Distillation

Still rather exhausted by end of term logistical challenges and the heat, so some rather lethargic (or do I mean perfunctory) postings of one or two things that caught my interest.

On Galleycat, I read about Measuring the World, "A book about the relationship between two old men – specifically, astronomer and mathematician Carl Gauss and Alexander von Humboldt, journeyer through jungles – hardly seems like bestseller material. But take historical figures, add a dash of magical realism and Germany’s upheaval in post-Napoleonic time and what you get is a book that’s been on the country’s bestseller lists since its release last fall."

Yet another ‘unknown to me’ crime-fiction author to investigate, via Dick Adler of Paperback Mysteries. He says: "I’ve raved at length about Scottish writer Denise Mina, whose books have led some to anoint her as the latest heir to the Ruth Rendell/Minette Walters/P.D. James crown. Now we have another contender, Morag Joss, whose mysteries about cellist Sara Selkirk, set in the lovely Regency city of Bath, have been extremely readable without breaking any genre boundaries." I loved Denise Mina’s Garnethill trilogy and her subsequent standalone, but I felt her last book, Field of Blood,  was weak . Apparently it is the start of a new series, so I am reserving judgement. Morag Joss sounds worth checking out.

Via Philobiblon’s Friday Femmes Fatales, discovered a new blog, written by Female Science Professor. Rather a mouthful of a title: Science+Professor+Woman=Me, but looks well worth reading from my first visit. Her description of herself: "I am a full professor at a large research university, and I do research in the physical sciences. The physical sciences include chemistry, physics, astronomy, environmental science, geoscience, oceanography, and related fields. I am married, have a young child, and manage a research program. I teach both graduate and undergraduate courses, even though some undergraduates (and others) have trouble believing that I am a *real* professor. I have the greatest job in the world, but this will not stop me from noting some of the more puzzling and stressful aspects of my career as a Female Science Professor." Why is this the case? The reason: "Women professors in the physical sciences: a few. Women professors in the physical sciences at research universities: even fewer. Women full professors in physical sciences at research universities, especially mine: very very few, miniscule (sic), microscopic, a nano-amount. But we exist!" Too right.

Here’s a sample of the many annoying questions she has received in her career:

"Q. So you’re doing a Ph.D.? Couldn’t you find anyone to marry you?
Fantasy Answer 1: Nope, they just don’t make wives like they used to.
Fantasy Answer 2: I’ve already been married 6 times. I’m taking a break."

The blog Reading War and Peace (previously Reading Middlemarch) should perhaps be renamed "Subediting War and Peace". Isabella is taking the reading assignment very seriously and has found many inconsistencies. I always find it annoying when a book is carelessly edited, it breaks the spell for the reader. Shame that this should be the case for what many consider to be the greatest book ever written. But if the errors were in the original, should the translator and editor leave them in or correct them, muses Isabella?

The crime department of the blogosphere has been saturated with Spillane coverage all week, some of it very good, but inexhaustible. The inestimable Sarah Weinman has posted a list of links to all the coverage. She’s also written another post linking to many newspaper obits, stories and songs about the man. Very useful if one wants to write a PhD thesis on the guy. Personally I found the Times’s obituary very readable and informative, and sufficient, but Sarah’s posts are perfect for those who prefer a more comprehensive approach to life. Seems to me from the Times piece that Spillane had that rare talent, to recognise when he had "enough" and could get on with living his life instead of striving after or flaunting yet more wealth.

Finally, for tonight, Skint’s proofs have arrived! Take a look, and if you feel inclined, make a suggestion in his comments for another book for him to publish.

The above may seem like a long post, but I had more than 300 unread postings in my bloglines "book related" subscriptions before I started out on this post, and now I have none, so I reckon the length of this post is not bad under the circumstances.

Blogactivity

So what has everyone been doing while I have been Internet-hampered, closely followed by vicarious sobbing and sadness at leaving primary school? (Why this feat has to be celebrated as many times as the ending of Return of the King defeats me. A child can face one ritual farewell with equanimity, but even the most stoical among them collapses into floods of tears at the sixth or seventh mark of this rite of passage.)

Well, Sian at Ichabod is Itchy has been to Hay Fever by Noel Coward. Recommended (not surprisingly as Judi Dench is in it.)

CrimeFicReader is off to Harrogate crime writers’ festival — read all about it on Sunday. Can’t wait.

Debi has met Sharon! Sounds a lovely encounter, wish I could have been there. Both of them have consistently fascinating blogs, I enjoy following both of them.

Mapletree at Book of the Day has been away and is sharing the fruits of her leisure (reading) with us now she’s back. Laurie R. King is one, but here’s Mothers and other Monsters (;-) ?)

David Montgomery (Crime Fiction Dossier) has been busy having a baby. Can’t leave the blogosphere for a minute without all kinds of shenanigans going on. Still, at least Amanda has good taste in reading (not surprisingly with those genes).

Bookshelves of Doom is featuring a haiku contest with a Superman theme. Read those comments.

OK, that’s it, I’m off to bed, with lots more blogs to catch up on over the weekend.

Catch you later.

