February 2011

If you came across the phrase “hikikomori shut-in” in a short story, would you understand what it meant or would it jar you out of the reading zone and maybe necessitate you looking it up? It’s a bit of verbiage, I know (all hikikomori are shut-ins), but I like the idea that the term hikikomori could enter English more thoroughly than it has, but as it hasn’t entered it fully yet adding the “shut-in” verbiage seems like a reasonable compromise for a near-future story. I could just use “shut-in” but that has a broader meaning anyway and doesn’t necessarily include the cutting off of physical contact with others, just an inability to leave one’s home due to physical mobility of psychological issues. Please comment on LJ or a-cubed.info as to whether you would find it distracting in a short story.

I’ve just finished Chris Wooding’s “Retribution Falls” and “The Black Lung Captain” and felt like a little light reviewing. Warning, some mild spoilers ahead. (more…)

In Japanese shibaraku (しばらく) means “a short while”. $WIFE just spotted and re-tweeted a Japanese message defining (a-la Uxbridge English Dictionary) the word mubaraku (むばらく — the Japanese pronunciation of Mubarak’s name). It is defined as “about thirty years”.

Here’s a message I sent to my MP Rob Wilson today, via writetothem. I encourage everyone else whose MP voted in December to raise tuition fees, to send a similar message to their MP.


On The Register recently there was an interesting article about ebooks and how the book publishing industry seem to be following the music and movie industry down the same path of woe by trying to screw their customers in the move to digital distribution. Leaving aside the actual proportion of costs which the physical printing, distribution and returns of overstock entail, the idea that the digital edition costs MORE than the print edition really is utterly stupid. Modern publishing uses internal digital formats for the files which are then passed to the printer for physical printing. Getting this into the digital distribution medium is  trivial one time programming exercise. While I would be willing to accept that the digital price difference should only be small, the fact that new ebooks are selling at higher prices than the hardcover is just stupid.

Anyway, that’s all covered in the article. In the comments the author discusses the issue of the public lending library with some of the commenters. That’s what prompted this post, actually, which is thinking how it might be possible to run a public lending library with ebooks. (more…)