Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cropped screenshot of Hedy Lamarr from the fil...Image via Wikipedia

Not Just Another Pretty Face

"Today is Ada Lovelace Day, an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology. Women's contributions often go unacknowledged, their innovations seldom mentioned, their faces rarely recognized. We want you to tell the world about these unsung heroines. Whatever she does, whether she is a sysadmin or a tech entrepreneur, a programmer or a designer, developing software or hardware, a tech journalist or a tech consultant, we want to celebrate her achievements."

I took the pledge to blog today about women in technology, so I'm going to write about Hedy Lamarr. Most of the world knows of Lamarr as a movie actress of the 20th Century, but few are aware of her accomplishments as a scientist, accomplishments that were largely unacknowledged during her lifetime. Lamarr is credited for her work with George Anteill on "frequency hopping", which, according to Wikipedia, "serves as a basis for modern spread-spectrum communication technology, such as COFDM used in WiFi network connections and CDMA used in some cordless and wireless telephones."

Lamarr, who'd fled the Nazis to live in the US, wanted to join the Inventors Council during WWII, but was told she could better use her celebrity status as a sultry movie siren to sell War Bonds. She died in 2000, but her fame as an inventor is now spreading, thanks to the technology she helped create.

From the Ada Lovelace Facebook Page:

"Who was Ada?
Ada Lovelace was one of the world's first computer programmers, and one of the first people to see computers as more than just a machine for doing sums. She wrote programmes for Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine, a general-purpose computing machine, despite the fact that it was never built. She also wrote the very first description of a computer and of software."
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Friday, March 13, 2009

Cover of "Do Gentlemen Really Prefer Blon...Cover via Amazon

I'm reading an entertaining and intriguing book: Do Gentlemen Really Prefer Blondes? Bodies, Behavior and Brains--The Science Behind Sex. Love & Attraction by Jena Pincott. Pincott talks about body language, symmetry, voice pitch, odor, height and all the various factors that come into play when scoping out potential partners. Some of it I knew, but some of it is new and fascinating, like how gay men may emit a different scent than straight men (and no, it's not about the products they're using).

As a romance writer I'm constantly trying to use body language, scent, sound and small things like whether or not the heroine is touching her hair to help set the scene. It's all part of showing without telling. But it's nice to have Pincott telling me why so much of this matters when people are making their choices to mate or not to mate.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

News reports today that Barnes and Noble purchased Fictionwise. We do indeed live in interesting times.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Elements of Style, 2000 editionImage via Wikipedia

One of my favorite shirts from the recent presidential campaign said “Change in Which We Can Believe”. You can find it at CafePress under writers, editors and grammarians for Obama.

Of course, the slogan heard nationally was “Change We Can Believe In”. Catchy, but not grammatically correct. I mention this because today, March 4, is National Grammar Day, so proclaimed by the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar.

I do not like to call myself a grammar snob, because I make mistakes. I sometimes (but seldom) misuse “who” and “whom”. I find my Southern heritage creeping in with “towards” rather than “toward”. But I am educated enough that grammatical errors in others’ work tend to leap out at me, and this can be a problem. I was reading a historical last week by a well-respected author, and the sentence “He wanted to lie her down...” hit me like the sight of the proverbial turd in a punch bowl, taking me so far out of the moment I was tempted to not finish reading the book. I had already forgiven the author her misuse of “who” and “whom” in an earlier scene, but this was going too far!

There’s the possibility that it was not the author’s error, but the editor’s error. If so, that is even sadder. I depend on my editors to keep me in line, to catch those errors that might slip past me, like whether I should have used the word “may” instead of “might”. The editors I know, the ones who have managed to cling to their jobs in an age when editing appears to be considered a luxury for academic presses, but not necessary for publishers of mass market fiction, I honor those editors. They are fighting the good fight!

So as you go through your day today, red pen in hand, Elements of Style by your side, be ready to fight the good fight yourself! Grammar counts! Spelling counts! Punctuation counts!

We owe it to our readers. Someday they’ll thank us for it. Maybe. Regardless (NEVER IRREGARDLESS!!!), it’s the right thing to do.

Oh, and if you spot any grammatical errors in this post, please let me know. I would appreciate it.

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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

I'm still here. I've just been busy writing, got a 24 hour bug, recovered, got on with life. Tomorrow I'm blogging at the HEA Cafe, so I'll post something here.