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Weiye Loh

Balderdash: Anne Rice on writing about Others - 0 views

    "The bottom line is, you go where the intensity is for you as a writer; you give birth to characters for deep, complex reasons. And this should never be politicized by anyone. Your challenge is to do a fine and honest and effective job. Don't ever let anyone insist you give up without even trying.

    Two of the greatest novels about women that I've ever read, Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary were written by men. One of the finest novels about men that I've ever read, The Last of the Wine, was written by a woman. That was Mary Renault. And her novel, The Persian Boy, about a Persian eunuch is a classic.

    The vital literature we possess today was created by men and women of immense imagination, personal courage and personal drive. Ignore all attempts to politicize or police your imagination and your literary ambition."
Weiye Loh

It's Okay to "Forget" What You Read - The Polymath Project - Medium - 0 views

    ""Reading and experience train your model of the world. And even if you forget the experience or what you read, its effect on your model of the world persists. Your mind is like a compiled program you've lost the source of. It works, but you don't know why.""
Weiye Loh

The Icelandic publisher that only prints books during a full moon - then burns them | B... - 0 views

    For Tunglið, how you publish is as important as what you publish. Named after the Icelandic word for the moon, the tiny publisher prints its books in batches of 69 on the night of a full moon. So far, so weird. But keen readers must also buy their books that same night, as the publisher burns all unsold copies. Weirder still.

    Why? While most books can survive centuries or even millennia, Tunglið - as its two employees tell me - "uses all the energy of publishing to fully charge a few hours instead of spreading it out over centuries … For one glorious evening, the book and its author are fully alive. And then, the morning after, everyone can get on with their lives."

Weiye Loh

Deep Grammar will correct your text using AI technology - 0 views

    Deep Grammar works by giving each word a value known as a vector. It then uses that value to determine what context you have used the term in and whether or not it needs changing when it analyzes your text.

    Mugan gives the example of how Deep Grammar might learn that "I feel worried" is closer to the same meaning as "I feel anxious" than it is to "I feel sleepy."

    It takes three steps to analyze what has been written - firstly, it computes the likelihood that what's written is what you mean to say and then if needs be, it will replicate the sentence or phrase with something more likely to be what you meant and makes a suggestion to edit.

Weiye Loh

The poetry and brief life of a Foxconn worker: Xu Lizhi (1990-2014) - 0 views

Weiye Loh

Why I Am Teaching a Course Called "Wasting Time on the Internet" - The New Yorker - 0 views

  • The vast amount of the Web’s language is perfect raw material for literature. Disjunctive, compressed, decontextualized, and, most important, cut-and-pastable, it’s easily reassembled into works of art.
  • What they’ve been surreptitiously doing throughout their academic career—patchwriting, cutting-and-pasting, lifting—must now be done in the open, where they are accountable for their decisions. Suddenly, new questions arise: What is it that I’m lifting? And why? What do my choices about what to appropriate tell me about myself? My emotions? My history? My biases and passions? The critiques turn toward formal improvement: Could I have swiped better material? Could my methods in constructing these texts have been better? Not surprisingly, they thrive. What I’ve learned from these years in the classroom is that no matter what we do, we can’t help but express ourselves.
    "Web surfing as a form of self-expression. Every click is indicative of who we are: indicative of our likes, our dislikes, our emotions, our politics, our world view. Of course, marketers have long recognized this, but literature hasn't yet learned to treasure-and exploit-this situation. The idea for this class arose from my frustration with reading endless indictments of the Web for making us dumber. I've been feeling just the opposite. We're reading and writing more than we have in a generation, but we are reading and writing differently-skimming, parsing, grazing, bookmarking, forwarding, retweeting, reblogging, and spamming language-in ways that aren't yet recognized as literary."
Weiye Loh

Your porn is not Canadian enough, CRTC warns erotica channels | National Post - 0 views

    "For failing to broadcast sufficient levels of Canadian-made pornography - and failing to close-caption said pornography properly - a trio of Toronto-based erotica channels has earned a reprimand from the Canadian Radio-television & Telecommunications Commission."
Weiye Loh

Scientists find secret to writing a best-selling novel - Telegraph - 0 views

  • They found several trends that were often found in successful books, including heavy use of conjunctions such as “and” and “but” and large numbers of nouns and adjectives.

    Less successful work tended to include more verbs and adverbs and relied on words that explicitly describe actions and emotions such as “wanted”, “took” or “promised”, while more successful books favoured verbs that describe thought processes such as “recognised” or “remembered”.

