Thoughty Thursday: Things that made me go hmmmm on the interwebz, April 22-28, 2018

It’s time to get your mental corn popping for the final push to the weekend. Yes! Tomorrow is Friday. And today is Thoughty Thursday 🙂

Stephen Luntz discovers that trees have a “heartbeat,” too. IFLS

Linda Poon: new “mutant enzymes” could solve Earth’s plastic problem. Are they any better than recycling, though? The proof remains to be seen. City Lab

Another promising solution? Saqib Shah: first ever ocean plastic cleaner will tackle the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The New York Post

Why so few people on the Six Nations Reserve have clean, running water, unlike their neighbours. It’s not just remote or northern reserves. We really have to provide all people with the necessities of life. Like, yesterday. CBC’s “Out in the Open.”

Alek Minassian, the Toronto van attack suspect, praised “Incel” killer. BBC

Psychologists explain why you should be friends with people who swear a lot. We’re more fucking honest and intelligent 🙂 Rachel-Lee Thomas for Providr.

Do essential oils work? And why? (I guess that second question gives away the answer to the first …) SciShow

 

Can exercise treat depression? SciShow Psych

 

Scientists may have discovered the root cause of autism (and no, it’s not vaccines). Let’s first seek to understand ASD before we attempt to eradicate it. IFLS

Sara Burrows explains how one Texas school beat ADHD by tripling recess. Return to Now

Nina Strochlic reveals the race to save the world’s disappearing languages. National Geographic

Going grey the right way: everything you need to know about grey hair. Katie Martin for HealthyWay.

Nadia Drake: how 1.7 billion stars were mapped with dazzling 3-D precision. National Geographic

Alfredo Carpineti: Study reveals Uranus smells of farts. IFLS

Baby elephant chases the birds, falls, and runs to mom.

 

I hope something in this mix inspired you (or at least entertained you).

Be well until this weekend’s next chapter update.

thoughtythursday2016

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Oct 16-22, 2016

Just to let you know. I’m participating in #NaNoWriMo this year, but I wasn’t able to take much time off in November. So I’m working. And, I’ll be out of town, training for the day job, for the first week. And I’ll be at Wordstock Sudbury the weekend I get back. And I’ll be helping to launch the SWG anthology, Sudbury Ink. On the weekend of the 12th/13th (the day/date is yet to be determined).

So, it’s going to be a busy month.

As a result, I’m not going to be blogging at all in the month of November. I will be able to complete and schedule the curation posts for the first week (Tipsday on Nov 1st and Thoughty Thursday on Nov 3rd), but, after that, you won’t be seeing another post until December 3rd, when I’ll be doing a double monthly update for October and November.

I just wanted to let you know ahead of time, so you won’t be expecting posts, or wondering where the heck I am.

I’ll be well, and writing 🙂

Your #NaNoWriMo round up for the week:

K.M. Weiland reviews the WriteMind Planner (plus a chance to win!). Helping Writers Become Authors

Janice Hardy guest posts on Kate’s blog: three ways to instantly spot telling.

Chris Winkle shares five ways to hide your foreshadowing. Mythcreants

Vaughn Roycroft suggests the synopsis as a way to revision success. Writer Unboxed

Dave King helps you meet your characters on Writer Unboxed.

Janice Hardy asks, which character is the heart of your story? Fiction University

Writing a series: how much do you need to plan ahead? Jami Gold.

Alex Bloom makes a guest appearance on The Write Practice: what most writers don’t know about screenplay structure.

Steven Pressfield: what works and what doesn’t.

Gail Carriger discusses one of her literary influences, Mercedes Lackey.

Sabaa Tahir picks Patrick Rothfuss’s brain about writing sequels and impostor’s syndrome. Tor.com

Sarah Gailey wants to see more mentally ill women protagonists. Tor.com

Authors share their views on cultural appropriation. The Guardian

Marlon James: why I’m done talking about diversity. Literary Hub

Finally! An infographic that breaks down the big five and their imprints.

Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan reports on a gorgeous typeface that drove men mad and sparked a 100-year mystery. Gizmodo

Charles Dickens and profanity. Bryan Kozlowski for The Millions.

Azhar A. Alkazwini documents the influence of the Norman Conquest on the English language. Medievalists.net

Five portmanteau words you want to start using. Sad and Useless

Hephzibah Anderson settles in with The Wide Sargasso Sea, the book that changed Jane Eyre forever. BBC

Looking forward to Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2? Check out this teaser trailer! Brian Raftery for Wired.

