Saturday, January 30, 2010

Erasmus of Rotterdam on Clarity and Vagueness

Discussing the methods of sentence variation by using allegory and proverbs —which at times result in enigmas— in his book On Copia, Erasmus says: “For things should not be written in such a way that everyone understands everything, but so that they are forced to investigate things, and learn.” We often read that clarity, conciseness, terseness, should be what good writers strive for. Having seen these admonitions many times, Erasmus’ remark: “Things should not be written in such a way that everyone understands everything …” caught my eye. In fiction, some things are better handled if left unsaid—left open.

Henry James, novelist, master of nuance

For many years readers, scholars, and critics have been not only debating Henry James’ novelette The Turn of the Screw, but also interpreting it. Henry James, a master of nuance, has wrought a tale of terror that would have satisfied Erasmus because we are left “to investigate things, and learn.” In the tale only the young governess can see the ghosts, believing that the previous sinister governess and her lover are controlling the two orphaned children. It is a text that can be read and interpreted in many ways: as ghost story, a crime story, or a detective story. And in the end we are left with the enigma: is this woman mad?

Kafka, the absurd

Most of Kafka’s stories are open ended, resulting not only in enigmas, but also in insoluble paradoxes, problems of dehumanization, and other absurd human labyrinths. Is Gregor Samsa, a hero, an anti-hero, a pathetic character, or even a vermin? Who is to blame for his metamorphosis? And who kills him? Is it a sacrifice? “When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.” Isn’t possible to infer from the very beginning that the story is just a common nightmare? Likewise, in the Trial: “Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning” Dragged through the corridors of the court and ‘the law,’ and on to his final night, Joseph K —and the readers— never learn what crime he committed.

Jorge Luis Borges, cerebral stories

In the work of Jorge Luis Borges we find stories that besides being cerebral are open to different interpretations. The short story “El Sur” is a hallucinating story in which the hero goes into his death with his eyes open and his boots on. Macho-like. Or did he? One of the possible interpretations is that he conjured all those images of gauchos that populate the South (of Argentina), at his deathbed in the hospital.

Ambrose Bierce, stories with a twist

“An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” is a fantastic story with a stunning twist at the end. Like Jorge Luis Borges, the story in itself has a twist, but what makes it delightful is the language in which it is told. Deliberate. Spectacular. A mix of action and thought. Without wasting words, the author leads the reader through a dreamy path and on to a plausible and realistic conclusion. The Renaissance scholar Erasmus of Rotterdam may be correct: don’t make everything absolutely clear; your readers will respect you more if you leave something for them to ponder.



Senada Selmani, model

To write great blogs, e-mails, term papers, essays, or fiction - Get Mary Duffy's

Sentence Openers




Itching to Become a Writer?


Visit Mary Duffy's Storefront


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Levi Johnston and Bristol Palin: What are People Saying

and this matters to us because? it isn't like the teen mom is poor anyway. maybe if she had kept her pants on they wouldn't be in this mess. but i guess with a mother like her's, what else can you expect?

It does not matter is she's poor or rich. He should be responsible for taking care of his child financially. She pulled her pants down, but so did he! MAKE HIM PAY GIRL!!!!!!! After all, it takes two.

If this was anyone else but Sarah Palin's kid, everyone would be up in arms over what a douche bag this father is. But since it's Bristol Palin, then she must somehow be at fault, right? Grow up Mel. Bristol isn't her mother, and your attitude is misogynistic and right out of the 1950's. It takes TWO people to make a child, not just the mom. Levi also chose to have sex. The only one now doing the right thing, trying to care for the baby that was a result, seems to be Bristol. Levi is an immature tool who has consistently taken the lowest road possible, and I hope Bristol gets everything she deserves out of this deadbeat.
For the record, Sarah Palin is retarded and I think it's a joke that people could actually consider her for office, but this isn't about Sarah Palin.

If this was anyone else but Sarah Palin's kid, everyone would be up in arms over what a douche bag this father is. But since it's Bristol Palin, then she must somehow be at fault, right? Grow up Mel. Bristol isn't her mother, and your attitude is misogynistic and right out of the 1950's. It takes TWO people to make a child, not just the mom. Levi also chose to have sex. The only one now doing the right thing, trying to care for the baby that was a result, seems to be Bristol. Levi is an immature tool who has consistently taken the lowest road possible, and I hope Bristol gets everything she deserves out of this deadbeat.

For the record, Sarah Palin is retarded and I think it's a joke that people could actually consider her for office, but this isn't about Sarah Palin.
Every person has the responsibility to pay child support HOWEVER... I suspect there is more to this story than being told.

I'm no Levi (or Palin) fan... but from the interviews I've seen and their attitude towards him (which quite honestly might be right-on), I suspect that they may be keeping the child away from Levi. Which is wrong. And child support and visitation have nothing to do with each other, no matter what us mother's feel about it.
I agree that the father of a child has a financial responsibility toward the child. But what about the mother? If each is contributing $1750, that's $3500 a month. Quite a bit more than I have coming in.

