Everybody as favourite book of their own country.

Readers, or at least those people who are interested in books, know of a book that says something of their country. Mine is Neil Munro’s Tales of Para Handy.
It isn’t a novel but a collection of short stories.These are set in first two decades of the featuring a small coastal cargo boat captained by Para Handy. The boat carried coal or other bulk cargo from the river Clyde to ports in the Firth of Clyde returning with cargoes of timber or sand. Really it is not about the boat but it’s crew of four men. How they worked, got on with the each other and their little adventures. It has a gentle humour of real life. No jokes but just the normal fun of ordinary people living their lives. Like all of us do. These stories describe the world at that time. What the people were like, the area they inhabited, how they lived. No great theme or point, just stories. 

The author, Neil Munro came from the region where the stories are set. He was native Gaelic speaker who left home to work in a Glasgow newspaper which eventually he became editor of. He must have a great journalist as what he conjours up briefly is worthy of any one.

Read them 

Now That I have followers.

Now that I have followers I will have to start writing something. It was always my intention to start blogging but it looked a bit like talking to yourself for the digital era. What subjects would I use for material and content. Never great essayist too. Sights that I see, places I go to, experiences too will be my subjects and material. It is what a good writer uses. I will try to make it interesting but will most likely fail in this respect. But I will try.

My life and work is constantly moving which will provide the material.
When I first created this blog some two years ago it was going to be a daily blog. Lack of useful subject material rendered this a tedious effort. Only the interesting topics will described.

Myself in off duty mode.



The math of Ferguson: percentages don’t show how bad it really is

Being A Better Scientist

The other day, I was talking to my colleague Dr Scott Roy. We were working on the second midterm exam for our genetics class at SF State, but got distracted. We started talking about the DOJ report on Ferguson and especially the numbers in the report about racial bias. These are some of the numbers we talked about:

  • 67% of the population in Ferguson is black.
  • Blacks account for 85% of vehicle stops.
  • Blacks account for 90% of citations.
  • Blacks account for 93% of arrests.
  • Blacks account for 95% of “Manner of Walking in Roadway” charges.
  • Blacks account for 94% of all “Failure to Comply” charges.
  • Nearly 90% of documented force used by FPD officers was used against African Americans.
  • Blacks account for 100% of dog bites.
  • Blacks account for 96% of cases where someone was arrested by FPD only because of an outstanding municipal warrant.

So, from reading…

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My Favorite Books About Writing Nonfiction

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

41lhhayQO9L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_I always love reading about writing. I caution students about spending so much time reading about it that they never actually do it, but these books in particular have been invaluable in shaping my own approaches to writing. Some of them focus on nonfiction specifically, while many are great for any kind of writing:

The Artful Edit, by Susan Bell: I use this every time I do a self-edit on a manuscript. It’s also a fun book to read straight through. She uses the editing process for The Great Gatsby — detailed in letters between Fitzgerald and his editor — to show how editing makes everything better.

The New New Journalism, by Robert Boynton: Interviews with all the rock stars of current creative nonfiction — Ted Conover, Erik Larson, Susan Orlean. This is like a fan magazine for nerds like me.

The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron: 

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Muriel Spark: An Interview


[This interview was for the Penguin Website, and took place in September 2000. As it seems to be down there, I’ve decided to put it up here. The ‘Interview About Interviews’ follows.]

‘Grand,’ was the request received, and grand most certainly was the Georgian Room of the Connaught Hotel – venue of the dinner marking publication of Muriel Spark’s Aiding and Abetting.

Grand, also, was the entrance of the novelist herself (a “Grand Dame” in all languages – English, French (give or take an ‘e’) and American): diminutively sized, immaculately dressed, comically a-twinkle and canonically present.

My interview with Muriel Spark was divided into two parts: fax and phone. In order to render it readable, I shall mix it up with the meeting – at dinner, in the Georgian Room of the Connaught Hotel.

This was only the second interview I had ever conducted. The first, with Michael…

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Bipolar as Unexpected Gift

danseur ignoble

I’ll begin, here, with a caveat: bipolar disorder is hard, makes life harder, and really sucks a lot of the time ? but sometimes that makes the ways in which it’s a gift all the more startling and meaningful (at least, it does for me).

As such, take all of this with however many grains of salt your own experience requires at this time. Just because I feel like I’ve discovered a secret bonus doesn’t mean that’s everyone’s experience, or that everyone needs to feel the same way. To borrow an aphorism from the kink community, “Your Bipolar Is Not My Bipolar, And That’s Okay.”


It has become somewhat de rigeur to talk about bipolar disorder as, perhaps appropriately, both a curse and a blessing.

With it come harrowing depressions and dizzying (sometimes terrifying) manias, instability that can wreck careers and lives, a powerful predisposition to addiction, the very…

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