Polygon 17 August

Polygon puzzle
Using the given letters no more than once, make as many words as possible of four or more letters, always including the central letter. Capitalised words, plurals, conjugated verbs (past tense etc), adverbs ending in LY, comparatives and superlatives are disallowed.

How you rate: 11 words, average; 14, good; 18, very good; 22, excellent.

Source: The Times

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Answers on the continuation page.

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One-book answers

I’ve never been tagged for one of these memes before, but now I have, so I have obviously arrived somewhere. Or even set off.  Kimbofo at Reading Matters says:

"This ‘one book meme’ has been doing the round for weeks, although it seemed to bypass me completely until Janelle, at the always interesting Eclectic Closet, tagged me."

I’ll give it a go. (With thanks to Kim; please see this link for her answers).

1. One book that changed your life
Cannery Row by John Steinbeck.

2. One book you have read more than once?
Emma (or any other book by) Jane Austen

3. One book you would want on a desert island?
Something very long. Proust (A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu) is the longest book I’ve heard of, so that, I guess. But if I’m allowed a collection, I’d prefer Shakespeare’s complete works.

4. One book that made you cry?

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, mirror of erised scene.

5. One book that made you laugh?
e by Matthew Beaumont

6. One book you wish had been written?
My as-yet unwritten novel

7. One book you wish had never had been written?
Any of the books I’ve put down half-way through as being bad.

8. One book you are currently reading?
Can’t reveal this just now.

9. One book you have been meaning to read?
Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte. (Am taking on holiday)

10. Now tag five people

Is there anyone who hasn’t done or been sent and refused to do this meme yet?

I tag: Karen M of Eurocrime, Lee of Lowebrow, James of New Tammany College, CrimeFicReader of It’s a Crime! and Debra of deblog —- with apologies if you’ve already done the meme — it isn’t that I wouldn’t have read your answers, just that I won’t have remembered them.

Pearls from the sea of blogs

Amy at Books, Words, and Writing lists "the authors who dominate my shelves" See her post for the rules of inclusion.

Tricking the publisher’s computer into thinking you are a debut author? The depths to which people are forced to stoop! Read all about it on Galleycat.

Nice post by Joe Wickert on "the potentially longer tail opportunity for independent bookstores". As he says: "Two valuable aspects of the local independent still really jump out at you: A sense of community and an incredible depth of selection. The latter is limited to certain topic areas and local interest segments, of course, but it’s still an attribute that’s not as impressive in the chains."

Omit needless commas, says Mark Liberman of Language Log. He forgot to add a (not) to his post title. "In a recent Wired interview, Bart Kosko explains why he’s given up commas:

Q: I noticed there aren’t any commas in your book. Is this your way of cutting back on punctuation noise?
A: Commas are a kind of channel noise. You’re not getting to the verb fast enough. Why make us wait? The comma is on its way out. Use small words. The perfect illustration is a swear phrase: Go to hell! Screw you!

Hell, why not leave out the spaces, too, andgettothoseverbsevenfaster?"  Read on at Language Log.

Scream! More tempting reviews from Paperback Mysteries. It’s not fair! The force that through the green fuse (I am Welsh enough to know where that quote comes from) highlights Forcing Amaryllis, a debut novel by Louise Ure. Someone else must have recommended this book as I am pretty sure it is in my massive Amazon "waiting for paperback" basket. And two other new (to me) writers of legal thrillers, Reed Arvin and David Ellis. Please help me!

Susan Hill’s blog now features rss, so I highly recommend signing up to it. She features a book bloggers’ book prize, what a great idea, so please head on over and make your nominations. (Susan has written before, and movingly, about her experiences of motherhood. Her most recent post on the topic is one with which I, for one, can identify.)

I was going to be quite clever and "rounded", ending as I had begun with another nice list. But I’ve lost the list I was going to link to. So that will have to do.

For Debra (again): a bad sign

From today’s Times:

Cyclists in Penarth, near Cardiff, were perturbed when roadwork signs in Welsh told them "Your bladder disease has returned". A computer translation, with confusion between the words cyclists and cystitis, was being blamed for the mistake. The signs should have told riders to get off their bikes.

The Times 16 August 2006, p 20 (last in column of briefs, no online version).

Polygon 16 August

Polygon puzzle
Using the given letters no more than once, make as many words as possible of three or more letters, always including the central letter. Capitalised words, plurals, conjugated verbs (past tense etc), adverbs ending in LY, comparatives and superlatives are disallowed.

How you rate: 13 words, average; 17, good; 21, very good; 26, excellent.

Source: the Times

Click here for rules and tips on how to play Polygon

Answers on the continuation page.

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A long Swiss period

Richard Morrison would like a Swiss period, and so would I. As he says:

"What a nation! No, nation is the wrong word. Nations are messy, noisy, turbulent, fractious entities, for ever buffeted by power struggles within and without, and full of contradictory aspirations that tug them one way and then t’other. Nations, in other words, are like people — wayward, vulnerable and prone to get themselves into lots of completely avoidable trouble. Switzerland, by contrast, is much more like Le Corbusier’s definition of a house.

It’s a machine for living in. And all the clichés are true! I made six railway journeys while I was there, and on every one of them the train pulled into and out of the station within ten seconds — yes, ten seconds! — of its scheduled time. "

After analysing some pros and cons of Swiss life, he concludes:

"But this isn’t a country that produces Beethovens or Michelangelos.

