Posts tagged #misc

The Invented Memories Meme

This idea came to me via jaderabbit. Anyone can participate, whether you know me or not. Invent a memory of me and post it in the comments. It can be anything you want, so long as it’s something that’s never happened. (Then, of course, post this to your blog/journal and see what people would like to remember of you, only the universe failed to cooperate in making it happen so they had to make it up instead.)

Some People Simply Have a Life”

I was cleaning out my browser bookmarks today and I found a link to Garrison Keillor’s old advice column at Salon, “Mr. Blue.” From May of 1998 till just a week before September 11, 2001, Mr. Blue dispensed advice about life, love, and writing. The advice was almost always stellar, the prose always a sheer delight to read. I will never forget the following exchange, from the 6/5/2001 installment of Mr. Blue:
Dear Mr. Blue,
I’m overpaid and overworked and about to lose my dot-com job, and as my father keeps pointing out, now would be a great time for me to figure out “what I really want to DO.” I’m 27, and I’ve sort of flitted through life so far. I have things I’m good at, but none of them drive me or really seem to please me. I like to write and sew and take …
read full post…

How Writing is Like Coding

Novelist Neal Stephenson interviewed at Salon:
One of things you like to do on the side is dabble in programming. Do you see similarities between writing code and writing fiction?

I think there are common threads between writing and programming. That’s a really easy statement for people to misunderstand and twist around so I’m a little leery of making it. All I’m saying is that the thing you’re making — the novel or the computer program — has got a very complicated and finely wrought hierarchical structure to it. The structure has to work right or the whole thing fails. But the only way you can work on it is by hitting one character at a time. You’re building this thing one character at a time while having to maintain the whole structure in your head. That description applies equally well to programming and novel writing even though they’re very …
read full post…

My Alma Mater’s Latest Export

I have never watched a single episode of American Idol and that pattern is not likely to change. I am, however, aware of the mini-stardom of William Hung, the UC Berkeley engineering student who appeared on the show in January, singing his uniquely pathetic version of Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs.” Hung has been all over trash-media since; it seems like a new story about him pops up every few days.

I’ve been disturbed by Hung’s popularity from the outset, though I’ve found it hard to explain why. Well, SFGate columnist Emil Guillermo nails exactly what’s wrong with Hung’s fifteen minutes of fame in a two-part column: part one · part two

I especially liked this bit, which references a classic piece of Americana that I’ve long felt is tragically infused with a particularly insidious sort of racism:
[the folks behind Hung] are updating a classic anti-Asian image — that of …
read full post…

The Frequency of Miracles

From a piece by Freeman Dyson in the latest New York Review of Books comes this:
Littlewood was a famous mathematician who was teaching at Cambridge University when I was a student. Being a professional mathematician, he defined miracles precisely before stating his law about them. He defined a miracle as an event that has special significance when it occurs, but occurs with a probability of one in a million. This definition agrees with our common-sense understanding of the word “miracle.”

Littlewood’s Law of Miracles states that in the course of any normal person’s life, miracles happen at a rate of roughly one per month. The proof of the law is simple. During the time that we are awake and actively engaged in living our lives, roughly for eight hours each day, we see and hear things happening at a rate of about one per second. So the total number …
read full post…

Deficient Wiring (In Your Head)

This is making the rounds (I saw it at Boing Boing) and it’s easy to understand why. This is fun:
While sitting in your chair, lift your right foot slightly off the ground and move it in clockwise circles. Now draw the numeral “6” in the air with your right hand. Your foot will involuntarily reverse direction.

Go to Target Instead

I was already in high school when Wal-Mart invaded my part of the country. I stayed away, having read about how the megachain decimated small-town general stores all across America’s heartland. So I’ve been in a Wal-Mart store only three times in my life, and only made a purchase there once. After reading this article, I’ll probably keep out for good.

[spotted at Ten Reasons Why, which also points to further commentary on this issue]

Not Extinct After All

We thought the almiqui was gone forever, but no, a farmer in Cuba came across one. I wish he hadn’t. That thing is going to give me nightmares. It looks like it can’t wait to bite my toes off. Or worse.