Don't Shake the Flask

Because you don't know if it'll explode

Month: January, 2008

More Links on the Cassie Edwards Case

I usually don’t follow internet generated news scandals for over a day or two, but somehow, I’m riveted to the one I noticed earlier this week. Maybe it’s because the evidence is so meticulously documented. Maybe it’s the outrageous commenters or the initial blasé response of one of the publishers. Maybe it’s because people are having so many different reactions or that the novelist is “famous” and a “cash cow” (although I have never read any of her books).

Well whatever it is, the New York Times has finally picked up the story. The publisher has back-peddled. And what is this–evidence that Edwards lifted passages from Robert Hughes’ The Fatal Shore? I’ve been cynical before about anything being done since the copyrights of the other sources have lapsed, but the copyright of The Fatal Shore* definitely hasn’t. Hm…

Addendum (1/13): Remarkable Similarities to Pulitzer-Winning Novel. There’s now no more excuse that this was just confined to non-fiction.

*One of my recommended reads on my bookrolling page.

I’m Not Hiding the Inkstone

Asian American Students and School Stereotypes (via Angry Asian Man). I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I find it sad that these students feel a need to act “white” (i.e. not acting foreign or like a nerd) to fit in, yet I totally understand why they’re doing it. Anyways, I see this more as Asian American students adopting western attitudes and lifestyles. Which sometimes seems just as well since everywhere is becoming “westernized”.

I was thinking about my own attitudes and I must admit, I’m pretty Americanized. But that doesn’t mean that I want to start wearing Ralph Lauren, get a membership to a country club, and surround myself with only white friends. Heck, I’ll run the other way. I’m not afraid to admit that I’m nerdy, grew up on rice, or that I’ve listened to Cantopop more than once. Maybe people tailor their behavior in order to be accepted. But I find myself much happier finding a balance between the cultures rather than denying one in favor of another in a misguided attempt to gain conditional approval.


Booking Through Thursday: May I Introduce

1. How did you come across your favorite author(s)? Recommended by a friend? Stumbled across at a bookstore? A book given to you as a gift?

By accident at the library. Most of the books I borrow at the library are found on the shelves semi-randomly.

2. Was it love at first sight? Or did the love affair evolve over a long acquaintance?

I have to really like the first book I read by that author. And like the subsequent books as well. If I only like some of the books, I would only say that those are my favorite books but that the author isn’t necessarily my favorite author.

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The Thursday Threesome: Kidney stone and herbal remedies

Onesome: Kidney–beans? Lima Beans? Pinto beans? Which legumes do you like to cook with? Hmmm… A hot pot of chili sounds good this week!

I like lima beans. Although saying that is probably blasphemous since I live in lentil country.

Twosome: Stones?– Monoliths? Pebbles? Do you use any of these in decorating? Heck, we’ll even count marbles in vases!

No. Although I do pick up an odd rock or two if I’m out hiking somewhere interesting.

Threesome: and herbal remedies– Hey, there’s a good one: do you have any herbal remedies for us to try? Anything? I’m betting this bunch will have a trick or two to work with!

Not really. I’m of the opinion that if there’s anything wrong, go see a medical doctor.

Um, Wow

More on the plagiarism stuff that exploded on Monday: Cassie Edwards’ Publisher: She’s No Plagiarist. The more I read about it, I’m doubtful that she’s going to be prosecuted on legal grounds since all the books she copied from look like they’re so old that the copyright has expired. But it still doesn’t mean that this is ethical. And it doesn’t make it okay if the subject being copied is factual. Anyone who has read any non-fiction knows that it’s written with a particular author’s style and interpretation. If anything, it just looks like the author’s been sneaky by lifting passages from the public domain. She doesn’t even have the paltry excuse of even having acknowledgements–so an “Ian McEwan/Dan Brown defense” isn’t plausible. There’s a line between heavily borrowing ideas while writing it in your own words and blatantly copying. And in this case, it definitely looks like this author has crossed it.

This Morning

Tangled Bank #96 is now up at Aardvarchaeology. Go read up on some science blog posts like ones on bioluminescent animals, barnacle evolution, and the biology of aging.

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A brief pet peeve–chatty people who stand around and take up space on the only non-icy part of the sidewalk. Maybe it’s fun watching all the other pedestrians slide past like unbalanced cartoons, but let me tell you, it’s not fun being that cartoon.

The Ol’ Perforated Edges

Yes, I know I’m late to the game. Vista is already old hat to the tech savvy. But I usually don’t see why I have to bother myself with a new OS when the old OS is perfectly fine for the stuff I’m doing.

I’ve been fiddling around with Windows Vista this evening–the first time I’ve had a looksee really–and for some reason, my mind went back to some of the older Windows operating systems that I’ve used. I remember that before I got into my double digits, my dad had attempted to teach me BASIC, but failed. I wasn’t really interested in computers except for the occasional game of Pacman until I found the rudimentary word processing program in DOS.

