Monthly Archives: May 2014

Well, I know What Song Will Be Stuck In My Head All Night

readingRainbowSo what the heck, your turn.  And you know, there are worse things to spend your money on.  And you obviously need to get to at least the $35 level, so when people come over and see your fridge you can be all like “Oh, yeah, my buddy Levar sent that to me.  Perhaps you recall Geordi La Forge?”

Comments Off on Well, I know What Song Will Be Stuck In My Head All Night

Filed under Uncategorized


ironSo I got a speeding ticket today, and I discovered upon arriving home that my certificate of completion of the defensive driving course had arrived.  Obviously, you have failed to design a proper driver safety course, National Safety Institute.  Ironically, had I taken the course one week later, it would have neatly expunged all the points on my license I just picked up, but since it has been years since I last got a ticket, it did me no good on that score (though clearly, I should get a refund of my course fee, since it didn’t take).  As an author, I try to live these bits of irony whenever possible.

Oh, and this is pretty ironic, too



Comments Off on Irony!

Filed under General Writing Things

The Startling Language of Driver Safety Courses

badDrivingI recently took one of those defensive driving courses online, in order to get a discount on my car insurance rates.  This is not my first time taking the course, so I knew what to expect – one hour of material stretched to 6 hours through statistics rendered meaningless through lack of context (118,000 drivers are over 65 years old , and 124,000 are under 20!), potentially useful information with shaky relevance to driving (alcohol can cause peptic ulcers!), and startling contentions with no citations (20% or drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel!).

But we can all learn something from the prose stylings of whoever wrote up the bullet points for that course.  For one thing, they really know how excite the reader’s interest with sentences like “School buses carry our most precious cargo (children)”.  I mean, who ever would have guessed what they meant by “precious cargo” without that parenthetical?  School buses, after all, carry many other things, like, um, old gum, and the occasional forgotten pencil.

But my favorite is this bit of prose magic: “You might think that is true, but it is contrary to actuality”.  What kind of lame-o says “that is incorrect”, amirite?  “Contrary to actuality” is way classier, and I, for one, intend to use it from now on.


Filed under Grammar Gripery

Well, I Don’t Know What I Expected

GigerH.R. Giger died yesterday, and it seems appropriate to link to a set of pictures from the famous artist’s garden.  It’s about what you’d expect, I guess.  Reminds me of my visit to Boris Valejo’s Pennsylvania compound.  Some of us can’t get out to Switzerland so easily, and have to make do, you know.

Comments Off on Well, I Don’t Know What I Expected

Filed under Uncategorized

Statistical Writing

frogMusicI read an interesting interview not long ago with Emma Donoghue and two of her editors – one from the US and one from Canada.  The considerations one has with trying to reconcile the comments of various people who don’t necessarily agree with one another is an intriguing thing.  But the thing that struck me was when Emma discussed her third (UK) editor, and how she’ll assign less weight to a problem only one of the three mentions.  In particular, she mentioned that one of her three editors had figured out who the murderer was early in Frog Music, and this was too high of a percentage.

Now, look.  You’ve only got three editors, which sort of gives you a whopping two degrees of freedom in this statistical analysis you’re performing.  Not something you really want to make decisions based on.  But worse than that, you can’t go around shouting “Thirty-three percent!” when you’ve got exactly one sample falling into that category.  One slight tip in the other direction and you’d think zero percent of your editors had guessed the murder, and where would that put you?  What if you decided the ideal number of people who figured it out was ten percent?  How would you ever know how close you were?  This is why all writers need a solid education in mathematics and statistics.

Also, I had a similar problem myself not long ago, and I thought 33% was about right.

Comments Off on Statistical Writing

Filed under Uncategorized