All this I acknowledge. And at other times in my life I would probably have found the very calm of Swiss life — the studious renunciation of excitement and unpredictability — unbearably stifling. I daresay that, were I to live in Switzerland for a few months, I would pretty soon be gagging for a Jamaican period, when I would drift along in an anarchic haze of hedonistic delight and not give a damn about time or money. Or perhaps for a Russian period, when I would feast on amazing food for the soul, even if there wasn’t any actual food on the table.

But right now, back in a Britain where the simplest journey takes for ever, where we are racked with anxieties because of our pathological inability to refrain from meddling in other people’s wars, and where the balance between work, family and fun seems to get more and more askew with every passing year, the prospect of infinitely extending my Swiss period is very tempting. More fondue, anyone? "

Read the whole article in its joyous entirety at the link.

Polygon 15 August

Polygon puzzle
Using the given letters no more than once, make as many words as possible of three or more letters, always including the central letter. Capitalised words, plurals, conjugated verbs (past tense etc), adverbs ending in LY, comparatives and superlatives are disallowed.

How you rate: 10 words, average; 13, good; 16, very good; 20, excellent.

Source: The Times

Click here for rules and tips on how to play Polygon

Answers on the continuation page.

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New crime in paperback

I’ve posted quite a bit today, but there are one or two things left that I can’t resist sharing.

First, from Associated Content (the blog where the ads are sometimes better than the posts), A Feminist Critique of Children’s Story Heroines. Subtitle: "from detectives to whores, the characters who teach our girls to be women". Well, I don’t know of any whores in children’s stories, and please don’t correct me if I am wrong. In fact, the article compares only two book series, the Nancy Drew stories and something called Gossip Girl. So the title and subtitle are misleading, to say the least.

Unlike Jenny D, I am very keen on Denise Hamilton’s books — I like the combination of female journalist heroine, California (the spiritual home of crime fiction) and the immigrant themes that pervade the books. I haven’t yet read Savage Garden, it is either not quite out in paperback in the UK yet or is and is waiting to be moved up from the "saved until later" category in my Amazon basket — more than 100 previous books in this category are in my cupboard at home (my non-virtual MySpace at home is one bit of a cupboard), and that’s not counting the many groaning bookshelves in my house. I see from Paperback Mysteries that Hamilton’s latest, Prisoner of Memory, is about to come out in pbk in the US — in anticipation of which, Dick Adler reprises his review of Savage Garden.  I’m looking forward to reading this one, I do like the Eve Diamond character, though I’m sure Jenny D is right about the plot weaknesses. One of the advantages (?) of a failing memory is that you can’t remember the plot flaws by the time you get to the end of a book;-).

The Denise Hamilton post linked above is a bonus for me — the Paperback Mysteries post I was gong to highlight before I saw it is one about a book called Roosevelt’s Law, which looks fantastic if you are, like me, an addict of legal thrillers (Philip Margolian being my top favourite). The other night I received a phone call from one of the book clubs from which I am on cold turkey. Every six months they call you and offer you six books for a penny each if you’ll rejoin. As I took the call this time, my heart sank (thinking of aforementioned cupboard, etc). But I was saved — all they had on offer this time was James Patterson, so I wasn’t remotely tempted (as late JP is awful, a pale imitation of his early books). With blogs of the quality of Paperback Mysteries, It’s a Crime, Eurocrime and so on, a cure for addiction was never so easy – the virtual recommendations just stack up, leading to a nice sense of security until the UK paperback is out and/or my reading pile is a bit lower (as if!).

Talking of piles of unread books, one title in mine is Victoria Blake’s first novel, Bloodless Shadow. She’s now written three, all of which are rounded up by Eurocrime in a useful, readable post. Another author I am looking forward to trying, when time permits.

Sad news for library lovers is the Price Waterhouse report, which Tim Coates of Good Library Blog knew wouldn’t be up to much, and he was right. Here is Tim’s take on what the report should have said.

If, like me, you always feel you need a kick start to actually do anything, particularly after the various stresses of the week, here’s some motivational suggestions from 43 folders. Hmmm, all sounds very sensible, but translating into action? That’s another matter.

OK, that’s it, closing down for the night now.

Search, blog platforms and books

AOL has made an apology after publishing the search data of 658,000 anonymised users. Intended as a resource for academics, it was removed shortly after launch when it became apparent that visitors could work out who the internet users were based on their search terms. The fiasco has led to calls in the US for legislation to prevent internet companies from storing user data. (Via John Battelle’s searchblog.)

If your blog platform is Blogger (Google) and you want to keep it backed up in case of server failure, this post on Googlified entitled "How to back up your Blogger" won’t tell you how to do that, but will direct you to the Google Answer solution and suggestion board. What the post does do, however, is to point to links telling you how to move your blog to your own hosting software, or to WordPress or Moveable Type (Typepad), if you want more functionality than Blogger offers. I can recommend WordPress and Typepad: the former is free and the latter has a small charge. Both offer the ability to categorise your posts, so that when you archive and/or retrieve them you can do so by subject category as well as by date.

And a trio from Darren of Problogger. "Blogging for money by self-publishing a book"; "Challenges facing young and older blogs"; and "Essential books for bloggers". This last post is a list of links to books in the categories of blogging, copywriting, business, creative thinking, marketing and miscellaneous. I warn you, the list is long. And it doesn’t contain the best book I’ve read on the topic, Grumpy Old Bookman, reviewed at the weekend by Frank Wilson of Books, Inq. and the Philadelphia Inquirer.