Why are you just blaming the mother? He did the deed as well to help create this child! I am sick of only us women being blamed for unwanted pregnancies in this country! Time to start calling men out for the sluts they are... I hate the double standard of this country, if a woman is promiscuous (sp?) she is a slut, if a man is, he's a play-ah... so stupid. HE IS A SLUT TOO!
Sometimes we should just be thankful for what we get. If he wants to be a part of the babies life and he's a good father then that's all that should matter. I know it takes money to raise a baby.. but sometimes that means people need to get jobs!

and this matters to us because? it isn't like the teen mom is poor anyway. maybe if she had kept her pants on they wouldn't be in this mess. but i guess with a mother like her's, what else can you expect?

It does not matter is she's poor or rich. He should be responsible for taking care of his child financially. She pulled her pants down, but so did he! MAKE HIM PAY GIRL!!!!!!! After all, it takes two.

If this was anyone else but Sarah Palin's kid, everyone would be up in arms over what a douche bag this father is. But since it's Bristol Palin, then she must somehow be at fault, right? Grow up Mel. Bristol isn't her mother, and your attitude is misogynistic and right out of the 1950's. It takes TWO people to make a child, not just the mom. Levi also chose to have sex. The only one now doing the right thing, trying to care for the baby that was a result, seems to be Bristol. Levi is an immature tool who has consistently taken the lowest road possible, and I hope Bristol gets everything she deserves out of this deadbeat.

For the record, Sarah Palin is retarded and I think it's a joke that people could actually consider her for office, but this isn't about Sarah Palin.


Every person has the responsibility to pay child support HOWEVER... I suspect there is more to this story than being told.

I'm no Levi (or Palin) fan... but from the interviews I've seen and their attitude towards him (which quite honestly might be right-on), I suspect that they may be keeping the child away from Levi. Which is wrong. And child support and visitation have nothing to do with each other, no matter what us mother's feel about it.

I agree that the father of a child has a financial responsibility toward the child. But what about the mother? If each is contributing $1750, that's $3500 a month. Quite a bit more than I have coming in.

Why are you just blaming the mother? He did the deed as well to help create this child! I am sick of only us women being blamed for unwanted pregnancies in this country! Time to start calling men out for the sluts they are... I hate the double standard of this country, if a woman is promiscuous (sp?) she is a slut, if a man is, he's a play-ah... so stupid. HE IS A SLUT TOO!

Sometimes we should just be thankful for what we get. If he wants to be a part of the babies life and he's a good father then that's all that should matter. I know it takes money to raise a baby.. but sometimes that means people need to get jobs!

Click-->Back to main page

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Who is Who in Magic Realism

FavoritesImage by margolove via Flickr

Magic realism in literature is a literary genre that combines fantastic or dreamlike elements with realism. It differs from pure fantasy —which involves outlandish universes— in the fact that it is set in a normal, quotidian contemporary world, a world of authentic human-like characters and objects.

The genre has taken hold in fiction, both in short stories and novels. Readers must be on their guard and not to trust the narrators who —in the magic realism genre— find a fertile ground for planting the seeds of hallucinating trickery, dream sequences, and often plain distortion and bending of what we accept as the real natural world.

What makes magic realism a serious literary genre is the effort the authors make to have their fiction reach beyond the confines of realism, drawing upon the often forgotten native fables, folk tales, fairy tales, and myths while at the same time making the narrated events relevant to the reader.

The Gothic roots
While in the traditional novel readers look for key events that may provided openings to logical or psychological explanation, in the magical realist novel it is impossible no keys are provided.

Ann Radcliffe in her gothic novels The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Italian thrilled readers with dungeons, dark castles, ghostly apparitions, fainting heroines, and unnatural events which in the end were (as explained) but simple natural events. In addition, gothic novels were fraught with horror, as we can read in Oscar Wilde’s The Portrait of Dorian Gray.

But in magic realist novels, the fabulous, the marvelous, the enchanting, and the magic of events evoked require neither psychology nor logic, nor science.
It seems as if the authors delight in showing the obverse of objects: the negative of a picture rather than the positive, the other side of the carpet, the reverse of the leaf—hoping to find the spirit, the energy that animates things. What delights the reader isn’t what they find in the predictable, nor in the familiar, or in the common— but in what lurks beyond the orbit of the real.

European magic realism
Beginning with Knight Errantry tales —which are laden with fabulous events— Eastern European novels have a tradition of magic realism. But it wasn’t until post II War World authors such as Milan Kundera, Günter Grass, and Italo Calvino that the genre took hold. In another article I wrote: “It is hard to imagine magic realism without Günter Grass’s prototype: Oskar Matzerath, the boy who willed himself to stop growing.”

Latin American magic realism
In keeping with post-modern theorists —in particular Derrida’s Deconstruction movement— magic realism aims to seize the paradox of the union of opposites. It challenges polar opposites in which one pole is favored over the other: life and death, pre-colonial past versus the post-industrial present,

In magical realism we find the transformation of the common and the everyday into the awesome and the stunning and unreal.

Most of the Argentinean writer Jorge Luis Borges’ stories are of a fabulous nature: “The Secret Miracle,” “The Aleph,” “The South,” “The Garden of Forking Paths,” and others. While philosophers such as David Hume and Bishop Berkeley attempted to deny reality with logical arguments, Borges denied causality with his stories. Furthermore, Borges suggested that the unreal world can be manifested (in literature) by including a work of art within a work of art, by contaminating reality with dreams, by altering time, and by doubles and labyrinths.

