Thursday, May 30, 2013

Three Interesting Things

1. I feel like I am always offering the caveat that this is an early study, but, well, I was always telling my siblings that my job was to prepare them for the harsh realities of life and such, and it seems that they are discovering a high correlation between teen pregnancy (or lack thereof) in older siblings and that behavior repeating for younger siblings.  Now, clearly, there are other similarities of circumstance for siblings, so it's not just that.  But, I'll be waiting by the mail for my big sibling's day card.  What do you mean there's not a big sibling's day?
2. As someone who spends a lot of time in the company (virtual and otherwise) of both authors and readers, I found this post about what readers really owe authors a refreshing change.  And well, there's is this one too
3. And combining my love of books with my love of DC - there is the DC By the Book project, working to map DC books. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

All Those Very Special Episodes

So. People, sometimes even people with access to things like data often share theories about baby booms.  Blizzard babies.  Hurricane babies.  Superbowl babies.  Economy dip babies. And now, it appears there might be some correlation between the rise of TV watching and the falling birth rates.  (Which, if you think about it gives more credence to all the power outage related babies theories.) Now certainly the answer to curbing population growth is not just TV, as they note in the article, Egypt's birthrate direction shifted up quite quickly after some family planning services were dissolved. And, as the longer article linked within mentions, there are also theories about female literacy, urbanization, and rising GDP.  And some seem to suggest that it is not simply having entertainment, but having entertainment that also depicts small families that is having the effect.  It's something to ponder.  And yes, correlation does not equal causation, but it's just so nice to see people attributing a positive effect to television watching (and literacy) that I could not let it pass.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Three Interesting Things

1. Dear Author had posted a link to an article about guys with guitars being hotter, per a recent study.  Intrigued, I did a little more digging and found this article which, among other things mentions that the study is very preliminary and that the comparison was between a guy holding a guitar and a guy holding a sports bag (which I think was supposed to indicate that he was sporty, and not, you know, carrying around a bag big enough to fit a person) and that really, the guy with a guitar had a higher success rate, but it was still only a 30 percent success rate. 
2. Choir singing may reduce anxiety.  Now they compared it to doing nothing, not just singing by yourself, but there seems to be something to this group singing thing.  (And yes, my biases may be showing here.) 
3. And as reality TV watchers who have seen contestants who do great in silly challenges only to fizzle in the go out and do great finale know, imposing limits can actually enhance your creativity. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Let's Talk About Closure

I've talked before about the differing nature of series and the types of closure a book within each will or will not provide. Given the rise of what I keep referring to as installment books, it seemed a good time to talk about that some more. 
Now, up front, I want to clarify that I am not talking about serials, where the story is intended to be broken up in to pieces and (hopefully) the reader is aware that they are signing on for the story a piece at a time. 
I have recommended the Hunger Games series to many people, but also warned them that the first one ends in a more natural stopping point and the second, well, you might just want to have the third right there next to you.  Certainly I'm not blaming Suzanne Collins, I don't have a better place to end that book, but I often compare it toEmpire Strikes Back because yeah, stuff happens and stuff gets found or fixed or resolved but he is still trapped in the carbonite!
I've come across quite a few YA series of late where it ended and, well, just because it's an ebook doesn't mean I didn't stare in disbelief and try to check if there were more pages. 
One of the things I think "Nashville" does really well is to introduce a tiny scene at the end of each episode that leaves you going, oh, well, that's going to be trouble.  And (so far) none of those have been terribly misleading or involving character's in mortal danger.  Now, sure, part of that is that the stakes in "Nashville" are usually emotional or financial.  And yes, they (usually, barring schedule hinkyness) are usually on the following week so only have to keep you up for seven days, not the months until the next book comes out. 
And I may be spoiled by the linked romance series, where someone falls in love, or the romantic suspense where at least one baddie is usually apprehended, but it's a challenge for me.  Yes, all the author promised me when I got that book was that book.  But, I start to wonder if someone should warn me, this book is not designed to provide plot closure.  I'm all for planting seeds of thing to come, and sure, not everyone's grand ideas are standard paperback size, but warning labels, I am seriously considering them now. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Three Interesting Things

1.  If you were looking for some life rules, this isn't a bad list. 
2. Kimberly MacCarron (who, full disclosure, I know and love, and I might have read part of her award nominated story in a contest and loved it when I didn't know it was hers) has a great post about taking the life plunge
3. And if you might be at reading this at work right now (although, of course, I am sure you are not), well, employees who take web surfing breaks apparently are more productive, so there's that. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Do We Really Want All Stars?

