In Which Our Tardy Heroine is Once Again Happy About Books and Unhappy About Statistics

24 February 2004

So it turns out that groggy-and-zombified is a decent frame of mind for working on "Carter Hall Recovers the Puck." Much closer now. Tam Lin is not happy at the moment, and I need to get everybody back on the ice. Even Janet, briefly. I mean, briefly onscreen. This is not Janet's story. Janet's story comes later. Well, earlier and later. Hmm. In the chronology of the life of the writer, Janet's story comes later. In the story chronology, both.

Forget what I said about short stories compared to novels. I love this thing.

You know what makes me happy? (I can hear some weary pessimist's response: "Freakin' everything." Well, yah. But in specific.) It makes me very happy when some of the things I like about a friend come out clearly in that friend's book (or short story). A specific wry humor, for example, or a particular type of thinking or observation. Having that shine through in a book and knowing that the book and the author do match up for once: that's a good thing. It's a happy thing.

Also, having lots of books: happy thing. I went to the library this afternoon (yeah, late entry, these things happen), and I just made things worse. See, I went to the library because I wanted to get books for research, only I forgot to add the particular authors to the library list. And then they were written down at home, and there I was at the library. ("No shit, there I was....") And there was really only one thing to be done: pile my arms with books I cannot justify as research material. Naturally. I mean, it was obvious. Things got a little out of my control after that.

I'm reading Alec's Vicious, which is good stuff and you should read it, but I've got it and you don't, neener neener.

Okay, somebody is not perhaps as mature as she ought to be today.

At those times when a big binder full of draft manuscript is inappropriate, I'm reading Barbara Holland's Gentlemen's Blood: A History of Dueling from Swords at Dawn to Pistols at Dusk. It's entertaining. It's good fun. Her Theories Of Testosterone are a little annoying but not too obtrusive most of the time.

I got a survey from my college today, and I'm annoyed. It looks like another case of Lying With Statistics. They asked my major on this form, but then they didn't separate out the questions for classes in and out of the major. So I was asked to rate my satisfaction with lecture classes at Gustavus, and the answer is, whose? I was quite happy with my physics lecture classes. Most of the classes I chose for myself were also good. Many of my distribution requirement classes were stupid to the point of insulting. If I mark that I was "highly dissatisfied," my department gets tsked at by the administration. If I mark that I was "highly satisfied," they pat idiots like my Macroecon prof on the back and move on with their lives, telling all and sundry that X% of alumni were highly satisfied! (I would worry about calling one of my old profs an idiot on this webpage, lest he read it, if I hadn't picked one who knew I thought he was an idiot when I was in his class.) I suppose one approach would be to throw away the stupid survey, but hey, it's postage paid, so I sent them an addendum with it.

Mark and Timprov and I decided last week that survey reporting should change. They should have to report for each question the people who chose not to answer by not taking the survey at all. I think the "I have better things to do with my life" contingent should be tapped into a lot more heavily. Then instead of "51% of Americans think N should be outlawed and 49% think it should be totally legal," we'd get "13% of Americans think N should be outlawed, 12% think it should be totally legal, and 75% responded with one of the following: 'Stupid @$&%! telemarketers,' 'Do you people always have to call when I'm trying to eat supper?', or '[click...tone]'." They'd have to admit that they really don't know what most people think. And that a fair number of people genuinely do not care, and for some things, that's a political statement in itself. Should something be outlawed if 60% of the population can't bring themselves to care one way or the other? At all? 70%? 80%? At what point would a national "meh" count as a point in itself?

Anyway, anyway. I'm off to do many many things, even at this unusually late-for-journaling hour. Enjoy the remainder of your day. I'll try for a more normal post tomorrow.

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