With Gabriel Garcia Marquez magic realism comes to full maturity. His novel One Hundred Years of Solitude and his short stories, the genre reaches the summit of magical invention. Garcia Marquez stated: “My most important problem was destroying the lines of demarcation that separates what seems real from what seems fantastic.” To him realism offers too static and poor a vision of reality, suggesting that the magic text is —paradoxically— more realistic and richer than the realist text.
But to be fair, both Borges and Garcia Marquez are the heirs of a long tradition of Latin American fabulists such as the Peruvian Ricardo Palma and the Uruguayan Horacio Quiroga. But in particular, he is the heir of the Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier who coined term “marvelous reality” in the prologue to his novel, The Kingdom of this World.

Latin American women novelists have also come to dominate the genre. Contemporary novelist Isabel Allende continues the cultivation of magic realism with her fantastic novel The House of the Spirits. Laura Esquivel with Like Water for Chocolate, immerses the reader in a fabulous world where the unusual becomes accepted and acted on as if it were normal. Having read Like Water a few times, I feel compelled to share one of my favorite passages:
“As they crossed the hallway, Tita saw her mother, motionless beside the door to the dining room, throwing her a furious look. She was petrified. Pulque began to bark at Mama Elena, who was walking toward Tita threateningly. The fur on the dog’s back was sticking straight up from the fear and he was backing away on the defensive.”

At this point in the story, we know that Tita’s mother (Mama Elena) is dead. Yet Tita and the dog Pulque see her. And instead of relying on what a human-character sees, the narrator lets the dog’s action carry the vision of such unnatural apparition.

Indian magic realism
Though far from being a total work in social and magic realism alone, Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, contains a great deal of parody and satire of India—but all done with artistry. Given to paradox and the absurd, the exotic, and the strange, it is hard at times to tell the serious from the comic and both from the unreal. All in all we can say that humor prevails. And when we are in doubt we accept that the author means well and we read his humorous antics with goodwill—much as we do with Lawrence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy.

As readers, we are forced to keep track of time; a task that is easier said than done. Time in the Midnight’s Children is circular, fragmented, mythical, and cyclical—never linear. I cannot help thinking that all this is deliberate not only to simulate the chaotic societies that form the Indian nation, but also to add to the magical dimension that surrounds the characters as well as the readers.

American magic realism
Although the genre hasn’t quite bloomed in the United States, American fiction has a rich tradition of magical narration. Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ambrose Bierce, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, John Cheever, Toni Morrison and William Kennedy have written many stories that could qualify for inclusion in the magic realism genre. But this is a matter for a separate article.
The writing techniques I use in this article are all explained in Mary Duffy's writing manual--an indispensable guide:

Sentence Openers


Click-->Back to main page



Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monday, January 18, 2010

Roger Ebert's A Letter to Rush Limbaugh

/ / / January 14, 2010

To: Rush Limbaugh
From: Roger Ebert

You should be horse-whipped for the insult you have paid to the highest office of our nation.

Having followed President Obama's suggestion and donated money to the Red Cross for relief in Haiti, I was offended to hear you suggest the President might be a thief capable of stealing money intended for the earthquake victims.

Here is a transcript from your program on Thursday:

Justin of Raleigh, North Carolina: "Why does Obama say if you want to donate some money, you could go to whitehouse.gov to direct you how to do so? If I wanted to donate to the Red Cross, why do I have to go to the White House page to donate?"

Limbaugh: "Exactly. Would you trust the money's gonna go to Haiti?"

Justin: "No."

Rush: "But would you trust that your name's gonna end up on a mailing list for the Obama people to start asking you for campaign donations for him and other causes?"

Justin: "Absolutely!"

Limbaugh: "Absolutely!"


That's what was said.

Unlike you and Justin of Raleigh, I went to Obama's web site, and discovered the link there leads directly to the Red Cross. I can think of a reason why anyone might want to go via the White House. That way they can be absolutely sure they're clicking on the Red Cross and not a fake site set up to exploit the tragedy.

But let me be sure I have this right. You and Justin agree that Obama might steal money intended for the Red Cross to help the wretched of Haiti.

This conversation came 48 hours after many of us had seen pitiful sights from Port au Prince. Tens of thousands are believed still alive beneath the rubble. You twisted their suffering into an opportunity to demean the character of the President of the United States.

This cannot have been an accident. A day earlier, in a sound bite from your show, you said "this will play right into Obama's hands. He's humanitarian, compassionate. They'll use this to burnish their, shall we say, 'credibility' with the black community -- in the both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country. It's made-to-order for them."

Setting aside your riff on Harry Reid, consider what you imply. Obama will aid Haiti to please African-Americans. Haiti has lost untold thousands of lives. One third of the population has lost its homes. Countless people are still buried in the rubble. Every American president would act quickly to help our neighbor. You are so cynical and heartless as to explain Obama's action in a way that unpleasantly suggests how your mind works.

You have a sizable listening audience. You apparently know how to please them. Anybody given a $400 million contract must know what he is doing.

