Saturday, 15 March 2008

A mem... oh I can't do it. A unit of cultural transmission.

Karen Clarke brought up an interesting... meme... which, despite being a silly word, apparently was coined by Richard Dawkins (no less!) in 1976 to mean- "A unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation."

And it rhymes with 'gene'.

Anyway, linguistic gripes aside, here's the unit of cultural transmission-

1. Hardcover or paperback, and why?
Hardcover, because they're nicer to hold, and close properly after the first reading.
If only they weren't so damned expensive...

2. If I were to own a book shop I would call it…
WordsWorth (Get it? Though I bet it's already taken), and it would be a cheap second-hand bookshop similar to the Readers Rest in Lincoln.

On that note, my favourite bookstore is a tiny one in Retford called Bookworm. If they don't have it, they get it for you in a matter of days, and the staff are brilliant. If you're ever in Retford, it's near the bus station. Go browse!

3. My favourite quote from a book (mention the title) is…
I have three favourites- The first is from Terry Pratchett's 'The Truth'-
"His partner had just bought a twist of what the dealer had sworn was devil dust but which looked to Mr Pin very much like powdered copper sulphate, and this had apparently reacted with the chemicals from the Slab which had been Mr Tulip's afternoon snack and turned one of his sinuses into a small bag of electricity. His right eye was spinning slowly, and sparks twinkled on his nasal hairs."

The Second, from Justina Robson's 'Natural History'-
"'Make a wish,' Corvax said.
'I wish you'd piss off and leave me alone,' she said, 'I wish you'd kill Caspar and take his house.'
He got up and dressed. 'Keep the rock.'
'If it does anything-'
She laughed. 'Baby, I'll shit bricks and build you a house.'"

And final the third (which I may not get right, since I only own the first and last of the Bromeliad), is from Terry Pratchett's 'Diggers'-
"The frog looked back and counted its companions- one, one, one and one. That made... one!"

4. The author (alive or deceased) I would love to have lunch with would be ….
Whoever came up with 'Beowulf'... understanding that it was originally an oral tale, not written. I would like to know what they were taking and where I can get some. The entire plot sounds like a drug-induced hallucination to me, and it probably was!

5. If I was going to a deserted island and could only bring one book, except the SAS survival guide, it would be…
Forget the SAS survival guide, how about a selection from the 'Worst Case Scenario' series. That or 'The New Aird's Companion In Surgical Studies'... just in case.

6. I would love someone to invent a bookish gadget that….
Would input the book directly into my head, preferably through a SD card reader or something, so that I didn't have people weirding me out because I dare attempt to read on a busy train...

7. The smell of an old book reminds me of….
A second hand bookshop... the huge ones. The Readers Rest in Lincoln has seven rooms... It may actually be bigger than either of the main new bookshops in Lincoln (but not both). I love browsing those kinds of shops.

8. If I could be the lead character in a book (mention the title), it would be….
Isol from 'Natural History'... because she's an unmanned artificially created sentient star vessel. That would rock, methinks.
That or Prunesqualor from 'Gormenghast'.

9. The most overestimated book of all time is….
Probably something I haven't got round to reading. That being said, I was terribly disappointed with 'The Silmarillion' (it read like a bible), and mildly disappointed with 'London Bridges' (but I've forgiven James Patterson for his lack of structure in his writings, seeing as he makes up for it in imagination).

10. I hate it when a book…
Loses its pages. I will eventually, when I have the time and money, going to learn to repair and bind books by hand.

So there you have it. The meme... I will get round to writing more, I promise. Unfortunately though, a recruitment company decided to spring an interview on me on Monday... which may or may not happen, but I'll only find out when I'm halfway there. I'm seriously considering asking to be taken off their records.


Tuesday, 4 March 2008

The keeping this blog alive song!

Apologies for the lack of updates recently, but I'm afraid I haven't had much time to write at all.

I've had two interviews recently, both quite a distance away (so requiring planning, since I don't have a car... and can't drive, for that matter), and both for scientific posts (meaning I need to swot up).

I have another in less than a week, which is probably going to be the hardest, but I'm going to try and get some writing in tomorrow (Notably- CHAPTER 11... I know what I want to write, I just haven't had the motivation to write it yet).

Today's interview was in Hull, so nearly 2hours of train travel was required. On my way back, another character (smeg!) popped into my head (and I've no idea why... this one bares no relation to my week, never mind today).

What if you could control fate with the flip of a coin? And I don't mean using a coin to make decisions, or wishes a la 'Batman' or 'Queen's Nose' (god I'm such a geek... does anyone here remember The Queen's Nose? That kid's show with a magical 50p?).

I mean change the world, literally, simply by assigning opposite fates to either side of a coin in a 'heads he gets caught, tails he gets away' kind of way?

And what if, upon failing to catch the coin as it falls, it falls on the edge? He doesn't get caught, but being hit by a lorry travelling at 80mph means he doesn't get away, either.

Upon realising what you can do, would you refuse to toss a coin ever again for fear of the consequences, would you relish in the thought of 'playing God' (so to speak), or would you, rather cruelly, have someone else decide the meaning of each side of the coin before you toss it, thereby relieving yourself of the guilt without relinquishing the power?

And how would you decide which events to toss a coin for? Would it be a spur of the moment kind of thing, or for specific sets of events (e.g. minor ones that likely have little baring on the rest of the world, should you not want to cause too much damage)?

Unless I change my mind about NaNo '08, then this one ain't gonna get used for a while (though I have a potential storyline I could slot him into relatively easily).

Mike 'Heads you win, tails I lose.... hang on a minute, that's not right!'