Archive for April, 2006
Apparently Kaavya Viswanathan has now admitted that passages from her book were lifted from another writer.
“Publisher Little, Brown and Company, which had signed Viswanathan to a reported six-figure deal, said in a statement Thursday that it had notified retail and wholesale outlets to stop selling copies of the book, and to return unsold copies to the publisher….Little, Brown has said the book will be revised as quickly as possible.”
What I don’t understand is why they’re revising it. They should simply stop selling the book and Viswanathan should be blacklisted from publishing anything ever again.
I perused through a few pages of one of her books online last night and, from what I read, she seemed very talented for a 19 year old. Unfortunately now we’ll never know how much of her talent was real and how much of it was hers and how much was borowed from other writers.
But if you want to read something very poignant and well written, I suggest you check out the essay titled Vessels by Daniel Raeburn in the May 1 issue of the New Yorker. (Sorry, no online version is available.) It’s a touching story about his wife giving birth to a stillborn baby. It was hard to read having lost a daughter but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
April 28th, 2006
It seems like more of these author/plagiarism stories are becoming more common. Most recently a 19-year-old author, Kaavya Viswanathan, was accused of borrowing passages from another author, Megan McCafferty. Viswanathan’s response? It was an accident.
“While the central stories of my book and hers are completely different, I wasn’t aware of how much I may have internalized Ms. McCafferty’s words.” Viswanathan said. “I am a huge fan of her work and can honestly say that any phrasing similarities between her works and mine were completely unintentional and unconscious. My publisher and I plan to revise my novel for future printings to eliminate any inappropriate similarities.”
You can read examples of similarities from Viswanathan’s book and McCafferty’s novels here.
I cringed when reading the examples uncovered by The Harvard Crimson. Some of passages them are pretty much verbatim. I think there are too many passages and similarities between Viswanathan’s passages and McCafferty’s books to believe they were unintentional.
Writing is hard. Being able to string words, sentences and dialogue together can be very difficult. Writing a book-length manuscript was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. But I don’t understand the temptation to borrow passages verbatim from another writer. What happened to honesty and integrity?
On a side note, Michelle, if you’re reading this, you might want to check out this essay called Earth Camp.
April 27th, 2006
I’ll be co-hosting FreeCapitalist Radio this TUESDAY and WEDNESDAY (April 25 and 26) from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. Mountain Time.
If you’re in Utah and want to listen, the show is on 630 AM.
If you’re outside want to stream the show in via the Internet, paste the following link into your browser: http://www.audiorealm.com/player.config.html?page=listen&stationID=60659&relayID=-1&srefID=1
It’s a talk show so if you’re listening and have something to say, you can call the show at 1-800-331-4301.
April 24th, 2006
Congrats to the Detroit Tigers who swept the Seattle Mariners this weekend and improved their record to 12-7. Things have been looking up since their new skipper, Jim Leyland took control and this is the first time in years the Tigers have been this far into the season with a winning record. There’s still a long way to go but I like the direction the Tigers are headed.
And Mr. Sensitive, how could we be friends all these years and you not know why I’m a Tigers fan? Apparently we never talked sports much. My grandpa was born and raised in Michigan and went to many Tigers games growing up. Being a fan of the Tigers fan has been passed down from generation to generation. Who knows how long it will last. Maybe my kids will wise up and root, root, root for a real team when they grow up.
April 24th, 2006
If you’ve never been behind the mike of a talk radio show, you don’t know what you’re missing. Co-hosting FreeCapitalist Radio yesterday was one of the most fun things I have ever done. I hope I have the opportunity to do it again.
When I took my current job, I never thought co-hosting a radio show would be something I’d be doing.
A few weeks ago the main host of the show was unable to make it into work so we ran a taped show. I sent the main host an email and mentioned to a few people that work on the radio show that we needed to have a substitute or two lined up for unexpected events like this and that I’d be willing to do the occasional sit in.
The next week I was asked to tape a one hour mock show that the main host could review to see if he wanted me on the show.
So last Thursday I did an hour long mock show in the radio studio at work to see how I’d do. The plan was to have the main host listen to it this week.
Needless to say I was surprised when, 45 minutes before the show was scheduled to start, my supervisor’s office who informed me that the main host couldn’t make it to work that day and wanted to know if I wanted to do the show.
“Sure,” I said. I tried to sound as calm as possible but inside I was freaking out. I felt like I had taken one swimming lesson and then was told that I’d be thrown in the deep end of the pool.