That's what offends me. You know exactly what you're doing.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Haruki Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle - Review

Japanese writer Haruki MurakamiImage via Wikipedia

If you like quirky, vulgar, enigmatic, and yet lyrical and philosophical flashes—you’ll like this novel. Listen to the sounds, for the sounds and mundane imagery of the very beginning of the novel will be give the reader a sample of the strange and surreal:
"When the phone rang I was in the kitchen, boiling a potful of spaghetti and whistling along with an FM broadcast of the overture to Rossini's The Thieving Magpie, which has to be the perfect music for cooking pasta"

The voice is that of the narrator Toru Okada, an unemployed law graduate, who by resisting the call of the corporate structure becomes an outsiders—a misfit to his wife, relatives, and society. Toru Okada has quit his job as a paralegal and spends his days reading and fixing dinner for his magazine editor wife.

In no time we are introduced to odd-ball characters and odd events: an obscene phone call; Malta Kano, a weird psychic who's searching (or so we are led to believe) for his lost cat; her sister, Creta, who dresses like Jackie Kennedy and tells a painful story; next, attempted suicide, and prostitution (both of the mind and body).
And then we meet the villain: Toru's sinister brother-in-law, Noboru Wataya.

For readers unschooled in the postmodern world of simulacra (as expounded by Jean Baudrillard) will have a hard time suspending the disbelief: that a cyber-villain can cross over and interact in the real world. Then again, the real world in the novel is a world of disorder, mutation, transformations where unity, foundations and continuities are barely existent. While Toru is a post-modern antihero, his latches on figures, themes, and personalities of a by-gone era: in procession we see a sad caravan of Western cultural icons—Rossini, Claudio Abbado, De Chirico, Bach, and Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms.
Despite the cultural icons mentioned, Toru’s world is an alien world where darkness gets encrusted in his soul, tormenting him to no end.

And as if current memories were not enough to haunt Toru’s mind, he finds himself immersed in history. Lieutenant Mamiya (a WWII veteran) graphically tells Toru of the cruelties and atrocities he witnessed on the Mongolian front and Soviet prison camps. Of all the constellation of events that happen in the novel, the graphic depiction of Japanese cruelty in the Second World War is moving and effective. Moving, for one would have to be pathologically callous not to feel the inhumanity and savagery of war; effective, for events of that nature have been cleansed from the history books.

If the author set off to teach a moral lesson, we must agree that he did accomplish it: war makes humans inhuman, and that the inhuman make war.
As readers have their fill of the strange, and to prop up a flagging end, we are quickly introduced to a well-dressed mother-son duo that have a personal formula to make lots of cash.

Not only is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle a sprawling and at times amorphous novel, but a deliberately chaotic one. Faced with a society —high tech and postmodern— that is devoid of happiness, the narrator goes on searching for something he doesn’t quite know what— his identity perhaps?
"This person, this self, this me, finally, was made somewhere else. Everything had come from somewhere else, and it would all go somewhere else. I was nothing but a pathway for the person known as me."

Or maybe Toru —being wifeless and friendless— simply enjoys the terrorizing feeling that is loneliness:
"But even so, every now and then I would feel a violent stab of loneliness. The very water I drink, the very air I breathe, would feel like long, sharp needles. The pages of a book in my hands would take on the threatening metallic gleam of razor blades. I could hear the roots of loneliness creeping through me when the world was hushed at four o'clock in the morning."

For most of the novel, Toru is passive, as he lets things happen to him. But eventually he will begin to act. Yet one has the feeling that Toru doesn’t have a change, that chaos, chance, and maybe even destiny will claim him.
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is about, amongst other things, a missing cat, a missing wife, a story-within-a-story about Japan's re-birth from the ashes of the Second World War, involvement in Manchuria, psychics, psychic prostitutes, morbid high school girls, a creepy scholar-cum-politician and —yes, the theme of the book— bird species.

Although The Wind Up Bird Chronicle is an imperfect novel, it is quite entertaining and it contains passages of moral value and redemption. It also offers —in translation— fluidity of language, rhythm, rhetorical techniques, as well as lyrical flashes. But for the serious reader, the novel is replete with cogitations about existence:
"Here's what I think, Mr. Wind-Up Bird," said May Kasahara. "Everybody's born with some different thing at the core of their existence. And that thing, whatever it is, becomes like a heat source that runs each person from the inside. I have one too, of course. Like everybody else. But sometimes it gets out of hand. It swells or shrinks inside me, and it shakes me up. What I'd really like to do is find a way to communicate that feeling to another person. But I can't seem to do it. They just don't get it. Of course, the problem could be that I'm not explaining it very well, but I think it's because they're not listening very well. They pretend to be listening, but they're not, really. So I get worked up sometimes, and I do some crazy things."

Haruki Murakami’s lengthy novel is a great accomplishment for Japanese letters. Whether it can compete with the great Western classics such as Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Tolstoy’s War and Peace, the Brontes’ Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, or even Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children is a different matter.
All in all a great dreamy read.
Augustine, City of God
Austen J, Pride and Prejudice
Austen J, "Marriage Proposals and Me"
Austen J, Emma
Borges, The Aleph
C. Bronte, Jane Eyre
Burroughs E,Tarzan
Cervantes, Don Quijote
Chaucer, Wife of Bath
Coelho P,The Alchemist
Coyle H, They Are Soldiers
Dante, New Life
Dickens C, David Copperfield
Dostoevsky, Crime&Punishment
ConanDoyle,Hound of Baskervilles
Dubner S, Superfreakonomics

DuMaurier D, Rebecca
Ellis B. E. American Psycho
Fitzgerald S, Great Gatsby
Flaubert G, Madame Bovary
Fleming I,Doctor No
Freud S, Leonardo Da Vinci
Friedan B, Feminine Mystique
GarciaMarquez, Of Love & OtherDemons
GarciaMarquez,OneHundredYrs
Guerrero M,ThePoison Pill
If you are interested in seeing how I achieved personal success in the United States, you may find my book of short stories East of Tiffany's interesting. Some of the stories are based on my life as an executive, investment banker, and financial adviser to wealthy investors in the East Side of Manhattan.
Close to half-million people have read East of Tiffany's so far. Order your copy from either Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.

