Saturday, January 3, 2009

Short story

Taking a break from my novel in order to finish a short story I started in September.

My novel is at 58K words, which means that it will not be as short as I had originally hoped. Nonetheless, it is taking shape and hopefully will be completed either this month or next (well, the first draft).

Friday, January 2, 2009


Can anyone explain why bullshit should not be in a dictionary?

Rhetorical question.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Elegant evolution

Wired presents 12 elegant examples of evolution. Nature is beautiful.

For your own sanity, ignore the idiocy in the comments below. Humans can be ugly.

A new progressive era

British PM Brown:
Gordon Brown today braces Britain for potentially its worst recession since the second world war by promising to work with Barack Obama to create a new progressive era across the world. He claims he can build "a global coalition for change" with the US president-elect.

The prime minister said 2008 would be remembered as the year in which "the old era of unbridled free market dogma was finally ushered out". In his traditional new year message, Brown struck a tone of tempered optimism, saying that Britain can this year build a better tomorrow through strategic investments while dealing with the dangerous challenges of today.

He said: "The failure of previous governments in previous global downturns was to succumb to political expediency and to cut back investment across the board, thereby stunting our ability to grow and strangling hope during the upturn. This will not happen on my watch.

One can only hope that time will not look back on this speech as an act of hubris, but given the current political trends in the UK...

Once in a lifetime

Once in a Lifetime, by the Talking Heads

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Dashiell Hammett notes

Just finished watching The Maltese Falcon again after many many years.

I've read The Maltese Falcon three or four times over the past few years, partly because its a good book with a good yarn, but mostly to see what works and what doesn't work in a novel, even a genre novel like the Falcon.

The biggest flaw in Hammett's writing is that he doesn't understand women and doesn't pretend to either. His women are often hysterical, in the old sense of the term, and too clever by half: most of the women in his novels cannot make plans, follow plans, or know what a plan is. Exceptions include Nora, in The Thin Man, and perhaps Janet Henry in The Glass Key.

This flaw is exceptionally obvious in The Maltese Falcon. There are moments in the story when I just want to slap Brigid O’Shaughnessy silly. Oh well.

There are also scenes that are either extraneous or are put together in too haphazard a way.

The best Hammett novel, and apparently the one he appreciated the most, is The Glass Key.

At the halfway mark

At the halfway point in the Premier Season, and the entire bottom-half of the standings are in relegation trouble, and the only three teams looking to be in title contention are Manchester United, Chelsea, and Liverpool. The top three have had a frustrating year.

Liverpool has been missing its star striker, Torres, due to mysterious hamstring troubles. Its other star, Robbie Keane, has been unable to find goal for most of the season (the last two games may mark a turn-around, only time will tell). Most commentators have been unimpressed with Liverpool's form and expect Liverpool to collapse in the second half of the season.

Chelsea have been without their number one striker, Drogba, for most of the season. While Anelka has been pounding in the goals, he does not seem to be able to make them when the club needs them the most: when they need one to tie or go ahead. Chelsea has the best midfield in the league, but the whole team is too easily thwarted by tenacious defense.

Manchester United has also had problems scoring when it counts. However, unlike Chelsea, ManU have no excuses, with the best strikers in the league (Rooney, Berbatov, Tevez, and Ronaldo) all willing and able and fit. Ronaldo seems to be off his form this year, although no one seems to be talking about it. Manchester United are ten points behind Liverpool, but have played three fewer games due to international commitments (the Supercup and the International Champions Cup).

Aston Villa is having a good year, but they have not convinced themselves that they can be champions -- they seem to have set their sights just on finishing the year at number 4, which will be good enough to qualify them for the big boys in the European Champion's Cup.

Arsenal's biggest problem is itself. Wenger seems to have lost his way. And while the talent is there, the youth and inexperience of the team shows itself in frightening ways.

Everton is one point behind Arsenal, but no one mentions this team as a possible title challenger. Perhaps it would be poetry if they somehow managed to end the season in the top four.

At the beginning of the season I believed that Chelsea would be the team to beat: they know what it means to end up with the consolation prize. I still think that is true.