Optimal Length

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010 12:39 am
flwyd: (mail.app)
Inspired by a recent comment at work, I propose the optimal length of a blog post (or email or most any writing):

As short as possible and as long as necessary.

Twitter is so great because it makes you practice the former.
flwyd: (Trevor Stone Character)
Two follow-up thoughts to my post about writing systems yesterday:

The obvious advantage of simplified Chinese characters over traditional characters is that they're easier to learn. The People's Educators have taught a couple hundred million people how to read and write a very complicated writing system, so using 门 instead of 門 as the foundation for a big pile of characters makes it a little easier. But there's a more subversive effect: It makes it harder for people to read old books. If the only books printed in simplified characters were approved by the Communist Party, young impressionable minds wouldn't be exposed to the books that slipped through the cracks of the cultural revolution.

In the way that some people form book clubs, I should join a Wikipedia club. Every week we pick a topic and share what we've learned about it from the Internet.

In other news, I seem to get stupid when I'm sick. I've been fighting a cold for four days and just now realized that I have Emergen-C at home, at work, and probably in my backpack somewhere.
flwyd: (fun characters)
If I ever wonder why I don't get around to reading my books, it's because my nights go something like this:

"I should finish my tea and then read a book in my hammock."
"Huh, iTunes has the wrong art for Depeche Mode - 101."
"Wikipedia's article 101 is about the year, not a disambiguation."
"Wow, that's a lot of random facts about the number 101."
"What the hell is a strobogrammatic prime? Wow, who creates a word for a property of a number which depends on both base and script?"
"Ooh, what do Devanagari digits look like?"
"Huh. I guess I can't infer that the line at the top implies the language is Hindi. Distinguishing it from Nepali is like distinguishing English from Spanish."
"But I might be able to infer Gujarati by the lack of a line."
"There's a special writing system for indigenous Canadian languages? That's cool, the rotation of the consonant indicates the vowel."
"I didn't realize these weren't technically alphabets. All those crazy curly-cue languages are abugidas."
"... and Arabic, Hebrew, and other vowel-free writing systems are abjads (or perhaps "bjds" if you're using an abjad)."
"OMG. The list of writing systems has a map of scripts. Typogeography! Goetypography! I might cream my pants if I was wearing any."
"In the obscurity department, a script used only by women. With graphemes chosen so they'd work well in embroidery."
"Tengwar characters have phonetic features embedded, unlike most alphabets where there's no indication that 'f' and 'v' are pronounced similarly. It can therefore be used to write more than just imaginary languages. If you want a badge of obscurity and utter linguistic geekery, you can write Esperanto in Tengwar."
"[livejournal.com profile] kakos should make a shirt of Jabberwocky in Lojban."
"Let's not get into MovementWriting, but somehow I doubt DanceWriting can adequately transcribe the way I dance."
"Well, at least I have an adequate LJ icon to indicate how I spent my evening."

NaNoWriMo 2007

Friday, October 26th, 2007 09:11 pm
flwyd: (escher drawing hands)
Last year I spent three weeks working on a lame novel and then thought of a better story. In ten days, while sick for much of it, I wrote over 14,000 words toward a goal of 50,000.

Next month (National Novel Writing Month 2007), I'm setting the odometer to 0, but picking my I Ching-based story up. I can write 50,000 words in November, especially since I already have a good sense of characters and my chapters are already laid out for me. You can watch my status or sign up yourself and add me as a "writing buddy." When I got to the "Novel Title" section I figured Sixty Four Chapters About Eight People was a good choice. iTunes random comes in handy yet again.

I've got Huang's translation to use as a base in addition to Wilhelm's. Venerable though it is, some of Wilhelm's quirks were starting to get to me. For one, I found it hard to discern what he meant by key concepts like The Abysmal (water). Wilhelm also had sections I could tell were poorly translated because he used words (such as "God") for which I know ancient Chinese lacked an equivalent with the same philosophical baggage. Huang grew up in China and studied with an old I Ching master when the Communists had banned the book. He explains how the ancient ideograms represent the meaning of the hexagrams, explains senses of the words and a bit of their linguistic evolution, and mentions word choices from other notable authors (Wilhlem and Blofeld). His goal for the book (which took several years and 7 complete drafts) is to provide a faithful translation without interpretation and to provide the reader with an understanding of the gestalt of the hexagrams in addition to their meaning in isolation. I'm sure I'll have more to say about this edition by December, but you could certainly do worse than to buy a copy of The Complete I Ching: The Definitive Translation by the Taoist Master Alfred Huang. (I do object to the term "Taoist Master," but I suppose it helps the book sell.)
flwyd: (escher drawing hands)
In three days (if you combine yesterday and today as a single unit of mostly sick) I've exceeded my word count for the first two thirds of the month. Combining the two stories (hey, creative word count inflation is legit), I've written 10,509 words this month. More than 20% to the goal and a whole week left. Is it achievable after all?

It's a good thing that [livejournal.com profile] tamheals was feeling uncomfortable about a Thanksgiving with my parents and had invited friends over. My fuzzy-brained possibly contageous self didn't have to drive anywhere, could snack on tasty food throughout the day, and didn't expose professional wind instrument players and octogenarians to scratchy throat/heavy mucous/spacy head illness.

Thanks to Tylenol and Jasmine green tea, I wrote my best text segment yet this evening. Comments welcome. Please pardon the forced line breaks and LaTeX formatting. I'm writing a novel with vim, you see. (As he hits <ESC> to go back and change a word.)

Chung Fu / Inner Truth )
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