Public Health Backgrounder #713

Sunday 7 October 2001, 18:00

So your lover is an undead creature?

At one time, sexual relations between the living and the undead were considered taboo. But in more recent times, such couplings have gained social acceptance as just another colour band in the great rainbow of sexuality. If you are a human contemplating sex with an undead partner, there are some facts you need to be aware of concerning health and safety, specific to your partner's undead heritage. Besides the information given here, you should also be aware of the risk of sexually transmitted diseases; most of the same cautions that would apply with a human partner are also of concern with your undead lover. Inform yourself about safe sex in general as well as reading this document.

The Number 13 Road

Saturday 1 November 2003, 17:18

It's an old joke, you've no doubt heard it before. There's this young woman, and she's decided to kill herself by jumping off a bridge. So just as she's standing there on the railing looking down at the river below, a young man sees her and says, hey, so you've decided to kill yourself, huh? And she says yes, that's the way things are, and she's all expecting him to try to talk her out of it, to say come on, life isn't so bad; maybe he'll offer to listen to her troubles, maybe he'll get all weepy and beg her to call it off, all that kind of thing. But he doesn't.

The delivery man and his death

Wednesday 30 November 2005, 17:15

The delivery man looked at the calendar on his wall and saw that the day was right, and he looked out his window and saw that the Sun had gone down a little over an hour ago, so the time was right, too. He put his bag of blessings over his shoulder and walked out into the gloom to do his job. Oh, not the one they paid him for, but his real job, the calling for which he was called the delivery man. Nobody said good-bye to him because he lived alone because of his sin.

Will McCarthy and the Screaming Avocados

Tuesday 9 November 2004, 17:11

[Belated Halloween story because of animation festival and urethral surgery. You've heard this plot before, of course, but it's a new telling, anyway.]

The rain was coming down in big sticky globs and the tour bus's back wheels spun for a fraction of a second, sending up a big fan-tail of muddy water, before they caught and the bus lurched out of its illegal parking space behind the shopping mall, onto what passed for a main highway in the little backwater town of Wheaton, Manitoba. It was a bus full of desires and Screaming Avocados.

All you're "based off" are belong 2 us

Saturday 30 October 2010, 21:40

I saw a Web BBS posting recently in which the poster, who was a foreigner learning English as a second language, asked "Which is correct - 'based off' or 'based off of'?" The person asking the question can probably be forgiven because they don't know any better, and at least were smart enough to ask, but if you know me you'll probably be able to guess that the general agreement among the answers, that "based off of" is incorrect and you should say "based off" instead, caused me to consider the merits of a tri-provincial killing spree.

I will not apologize for being a prescriptivist. There are some usages that would be wrong even if all the other native speakers of English used them; and "based off" (with or without an "of") is such a usage. I'm willing to accept "different than" as an issue of formalism, and acceptable in speech or informal writing even though I do not use it myself; I'm willing to (very grudgingly) grant that persons from the United States of America may be allowed to say "anyways" as a regional dialect thing, even though it makes them sound illiterate; but "based off" is just completely unacceptable.

Nonetheless, from a scientific perspective and from the point of view of "know the enemy," it may be interesting to look seriously at the questions of who does say "based off," and when they started.

Fun with text analysis

Tuesday 26 October 2010, 22:33

I wrote before about the writing style analysis toy; at that time I said the "blogosphere" wasn't ready for such technology, and I still believe that, but I recently did something sort of related that might interest you, and the stakes are a little lower, so I'm going to share it here.

The thing is, in my novel draft, there are 45 chapters, and some of them are deliberately written in different styles from others. I thought it'd be interesting to see if I could detect that statistically. I apologize for not posting the actual text here - you'll have to wait until the book is published - but I'll at least give you the raw numbers to play with and walk you through the analysis.

Tripartite division of fiction

Tuesday 26 October 2010, 09:19

I was reading the Wikipedia article on "genre fiction" recently (and it's pretty bad, so I won't link or recommend it), when it occurred to me that maybe we see the same division in fiction that we see in music.

Disabling Ctrl-Shift-Underscore font resize in Konsole

Saturday 23 October 2010, 10:16

Why is it that all my KDE-related postings seem to be about disabling annoying user interface misfeatures?

Today's has to do with the Ctrl-Shift-Underscore (Ctrl-Shift-_) key combination. This is used for "undo" in EMACS-derived text editors, including JOE. In recent KDE versions, Konsole has started trapping this key combination for "reduce font size." So you're merrily editing away, you try to use the undo command, and suddenly your font has become smaller. To make matters worse, it is a known bug that the key combination Ctrl-Shift-+, which is supposed to be "enlarge font size," doesn't work. So not only can you not undo editing changes anymore, but you can't undo the font size change either. Solution below.

Four Web logs about publishing

Thursday 21 October 2010, 12:12

It's very easy to get into believing in "Be the change you want to see in the world." I'd really like to think that that works; I've even preached that world view to others, and today I'm a little bit ashamed of having done so. Make approaches and you will be approached. Link to others' Web logs, and others will link to yours - not the individuals you linked to, in incestuous tit-for-tat, but more generally as part of a positive-sum reputation economy where the law of attraction brings reputation from third parties to those who give it freely. As I've written before, it doesn't work. Thirteen years of my HTTP logs bear out that it doesn't matter how much you give with a Web site, it'll never mean you're allowed to expect anything. Nonetheless, I'm going to post some links here for my favourite Web logs related to books and publishing.

On the agent selection process

Sunday 17 October 2010, 22:47

It will be a while yet before I start querying agents with Shining Path - first I want to see what the test readers think and do some editing accordingly - but in the interests of being ready when I am ready, I got a copy of the Jeff Herman 2010 guide and went through the entire list of agents (a few hundred of them) making a short-list of ones to consider querying. That was 20 agents. Examination of their Web sites (which I haven't finished doing yet) has allowed me to cut three or four, as well as give me some idea of my order of preference among those remaining.