Then in high school, I got a desktop computer running on 3.1 (and later 3.11), but all I did was write and read educational CD-ROMS on it–I read Oedipus Rex and Antigone, my first e-books perhaps? Getting Windows 95 coincided with getting internet access and then a little after that, a bit of a fuzzy interlude when I had Windows 98 or Windows 2000 (or maybe even both). And then Windows NT. Maybe it was a step backward, but I actually kind of liked NT–I always knew where I stood with it. My first laptop was when I first got XP. And I’m planning on mostly sticking with XP until my laptop dies.

As for Vista, well, I’m not quite sure what to think of it. It’s like navigating a redesigned website at the moment.

Two Links

Privilege has its rankness. What do they mean by privilege? I’m not deprived because I never had a TV in my room as a kid (I still don’t have a TV) or that I remember many times when I had to beg my parents to buy a book (they didn’t want me to become a total bookworm–ha!–but then again, they never bought video games for me either). I’m not disadvantaged because I never took test prep courses (didn’t need them), went to a public high school, or shared a room with my sister for a couple of years. People can get by comfortably without the flashy bling, the expensive tutors, and the European vacations as long as they have food on the table and all their shots. Heck, just having food on the table and no abusive guardians is pretty privileged if you ask me.

Cassie Edwards’ Books Bear Similar (okay Exact) Text to Previously Published Texts. (original exposé here) Oh man, this is so weird. A romance novelist plagiarizing a treatise on ferrets? Well, regardless of the subject matter, the writing quality (or lack of), or how many rabid fangirls rush to her defense, ripping off another person’s work is wrong. But I’m afraid this is going to end like all other debacles involving badly behaving authors–no punishment of any substance is going to be exacted and Edwards will continue to publish.


That’s the annoying thing about holidays. It’s easy to let things slide when you’re on vacation and then the new year starts. It’s also why I never make any resolutions–I feel too lazy to actually start any. Much more sensible to sort of ease into things rather than jump into it with a shocking bang.

Snow is nice, but it also compounds my sense of inertia. Once I’m in some place (home, lab, the grocery story, the library, etc.), I don’t particularly want to go out. Driving sucks–and with gas prices these days, who wants to take to the wheel anyway?–but then walking also sucks. Because all the snow plow people have been really industrious, there’s nothing to help gain traction. I’ve been skidding on ice, flapping my arms and genuflecting like zombie Elvis on speed.

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I’m not on the internet much during the holidays either, so I don’t find out about some things until, well, later. My short story The Station Wagon is now up on the holiday edition of Written Word.


Well, I’m a bit late on this, but I suppose it’s understandable since I’ve been in airplanes all day. I just wish there were more non-stop flights available. It’s no fun flying to Chicago (heh, see below) and Salt Lake City when you have absolutely no desire to be in those places at that particular time.

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Booking Through Thursday: Anticipation

What new books are you looking forward to most in 2008? Something new being published this year? Something you got as a gift for the holidays? Anything in particular that you’re planning to read in 2008 that you’re looking forward to? A classic, or maybe a best-seller from 2007 that you’re waiting to appear in paperback?

I have a bunch of books in my “to be read” pile which I probably should get through sooner or later. Currently I’m in the middle of Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. There are some other Gaiman books on my shelf, Dragonhaven by Robin McKinley (I’ve mentioned her before), and a lot of other stuff.

As for books published in 2008, I’m mostly oblivious to what’s being published unless it’s an author that I follow or I happen to go to the bookstore and library and examine the WHAT’S NEW shelves. So right now, I’m just aware of the books coming out by the authors that I have mentioned in previous memes.

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The Thursday Threesome: “Twenty-five or Six to Four”

Onesome: Twenty-five?– Good age to be? …or bad age to survive? Can you look back at this time without cringing? …or are you there yet?

Age has nothing to do with how good or bad life is. It’s experiences. Just because my twenty-fifth year was crap doesn’t mean that other people also experienced crappy years when they were twenty-five. They could have had a brilliant year–depending on what happened to them.

Twosome: or Six– ways to help yourself out? …or maybe just one? If you could send a piece of advice for yourself at twenty-five, what would it be? …and if you are twenty-five? Well, can the gang here answer any questions for you?

I’m not sure I would have listened to much advice when I was twenty-five. I’m not sure I would listen to certain advice now. I hate to be told how to do things, even if it’s from myself.

Threesome: to Four– pounds of See’s candy over the holidays? Did you survive ‘growing season’? How’s it looking out there? I’ve already seen the displays up for Valentine’s Day! Can we survive the constant onslaught of the chocolatiers?

How can we survive? By not buying the stuff in the first place. Actually, in a sort of twisted way, it’s helpful that stores have holiday displays so far in advance. It annoys me enough that I ignore all of them when I’m out restocking on milk and bread.

Bonus points: Who did this song and when?

The band Chicago in 1970. I’m no song buff. I’ve never heard of this song until this meme. I just looked it up in Wikipedia.

And It Begins Again

Let’s just say that at midnight, I’ve been very geeky. I’ve ignored all the ball dropping and champagne swilling in favor of watching nature documentaries. Mmm, David Attenborough marathons…