Feb 012015

Here’s what I woke up to, and more is coming!

Dec 292014

This is the second writing exercise I have tried in as many days. The first one was about length. I wrote two handwritten pages. That was the goal. They were crap and ended up torn into tiny little pieces and tossed into a garbage can outside the Batavia Public Library. But, I met my goal.

Today’s exercise came from an article by Eric Zorn in the Chicago Tribune. This exercise focuses on time, specifically 10 minutes. Mr. Zorn told us that he tried to carve out a 30 minute block of time to work on a book in 2014 and failed. This coming year he has changed his goal to 10 minutes. He thought anyone could manage 10 minutes and over time that would become the floor. As I suspect most writers will acknowledge, getting started is the hardest part. Once you get going you might get in the flow and blow past the 10 minute mark. It’s certainly worth a try. It might work for yoga too. 10 minutes – surely I can carve 10 minutes out of my day to make my back feel better. 10 minutes of silent meditation would be good for me too. It should make my brain feel better and then maybe I would cut back on the bourbon. Uh-oh. Now I’m up to 30 minutes. But, if these activities are all done in 10 minute chunks, does that change things? It feels to me like it does. If so, it’s worth trying. I have a timer on my tablet, so there are no excuses; I have the technology.

Can I write anything worthwhile in 10 minutes? That remains to be seen. I can certainly start something worthwhile in 10 minutes, so therefore I shall.

Dec 172014

Shovel Ready (Spademan, #1)Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really liked this book. It’s an excellent example of dystopian noir! New York is all messed up due to a dirty bomb in Times Square. Dystopian setting – check! The protagonist, Spademan, is messed up due to a number of things – he’s a hit man with rules, and a conscience.

The writing! Sternbergh makes Hemingway look verbose! Sometimes I felt I was reading lists – but the lists evoked a setting or an action with such intensity. I thought this would be a quick read. It’s not a really long book. I don’t know the word count, but it can’t be much given the sparse style. It wasn’t a quick read. I don’t know why, but I took my time with this book. Perhaps I didn’t feel the need to rush through long, boring paragraphs of narrative – the sparse writing made me slow down and bask in the intensity.

Definitely VoiceOfDoomAndGloom approved!

View all my reviews

Dec 122014

I started Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch and around page 110 or so I decided life was too short. It was an awful book – that won a Pulitzer. However, it appears I was not alone; ebook companies can tell how far people get in their books when they give up!

“The onset of digital reading means that Kobo – and other ebook retailers – are able to tell more than ever before about how readers engage with books: which they leave unopened, which they read to the end, and how quickly they finish. … Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch put down prematurely by 55% of ebook readers, with self-published star Casey Kelleher holding most attention…”

Read the full article in the Guardian.

Dec 072014

Digital Vertigo: How Today's Online Social Revolution Is Dividing, Diminishing, and Disorienting UsDigital Vertigo: How Today’s Online Social Revolution Is Dividing, Diminishing, and Disorienting Us by Andrew Keen

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Keen rambles quite a bit. I do agree with his conclusion though. I agree that the social media sites tend to separate us, highlighting our extremes and differences more than our commonality. I believe much of that is done to accumulate responses (likes, comments…) perhaps more than actually reflecting what we truly believe if we were to slow down and think before posting or commenting. But, part of the Web 3.0 thing seems to be speed too – being the first to throw your opinion out there seems important.

Page 168 offers up an important observation:

“We, the producers of data on the free network, are its product rather than its friend or partner. In the Web 3.0 age, therefore, consumers should not only carefully read their social network’s Terms of Service (TOS) … but also to recognize that Facebook, Twitter, Google, Zynga, Groupon, Apple, Skype and the other corporate pioneers of @quixotic’s personal data revolution are all multi-billion dollar for-profit companies, no better and no worse than for-profit banks or oil or pharmaceutical companies.”

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Dec 052014

Here is an interesting article about cultural attitudes held by journalists, about journalism. One that probably needs to be examined, and retired, is the concept that journalists just report the facts in an unbiased manner. It’s never been true and now it’s even less the case. “Fair and Balanced”? I do not think so – and we should just acknowledge that, demand or seek out an understanding of the journalist’s bias and move on from there. Read the complete article…

Dec 022014

First the good news: A new report is predicting that robots and artificial intelligence will dominate most legal practices within 15 years, leading to the “structural collapse” of law firms.

Now the bad news (which I’ve been telling you for years):

“We are now entering the beginning of an era in which technology has started to destroy employment faster than it creates it,” he told io9. “The advance of information technology, artificial intelligence and robotics will eventually reduce the demand for all forms of human labor, including those dependent on ‘human skills’ like empathy and creativity.”

  • Driverless cars are improving rapidly, and it is easy to understand that they will begin to eliminate all the jobs held by truck drivers, taxi drivers, etc. That is a million or more jobs that will be lost.
  • Tablets and kiosks in restaurants will be eliminating many of the jobs currently held by waiters and waitresses. (Already happening at my local Chili’s!)
  • There are currently 3.7 million full-time K-12 teachers in the United States. Yet there is a host of new tools, including MOOCs, apps, computer-aided instruction, etc. that will start eliminating teaching positions in the near future. The pressure to reduce the cost of public education is relentless, and so is the advancement in the technology.
  • Combine those trends with similar trends in factories, the construction industry, retail, etc.

Read the whole article…