Fitting Tiny Pieces Together 

No good solutions come to mind for the writing workflow problems I’ve been trying to think about. So, here’s booklog stuff at Powell’s on Hawthorne:

Hacking Matter: Levitating Chairs, Quantum Mirages, and the Infinite Weirdness of Programmable Atoms (Basic Books, 2003), Wil McCarthy

The Stuff of Life: Profiles of the Molecules that Make Us Tick (Times Books, Henry Holt, 2002), Eric P. Widmaier

These two titles and the length of the books (224 and 135 pages, respectively) jogged the thought that essay-length works concerning specific subjects are fine tools for thought. They prompted me to want to write something in the 10,000-word range concerning atoms, molecules, energy, and so forth; that is, they prompted me to want to write about chemistry, for shame.

We’ll see where that desire takes me, I’m sure.


Wond'ring Aloud 

The philosopher Daniel Dennett considers Darwinian natural selection to be “the single best idea anyone has ever had” and wrote a book-length argument called Darwin’s Dangerous Idea to support the opinion. I’ve read the book and, while reading, find myself agreeing with Dennett throughout, but when I read other people’s arguments, I forget how to suspend the details of each set of ideas so as to consider them on their merits, and on my own terms. I am too easily swayed by rhetoric, and I am not good enough at thinking on my own to separate rhetorical quality from specific ideas.

One reason for me to write out how I think about particular subjects is to lay out the process of the way I think. If I do it well, I will find out weak areas and stronger areas, and I should be able to improve the former and reinforce the latter. Unfortunately, my aesthetic preferences tend to encourage rhetorical rather than analytical writing, and I worry about writing persuasive arguments that lack real merit.


Connected? Nah. 

Some science writers have a historical sensibility that focuses on earlier writers, usually 19C writers but sometimes 18C Enlightenment-era people, and connects those writers’ thoughts with contemporary science. I’m thinking of the way Philip Ball uses Walter Bagehot in Critical Mass or of how Ian Hacking’s statistics books use Leibniz and Peirce.

I’m also thinking of Warren Ellis’s “secret history” in the Planetary comics but that’s a different thing. I really gotta get a handle on things, huh?

Unsafe words 

My new codeword for "answers to intimate questions" is: "Joey! Usually in the mornings—with Katie Couric!"

Please continue talking amongst yourselves.


How does this "Link" thing work? 

Does this take you to Diesel Sweeties?

Here's one for you two! 

020050209 19:04:45
Had a thought about a database project. I'd like to be able to track my reading using both iCal and some sort of database, into which I'd enter each thing I read, where I read it, when I read it, and what I think about it. I'd also like to be able to update what I think about any given thing, and I'd like to be able to sort the things in any number of ways. Somebody must have written a Cocoa application that does what I want, here. So I'll look online for a bit and see what I can see.

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