Since English is my second language, Mary Duffy --a master of the English language-- aided me not only with the editing, but she also contributed her own stories. I love her writing in "When You Wish Upon a Star." This is a story based on a personal friend's life.

More Book Reviews...!



Grass G, The Tin Drum
Harris T, Hannibal Rising
Heidegger M,House of Being
Ishiguro K, Remains of The Day
Johnson S,Rasselas
Kafka,Metamorphosis
Kosinski J, The Painted Bird
Lee H,To Kill a Mockingbird
McBain Ed,Gutter and Grave
Murakami H,Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Nabokov V, Lolita
Meyer, S, Twilight
Ortega,Dehumanization of Art
Poe E A, Gordon Pym
Prose F, Reading Like a Writer
Rushdie S,Midnight Children
Sabatini R, Scaramouche
Spark M, Prime of Miss Brodie

Stendhal, Red and Black
Sterne L,Tristram Shandy
Stevenson R, Dr.Jekyll & Mr.Hyde
Stoker B, Dracula
Thackeray W,History of Pendennis
Tolstoy L, Anna Karenina
Trollope A, Autobiography
Unamuno M, Tragic Sense of Life
Voltaire, Candide
Webb J, Fields of Fire
Wharton E, The House of Mirth
Woolf V, To The Lighhouse


The secrets of 'no-doze' prose:
Mary Duffy's Sentence Openers


Lindsey Vonn




Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hook and Trap Your Reader!

Whether you write fiction, essays, articles, e-mail, or straight narratives for blogs, you (the writer) have a tiny window —less than 10 seconds— to grab the reader’s attention and hold him to the end of your text. This is easier said than done. But it’s done all the time by experienced writers.
One of the sites that carries my stories shows almost half-a-million readers in 5 weeks. Not to boast but to help, I bring this up to give you a few hints. Because many articles on the Web tell you about the importance of titles, hooks, surprises, and other tricks that may possible keep the reader reading—I will simply comment on 3 points that work for me.

1. An honest, “tell-all” paragraph
Not only do I spill the beans about my story in the first paragraph, but I also give some vivid details. If my character is going to die I will be honest and say that right away: “She came to die.” No need to save or withhold information to give a punch-line at the end.
Even better is to have the paragraph read like a conclusion, summary or closing remarks.
Once the opening paragraph is out of the way, I pack in the most important details of the story next. By using the “Indirect Free Speech” technique, I plant doubts in the reader’s mind. For example, I would write: ‘Is she serious?’ ‘Will her family accept that?’ ‘How ironic that this may end rewarding him!’

2. Have something of value in the story
Oscar Wilde —the witty English writer— once said, “Nowadays people know the price of everything, and the value of nothing.”
Today people do know the value of many things and expect to be rewarded for the time that they are investing in reading your material. The best reward that a writer can give to the reader is a great experience. Writers do write because they have something of value to say, and those experiences —negative and positive— could be a most rewarding and pleasurable experience.
Therefore, you should choose your material, topics, themes, and items with care. Dionysius of Halicarnassus —around 10 BC— in his critical essay on Isocrates says:
“But most significant of all are the themes upon which he chose to concentrate, and the nobility of the subject which he spent his time in studying. The influence of these would make anyone who applied himself to his works not only good orators, but men of sterling character, of positive service to their families, to their state and to Greece at large.”


3. Be monosyllabic
Nothing can be more exciting to a reader than to get an eyeful of crisp monosyllabic text. Short, unpretentious words, with lots of active verbs will take the reader a long way. On the other hand, if you load your opening paragraph with adverbs —especially those ending in ‘ly’— you will lose your reader in less than 5 seconds.
To give you an example, I reach for Salman Rushdie’s Midnight Children, and I open a page at random:
“I swear he could eat a whole kid in one go. And so what? I told him, eat, fill your hole, a man comes to Kashmir to enjoy life, or to end it, or both.”

With those snippy words that the eye can scoop up in a fraction of a second, the reader is prompted to go on to the next snippet. And so on. Once hooked, you —the serious writer— may inject more serious words.

Senada Selmani, model

To write great blogs, e-mails, term papers, essays, or fiction - Get Mary Duffy's

Sentence Openers




Itching to Become a Writer?


Visit Mary Duffy's Storefront

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Report Reveals Role of Immigrants in City

By PATRICK MCGEEHAN

Every chemical engineer in New York City was born in a foreign country. Two-fifths of the city’s accountants and auditors and more than one-fourth of its chief executives are immigrants. In the three neighborhoods with the highest concentrations of immigrants, Ecuadoreans outnumber residents from any other country.