    "Scientists find secret to writing a best-selling novel
    Computer scientists have developed an algorithm which can predict with 84 per cent accuracy whether a book will be a commercial success - and the secret is to avoid cliches and excessive use of verbs"
Weiye Loh

Our Greatest Political Novelist? : The New Yorker - 0 views

  • Science fiction is an inherently political genre, in that any future or alternate history it imagines is a wish about How Things Should Be (even if it’s reflected darkly in a warning about how they might turn out). And How Things Should Be is the central question and struggle of politics. It is also, I’d argue, an inherently liberal genre (its many conservative practitioners notwithstanding), in that it sees the status quo as contingent, a historical accident, whereas conservatism holds it to be inevitable, natural, and therefore just. The meta-premise of all science fiction is that nothing can be taken for granted. That it’s still anybody’s ballgame.
  • Robinson argues that, now that climate change has become a matter of life and death for the species, it’s time for scientists to abandon their scrupulous neutrality and enter into the messy arena of politics. Essentially, Robinson attempts to apply scientific thinking to politics, approaching it less like pure physics, in which one infallible equation / ideology explains and answers everything, than like engineering—a process of what F.D.R. once called “bold, persistent experimentation,” finding out what works and combining successful elements to synthesize something new.
    "When we call literary writers "political" today, we're usually talking about identity politics. If historians or critics fifty years from now were to read most of our contemporary literary fiction, they might well infer that our main societal problems were issues with our parents, bad relationships, and death. If they were looking for any indication that we were even dimly aware of the burgeoning global conflict between democracy and capitalism, or of the abyssal catastrophe our civilization was just beginning to spill over the brink of, they might need to turn to books that have that embarrassing little Saturn-and-spaceship sticker on the spine. That is, to science fiction.2"
Weiye Loh

Paris Review - Falling Men: On Don DeLillo and Terror, Chris Cumming - 0 views

  • inexplicable violence committed by a nobody in the context of ubiquitous media coverage. A mountain of evidence, testimony, and theory that hides the event itself. Images of the event endlessly replayed. An imbalance between the significance of the act and the insignificance of the person who committed it. Absurdity, in other words.
  • By introducing conspiracy and chaos into the world, a terrorist hopes to make himself equal to the overwhelming world surrounding him. The idea isn’t to change history but to enact one’s dream life. The person who blows up the Boston marathon instantly becomes the equal of his act. What other mythic ambition can a loser instantly achieve, just by deciding to do it? “In America it is the individual himself, floating on random streams of disaffection, who tends to set the terms of the absurd,” DeLillo wrote. “Set the terms” is right: an individual terrorist creates the absurdity in which the rest of us have to live. Whether or not Oswald or the Tsarnaevs achieved what they hoped they would achieve, their dream lives now overlap with reality. Violence gives weight to the meaningless. “This is what guns are for, to bring balance to the world,” DeLillo wrote, speaking, once again, of Oswald.
    "Long before it became obvious, DeLillo argued that terrorists and gunmen have rearranged our sense of reality. He has become better appreciated as the world has come to resemble his work, incrementally, with every new telegenic catastrophe, every bombing and mass shooting. Throughout DeLillo's work we encounter young men who plot violence to escape the plotlessness of their own lives. He has done more than any writer since Dostoevsky to explain them."
Weiye Loh

BBC News - Belle de Jour's history of anonymity - 0 views

  • In the internet age, we have become increasingly concerned about the effects of anonymous online commentary. Anonymous bloggers can have enormous global audiences. "Trolls" can bring criticism straight to the computer screens of the people they disagree with. These trends are solidly in the tradition of literary anonymity - from unsigned political tracts to biting satirical graffiti, we've seen it all before.
  • the effects of anonymity are more important for the anonymous writer than they are for the audience. We'd still be dotty over Jane Austen's books if, like her contemporary audience, we never knew her name.

    The writing has enough authority and detail to carry us along in her inner world. Knowing her name, where she lived, and seeing the piecrust table where she painstakingly wrote out her manuscripts is interesting, but it's trivia. It's not what makes her novels sing.

  • Anonymous is one of our greatest writers.

    "From the medieval period to the modern period there have been authors who have enjoyed playing with and experimenting with anonymity, and it never really goes out of fashion," says Marcy North, author of The Anonymous Renaissance: Cultures of Discretion in Tudor-Stuart England.

    "Anon was, as Virginia Woolf noted in one of her final unpublished essays, "the voice that broke the silence of the forest". Elsewhere she suggested that "Anonymous was a woman". For anonymity has definitely been widely used by women throughout the ages, whether they're writing about relationships, sex or anything else.

    Without Anonymous, there are so many classics we would not have had - Gawain and the Green Knight, virtually all of the Bible and other religious texts.

    Anon is allowed a greater creative freedom than a named writer is, greater political influence than a common man can ever attain, and far more longevity than we would guess.