I once read a book that was part of a series, but each book focused on a different couple, so in theory, should have been fine.  And yes, I have talked about how I think good series stand up to entry just about anywhere, but one's where the central characters change each time should still be the easiest to jump into.
For the most part the book was enjoyable.  But there were a ton of scenes that had no bearing on the current plot and it became clear to me that these were full of inside jokes and reunions between characters from prior books.  And sure, I could appreciate that those might be amazing fun for long time series readers, but I found myself bored.  I didn't know these characters well enough to care what they thought about the current book's couple, and they were not introduced enough for me to learn to care in this book. 
And given I heard tell recently that the All Stars edition of "Dancing With the Stars"  (which I do not watch, FYI) and while I don't know the ratings from the most recent "Project Runway" all stars but I know that I, super fan, did not watch, I began to wonder.  I think All Stars is the kind of thing fans think they want.  Certainly people clamor for more books about favorite characters, and appear to get excited for All Star type editions, but in the end, people placed in situations they've been in before often react similarly.  Especially since, for some of the "Top Chef" contestants in the all season competition had barely had time to watch all their episodes before heading right back.  So, in the sense of having someone return who might have had an unusual setback in their competition, sure, why not give them a second chance.  But seeing people produce more of the same stuff, or use the same strategies they did before, well, in the end it's not that interesting.  So, maybe we shouldn't get what we think we want in these scenarios. Or wait.  Did we say we wanted this? 

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Three Interesting Things

1. A study has shown that orgasms are good for your health
2. It appears that boob shaped armor would actually be more likely to get you killed than regular armor.  (Also that story, has a link to an article about the military discovering that unisex uniforms present issues to since people are not all proportioned the same.) 
3. Last week was the Romantic Times Convention which I did not attend this year.  However, three of the folks who did had interesting thoughts on the open and (mostly) friendly behavior there.  John Scalzi - who won an award there this year.  Fellow award winner Karina Cooper.  And RT rep Mala

Monday, May 06, 2013

7 Things: The Code Name Verity Edition

So, I dragged everyone back from Maryland Sheep and Wool in time for the talk at Politics and Prose with Elizabeth Wein which felt a bit like trading one hat for another, even if one fellow yarnie went with me to both things and then of course, Elizabeth Wein showed off Maddie's mittens, and I remembered, that there was more of a link than I had remembered.  This is not to imply that Code Name Verity is a knitting book, because it's not.  But Maddie does have flip top mittens. 
1. A large portion of the audience had read the book already, which allowed for a little more loose talk about things.  Elizabeth also showed off the paperback cover which to me looks very pastoral with the bikes and the field, although the tiny little planes are a bit ominous.  Apparently some people said the hardback cover looked a little Fifty Shades of Gray to them. 
2. In addition to the mittens, she had several pilot's guides that she passed around.  And pens.  One a vintage not quite from WWII, but close.  Although it doesn't work. 
3. Elizabeth wrote the first portion of the story in fountain pen and the second in ball point.  I think we call that method writing. 
4. Elizabeth, to me sounds like a panster, but it is probably more fair to describe her as a loose plotter.  She said originally the plan was to write about a pilot turned spy and so she went off and did all the research about WWII pilots and WWII spies.  And then she said as she began writing she realized making it about a pilot who was friends with a spy would work even better and so she did that.
5. One audience member wore aviator gear. This person also apparently has been quite the book evangelist giving away copies numbered in the teens of this book to people.
6. One audience member said she didn't read YA and did Elizabeth really mean to write this as a YA book?  There was some discussion about this, but in the end Elizabeth said all her books have been YA, so to her this seemed just like the others, although certainly that doesn't mean only YA's could enjoy it. 
7. The next will also have an ATA pilot which means I am so there already.  WWII female pilots are my jam.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Three Interesting Things: The Sexually Out Edition

I had been noticing a trend in stories about homosexual athletes.  How much this is a function of the times changing, or some sense that more players were going to feel free to speak openly about their sexuality, it's hard to say.  As many, many people frustratingly pointed out Jason Collins is not the first gay athlete.  He is not the first gay or homosexual and out athlete.  He is not the first actively playing out athlete. (And yes, we could talk about how women athletes are treated as lesser, but that's a subject for another day.) 
Nonetheless, he is a brave guy, because I know, that along with all the wonderful expressions of love he received after his announcement, he received, well, other ones. 
My future ideal is a time where people I have never met do not need to clarify their sexual preferences for me, but I recognize that there is also a need for role models, and, well, that only happens when people speak out.  So, here come the links.
1. The NHL has partnered with You Can Play, a group working to increase acceptance of LGBT players. 
2. One of the local Skins players said he didn't think having an openly gay teammate would be an issue.
3. And there is this interview with Robbie Rogers about his decision to come out.  Just a note - that interview was done after he left Leeds.  Some more recent articles indicate he is willing to return to soccer, so we shall see. 
4.* If you haven't read Mr. Collins column, it's here.

*Hey, my rules, I can break them.