Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Taser’s Latest Police Weapon - The Tiny Camera and the Cloud - NYTimes.com

Taser’s Latest Police Weapon - The Tiny Camera and the Cloud - NYTimes.com

A step in the right direction, but there's a potential for this to do more harm than good: allowing officers to pick and choose what they want to "use" and what to "discard." Control and access, as with any technology, are paramount.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Drunk on Writing

"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you." - Ray Bradbury

I like this quote because it emphases what I've always liked about writing: it's an escape. It's not that life is horrible. It's that life needs venting for the imagination. The subconscious, the seat of imagination, is a powerful thing and, as Freud has taught us, looking to get out. There are only two options, then: write or dream. Or else: die.

85 Synonyms for “Help”

85 Synonyms for “Help”

A bit of positivity.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Review: A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

My rating: 6.5/10

A Study in Scarlet is Doyle's introduction to the world of the proportionally conceited Sherlock Holmes. It deals with the murder of one Enoch Grebber under, you guessed it, mysterious circumstances. (Some spoilers.)

I found Holmes to be quite full of himself in the book, conceit being his main driving force: why he solves crimes, why he keeps knowledge of the murder to himself as opposed to telling the detectives, why he considers himself a consulting detective (the detective other detectives turn to when they're lost). Doyle wants to amaze us, sure, with Holmes' brilliance, but Holmes' awareness of his incredible powers is annoyingly apparent. I also found Holmes to be a less creative reinkarnation, if you will, of Edgar Allan Poe's origin brilliant detective: Dupin, who Holmes briefly discusses derisively. If Poe only would have realized the commercial potential of Dupin, he might not have been so plagued by poverty. But who's to say the genre would have taken off in America the way it did in for Doyle in Britain?

I found the story to be heavily plot-driven; there's limited character development. Yes, we are told in the beginning of Watson's past as a doctor in the military. Also, much of the tale is concentrated on Jefferson Hope. However, this is to give the backdrop, to explain his motivation for the murder - to drive the plot forward. The heavy dependence on plot leaves much to be desired from the characters, such as Holmes, Lucy and John Ferrier. I didn't believe in the love between Lucy and Jefferson. I found Holmes to be very one-dimensional. And Watson: he follows Holmes around with admiring eyes like a puppy dog.

I thought "Chapter I" of "Part II: The Country of Saints" to be well written: the description of the desolate landscape make you feel you're there, suffering with John and Lucy and waiting for certain death. However, the creativity and good writing seems to peter out as the novella continues. Much of it appears to be rushed. On the Wikipedia page for the story, it states that Doyle completed the story in three weeks. It shows. Still well-written overall and thoughtful. I enjoyed reading "Part I" more than "Part II," the beginning of which, switching to a third-person omniscient narrator, stuck out like a Band-Aid in the plot.

Finally, the end of the book, when Holmes methodically describes how his analytical reasoning, as he calls it, led him to apprehend the murderer, is both redundant and anti-climactic. He already describes this in "Part I" toward the end, repeating much of the same points. It's also anti-climactic since we already know how and why the murder took place given the narrative of the Lucy, John, and Jefferson. The tale should have ended either at the end of "Chapter V," before the return to Watson's narrative, or in "Chapter VI," before Holmes' annoying declaration of genius, describing again how he reasoned above everyone else and solved and apprehended the murderer in three days.

Still, a good read, especially for the Sherlock Holmes and detective fiction fans. Good writing also, if parts seem rushed and overly dependent on plot.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Former CIA Director Against Drone Strikes - YouTube

Former CIA Director Against Drone Strikes - YouTube

This has been a persistent problem that empirically the Obama administration does not care about. Obama has been pushing for more drones and more drone strikes in more countries despite the shocking inefficacy of drones statistically. It is important to note, too, as was noted in the video, that the government actively tries to bury statistics of civilian deaths, so that even the horrible numbers we are aware of, thanks to good journalism,  are likely much higher. Further, this "tactic" of trying to kill everyone that might be a bad guy at the cost of civilians doesn't work and will likely make the US and other countries dangerous places to live because kids from many nations will grow knowing what few Americans do: that the US government often indiscriminately bombs and kills people with little or no due process. With this as a role model, it is unsurprising to see police abuse of power and the like.

U.S. News - NYC police commissioner's son won't be charged in sex assault case

U.S. News - NYC police commissioner's son won't be charged in sex assault case

I don't want to prejudge. But it makes you think: why would a woman make such a claim, going to the police against the Commissioner's son, when she knows it's going to be a Sisyphean task?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Translation: "The Golden Crane"

I wasn't asked to do this. This isn't an assignment. I was only assigned to read a handout for my Translation Workshop. But since I took the time to write a translation based on the crib (word-for-word translation) and some of the sample translations of the Chinese poem, the Golden Crane, I'd figured I'd kill two crane's with one stone and post it here. Enjoy.

My Translation:

The immortal man went away riding a golden crane
Leaving only this empty gold pavilion behind
The golden crane only flies forward
A thousand, thousand years of lonely clouds pass by

The river is bright, and brighter still the Han-yang trees
The grass grows lush, fragrantly on Ying-wu Isle
The Sun sets before I am home
The river waves mist, feeding my tears

The Crib:

Former person once rode brown (yellow) crane away
This place emptily left brown crane building
Brown crane once gone never again returns
white clouds thousand years empty long-long (slow-slow)

Clear (sky) river clear-clear Han-yang trees
Fragrant grass lush-lush Ying-wu Isle
Suns sets home place what point is?
Mist waves river upon make person sad (melancholy).

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Spring 2012

Just had my first week of classes at City. I thought I'd share what my courses and reading materials are.

I'm taking three courses (three is considered full-time for my MFA program): 1) a translation workshop, 2) Victorian Science Fiction, and 3) Narrative Structure. Stoked for them all. I was a bit hesitant about the translation workshop, but now I'm thinking it might sharpen my writerly skills in ways I hadn't anticipated. Besides, I love languages and already read in different ones (mostly, Spanish and French). (I had originally thought that I should've taken a poetry workshop instead, but I'll still probably take one later on.) Victorian SF seems really cool (check out reading list below - I don't have to buy any books: they're all free online!). Narrative Structure examines, as you might imagine, structures of various novels and then builds on what is learned by having students develop their own novels. That is, we will be turning in a synopses and first chapter of our novels. It's like a lit course meets writing workshop.

Lots of good reading ahead. So let me finish writing this so I can read.

Reading Material 2012 (in proper sequence):

Translation Workshop

  • We will largely be choosing our own reading materials as we will be choosing what we translate. I'm thinking about translating some works by Dominican (DR, not Dominica, certainty not a friar) writer Socrates Nolasco, such as his Cuentos del Sur

Victorian Science Fiction

Narrative Structure
  • The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy (I had read this before for a Hardy course I'd taken as an undergrad. Like it. But Jude the Obscure is my fav. Click here for a review of Jude.)
  • A Study in Scarlet by AC Doyle
  • Brighton Rock by Graham Greene
  • The Passion by Mel Gibson Jeanette Winterson
  • Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (She is such a dyke - no, really. She uses the term, not me! Click here to check out a talk she gives at Cornell discussing the book, which is actually a graphic novel.)