March 10th, 2010

a-links

[links] Link salad can't always get what it wants

What About Genre, What About Horror? — Peter Straub on gene. (Nicked from nihilistickid.)

The Schilovski Gyrocar — A truly odd bit of automotive history. (Thanks to danjite.)

A Russian ekranoplan rottingx planes with a striking bit of aviation decay. Plus ekranoplans rock the weird.

Scott and Scurvy — Fascinating essay about medicine, science and misconceived theories. (Via elfs.)

How to Build a Superluminal Computer — This article manages to be simultaneously fascinating and annoyingly vague. Also, isn't it "supraluminal"?

More church sign lunacy — Ah, Christianism. Wonder what color the sky is in their world?

Fox's Beck not tickled pink by Massa confession — Hahahahah.

Family Feud PoliticsSlacktivist nails the "party of no" strategy of the GOP with a simple metaphor.

Updating Our Political Dictionaries — Got to account for the justly famed principled consistency of Republicans somehow.

?otD: Have you received your fair share of abuse?



3/10/2010
Writing time yesterday: 2 hours, 45 minutes
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 4.0 (iffy, grr)
This morning's weigh-in: 232.8
Yesterday's chemo stress index: 2/10
Currently reading: [between books]

cancer-do-not-want

[cancer] To sleep, to sleep, my little black sheep

So I'm doing quite well this week. At least until Friday's infusion. Except for one leeeetle detail. My sleep clock is totally borked. I've been falling asleep between 7 and 8 and waking up between 2 and 3. So last night I actually stayed awake til 10 (later than planned, but that's another story). And... Woke up at 2!

This is Not So Good. I may have to resort to Lorazepam again tonight. It's also really slowing down my ability to do stuff in the afternoons, which is already pretty limited by chemo side effects.

Other than that, things are going okay. Friday I'm back in the soup. And I'm guessing a nap or two is on the menu today.

signs-grammar_crisis_room

[writing|process] Language, language, and the temptations of etymology

I am struggling (again) with linguistic issues in writing.

A simple example: "OK" (or "okay") is a distinct Americanism. So my characters in Green and the subsequent books never use the term, as the setting is a secondary world without America or a close analog of America. On the other hand, I am willing to use the term in the Mainspring books, because America exists there, albeit in a rather different form.

But what about words that are explicitly tied to other cultural aspects of our world? I'm not talking about deep etymology here, but obvious stuff. The specific example on my mind this morning is the term "Trojan points" to refer to the L4 and L5 points in a two-body system. They figure into the steampunk lost colony religious novella I'm mulling (and currently researching), but if you have a world with no Odyssey and no Iliad, and likewise no direct linguistic or cultural connection to the present, the word "Trojan" is a null. For that matter, the same problem pertains to "Lagrange", which is the "L" in "L4" and "L5".

In a broader sense, this applies to any term derived from a personal or place name, of course — "Machiavellian", for example, or "volt", and likely many other words besides.

I go back and forth on this all the time. On the one hand, I write in English. Regardless of the conceit of language within the story, my readers are reading in the same language, or a translation thereof. "Volt" is a normal English word, regardless of whether you've ever heard of Alessandro Volta. Likewise "Trojan." So if I work out some circumlocution, I'm only confusing the readers. Besides which, any circumlocution I attempt is quite possibly to have similar etymological issues of its own.

We don't see the buried etymologies so well, unless we're philologists. I suppose the problem exists at all levels.

How do you handle this as a writer? Do you even notice this as a reader? Or is this one of my private tics?