I found some things to talk about, sat behind the microphone a few minutes before the show started, took a deep breath, and waited for the show to begin.
What followed was the fastest two hours of my life. I managed to make it thought the show without any major mistakes and had the time of my life.
Anyway, the show is political in nature and I’ve promised to keep things of a political nature off this website unless they in some way relate to the mission of this site. But if you want to hear what my voice sounds like or what I talked about on the show you can listen to an audio file by going here and clicking on the April 18 show link. You can download an MP3 of the show here.
April 19th, 2006
I’ll be co-hosting FreeCapitalist Radio today from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. Mountain Time.
If you’re in Utah and want to listen, the show is on 630 AM.
If you’re outside the state and want to stream the show in via the Internet, paste the following link into your browser: http://www.audiorealm.com/player.config.html?page=listen&stationID=60659&relayID=-1&srefID=1
I’ll try to post a recorded version of the show later today.
April 18th, 2006
I find it interesting that what supermarkets tend to put behind lock and key varies by neighborhood.
For example, my in-laws live in a somewhat bad neighborhood. At the supermarket closest to their home cold medicine or other products that could be used to manufacture methamphetamine are locked up.
Marathon Girl and I live in a county with one of the highest birthrates in the nation. When you go to supermarket nearest to our home, condoms, other forms of birth control, and pregnancy tests are kept behind lock and key.
I never thought going shopping would make me long for the days when stores never locked anything up and simply trusted people to buy whatever they needed.
April 17th, 2006
Saw this article today that made me chuckle. It’s about a school in Ogden, my hometown, no less.
An embarrassed charter school has discovered it booked the wrong Jon Stewart for its annual gala. The DaVinci Academy thought it had made a deal with comedian Jon Stewart, star of “The Daily Show” and host of this year’s Academy Awards, to appear next week.
It sent out 500 invitations to businesses and planned for 900 people.
But last week, it learned that it had booked Jon A. Stewart, a former motivational speaker, businessman and part-time professional wrestler from Chicago.
The article brought to mind the following Far Side cartoon.
April 13th, 2006
Excellent editoral in USA Today Monday titled How to fix the memoir genre. In it the author lays out four standards to fix the memior genre.
An excerpt from the editoral:
Memoirs should be divided into at least two sub-genres, reflecting the different values that authors bring to the writing.
Memoirs that adhere to traditional standards of factuality should now be labeled as Non-fiction Memoir. In these books, no one brags he was in jail for three months if it was only three hours. No one claims to own a dog when she doesn’t. The limitations of memory require the writer to recollect and re-collect the tiles of experience and arrange them into a meaningful mosaic. But nothing in the non-fiction memoir has been fabricated.
We need a different label for writers who choose other narrative methods. Perhaps the writer has invented dialogue, or combined two or three characters into one, or changed the location of an important meeting. For such work, I borrow a category from the movies: Based on a True Story.
Memoirs should be labeled according to the writing strategies used to create the narrative. How would a publisher decide how to market a particular memoir? Is it a Non-fiction Memoir or is it Based on a True Story? Arriving at a responsible answer would be an art, not a science, and each publishing house might draw the line in a different place, but posing these questions to the author would help:
Are there any fictional characters or settings or scenes in your memoir? Are there any composite characters? Which ones? Have you conflated events or expanded time or space? Did you add any significant element to the story that you — or someone else — know to be untrue? If we revealed your method to the readers after the fact, might they feel deceived or disappointed.
I think having some guidelines would not only help create trust with the reader but help weed out the writers who want to fiction to pass as fact.
April 12th, 2006
Marathon Girl wanted to run eight miles yesterday. It’s been over a year since I’ve run that far. Since I added weight lifting to part of my exercise routine, the longest run I’ve accomplished is five miles. I’m in good enough shape that I knew eight miles wouldn’t be a problem though I would probably lag behind Marathon Girl for the last half the run.
We decided to do run two four-mile loops. The first one would take us out to the highway and back. The second loop would cut through our neighborhood then head out to the far reaches of the small town we live in.
I agreed to the eight miles because I miss running with Marathon Girl every day. Since the kids have come running together every morning simply isn’t possible. So when the opportunity presents itself as it does most Saturdays, I’ll run with Marathon Girl as far as she wants.
