Category Archives: Did I say that out loud ?

Clarion Countdown Day -24: Arrogance!

I think I suffer from memory loss… I could have sworn I already posted about keeping readers happy this week…

But then some arrogant bimbo called Naipaul – yes, I’m aware he’s a Nobel laureate – said he considers women writers to have “sentimentality, the narrow view of the world” and that he reads “a piece of writing and within a paragraph or two I know whether it is by a woman or not. I think [it is] unequal to me“.

Way to alienate a good chuck of your readership!

The Guardian, quick to suit as they are, have cooked up a quiz to test whether readers know within a parapragh whether it was written by a man or woman. I took it. I scored 4 out of 10. And that with getting wrong the one book I have actually read.

Yes, I read very few classics or literary works.

No, I’m not telling you which one it is.


Victoria is going to write her first (semi-) full length work of fiction, a novella of around 40k words, during the Clarion UCSD Write-a-Thon 2011. Would you like to motivate her and support a great charity? Check out her writer’s page here.

Copying is Free

Author and Wired editor, Chris Anderson got himself in a bit a pinch when the Virginia Quarterly Review analysed his new book, Free: The Future of a Radical Price, for review and found that Anderson had lifted a number of passages from uncredited sources, amongst them Wikipedia.

When asked for comment on the situation, Anderson replied that the outcome was unintentional. While both he and his publisher, Hyperion, say that sources were originally credited in footnotes, it seems that when deciding against using that structure in the book and changing it to an in-line crediting lay-out, neither Anderson nor his publishers found a way to satisfy Wikipedia’s crediting policy and unintentionally omitted the references altogether.

When reading Creative Commons’s explanation of Wikipedia’s Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 licence, it states that it will allow others to “remix, tweak, and build upon your work even for commercial reasons, as long as they credit you and license their new creations under the identical terms”. The terms Wikipedia has set for the use of its article are attribution, sharing alike, if need be indication that the original work has been modified and release under identical license of the original work accompanied by a notice of such license.

This last one of course could find Anderson and his publishers in a quandary. If part of the book is adapted from material under a CC-BY-SA license, the parts or whole that contain that passage will also need to be published under the same license. If I understand the licensing agreement correctly, Anderson would be permitted to commercialise his writing, however, he would still have to publish his work under a Share-Alike license. And I doubt that he would want that. The publishers have indicated that the book will be re-edited to include all appropriate attributions, but even so, Anderson should have paraphrased the original sources or in lieu of that used quotes and block quotes. The issue whether or not Anderson committed plagiarism is difficult, but at least he practices what he preaches; Free is Free.

Oddest title honours

It’s not everyday one gets to ponder the importance of The 2009-2014 World Outlook for 60-Milligram Containers of Fromage Frais. And it’s certainly not everyday that a person decides to spend 795 British Pounds to find out more about it. But at least the book, written by Philip M. Parker, a professor of marketing at the French campus of Insead international business school, has attained the dubious laud of The Bookseller magazine’s Bookseller/Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year.

Philip Stone, the magazine’s charts editor and awards administrator wrote in the congratulatory statement;

“What does the future hold for these items? Well, given that fromage frais normally comes in 60-gram containers, one would assume that the world outlook for 0.06-gram containers of fromage frais is pretty bleak. But I’m not willing to pay £795 to find out.”


Runners-up for the award were Curbside Consultation of the Colon, The Large Sieve and Its Applications, Strip and Knit With Style and Techniques for Corrosion Monitoring.

Poe's julep habits on display

The University of Virginia, Alma Mater of Edgar Allan Poe during his brief stint at university, celebrates the author’s 200th birthday by the acquisition and exhibition of a letter of personal correspondence between Poe and his New York publishers, Langley.

The correspondence is a letter of apology accompanying a request for the purchase of an article, which should elevate his situation of being ‘desperately pushed for money’. In the letter Poe writes;

“Will you be so kind enough to put the best possible interpretation upon my behaviour while in N-York? You must have conceived a queer idea of me — but the simple truth is that Wallace would insist upon the juleps, and I knew not what I was either doing or saying”,

referring to friend, poet and lawyer William Ross Wallace.

The University of Virginia purchased the letter from a private collector for an unknown sum. The University Library released the letter this week ahead of an exhibit opening this Saturday, March 7th, that highlights Poe’s enduring literary works, brief life and mysterious death at the age of 40.