Women will direct every episode of Jessica Jones, season 2. Beth Elderkin for i09.

All the best until Thursday 🙂

See you then! *waves*

Tipsday

Tipsday: Writerly Goodness found on the interwebz, Oct 2-8, 2016

This week was just yummy 🙂

The Wordstock Sudbury 2016 schedule is up 🙂

Prism International interviews George Elliott Clarke, one of our Wordstock guests of honour.

Your #NaNoWriMo prep posts for the week:

Nina Amir guest posts on K.M. Weiland’s Helping writers become authors: how to get up close with your characters.

Chris Saylor guest posts on Marcy Kennedy’s blog: how to punctuate dialogue.

Roz Morris shares her insights on how to write emotions. Nail your novel

Donald Maass looks at four kinds of pace. Writer Unboxed

Joanna Penn: how to find and capture ideas for your novel. The Creative Penn

Janice Hardy guest posts on Writer Unboxed: a ten step guide to plotting a practice novel.

Therese Walsh explores dehumanization in fiction using one of my favourite movies, The Shawshank Redemption. Writer Unboxed

Cathy Yardley: just say yes. Writer Unboxed

Chris Winkle thinks the surprise kiss must go. Why? It’s a matter of consent. Mythcreants

Chuck Wendig offers some good writing (and life) advice: control what you can control. Terribleminds

Later in the week, he shares ten quick story tips to use or discard at your leisure.

Kameron Hurley shares her experience: five years a novelist.

Sarah Waters shares her ten rules of writing fiction. Aerogramme Writing Studio

Last Sunday I spent the day online in a short fiction intensive with Mary Robinette Kowal (!) Here’s one of the resources she shared on critiquing:

 

Carly Watters offers ten ways to personalize your query letter.

Kristen Lamb: what the dreaded synopsis reveals about our writing.

Anna Davis: how to prepare your submission package. Curtis Brown Creative

Awards news!

Ursula K. Le Guin has stopped writing fiction, but we need her more than ever. Zoë Carpenter for The Nation.

When Steven Musil reported that Amazon was cracking down on incentivized reviews, everyone panicked, until it was clarified that this policy change would not apply to ARCs provided for book review purposes. cnet

Sarah Gailey: why we write about witches. Tor.com

Lisa Rosman: what The Girl on the Train is really about. Signature Reads

Angelica Jade Bastièn says the price of fandom can be too high for women of colour. New Republic

Julia Alexander examines sexism in television in the microcosm of Adult Swim. Polygon

Shane Parrish: what you read changes your brain. Medium

If you can correctly pronounce every word in this poem, you speak English better than 90% of English speakers in the world. I must admit, I flubbed two or three <blushes>. The Poke

Ephrat Livni for Quartz: a linguist’s love letter to profanity and why it’s okay to swear in front of kids.

Dark Horse Comics will be producing the next two seasons of The Legend of Korra in print. Rob Bricken for i09. Moar Korra! Eeeeee!

Evan Narcisse talks to Greg Rucka about the reaction to Wonder Woman’s canon bisexuality. i09

Did you see the premiere of Westworld last Sunday? Here are a few pieces about it.

Michael Bennett Cohn looks at Westworld through the lens of the golem story. The Forward

Can Westworld do for science fiction what Game of Thrones did for fantasy? Charlie Jane Anders for Wired.

I’m watching and enjoying it. Phil, not so much, but then, he did see the original movie (which I haven’t) and he just doesn’t see how the writers can turn it into a series and so he’s closed to the possibilities.

Evan Narcisse explores how Luke Cage uses blackness for i09.

Netflix provides a release date (and teaser) for Iron Fist: March 17, 2017.

Outlander casts Marsali and adult Fergus. Entertainment Weekly

The Doctor Who Christmas special features superheroes (!) plus a wee teaser. Katharine Trendacosta for i09.

See you Thursday!

Tipsday

Clean Reader, censorship, and political correctness

The big news of the week has been Clean Reader, which, despite the rumours, is still an app. Essentially, it’s an ereader that disguises what the creators of the app see as profanity.

There have been two camps among writers. One would rather their work not be read at all rather than have it read in an altered form, particularly when the alterations were made without the author’s consent. If the reader doesn’t like what the author writes, they have the right not to purchase or read it.

The other writerly camp concede that once the work is out in the world readers can and often do what they wish with it and as long as the author’s work is still being read and they are still being compensated for it, they’re okay with it (despite how repugnant they might find the practice of altering the work without consulting the author).