    Obviously, I'm a great fan of Anon's work, but then, as a formerly anonymous author, I would say that, wouldn't I?"
Weiye Loh

Skepticblog » Why are textbooks so expensive? - 0 views

  • In some cases, the costs are driven up because the market has gotten highly competitive with more and expensive features, like pricey full color throughout, and lots of ancillaries (website for the book, CD-ROM of Powerpoints or images, study guide for students, instructor’s guide, test banks, and many other extras). In the high-volume markets, like the introductory courses taken by hundreds of non-majors, these silly extras seem to make a big difference in enticing faculty to change their preferences and adopt a different book, so publishers must pull out all the stops on these expensive frills or lose in a highly competitive market. And, like any other market, the cost per unit is a function of how many you sell. In the huge introductory markets, there are tens of thousands of copies sold, and they can afford to keep their prices competitive but still must add every possible bell and whistle to lure instructors to adopt them. But in the upper-level undergraduate or the graduate courses, where there may only be a few hundred or a few thousand copies sold each year, they cannot afford expensive color, and each copy must be priced to match the anticipated sales. Low volume = higher individual cost per unit. It’s simple economics.
  • the real culprit is something most students don’t suspect: used book recyclers, and students’ own preferences for used books that are cheaper and already marked with someone else’s highlighter marker!
  • As an author, I’ve seen how the sales histories of textbooks work. Typically they have a big spike of sales for the first 1-2 years after they are introduced, and that’s when most the new copies are sold and most of the publisher’s money is made. But by year 3  (and sometimes sooner), the sales plunge and within another year or two, the sales are miniscule. The publishers have only a few options in a situation like this. One option: they can price the book so that the first two years’ worth of sales will pay their costs back before the used copies wipe out their market, which is the major reason new copies cost so much. Another option (especially with high-volume introductory textbooks) is to revise it within 2-3 years after the previous edition, so the new edition will drive all the used copies off the shelves for another two years or so. This is also a common strategy. For my most popular books, the publisher expected me to be working on a new edition almost as soon as the previous edition came out, and 2-3 years later, the new edition (with a distinctive new cover, and sometimes with significant new content as well) starts the sales curve cycle all over again. One of my books is in its eighth edition, but there are introductory textbooks that are in the 15th or 20th edition.
  • ...2 more annotations...
    • For over 20 years now, I’ve heard all sorts of prophets saying that paper textbooks are dead, and predicting that all textbooks would be electronic within a few years. Year after year, I  hear this prediction—and paper textbooks continue to sell just fine, thank you.  Certainly, electronic editions of mass market best-sellers, novels and mysteries (usually cheaply produced with few illustrations) seem to do fine as Kindle editions or eBooks, and that market is well established. But electronic textbooks have never taken off, at least in science textbooks, despite numerous attempts to make them work. Watching students study, I have a few thoughts as to why this is:

      • Students seem to feel that they haven’t “studied” unless they’ve covered their textbook with yellow highlighter markings. Although there are electronic equivalents of the highlighter marker pen, most of today’s students seem to prefer physically marking on a real paper book.
      • Textbooks (especially science books) are heavy with color photographs and other images that don’t often look good on a tiny screen, don’t print out on ordinary paper well, but raise the price of the book. Even an eBook is going to be a lot more expensive with lots of images compared to a mass-market book with no art whatsoever.
      • I’ve watched my students study, and they like the flexibility of being able to use their book just about anywhere—in bright light outdoors away from a power supply especially. Although eBooks are getting better, most still have screens that are hard to read in bright light, and eventually their battery will run out, whether you’re near a power supply or not.
      • Finally, if  you drop your eBook or get it wet, you have a disaster. A textbook won’t even be dented by hard usage, and unless it’s totally soaked and cannot be dried, it does a lot better when wet than any electronic book.
  • A recent study found that digital textbooks were no panacea after all. Only one-third of the students said they were comfortable reading e-textbooks, and three-fourths preferred a paper textbook to an e-textbook if the costs were equal. And the costs have hidden jokers in the deck: e-textbooks may seem cheaper, but they tend to have built-in expiration dates and cannot be resold, so they may be priced below paper textbooks but end up costing about the same. E-textbooks are not that much cheaper for publishers, either, since the writing, editing, art manuscript, promotion, etc., all cost the publisher the same whether the final book is in paper or electronic. The only cost difference is printing and binding and shipping and storage vs. creating the electronic version.
    But in the 1980s and 1990s, the market changed drastically with the expansion of used book recyclers. They set up shop at the bookstore door near the end of the semester and bought students' new copies for pennies on the dollar. They would show up in my office uninvited and ask if I want to sell any of the free adopter's copies that I get from publishers trying to entice me. If you walk through any campus bookstore, nearly all the new copies have been replaced by used copies, usually very tattered and with broken spines. The students naturally gravitate to the cheaper used books (and some prefer them because they like it if a previous owner has highlighted the important stuff). In many bookstores, there are no new copies at all, or just a few that go unsold.
    What these bargain hunters don't realize is that every used copy purchased means a new copy unsold. Used copies pay nothing to the publisher (or the author, either), so to recoup their costs, publishers must price their new copies to offset the loss of sales by used copies. And so the vicious circle begins-publisher raises the price on the book again, more students buy used copies, so a new copy keeps climbing in price.

Ambiant Intelligence Free Online course - 1 views

    I haven't been through this yet, but there are clear connection with Rainbows End, and it sounds interesting.
Gideon Burton

Blogging the Singularity » WHAT IS 'THE SINGULARITY'? - 2 views

    Erica found this site.
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