It’s over a year old but I keep thinking of the article Dead Plagiarists Society. It discusses how google books revealed some interesting patterns of plaigiarism among 19th century authors. The thing that impressed me most was when the author asked: "…don’t people accidentally repeat each other’s sentences all the time? It seems to me that this should not be unusual. Yet try plugging that last sentence word by word into Google Book Search, and watch what happens." The results are startling:
"It: Rejected—too many hits to count
It seems: 11,160,000 matches
It seems to: 3,050,000
It seems to me: 1,580,000
It seems to me that: 844,000
It seems to me that this: 29,700
It seems to me that this should: 237
It seems to me that this should not: 20
It seems to me that this should not be: 9
It seems to me that this should not be unusual: 0
It seems to me that this should not be unusual is itself … unusual. "
Before reading this article it never occurred to me that such a simple phrase might be so rare. Even among so many billions of sentences something as unremarkable had not been recorded before. Style is more of a marker than I used to think.
("is more of a marker than" – 6 hits on google)
Maxim Jakubowski writes in his Guardian weblog about the links between writing and exercise, quoting a study that concluded "Instances of aerobic exercise significantly impacted the creative process of the participants and these effects were shown to endure over a two-hour period"
Which is nice to know. I’m continuing the running after almost a month. I do feel fitter, even if I don’t look it. It’s another ten days until the event and I’m still struggling to hit my target time. I’ll be up again 6:30 tomorrow for another try.
The sad story of ‘Slivers’, “the only clown in the circus History for whom three rings were ever cleared“.
"As a student of literature, something you find yourself doing a lot is reading books about books — narratives which tear through the plot outlines, critical receptions and choicest quotes of other books, giving you some kind of rapid gist or taste of hundreds of titles you’ll probably never read. What I’ve always liked about these books-about-books … is that they leave you free to fantasize about the books they’re describing and actually construct them — with all their peculiarities heightened and exaggerated — in your head. In a weird, inverted way, some of the books which must be most hellish to read in real life, in real time, turn out, in these metabook accounts, to be the most entertaining to read about. The worse they sound, and the more negatively they were received, the better the story of them becomes."
(Another interesting piece of writing by Momus is Pop stars? Nein danke!: In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen people…)
It’s a good thing I like cats, since we have five of them in the house: Agatha the kitten; Boo, Yoshi and Tabby; and Jeckyll, the sort of cat that explains why black cats were thought to be devilish.
This weekend I’m away in Melbourne, visiting my sister. I stay at her in-laws, who live in a tiny village a few miles away. It’s wonderful out and you soon notice all the ugly things taken for granted in Brighton; no sirens, no drunks on mobiles, no pollution. Apart from a trip to Loughborough I don’t have much planned for the weekend.
Thursday’s reading at Short Fuse went well. I read Meat, which is a strange one. I can’t help wondering if the people in the audience are wondering how much of it is true. It’s not graphic, but definitely gets its point across. I enjoyed the other stories in the evening, particularly the third, about a woman in a motorcycle accident. Afterwards my friend Peter and I wandered to the Great Eastern where I met Rosy. The night ended with a trip to the Market Diner for breakfast. I’m pleased to say I still managed to be up for my run the following day.
Some interesting graffiti seen over the weekend:
The slogan below, which appeared on Sydney Street is an old situationist slogan that appeared in Paris during the 1968 unrest. Some other May ’68 slogans are here. The same person also posted some other slogans around town. Hopefully there’ll be even more soon.
I’m going to be reading my short story Meat at Short Fuse on Thursday. Full details are:
"Get armed up for November’s explosive night of short
fiction. The theme for this month will be Gender Wars,
so get those light sabres ready for the battle of the
All featured stories explore the idea of strife
between the sexes, in one form or another, and we have
some real beauts lined up for your delectation.
See you next Thursday at Komedia.
Doors open 8.30."
As Arnold Rimmer once put it, "When you’re young you can eat what you like, drink what you like and still fit into your 26 inch waist trousers…Then you reach that age… your muscles give up, they wave a little white flag – and without any warning at all you are suddenly a fat bastard."
I’ve never been particularly toned and healthy (and my waist is certainly more than twenty six inches), but recently I realised I stood at a cross roads. My waistline has grown eager to expand. I had a choice: I could either start exercising and eating better; or I could prepare to spend the rest of my life as a fat person, cultivating a jolly personality in the hope people don’t notice my appearance.
As a consequence, I’ve been running for the last couple of weeks. To my surprise I enjoy it. After a run I feel more awake, more alert. I loathed exercise at school, so much so I was put off for years. Now I wonder how come I hated it so much. I may start liking it less when the weather grows wet and cold, but for now I’m in love with my new hobby.
I’ve even signed up for a 5K run in a month’s time, Brighton’s Santa Dash. How could I resist the opporuntity to run with a hoarde of people dressed as Santa?
Tom (who’s joining me on the Santa Dash) recently pointed out an advantage of an unhealthy youth. Most men hit their physical peak in their early twenties. With a little work, I have my physical peak ahead of me.