Here are some of the posts that have made it across my social media streams this week. (They’ll all appear again in my Tipsday post, BTW.)

As I mentioned on Facebook, on which I shared most of these, I’ll let you read through and decide what you think about Clean Reader for yourselves.

I will, however, share with you, why Clean Reader disturbs me.

It is censorship. No bones about it.

But censorship happens all the time in all of the arts, you say. This is true.

Profanity in television and movies is *bleeped* or dubbed when these shows are televised on network television during hours when impressionable young people might be watching.

There is a rating system for movies and while cinema employees may not strictly enforce it, they do have the right to turn away patrons if they are deemed too young to watch the movie.

Trigger warnings are plastered on music in various formats and there are usually “clean” versions of songs released for radio play.

Books are routinely banned because they are considered profane.

It was just a matter of time before categories for books (adult fiction, YA, children’s, etc.) became insufficient for some readers, or their parents.

I assume that Clean Reader is using the same conventions that allow the bleeping or dubbing of profanity in movies and music to justify the alteration of the ebooks they provide their readers.

It’s a choice and it’s a validated approach as much as I might disagree with it.

You might get the idea that I’m one of those writers in the first camp (above). You’d be right. If people don’t like what I write, they don’t have to read it. Not that every other word I write is a swear word, but I do write about sex, and body parts are also words that the creators of Clean Reader are not comfortable with.

It also smacks of political correctness (to me). It’s like some thought experiment. If we change the words, we protect those who might be harmed by them. If we change the words, we’ll prevent our children from becoming violent or otherwise behaving in a way we find unacceptable.

Big Brother, anyone? Maybe that’s overstating the issue, but I’ve always thought that common courtesy and thoughtfulness were more effective than political correctness.

Why does this concern me? Political correctness is another form of censorship. It all comes from the same, admittedly well-meaning, place, but truthfully, it doesn’t help anyone.

Those of you who have young children will know what happens when they learn their first swear word. Even if it’s something merely socially unacceptable like poopy-head or fart-face (kids often return from daycare or kindergarten with words like these) is it ever effective to forbid them from saying it?

If you’ve tried that strategy, you may have had a wee tyke running through your house shouting poopy-head at the top of her or his lungs. They do that.

More often, parents will have (sometimes repeated) discussions with their children to let them know that their words may make other people feel uncomfortable or hurt and that these words are not ones we should say without thinking about them and about the consequences of saying hurtful words to others.

Parents teach their children respect and courtesy. They teach their children to think before they speak. They teach their children about context and about human failings (you might hear Mommy or Daddy say a bad word when we’re really upset, but sometimes even we forget we shouldn’t say these things).

These early lessons can be the groundwork for more important issues that need to be discussed as children grow older. From bullying to bigotry, sexism to sexuality, words that some people find offensive are essential to these discussions.

We need to use our words, all of them, to provide our children with the tools that will help them mature into courteous and respectful people. We need to use sexually explicit terms to discuss the facts of life as well as alternative sexualities and the respect we all should have for them.

We can’t pretend vulgarity doesn’t exist. We can’t ignore bullying, discrimination, misogyny, or homophobia, and hope they’ll go away just because we don’t use “those words” anymore.

We need to teach people to be wise about their use of words.

I think that’s why Clean Reader disturbs me so much. It’s a dumbing down of language. Censorship of this kind is for people who think reading profanity will corrupt them. Censorship is for people who can’t or don’t want to trust their own judgement.

We can’t engage in meaningful discussion without words, and yes, that includes the bad ones.

It’s only my opinion, but I think my life would be diminished by the disappearance of profanity. If I’d never discovered the Shakespearean Insult Generator (and this is only one of many such sites) or Rogers Profanisaurus (they have an app now too), I would have laughed a lot less and my vocabulary would be significantly limited. Mind you, my sense of humour is distinctly scatological 🙂

I wouldn’t want to read, or write, in a world without profanity.

There are some books I’ve read and enjoyed very much that would not be affected at all by the censoring of profanity, but I couldn’t imagine enjoying Diana Gabaldon’s books (for example) half as much without it, nor would I appreciate someone editing out all the profanity in them.

If someone feels, however, that they want this service and that they can’t read books without it, I support their right to choose Clean Reader. I also pity them for feeling that Clean Reader was the only choice they could make.

Nerdmaste, my writerly peeps.

Muse-inks