Those are a few of the facts about the role immigrants play in the city’s economy, according to a report released on Wednesday by Thomas P. DiNapoli, the state comptroller. The report said that immigrants accounted for nearly one-third of all economic activity in the city in 2008 — a total of $215 billion.

“Immigration continues to drive our economy, certainly continues to enrich life in our city,” Mr. DiNapoli said at a news conference at Baruch College in Manhattan.

The 10 neighborhoods with the highest concentrations of immigrants added jobs and payroll at a faster rate than the rest of the city from 2000 to 2007, the report said. All but one of those neighborhoods — the Washington Heights/Inwood section of Upper Manhattan — were in Brooklyn and Queens.

The median household income of the city’s immigrants nearly doubled to $45,000 in 2007 from $23,900 in 1990, significantly outpacing inflation, according to the report. That rising affluence helped more immigrants to buy homes. By 2008, 60 percent of all of the homeowners in the city were foreign born, the report said.

Joining in the fun-fact fest, James McCarthy, a provost of Baruch, noted that the school had at least one student from each of the 32 countries that would send teams to this year’s World Cup soccer tournament.

Click-->Back to main page

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Kirsten Gillibrand -VS- Harold Ford Jr.

Will Kirsten Gillibrand (our incumbent senator for New York) have a formidable opponent in Harold Ford Jr., or a wimp?

Not having the warmest personality, former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford Jr. has received a cold shoulder from New Yorkers.

Pro- choice and gay rights groups are sharpening their knives and waiting to go on the attack against the former Congressman's record. Wasting no time Ford took his bona fides to the Post to straightened things out.

"It's true: I am strongly considering running for the United States Senate. I do so because our best as a nation has always come when we test our ideas and ourselves, and when we trust competition to refine the steel of our convictions and the truth of our arguments. Some have already questioned whether I should be running. Others are falsifying my record in public life. New Yorkers deserve a free election. New Yorkers expect a politics where politicians do what's right based on independent judgment, free of political bosses trying to dictate."

He says that he is pro- choice — and will always be has been(despite calling himself "pro- life" on video) . He says he plans to continue "promoting gun safety and handgun control, " and he writes that he "enjoyed uninterrupted support from organized labor throughout my time in Congress. "

About civil unions? he supports them. And like Sen. Schumer, "after responding to and participating in the national conversation about full equality and fairness, " now supports gay marriage. "In my three years here, I've learned that New York does not go along to get along. New York does not follow. New York is where the nation had to learn to lead, grow and build, " he concludes. "I hope we all will welcome a debate about who's best to work for New York."

Harold Ford Jr. has one great advantage that Kirsten Gillibrand doesn't have: He is a carpetbagger--and New Yorkers like them.

Click-->Back to main page

Monday, January 11, 2010

The World's First "Sexbot" - Roxxxy

By HARRY HAYDON
THE world's first "sexbot" — a life-sized rubber doll named Roxxxy who can chat about football — has been unveiled.
The dark-haired, lingerie-clad robot has inbuilt artificial intelligence — meaning she can talk footie and cars with her owner.
Roxxxy also boasts impressive, flesh-like, synthetic skin.
The revolutionary invention — set to take the sex toy industry by storm — also comes with FIVE different "personalities".
Adventurous
Owners can customise Roxxxy's features and change her race, hair colour and breast size.
The anatomically correct robot has a fake skeleton, letting her move like a REAL woman.
She also utters different phrases depending on how she is touched.
Prospective owners can pick from the five different "personalities" depending on their individual preference.
There is Wild Wendy - who is outgoing and adventurous, Frigid Farah - who is reserved and shy, Mature Martha and S&M Susan - available for more adventurous types.
The doll costs between US$7,000 (£4,350) to US$9,000 (£5,993), and was unveiled at the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas at the weekend.
Douglas Hines, the robot's football loving inventor, said the real aim was to make the doll someone the owner can talk to and relate to.
Mr Hines said: "She can't vacuum, she can't cook but she can do almost anything else if you know what I mean.
"She's a companion. She has a personality. She hears you. She listens to you. She speaks. She feels your touch. She goes to sleep. We are trying to replicate a personality of a person."
Mr Hines, from TrueCompanion, said the doll could carry out simple conversations and was designed to "know exactly what you like".
He said: "Sex only goes so far, then you want to be able to talk to the person.
"She knows exactly what you like. If you like Porsches, she likes Porsches. If you like soccer, she likes soccer."
The sex robot is available in Europe and the United States and will eventually be sold all over the world.
A male version of the doll, dubbed Rocky, is also planned.
See picture

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Tiger Woods and Loredana:

London, Jan 9 (IANS) One of the alleged mistresses of scandal-hit Tiger Woods says she will reveal everything about his penchant for kinky sex in a book.

Loredana Jolie Ferriolo, 26, said that her book would expose how the 34-year-old golfer enjoys threesomes with men and women, reports dailystar.co.uk.

A friend of Ferriolo said: “She is talking to a few publishing companies about a tell-all book.”

One of Tiger's many mistresses, Loredana Jolie Ferriolo, is penning a tell-all book about the golf ace and claims that she witnessed him in gay encounters.

RadarOnline.com has learned exclusively that Loredana has claimed she saw Tiger having sexual relationships with other men. That shocking twist is something no other mistress has claimed and there has been no proof.

But Loredana recently attempted to sell her story for $1 million and graphically described group sex that included incidents of Tiger with other men, RadarOnline.com has learned exclusively.

