22 February 2010

Will Blawg for Caffeine

We'll start off with three bits of ignorance from the Grauniad and move on from there...

  • The ten-rules-for-writers meme is starting to infect the 'net. They're all missing the single most important rule for writers:

    Read. Voraciously. Continuously. Good and bad (and learn to tell the difference). Old and new (and learn to tell the difference). Fiction and nonfiction (and learn to tell the difference — and when there isn't one: One of the writers quoted in the article is Jonathan Franzen...). Short works and serial novels and everything in-between. You'll never be able to read everything; you won't even be able to read everything relevant to the particular project(s) you're working on; but — unlike, say, three of the individuals quoted in the article, who are all notorious for slumming in "genre fiction" without knowing what that "genre" is — reading what is out there is the only opportunity you have to limit the mistakes you'll make writing to your own mistakes, instead of endlessly repeating the avoidable mistakes others have made.

    Besides, if you're going to be so nerdy as to be a writer, you might as well immerse yourself in others' nerdism. Of course, I think being a nerd is a good thing...

  • There's now a call to limit Hollywood films to one violation of the laws of science each. Will they apply that meme to fight scenes? Or their own bloody accounting (which does not comport with the law)? Or, more to the point, to the "laws" of good — or even passable — writing? I think not.
  • Conversely, Robert McCrum demonstrates, with this piece extolling increased connection of authors to society, yet another of the 57 damned good reasons that he wasn't selected as EIC of the NYTBR the last time around. If you look at what he's actually saying, what he really means is that authors will be better connected to the commercial expectations of society... and that's really not an undiluted good thing.
  • Steven Strogatz tries to explain division to the innumerate, but doesn't deal with the division by zero problem... which is a shame. That would have given him an opportunity to explain both the concept of a "limit"... and why one often cannot cancel out a division by zero in an intermediate term and pretend it's not there.
  • I suppose it's time for the obligatory denegration of the Olympics coverage. Leaving aside NBC's decision to show alpine skiing — again, on tape delay — instead of the US v. Canada hockey game, the coverage at this Olympics has been the dumbest in quite some time... and that's up against some pretty stiff competition. Reporters' questions have been even more inane than one finds in small-town local newscasts ("What does winning this medal mean to you?" when the athlete is still trying to breathe normally...). And, to steal shamelessly from Kris Smith, who summarized last Thursday night's program as:

    Olympics. Women's Super Combined. Women's Half-Pipe. Then, Men in Tights.

    which says far, far more about NBC's coverage than I'm going to overanalyze at the moment.

  • I'm loathe to ever link to io9.com, as it appears to be the refuge of people who really don't follow that rule listed in the first item above, but I must give a tip of the hat to science fiction heroes who gave more-convincing apologies than did Tiger Woods, including my favorite (which was my immediate thought as soon as the press conference was scheduled). Of course, that assumes that anyone should give a rat's ass about Tiger's affairs in the face of Newt Gingrich's when he was a member of Congress — et cetera, et cetera, et cetera — or, indeed give a rat's ass about anyone else's affairs at all.
  • I will not be covering the (proper, however much I disagree with it) exercise of prosecutorial discretion regarding Professor Yoo and Judge Bybee, except to note that it demonstrates that the legal profession's ethics rules aren't nearly as strict as they need to be... nor comparable to those that bind military officers. The irony that Yoo and Bybee were discussing matters intimately intertwined with the ethics of military officers is particularly delicious (if, that is, your mouth is like mine on Monday mornings: unable to actually taste anything).