important work much later in their careers. Galenson maintains that this duality – conceptualists are from Mars, experimentalists are from Venus – is the core of the creative process. And it applies to virtually every field of intellectual endeavor, from painters and poets to economists.

There are some problems with his dichotomy, of course (some of the early-bloomers died early being one of the biggest), but the article does a good job of pointing them out. I would have liked to see a clearer link between the *type* of innovaters – conceptual vs experimental – and the age at which they innovate. Most of the examples are from art history, which I’m unfamiliar with, so I can’t judge the accuracy of breakthroughs in concept versus more gradual ideas.

Nature lists the top-ranked science blogs. None of them are about materials science, but I’ll post the link anyway.

Anyone know of any materials science blogs?

From PhysicsWeb, a report on the study of the decay of news on the web.

The average half-life of a news item is just 36 hours, or one and a half days after it is released. While this is short, it is longer than predicted by simple exponential models, which assume that web page browsing is less random than it actually is.

The short life of a news item — combined with random visiting patterns of readers — implies that people could miss a significant fraction of news by not visiting the portal when a new document is first displayed, which is why publishers like to provide e-mail news alerts.

One could argue that if users aren’t hunting for the news they’re missing, they don’t want to know about it anyway. With the proliferation of news sources on the internet, it’s almost harder to not know something.

And finally, it is International Blog Against Racism Week. [info]rilina has a roundup of people’s posts on the subject.

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Questions, Comments, Complaints

Please post any questions, comments, or complaints about the web site, including broken links and errors in the research notes.

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Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post gave the University of Maryland J-school commencement address:

I want to congratulate you all upon your graduation from the University of Maryland College of Journalism, and wish you luck as you prepare to embark on exciting careers in telemarketing or large-appliance repair.

And also,

Our field is changing rapidly. Technology is overtaking us at an unheard-of pace. The journalists of tomorrow may not look anything like the journalists of today. I mean, literally. For all we know, they might have gills and three buttocks. That's how fast things are changing.

The whole thing (nearly) is fabulous.

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Kaavya Viswanathan

Can’t stop watching the Kaavya Viswanathan mess. Chip Scanlan’s column on Poynter uses it in a discussion of what to teach students about plagiarism. (Although he says he’s “not interested in piling on”, he does.)

I’ve got another book packaging idea for “How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life.” Grind it into pulp, dump it in the trash and tell its young author to do it over. This time in her own words.

I still kinda wish I’d bought a copy of the book earlier. The description reminds me of people I went to high school with.

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I really, really want to like OpenOffice, which I downloaded and installed today.

But. It doesn't wrap text the way I want it to. MSWord has three options: print layout (obvious), web layout (wraps text to the window size) and “normal”. Normal is what I always use. It wraps the text at the page width, like print layout, but does not show the top and bottom margins of the page, so there are no big gaps in text where the page breaks are.

OpenOffice Writer, as far as I can tell, won't do that. (If it will and I'm missing it, please tell me!) One of the things I look at when I write is whitespace – if my paragraphs are too short, often I need more non-dialogue stuff. (Usually.) So in web layout, all my paragraphs look “too short” and it's driving me nuts. And in print layout, I get those huge distracting gaps at the page breaks.

I can get used to web layout, I suppose, and switch to print layout to check paragraphs. Or make the window narrower (which loses stuff on the toolbars, and means I can see the distracting things on my desktop).

This is minor complaint, I suppose, but it seems like a simple thing for them to have included.

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Two Riddles and a Mnemonic

Riddle 1: How is fettucine alfredo better than buttered toast? It lands facing up.
Riddle 2: How is fettucine alfredo worse than buttered toast? It sprays fettucine around the room on the way down.

Since I cannot ever, ever spell emporer and sorceror correctly, and was too dumb to have kings and wizards instead, I have created a sentence to help me:

The emperor did
not pore
over the sorcerer's recipe for

(I suppose “The sorcerer geese roasted the emperor” would work, too.)

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