Loredana says she is planning to spill all about how she and Tiger "came about, his healthy appetite for arranged sex, threesomes, girls next door, girl-girl, and an answer to all the rumors surrounding Woods' sexuality."

That hint about Tiger's sexuality is the key to Loredana's hopes for making a seven-figure deal, no matter how unlikely that seems.

Loredana, a gorgeous blonde from Sicily, has told people she was one of Tiger's favorite mistresses.

One of her representatives told RadarOnline.com: "She is in talks with a number of publishing companies regarding a tell-all book deal."

Loredana has kept a low public profile since being named as a Tiger mistress and lately has been spotted at an upscale Florida country club on the golf course, taking golf lessons.

Click-->Back to main page

Thursday, January 7, 2010

What are Registry errors?

When does it happen?
Whenever you (or anyone who uses your computer) load a program, game or file, your PC's software registry is updated with new set of instructions needed to operate that item. However, when the item is removed, these instructions usually remain on your PC.

The problem pops
So every time you run your computer it tries to execute these instructions but, because the related program can't be found, it causes a registry error. Your PC will start acting weir looking for something non-existent, doing a lot more work than it ought to be and the result is a slower computer. This is something that can drive a person insane.

Solving the problem
One of the best ways to manage this is with a little tool from a Seattle based company: the Advanced Registry Optimizer(ARO5 for short). The program scans, identifies and fixes registry errors- leaving us with a computer that's a lot more like it was when you first bought it.

Free Version
You can now get a free working version of the software which will quickly scan your entire PC and identify all of the registry errors that may be bogging it down. The free version eliminates the first 20 errors and if you have more errors you want to clean- up or want to set the program to run on a regular basis(recommended) you can easily upgrade to the full version for just$ 29.95. After that registry errors will can no longer be an issue.

Just search for "Advanced registry optimizer" and you'll get the link.

Click-->Back to main page

Republicans' Achievement: A Laundry List?

What have the Republicans done for America lately? Or in the past couple decades?

That's what Chris Matthews pressed Republican strategist Todd Harris about during Hardball on Wednesday.

Matthews repeatedly asked for examples, while citing negative examples like Bush-era spending bills, Katrina, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Harris tried to keep the focus on the 2010 elections and expressed hope that Democrats would keep going after Bush so the GOP could stay on message about being a balance against the current Democratic leadership.

Matthews suggested one answer, which Harris latched onto. "The Bush administration kept the country safe," said the guest.

"Except the one big day," the host shot back.

"YouTube is watching," he told Harris. "You're the Republican consultant. One of the best in the country. Tell me what the Republican party has done for this country in the last ten to 20 years."

Harris stayed silent.

"Thank you," Matthews said to his recurring GOP guest as he closed the segment. "We'll have you back with the answer."

Click-->Back to main page

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Paul Krugman: Fannie, Freddie, and Full Faith

Fannie and Freddie... [are] in the same business as the Fed these days.... [W]hat the Fed is doing when it engages in “quantitative easing” [is] expanding its balance sheet by buying unconventional assets... a broader provision of credit to the private sector by governmental or quasi-governmental agencies.

Why do this?

Part of what depressed the economy during the financial crisis was a widening spread between government debt and private borrowing costs--not just in things like the TED spread, but also in mortgage rates. This spread was narrowed thanks to a combination of Fed actions and the expansion of Fannie-Freddie lending. And the administration very much wants to keep this kind of intervention going.

You can argue that some other policy — inflation targeting by the Fed, expanded fiscal stimulus, whatever — would be better. But none of these things seem politically possible.

Keeping Fannie and Freddie fully engaged in the mortgage-support business is one of the few tools available to prop up a still very weak economy. And so they’re doing it.

Click-->Back to main page

Saturday, January 2, 2010

01/02/2010 Palindrome

01/02/2010 - which reads the same forward as it does backward.

Jan. 2, 2010, is the second such date out of 36 that occurs this millennium. The first was 10/02/2001. The next date comes next year: 11/02/2011.

For those of you who are superstitious, this palindrome is a great omen that things will go well in the United States of America. Not every country uses our system of writing dates.

Happy new year!

Click-->Back to main page

Friday, January 1, 2010

10 Technologies that Will Rock 2010

by Erick Schonfeld on January 1, 2010
Now that the aughts are behind us, we can start the new decade with a bang. So many new technologies are ready to make a big impact this year. Some of them will be brand new, but many have been gestating and are now ready to hatch. If there is any theme here it is the mobile Web. As I think through the top ten technologies that will rock 2010, more than half of them are mobile. But those technologies are tied to advances in the overall Web as well.