The second thing I agreed to — though I had a hard time with this — was that Marathon Girl would push the double-wide running stroller the entire distance. When we run together, we take turns pushing the stroller every other mile. It’s hard work pushing the stroller when you run. It takes more energy and slows the one pushing the stroller about 30 seconds per mile.
My husbandly instincts tell me that I should be the one pushing the stroller the entire distance even though Marathon Girl is a much faster, stronger runner and quite capable of pushing the stroller the rest of the week without a problem. Marathon Girl did remind me that we were going eight miles and that if I wanted to run the entire distance, it would probably be best if I didn’t push the stroller.
It was a good day to run. Temperatures were in the 60s. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Both Aidan and Steven seem excited at the opportunity to spend some time outside.
I managed to say with Marathon Girl through the first four miles without much difficulty. But as we came back through our neighborhood, Marathon Girl pulled ahead. It didn’t take long for her to have a half block lead on me.
Because it was such a nice day, there were a lot of people out in their yards mowing the grass or getting their flower bed ready to plant. I watch their reactions as Marathon Girl ran past. Most stopped what they were doing and waved or shouted words of encouragement. A few shook their head in disbelief as if they couldn’t imagine seeing a woman pushing a double-wide stroller so quickly.
Most of these people know that Marathon Girl a fast runner and have seen her kicking my butt running on more than one occasion. Still, the sight of her beating her husband while pushing a double-wide running stroller always brings an amused smile to their faces.
“Did my wife run by here?” I said as I passed one man who was spraying weed killer on his lawn.
The man looked up the road just as Marathon Girl turned the corner. “You have quite a bit of catching up to do,” he said, the smile on his face growing bigger by the second.
After we had our first son, it was somewhat embarrassing to run through the neighborhood and have Marathon Girl continually beat me while pushing a stroller.
But the embarrassment didn’t last long. Marathon Girl is a great runner and watching her run with or without a stroller is a beautiful thing. She’s an amazing athlete and I love watching her push her body to the limit each time she runs. I’m a lucky man to be married to such an amazing woman.
I love being married to such a wonderful athlete, great mother, and perfect wife.
I love being married to Marathon Girl — the fastest woman I know.
April 9th, 2006
Lost is killing me. The show pulls me in deeper and deeper next week.
*** Warning: spoilers ahead. If you’d rather not read about the plot, click here to read the rest of the post. ***
Who would have thought that Libby was in the same mental institution as Hurley? Marathon Girl and I didn’t see that one coming. (Marathon Girl realized in the first 5 minutes that Dave was all in Hurley’s mind.)
Marathon Girl and I were talking about whether or not this was a hint that all the characters on the island were in the same institution. Marathon Girl is unsure but I don’t think the Island and inhabitants are in the castaways minds.
Having the island turn out to be some sort of dream or fantasy is a co-out from a writing/creative point of view. The writers of Lost are too talented to do resort to something so cliche. I think they’re simply trying to throw us off the track of what’s the purpose of the island really is.
But here’s a thought. What if Libby is stalking Hurley? What if she followed him all the way to Australia and back simply because she was obsessed with him for some reason? Since she was in the mental institution, maybe she developed some sort of fixation with Hurley while he was in there?
Anyone else have thoughts on this latest twist?
*** End of plot discussion and (possible) spoilers ***
I was listening to a talk show on the drive home yesterday and the host and callers were discussing Lost. Many of the callers were frustrated because so few of the questions have been answered on the show.
But the continuing mystery about the island and the strange things that happen on it is what I love about the show. The writers answer small questions each week but leave the bigger questions unanswered. I love how they concentrate on developing real but complex characters because knowing who the characters are and what makes them tick helps us understand their motivations for their actions. More importantly, it makes us care about them. And in the end when the whole mystery of the island is revealed I think it’s going to make for a stronger show when we see the impact that island’s mystery has on the characters.
I believe plot of the show is important too but in order to have the emotional payoff of good plot, we need to invest our feelings and emotions into the characters who are impacted by it.
I think the writers of Lost will do just that.
April 6th, 2006
Because of the exceptionally warm weather and the extra hour of sunlight we took Aidan to the park yesterday and let him play on the slides.
Just last summer he was terrified of sliding by himself. He refused to go down unless you were holding his hand. Now he slides down and climbs back up as fast as he can go.
Aidan’s not even two and I feel that he’s already growing up extremely fast.
Tigers won their first game of the season yesterday. Hopefully this is a good sign of things to come.
April 4th, 2006