Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The pitfalls of writing

I have two articles currently up at The science feature is "Nuking Ourselves" and is a piece about the application of Bayesian Inference.

The other piece is a review of Dan Simmons' recent novel "Flashback". The editors have, for once, not made it a featured article so it languishes in obscurity and will soon vanish.

It's my own fault.

Simmons' novel is provocatively anti-PC. The message is unfashionably libertarian and has some harsh things to say about the third Abrahamic religion, at least in its most extreme form. This alone might make any editor nervous as my review naturally mentions this.

But that was not, I believe, my real crime. In the version I posted I was so keen to defend Simmons against his liberal critics (American use of liberal) that I fell into the trap of partisanship myself: I sounded like an advocate. Poor writing and poor reviewing.

As soon as I saw the downgrade, I looked at the piece with fresh eyes and immediately saw the issues. Naturally I attempted to fix the problems and I believe the version now posted is a whole sight better. Too late for fame though.

Clare went to her first radiotherapy session yesterday at Taunton hospital. The usual lengthy wait but the treatement itself was uneventful. She now has daily visits for a further 24 sessions + three sessions of brachytherapy at Bristol. Still, the end of treatment is in sight which does wonders for the spirits.

The replacement of our front garden water pipe, corroded beyond all recognition, is scheduled for early next week from an alternate supplier, Masters PipeLine Services Ltd, who marginally won the quote wars.
Somebody wrote that there are few things more repulsive than the British Public in full moral fervour. And so to the News International/News of the World phone hacking scandal.

A world-weary author writes: all power corrupts, all institutions grow lazy and dishonest, the sun also rises. Every so often you need a bit of moral fury to impart enough energy to smack the institutions and individuals smartly. Let's not kid ourselves that anything uniquely unusual is going on here though.

And to Yates of the Yard my sympathies. The Met isn't a garden of roses - far from it - and very little of what they deal with is squeaky-clean. If Yates had tried to run a big investigation back in 2009 when he reviewed the evidence (in the absence of public outrage at that time), he would have been rapidly put back in his box by his superiors and told to concentrate on fighting terrorism. Can't win, can you.