informative linkage

Since it seems like half the people around me have gone on some kind of health kick since the beginning of the year, I thought I should pass along this link I just came across, to a post analyzing studies of weight-loss dieting.

Money shot: “the more you diet, the harder losing weight becomes over the long term, and the harder your body will fight to retain fat.”

Mind you, I have issues with that post. First and foremost is that the writer doesn’t define what s/he means by “weight-loss dieting” — which lack of clarity makes it easy to hit the end of that post and believe that there’s nothing we can ever do to significantly change our body weight over a long period of time, and even if we do succeed all we’ve accomplished is to increase our risk of mortality.

I doubt that.

I’m going to presume that, by “weight-loss dieting,” the writer means restricted-calorie diets, and/or diets focusing on eating very restricted sorts of foods. (Grapefruit diets, etc.) There’s some good stuff further down about the idea that fat people overeat, and skinny people eat “normally;” I’d love to see a proper statistical analysis on a cross-section of the American population, but the attempted weight-gain study (or rather, its failure) was interesting. Short form is, I’m willing to buy the idea that overweight people are not necessarily overweight because of overeating, and therefore that restricting their eating is not and never will be a successful strategy.

I’m also going to presume that the writer doesn’t mean this information to refer to what we might otherwise call “a healthy diet.” Whether or not reducing refined foods and eating more fruits and vegetables will induce substantial weight loss, I’ve got to believe it’s a good idea for health reasons. Otherwise, we might as well fire the entire medical and nutritional professions en masse, and all go out for ice cream.

My final presumption is that the data there does not apply to an exercise-based weight-loss program. Do you suffer increased risk of heart disease if you lost your twenty pounds by walking more and driving less, or going to the gym three times a week? It doesn’t make sense to me that you would, but even if that’s the case, I will bet that the statistics and charts and graphs would be different than the ones for simple dieting. Are you more likely to lose weight and keep it off if you do it via exercise? If not, then there really isn’t anything a person can do to successfully and healthily shift their weight downward. Again, we need different statistics for that. I don’t expect the diet stats to apply there.

Because if weight loss is actually that bad for you, regardless of whether you do it by calorie restriction or healthy eating or exercise, then we’re even more screwed than we knew.

Anyway, there’s been a million discussions in my social circle about dieting and the Bad Idea-ness thereof, so I wanted to link to something that cited actual studies, complete with a bibliography of peer-reviewed articles at the end. Short form is, I stand by what I’ve said all along: eat better food, not less food, and get thee to a gym.

If somebody knows a reason why that’s a bad idea, please share.


I don’t suppose anyone can work some weather magic and summon up a good thunderstorm for me? Sometime late tonight, or anytime tomorrow?




“dismembered be thy name . . . .”

Bunch of landmarks tonight.

The numerical one is 100K. Ladies and gents, we’re into six digits, and the explosions are truly beginning.

One of tonight’s scenes involved Deven being a righteous ass. Another one is of a sort where, to really prepare and get it right, I would have to go get a Ph.D in Renaissance theology. (And probably another one in Renaissance occultism.) Instead, I speed-read Frances Yates, and yes, that’s exactly as bad of an idea as those of you who recognize that name think it is. My brain nearly melted.

The third scene is the one I’ve been looking forward to since I sat in a cafe down the street from the British Museum, with my shoes wet and my hot chocolate getting cold, and wrote a line in my notes that had me giggling for days afterward. Yes, we finally got there, and it amuses me just as much today as it did two months ago.

I have two Tiresias scenes, two flashbacks, about half of Act Five, and an epilogue to go. (Yes, this book needs an epilogue. Also a prologue. Trust me.)

I’m saying “yes” a lot in this post.

It’s a downhill charge from here to the end.

Authorial sadism: For once, it was all the minor spear-carrying characters I was the meanest to, instead of the main ones. I like to mix things up a bit, don’t you know.

LBR quota: Love. No, really. I promise.

. . . okay, I admit, there’s a whole lotta blood just on the other side of the horizon, and the love is going to bring it down.

MNC Book Report: All the Queen’s Men, Neville Williams

This book came to me courtesy of the inestimable Delia Sherman, along with several other works. I am most grateful to her.