Below is my list of the ten technologies that will leave the biggest marks on 2010:

1. The Tablet: It’s the most anticipated product of the year. The mythical tablet computer (which everyone seems to be working on). There are beautiful Android tablets, concept tablets, and, of course, the one tablet which could define the category, the Apple Tablet. Or iSlate or whatever it’s called. If Steve Jobs is not working on a tablet, he’d better come up with one because anything else will be a huge disappointment.Why do we need yet another computer in between a laptop and an iPhone? We won’t really know until we have it. But the answer lies in the fact that increasingly the Web is all you need. As all of our apps and data and social lives move to the Web, the Tablet is the incarnation of the Web in device form, stripped down to its essentials. It will also be a superior e-reader for digital books, newspapers, and magazines, and a portable Web TV.
2. Geo: The combination of GPS chips in mobile phones, social networks, and increasingly innovative mobile apps means that geolocation is increasingly becoming a necessary feature for any killer app. I’m not just talking about social broadcasting apps like Foursquare and Gowalla. The advent of Geo APIs from Twitter , SimpleGeo, and hopefully Facebook will change the game by adding rich layers of geo-related data to all sorts of apps. Twitter just recently launched its own Geo API for Twitter apps and acquired Mixer Labs, which created the GeoAPI.
3. Realtime Search: After licensing realtime data streams from Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and others, Google and Bing are quickly ramping up their realtime search. But realtime search is still treated as a silo, and is not regularly surfaced in the main search results page. In 2010, I expect that to change as the search engines learn for what types of searches it makes sense to show Tweets and other realtime updates. In the meantime, a gaggle of realtime search startups such as Collecta, OneRiot, and Topsy will continue to push the ball forward on the realtime search experience. Realtime search will also become a form of navigation, especially on Twitter and Facebook. The key will be to combine realtime search with realtime filters so that people are delivered not only the most recent information but the most relevant and authoritative as well.
4. Chrome OS: In November, Google gave the world a sneak peek at its Chrome operating system, which is expected to be released later this year. The Chrome OS is Google’s most direct attack on Windows with an OS built from the ground up to run Web apps fast and furious. Already a Google is rumored to be working on a Chrome Netbook which will show the world what is possible with it a “Web OS.” It sounds like it would be perfect for Tablet computers also (see above). Chrome is a risky bet for Google, but it is also potentially disruptive.
5. HTML5: The Web is built on HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) and the next version which has been taking form for a while is HTML5. Already browsers such as Firefox and Google’s Chrome (the browser, not the OS) are HTML5-friendly. Once HTML5 becomes more widespread across the Web, it will reduce the need for Flash or Silverlight plug-ins to view videos, animations, or other rich applications. They will all just be Web-native. HTML5 also supports offline data storage, drag-and-drop, and other features which can make Web apps act more like desktop apps. A lot of Websites will be putting HTML5 under the hood in 2010.
6. Mobile Video: With video cameras integrated into the latest iPhone 3GS and other Web phones, live video streaming apps are becoming more commonplace—both streaming from phones and to them. As mobile data networks beef up their 3G bandwidth and even start to tiptoe into true broadband with 4G (which Verizon is heading towards with its next-gen LTE network), mobile video usage will take off.
7. Augmented Reality: One of the coolest ways to use the camera lens on a mobile phone is with the increasing array of augmented reality apps. They add a layer of data to reality by placing everything from photos to Tweets to business listings directly on top of the live live image captured by the camera. Tonchidot’s Sekai Camera, Layar, GraffitiGeo and even Yelp are examples of augmented reality apps.
8. Mobile Transactions: As mobile phones become full-fledged computers, they can be used for mobile commerce also. One area poised to take off in 2010 are mobile payments and transactions. Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s latest startup Square turns the iPhone into a credit card reader. Verifone has its competing product, as does Mophie. The idea is that any mobile phone can become a point of sale, and those mobile transactions can tie into back-end accounting, CRM, and other enterprise systems.
9. Android: Last year saw the launch of nearly two dozen Android-powered phones, including the Verizon Droid. In a few days, Google’s Nexus One will launch as the first Android phone which can be unlocked from any given carrier (it is launching with T-Mobile). Android is Google’s answer to the iPhone, and as it reaches critical mass across multiple carriers and handsets it is becoming increasingly attractive to developers. There are already more than 10,000 apps on Android, next year there will be even more. And other devices running on the mobile OS are launching as well.
10. Social CRM: We’ve seen the rise of Twitter and Facebook as social communication tools. This year, those modes of realtime communication will find their way deeper into the enterprise. Salesforce.com is set to launch Chatter, it’s realtime stream of enterprise data which interfaces with Twitter and Facebook and turn them into business tools. Startups like Yammer and Bantam Live are also making business more social.

Rosie O'Donnell and Tracy Kachtick-Anders



Rosie O'Donnell and new girlfriend Tracy Kachtick-Anders (a Texas-based artist), went public. The couple is really a dozen, for between the two of them they bring 10 children into the new family.

Like O'Donnell, Kachtick-Anders is an advocate of parenting and adoption issues. She started a nonprofit organization that recruits families to adopt and foster children.

O'Donnell, now 47, has a documentary for late January, to air in HBO, and which deals with alternatives to the traditional ideas of family.


Click-->Back to main page

The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated

Who can scoop Wikipedia?

No one if your finger is way ahead of the trigger. In fact, they had already shot from the hip. Not only did they announce that Rush Limbaugh was in the hospital but that he had died!

Rush Hudson Limbaugh III (pronounced /ˈlɪmbɔː/;born January 12, 1951, died December 30, 2009) is an American radio host and conservative political commentator. He is the host of The Rush Limbaugh Show, the highest-rated talk-radio program in the United States. It airs throughout the U.S. on Premiere Radio Networks.

The above was posted shortly after midnight.

Limbaugh remains hospitalized Thurday, and the people at Wikipedia have removed the obituary note.