She plays o' the viol-de-gamboys, speaks three or four languages word for word without book, hath all the good gifts of nature, knows a hawk from a handsaw, and can see a church by daylight. The rest is subject to fancy.

Dogs and Smurfs: Representations of Female in Kid’s Books

Male is default. That’s what you learn from a world of boy dogs and Smurf stories. My daughter has no problem with this. She reads these books the way they were intended: not about boys, exactly, but about people who happen to be boys. After years of such books, my daughter can happily identify with these characters.

And this is great. It’s the reason she will grow into a woman who can happily read a novel about men, or watch a movie in which men do all the most interesting things, without feeling like she can’t relate. She will process these stories as being primarily not about males but about human beings.

Except it’s not happening the other way. The five-year-old boy who lives up the street from me does not have a shelf groaning with stories about girl animals. Because you have to seek those books out, and as the parent of a boy, why would you? There are so many great books about boys to which he can relate directly. Smurf stories must make perfect sense to him: all the characters with this one weird personality trait to distinguish them, like being super brave or smart or frightened or a girl.

Find the rest of Max Berry’s excelllent and thoughtful post here.


Magna Carta Essay in the Wild

Amongst other silliness, it claims that King John’s titles included Duke of Hazzard, and observes that “peasants were reduced to eating burage and socage.” It also invents a fictitious war against Flanders Fland (a region on the coast of Luxembourg) and cites such scholarly tomes as Bollock and Maidenhead’s classic Interminable History of the English Law.

Note that it includes the phrase “Discipulus tuus hunc tractatum non scripsit.

More here

Vanity Fare on TSA: So much inconvenience for so little benefit at such a staggering cost.

To walk through an airport with Bruce Schneier is to see how much change a trillion dollars can wreak. So much inconvenience for so little benefit at such a staggering cost. And directed against a threat that, by any objective standard, is quite modest.

Some other important quotations:

The full-body-scanner program—some 1,800 scanners operating in every airport in the country—was launched in response to the “underwear bomber” incident on Christmas Day in 2009, when a Nigerian Muslim hid the plastic explosive petn in his briefs and tried to detonate it on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. It has an annual price tag of $1.2 billion. The scanners cannot detect petn directly; instead they look for suspicious bulges under clothing. Because petn is a Silly Putty–like material, it can be fashioned into a thin pancake. Taped flat to the stomach, the pancake is invisible to scanning machines.

Even if the T.S.A. were somehow to make airports impregnable, this would simply divert terrorists to other, less heavily defended targets—shopping malls, movie theaters, churches, stadiums, museums. The terrorist’s goal isn’t to attack an airplane specifically; it’s to sow terror generally.

Read the entire article; it’s worth your time.

Bruce Schneier is a cryptographer and security expert who blogs here.

DIY Star Wars Snowflakes

 Chaunce Dolan on Friday, December 17th, 2010:

With the holidays right around the corner we thought it would be fun to make some snowflakes. In our hunt we came across some Star Wars snowflakes created by a husband and wife.

After making a few of these we began thinking about improving the design. The first idea we had was to impose the cutting stencil on the circle diagram to make it quicker to cut out. After that, we created a few designs of our own.


There are templates here. They even have R2-D2.


Rowling’s Plot Chart for Order of the Phoenix

One of the things that both writers and literary scholars are interested in are the ways in which authors figure out their story, and plots. There are lots of super tools for helping writings plan, ranging from spreadsheets, to index cards, to paper scraps and post-it notes, as well as a lot of software, like Scrivener, or Dramatica, that’s specialized for fiction and screenplays. 

But this image shows J. K. Rowling’s loose-leaf notebook page turned to landscape view, and covered with quick notes about the basic plot premises of Rowling’s Order of the Phoenix.

The first column is the chapter number.

The second column shows the time of the year for that chapter.

The third column is a general chapter outline.

The rest of the columns deal with the various subplots that are part of the book, each column tracking one subplot wrt to the chapter, whether it actually appears on the chapter or not.

Thank you, Ms. Rowling, for being this generous to other writers, and thanks to the original poster, James Plafke at Geek System and Elvisaaron on Tumblr



See the original here

The Life of the Book Reviewer, In Pictures

The Book Publicity Blog collected pictures of the over-flowing bookshelves, desks, and floors, of book reviewers. Many authors, especially those who have newly self-published, think that book reviewers are just waiting to receive a copy of their book

The idea to collect the images was inspired by Murderati blogger and reviewer Tess Gerritsen’s post about Why the hell won’t they review my book.”


The truth of the matter is that there are thousands more books to be reviewed than book reviewers can possibly review—even if they wanted to review them all, and the sad truth is that a rather large percentage of the books in question are really rather wretched. 

You can read about the project to collect picures of reviewer’s shelves, and see the Flickr stream of the photos

The Dallas Morning News book room

This is the Dallas Morning News>/cite> Book Room, after the reviewer failed to shelve books “for a few weeks.”


This is a New Yorker piece by . It’s painfully funny in that a-little-too-close-to-the-bone way:

Let me introduce myself. My name is Gineen Klein, and I’ve been brought on as an intern to replace the promotion department here at Propensity Books. First, let me say that I absolutely love “Clancy the Doofus Beagle: A Love Story” and have some excellent ideas for promotion.


To start: Do you blog? If not, get in touch with Kris and Christopher from our online department, although at this point I think only Christopher is left. I’ll be out of the office from tomorrow until Monday, but when I get back I’ll ask him if he spoke to you. We use CopyBuoy via Hoster Broaster, because it streams really easily into a Plaxo/LinkedIn yak-fest meld. When you register, click “Endless,” and under “Contacts” just list everyone you’ve ever met. It would be great if you could post at least six hundred words every day until further notice.

Read more of Subject: Our Marketing Plan