Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

WRITER, n. A drinker who occasionally writes — normally when the drink overcomes his (usually correct) conviction that he can’t write.

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–from The American Heretic’s Dictionary (revised & expanded)

American Heretic's Dictionary revised and expanded by Chaz Bufe, front cover

Joke of the Day 1-27-17

Posted: January 26, 2017 in Humor, Jokes, Language Use

“Don’t you just hate rhetorical questions?”

–no idea where this came from, so let’s credit it to Anonymous

A lot of books nowadays are indexed purely through mechanical referencing using the index utilities in page layout programs. This results in poor, embarrassingly bad indexes. Here’s why:

NONE of the index utilities are worth a damn, in and of themselves. They´ll pick out words, but not context, so they´ll give a lot of “false positives” where terms are used only in passing and shouldn’t be indexed; they’ll also miss where the reference should extend to the following page, but the referenced term isn’t used on it; and they’ll also entirely miss passages that are relevant but don’t use the referenced term.

At the same time, do an index manually and you’ll inevitably miss a LOT of the pages that should be indexed. Do it three times and you’ll probably get almost all of them. But you won’t.

So, do both: use the indexing utility to spot the referenced terms, discard the pages where the terms are used in passing, and also do manual indexing. Then you’ll almost get it right. Exactly right? Ain’t gonna happen, but use the indexing utility alone and your index will be awful; use manual indexing alone and it’ll be full of holes and almost as bad; but  do manual referencing once and use the utility beforehand, and you’ll almost get it right.

Do the mechanical indexing once and the manual indexing twice afterwards, and you will get it right.

No, I’m not going to belabor the obvious. I’m not going to talk about the difference between language and lashing, between pious preaching and priestly pedophilia.

As those of you who haven’t unsubscribed might have noticed, I dropped an “F-bomb” for effect at the end of the next-to-last post.

Why? Precisely because it had an effect.

It’s still an effective means of shocking people, sometimes for the sheer sake of shock (as in that post), and sometimes for the sake of accurate portrayal of everyday language.

A few days ago I was talking with a friend who’s done construction work for decades. He recently worked on the new Mormon temple up in the foothills.

It is, of course, a monstrosity. A raised middle finger to the environment and the people of Tucson. As are all Mormon temples. (And yes, the ugliness is deliberate: they build temples according to pre-ordained plan.)

To add insult to injury, they demanded that all of the construction workers building their temple have no visible tattoos and refrain from cursing while on the job. (No, I’m not kidding.)

I asked him, “Do they have any fucking idea of what construction workers are like?”

Apparently not. (used to be one myself)

Decades ago, for an environmental organization, I canvassed the neighborhood downhill from the recently constructed Mormon temple in the Oakland foothills.  The Mormons had capped a number of springs on their property, and the water, as one would expect, found a way out, destroying several houses in the process.

The Mormons, of course, refused to admit that their tax-exempt temple was in any way responsible for the destruction of the tax-paying properties below them.

Now that’s obscene.

(Sorry, couldn’t resist pointing out the obvious.)


Crude Joke of the Day 12-9-16

Posted: December 9, 2016 in Humor, Jokes, Language Use


(Sorry, but I do not know where this came from. Thanks to my pal Leo for passing this one along.)

Joke of the Day 11-10-16

Posted: November 10, 2016 in Humor, Jokes, Language Use

At this point, I think we can all use this. Enjoy.


–from Seattle Propane’s Wallingfordsign

Gardens of the Sun, by Paul J. McAuley

“Find a few good characters and see where they take you. The story comes out of who they are and what they want, and the problems they have to overcome to get it. It isn’t just a bunch of stuff that happens to them.”

–“Macy Minnot” in Paul J. McAuley’s Gardens of the Sun

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(It took me years to figure this out; I wasted a godawful amount of time trying to come up with a plot for Free Radicals before I turned my characters loose; they accomplished the task in a few months.  –ZT)