Indexes, writing about – Illuminations

Most of my waking hours are currently occupied in compiling the index to my book Screening the Royal Shakespeare Company: A Critical History. Not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but this is to be published by Bloomsbury in The Arden Shakespeare series in June. Instead of writing this blog post I should be compiling my index. Instead of eating – and indeed, probably, sleeping, I should be compiling my index. But, well, compiling an index is a process that is both fascinating and deeply, deeply dull, and the occasional distraction has to be a good thing. I asked colleagues whether I should compile the index, or whether I should pay a professional to do it.

Most professionals (see below) advise against an author doing it themselves. But that’s what I opted to do – and I’m not regretting that call. Really I’m not. Along with all else, the process has made me curious about the creation of indexes.

Indexes are cool. Lots of great links here.

Source: Indexes, writing about – Illuminations

Book Review – Lab Rats: How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable for the Rest of Us

It started with six pieces of Lego. Dan Lyons, former Newsweek technology editor, as well as writer on the HBO series Silicon Valley (and former Fake Steve Jobs), meets a Lego “Serious Play” trainer who asked him to make a duck in 30 seconds. He fretted, then worried, wondering if it was all a trick, before finally presenting his duck to her. It turned out that it didn’t matter what he did, that it was all just a game, a way to jump-start conversation. And that left him rattled.

In his book, Lab Rats: How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable for the Rest of Us, New York Times bestselling author Dan Lyons critiques how this sort of “Serious Play” activity is all the rage in Silicon Valley, as startups and tech companies mess with the heads of their employees. He criticizes how it looks like a “cult of happiness,” which is facilitated through a new way of working.

And if you’re not in Silicon Valley, it’s coming soon to a company near you.

Read the rest of the article on The Startup Finance Blog.

Book Review – When: The Scientific Secrets to Perfect Timing, by Daniel Pink

We are all familiar with the expression “timing is everything.“ From ice hockey to investing, success often depends on doing things at the right time. But how do we know when it is the right time? Sometimes we can play where the puck is going, or figure out the right moment to act by a careful read of the market, but in other cases the right time depends on us; it depends on us knowing when to do things.

Daniel Pink’s new book, When: The Scientific Secrets to Perfect Timing, looks at when we should do things to be the most efficient, the most productive, and the most inspired. The “when” he discusses is the time of day, the time of the year, or even the point in a project where we should or shouldn’t do certain things.

He poses a certain number of questions early in the book:

Why do beginnings—whether we get off to a fast start or a false start—matter so much? And how can we make a fresh start if we stumble out of the starting blocks? Why does reaching the midpoint—of a project, a game, even a life—sometimes bring us down and other times fire us up? Why do endings energize us to kick harder to reach the finish line yet also inspire us to slow down and seek meaning?

We’ve all experienced flagging interest in projects, or difficulty trying to make it through the day, the week, or the month, but we generally don’t think that we might have started — or continued our projects — at the wrong time.

Read the rest of the review on The Startup Finance Blog.

What Happens When Your Crime Library Goes Up In Smoke? – CrimeReads

The lightning bolt blasted down from the fast-moving summer storm, exploding into our roof, through our attic, and into the guest bedroom. Fire erupted on the bed. My sons put out that fire in the bedroom, but the roof and attic were ablaze. Within two minutes, my family were out of the house, with our pets, pulling our cars out of the garage, as the flames spread. Despite the heavy rain, smoke already wreathed our home. We got out with the clothes we had on our backs. We were safe. We watched our home burn as multiple fire departments responded, as news crews and the Red Cross arrived, as dozens of our neighbors gathered around us to offer comfort, as our family tried to grapple with what seemed an unimaginable new reality.

Hours later, after the fire was out, the fire chief helped my wife and I wade through a foot of water in the remaining shell of our home.  We surveyed, in disbelief and shock, the catastrophic damage—missing walls and floors, splintered beams, debris everywhere. The air reeked of smoke and the raw, wet innards of our house. Then I saw, by the glow of my flashlight, sodden and burned books on the shelves and in the water and I thought, for the first time: Oh. All my books.

Jeff Abbott is a best-selling crime fiction author who I have known for more than twenty years. Last year, a lightning bolt struck his house, burning the entire house down. Fortunately no one was hurt, but his huge library was decimated.

You don’t think something like this will ever happen to you, but Jeff gives some tips about recording information about what you own just in case.

Source: What Happens When Your Crime Library Goes Up In Smoke? | CrimeReads

Photo Book Review: In My Room, by Saul Leiter

Saul leiter in my room 59 gifThe nude female body as a subject has a long history in art, and in photography. In fine art, it has always been more or less sedate – though see Courbet’s L’Origine du monde – but in photography, it has often been more osé. Nude photography follows the unwritten rules of the patriarchy; in most such photos, the woman is an object, often in ludicrous positions, or in situations that serve as nothing more than backdrops to their bodies. Photo magazines are full of nude or semi-nude photos – so-called “boudoir” photography – that serve to codify the tropes of this genre: for example, a naked women in high heels in front of a waterfall. There are certainly many exceptions, and nude art photography – to distinguish it from “I know it when I see it” pornography – can be very attractive, without demeaning its subjects.

Read the rest of the article on my photo website.

Amazon UK’s Subtle Pro-Brexit, Pro-Trump Bias

Amazon UK runs a lot of deals on Kindle ebooks. There’s a daily deal, where there books are offered, usually for £0.99, there are other occasional daily deals, and there’s a big monthly deal, with hundreds of books ranging from £0.99 to a few pounds. Lots of people take advantage of these deals to pick up books they might not have read at bargain prices, or often to begin or complete a series of books, such as mysteries, fantasy novels, etc. I check the list every month, and often find books that I’d been wanting to read; for a pound, it’s a no-brainer to buy them.

Among these deals are non-fiction books. This month, Amazon’s selection is surprisingly political; not that there are a lot of political books in the lot, but that most of them are pro-Brexit, pro-Trump, and anti-Corbyn (Jeremy Corbyn is the leader of the Labour party). Here’s what you can find this month in the monthly deal selection.

This one’s thesis is very clear from its title: the EU is bad:

Kindle1

Here’s a biography of Jeremy Corbyn. It might not be biased, but the title is clear. It’s published by Biteback Publishing, which is owned by Michael Ascroft, former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party:

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Here’s another one attacking the Labour party. Coincidentally, also published by Biteback Publishing:

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In fact, it looks like Michael Ashcroft’s publishing house has quite a deal with Amazon this month. I wonder why? Perhaps because it’s likely that there will be new elections in the UK soon?

Kindle5

This one is also pretty clear; another from Biteback Publishing, as are all the rest of the books I cite below:

Kindle2

Here’s a memoir from the person who led the Leave.eu campaign:

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A book “written” by Nigel Farage:

Kindle7

Here’s Ann Coulter’s pro-Trump screed:

Kindle8

And another pro-Trump book:

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Another pro-Brexit book:

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And one more for good measure:

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It’s not uncommon for a publisher to offer a bunch of its titles at a discount to Amazon. (It’s worth noting that the first book above, The Great Deception, is from a different publisher, Bloomsbury, who is a generalist, not a propagandist.) But having this many books that clearly lean in a specific direction politically is dangerous. People who scan the sale titles will see these books, all clearly ideologically biased, and not see only other options at these low prices. A publisher funded by an ideological politician is selling books at bargain prices in order, perhaps, to try to sway public opinion at a time when the UK is in crisis. I think this shows Amazon’s bias as well.