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.

Pew bloggers’ survey

If you would like to take the Pew Internet survey of bloggers, please go to this link.

The instructions say that the survey takes 40 minutes but it took me about 10.

Blogging for academics

Brad de Long writes about why blogging is good for academics in an article "The invisible college."  Although the author is an economist, the argument applies to the sciences and any academic discipline, in my opinion. Here are some excerpts:

"I walk out my door and look around: at the offices of professors who know more about topics like the history of the international monetary system or the evolution of income distribution than any other human beings alive, and at graduate students hanging out in the lounge. It’s a brilliant intellectual community, this little slice of the world that is our visible college. You run into people in the hall and the lounge, and you learn interesting things. Paradise. For an academic, at least.

But I am greedy. I want more. I would like a larger college, an invisible college, of more people to talk to, pointing me to more interesting things. People whose views and opinions I can react to, and who will react to my reasoned and well-thought-out opinions, and to my unreasoned and off-the-cuff ones as well."….

….."with the arrival of Web logging, I have been able to add such people to those I bump into — in a virtual sense — every week. My invisible college is paradise squared, for an academic at least.

Plus, Web logging is an excellent procrastination tool. Don’t feel like grading? Don’t feel like writing that ad hoc committee report or completing the revisions demanded by clueless referee X? Write on your Web log and get the warm glow of having accomplished something.

Plus, every legitimate economist who has worked in government has left swearing to do everything possible to raise the level of debate and to communicate with a mass audience rather than merely an ivory-tower audience. That is true of those on the right as well as the left. Web logging is a promising way to do that….."

This article is part of a series published in the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled "Can blogging derail your career?", arising from the case of Juan Cole, who may have missed out on an appointment at Yale Univeristy because of his blogging. I believe that the articles in the series(listed and linked below, including one by Army of Davids author Glenn Reynolds) are freely available.

Article: The Lessons of Juan Cole by Siva Vaidhyanathan

Article: The Politics of Academic Appointments by Glenn Reynolds

Article: The Trouble With Blogs by Daniel W. Drezner

Article: Exposed in the Blogosphere by Ann Althouse

Article: The Attention Blogs Bring by Michael Bérubé

Article: The Controversy That Wasn’t by Erin O’Connor

Article: Juan R.I. Cole Responds

See The Chronicle Review

Onion ‘celebrates’ Wikipedia

The Onion has got around to satirising Wikipedia, with an article entitled "Wikipedia celebrates 750 years of American Independence. Founding Fathers, Patriots, Mr T. honored."

Here’s a taste of what’s in the article:

"The commemorative page is one of the most detailed on the site, rivaling entries for Firefly and the Treaty Of Algeron for sheer length. Subheadings include "Origins Of Colonial Discontent," "Some Famous Guys In Wigs And Three-Cornered Hats," and "Christmastime In Gettysburg." It also features detailed maps of the original colonies—including Narnia, the central ice deserts, and Westeros—as well as profiles of famous American historical figures such as Benjamin Franklin, Special Agent Jack Bauer, and Samuel Adams who is also a defensive tackle for the Cincinnati Bengals."

For the full effect, go to the link.

How popular is your name?

Have you ever wanted to know the popularity of your name, or how its popularity has changed over time since 1880?  If so,  go to this link for an excellent data visualisation tool.  Key in your name (or any name; the site is intended for people choosing a baby’s name) and you can see in graphical form how popular it is and was.

"Maxine", for example, was barely known in the 1880s but had a huge spike of popularity in the 1900s, peaking at about 1,300 per million babies in the 1920s, which is 84th in popularity in whichever population is counted by the site. Its popularity decreased almost as rapidly, so that by the decade I was born it was 276th and by the 1980s it had vanished from the scale (less than 10 per million, it seems). I had no idea that "Maxine" is an "old" name, though I do know that my mother found it in the back of Chambers’ dictionary and awarded it to me when I was born.

I have not looked into the parameters of this measure (is it international? what are the ranking criteria?), but it is mildly diverting. If you look up your own name, please do note its popularity in the comments to this post. If I get enough comments I will create a "top ten" list 😉

Polygon 14 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: 14 words, average; 18, good; 23, very good; 28, excellent.

Source: the Times

Click here for rules and tips on how to play Polygon

Answers on the continuation page

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