Women bloggers analysed

Via the deblog, a survey of women bloggers:

"Dr. Cynthia Bane, a faculty member at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa, is conducting a study to examine women’s weblogs and women’s online and “real life” same-sex friendships. The study consists of a survey that takes 30-40 minutes to complete. In addition, if you choose to participate, the researchers will examine entries from your weblog to analyze how frequently you post entries, how many comments you receive, and the topics you discuss in your weblog. All of your survey responses and the results of our content analysis of your weblog will be confidential. Even if you do not regularly post entries on your blog, the researchers welcome you to participate; they are interested in the opinions of a variety of bloggers. If you choose to participate, you will be entered in a drawing for one of five $20.00 Amazon.com gift certificates.

If you are interested in finding out more about the study, please direct your web browser to the link below:

https://www.psychdata.com/s.asp?SID=119103"

Polygon 21 July

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.

Click here for rules and tips on how to play Polygon

Source: the Times

Answers in the comments.

Polygon 20 July

Polygon puzzle
No puzzle yesterday becuase the Internet was so slow I could neither post, read other blogs nor reply to emails, hence the unusual silence.
I put it down to the heat melting all those connections.
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.

Click here for rules and tips on how to play Polygon

Source: the Times

Answers in the comments.

Hard-boiled, puzzles and diaries

So what are a few of my "daily read" blogs up to? Bibliophile on Another 52 Books was surprised to find how much she likes Murder on the Yellow Brick Road by Stuart Karminsky. She doesn’t usually like fiction featuring real-life characters (you guessed it, Judy Garland in this case), but liked this book enough to give it 4+ stars, praise indeed. Incidentally, Bibliophile is also looking out for recommendations for good fantasy mysteries for her reading challenge, so drop her a comment if you have any suggestions. (I suppose Harry Potter doesn’t count?)

John Brumfield is doing an admirable job of standing in for the (nevertheless much missed) Frank Wilson on Books, Inq. I am beginning to note that John’s frequency of posting is exponentially increasing to the point where he will almost be up to Frank’s prodigious output. In one of these posts, "Kiss Me, Objectively", John provides a tribute to the recently departed author Mickey Spillane. (Inevitably, Dave Lull had a hand in it somewhere along the line.)

Debra Hamel and the Deblog have become famous! They feature in a new book called Zen and the art of Crossword Puzzles. Read the post, buy the book. But remember, we knew her first!

James at New Tammany College has finished reading Claire Tomalin’s biography of Samuel Pepys. He’s written a lovely post about discovering an online version of the diary, created, as it turned out,  by someone who works right next to him. Small world, that Internet.

I’m going to stop there, even though I have by no means run out of interesting reading material,  because Malcolm has just come in from work and I need to help Jenny wrap up some more "rites of passage" presents — last day at her childminder’s tomorrow.

Polygon 18 July

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: 12 words, average; 16, good; 20, very good; 25, excellent.

Click here for rules and tips on how to play Polygon

Answers in the comments

Source: the Times

Free books online

It is too hot, and I am too burned out, to write anything either sensible or interesting, so I am not going to try. Just one note: Chris at Spiked Magazine has set up a site called free-new-books.com , a collection of all the books you can download or read online free from the web (legally). The site has categories and an rss feed . As Chris says: "I want books highlighted to me and pithy summaries of why they’re of interest. So that’s what I’ve tried to do with Free New Books. I hope to find a couple of books a week that are worth adding to the site." Seems like a fantastic resource with this added value of Chris’s editorial summaries.

Polygon 17 July

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: 13 words, average; 18, good; 22, very good; 27, excellent.
Click here for rules and tips on how to play Polygon

Answers in the comments

Source: The Times

Apples of discord

Even Newton had to please the peer reviewers, says Ann Osborn on LabLit.

"Dear Mr Newton

Thank you for submitting your manuscript “The theory of light and colours, Newton, I” (m/s no. 1672-6) to The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. The manuscript has now been assessed by three independent reviewers. Their comments are as follows:

Reviewer #1:

Newton reports the splitting of white light into different colours (he claims at least seven). The data are well presented and the figures are visually appealing. However my concern is that Newton’s observations are artifacts arising from the corruption of light by aberrations in his prism. Newton has attempted to counter this criticism by using a glass lens (which may also have its imperfections) to focus the coloured rays onto a wall. The result of this experiment was white light. Newton regards this as an unequivocal demonstration that white light is indeed comprised of multi-coloured components. I disagree. Two wrongs do not make a right; seven colours do not make white light. I regret that I am unable to support the publication of this treatise in The Philosophical Transactions. I trust that the more specialized journals will be equally cautious."

Read more of Newton’s travails at the LabLit site. Elsewhere on LabLit, Harrison Bae Wein is now on episode 7 of his novel Blinded by Science; Clare Dudman (she of the snails) writes an essay about the scientist as novelist (Clare’s book Wegener’s Jigsaw is a novel about the discoverer of Continental Drift); and a profile of larger-than-life fly geneticist Michael Ashburner. LabLit is a great site for those interested in the science-fiction interface, so I recommend a look. Poems, discussion forums (the "nuclear" debate is going on currently) and more. Jennifer Rohn is the person making it all happen.