Thursday, August 18, 2022

Undervaluation of women artists

 BBC radio segment on undervaluation of women artists (roughly, selling at 10% of what male artists sell for) here

For those who recoil from audio, as I normally do, there's also a summary in the Guardian here

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Berlin (notes for writers)

 How to get a Kitagutschein on All About Berlin blog

Randall Collins has a blog, how could I not know

 Collins published The Credential Society in 1979, when his publishers took so tepid an interest in the book they refused to publish a paperback edition.  It's now a classic, took on new life with increased concern over escalating costs of university education and student debt in the US.

Turns out, he has a blog, The Sociological Eye - a blog I know I will never find again if I bookmark it.  So I link to it here.

Rejection of Proust by Gallimard

 Short segment on Radio France on Proust's rejection by Gallimard, account of the many revisions Proust made to the MS once accepted for publication and typeset (he apparently made significant changes to FIVE galleys).  The text originally submitted to Gallimard was a "dactylograph" which did not have the now famous first line (Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heur.) - instead there was a rather long and not very interesting sentence setting the scene. It sounds as though the famous line did appear, but was written in as an interlinear note on the dactylograph.

The whole thing here.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Lives of Astronomers

In summer 1997 I went to Oxford to do research on a character I thought should be an astronomer.  I went to the Radcliffe Science Library and began reading journals, increasingly aware of how ill-equipped I was to create a fictional astronomer: I should probably spend several months getting a better understanding of the kind of research he might do.

My agent, Stephanie Cabot, had said in June 1996 that with 6 chapters she could get me money to finish the book; somewhere along the line she seemed to have forgotten this, so it was not easy to know how to do justice to this astronomer.  In the meantime I went on looking at journals in the few days I had managed to take off work.  I came upon the Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, which includes a splendid feature: each issue included a brief autobiography by a distinguished astronomer or astrophysicist.

I don't think any of these were used in the book, but I offer a couple of examples, mainly as a reminder of how much better it would be if all academic journals offered this kind of feature:

Continent cut off

Am writing on my sister's laptop, as mine is on the fritz and I can't even find out whether it can be fixed because Maryland is under lockdown.  Tried to leave a comment on my last post (ON MY OWN BLOG) and Google would not let me do it (despite the fact that I am, as you see, signed in as me and allowed to publish new posts). 

It wasn't much of a comment, but anyway, Andrew! Such a great post! 

It may be some time before I post again, as the Governor of Maryland is having trouble keeping order in class.  He has now announced that if people don't cut down their visits to grocery stores he may keep us inside until September. 

Monday, April 6, 2020

Interview of Hadley Wickham (woot)

The real purpose of this blog, you may not have realised, is to have a place to put things where I can conveniently find them again.  Am in the middle of an interview of Hadley Wickham by Will Chase, an interview in which HW (we are not worthy) says:

So I think for a long time there was this big pool of people that could potentially be contributing, but they were really put off by R-help (note: R-help is a notoriously hostile mailing list and was the only way to get help with R in the early days). And then the timing was lucky enough that there were two significant changes that allowed the community to reinvent itself to some degree.

The first of those was StackOverflow. It seems hard to imagine now, but at the time, StackOverflow was so incredibly welcoming and friendly. And I think part of that was that in contrast to R-help, anything would seem welcoming and friendly, 



This made me laugh, because I had spent countless hours trawling through installments of the R-help mailing list, and the principal contributors of answers (Brian Ripley, Uwe Ligges, Duncan Murdoch, Peter Dalgaard, others I could once have named without thinking) were often very severe. But after one had trawled through HUNDREDS of installments one couldn't help but be struck by the generosity of contributors who kept answering question after question for months, years on end.  To this day I feel an affection for Ripley, Ligges and all (the mere name Uwe Ligges has only to come to mind to make me smile), an affection yet to be inspired by professional contacts who are EXTREMELY friendly and dodge questions like so many bullets. 

The whole thing here (this is, of course, the link I want in a convenient place).