It’s interesting to me that this project has, more than anything else I’ve ever done — including college and grad school — liberated me of the notion that I need to read a book cover-to-cover. I mainly read two chapters out of this one, those being the chapters that focused most generally on the relationship between Elizabeth and her courtiers. The rest of the book is broadly both chronological and focused on particular courtiers in particular scenarios; there’s a chapter, for example, on Norfolk’s downfall. Since a lot of that stuff predates the period in which I’m writing, and I’m running out of time for research, I decided to bypass it. Looks good, though.

Not much else to say on this one, I think. But look out for more posts later today, probably, as I knock off reports on a few other books I’ve read lately.

good news, of a minor sort

In the first part of this year, I did a good job of writing new stories and getting fresh material out the door, but I should have foreseen that the novel would kind of destroy any prospect of keeping that up all year long, as I originally intended. Anyway, between the death of that plan, a coincidence of assorted delays at places I’ve sold stories to (meaning nothing’s actually appearing any time soon), and a general lack of sales in the last few months, I’ve had no short story news to report.

So, like a TV program broadcasting random “human interest” stories when news is slow, I’ll mention that “Kingspeaker,” one of this year’s accomplishments, has been passed along to the senior editors at Baen’s Universe. It now stands a still small but non-trivial chance of selling, which is cool.

And I’m not just saying that because they pay well, either. <g> I made an impulse decision to subscribe a month or so ago, said impulse being driven by reading the first part of Elizabeth Bear’s “Cryptic Coloration” and wanting to read the rest. (matociquala, I blame you. It was the vividness of Matthew’s description that hooked me in — that, and the subsequent classroom scene.) Anyway, I’m patchy about subscribing to things, because I have yet to find a magazine I like consistently enough to stick with for more than one subscription. Baen’s hasn’t hurdled that bar by any means; in fact, most of the SF I read for a scene or two and then gave up on. But the nice thing is, they publish a lot of both SF and F every issue, plus articles and the like, and don’t cost much at all relative to what you get; six bucks for an issue, thirty for a year, and every issue is about the length of a Robert Jordan novel, with far more happening in it.

I liked enough out of this current issue that I’d say it’s worth the price of a subscription. We’ll see what I think of future issues. But it would definitely be an awesome market to appear in.

a recipe for madness

I seem to have hit upon a workable method for writing the Tiresias pov scenes.

Talk to people about dreams and madness. Come up with core concepts for two of the four that need to be written (the other two I’m still uncertain about). Let these compost for a while. Late at night, put Tiresias’ music on loop. Make sure there will be no interruptions (this includes closing e-mail, of course). Turn off all the lights; leave about three small candles burning. Reset the computer display so Wordperfect gives you white text on a black background; this minimizes the light from the screen. Turn the screen off and lie on the floor for a while, thinking about Tiresias as if preparing to role-play him. When the scene starts to take shape, get up, write the scene longhand on the backs of random scraps of paper. Write hunching over the paper to see in the candlelight. Don’t worry about mispellings or other mistakes. Let your handwriting go to hell. (Bonus points for using the black-and-silver fountain pen you already and will forever associate with this novel.) Toss the sheets aside the instant they’re done and grab a fresh one; stream of consciousness is important. When you have one completed, turn the monitor back on, type it in. Go back a few steps and start on another one.

I had one done already; did two more tonight, for just shy of nine hundred words of present-tense madman point-of-view. I haven’t yet decided what the other two will be about, but I think — not that I have any distance on them at the moment — that I like the two I’ve done. (And the progenitor of them all, the original Tiresias scene, which I did ages ago.)

Drop that on top of 1556 words of forward progress on Act Five, and it’s a good day’s night’s work.

Authorial sadism: Calling in favors.

LBR quota: I loves me some bloody rhetoric.

research question

This may possibly take the cake for Most Arcane Research Question I’ve Ever Asked Because Of Writing.

Is anybody out there familiar enough with Terrestrial Dynamic Time to tell me what if any conversions I need to make for a timestamp from 1547? As in, was 12:54 TD roughly noonish back then? The Wikipedia article on Terrestrial Time leaves me entirely unclear as to how closely that timestamp matches normal person time.

Edited to add: astroaztec has been kind enough to verify my math for me. It turns out the difference is truly negligible, so I needn’t worry.

Finit Act Four. (And *how*.)

My resolution of this morning has led to rank stupidity, of a probably necessary sort.

I had one scene left in Act Four. In keeping with the need for a higher pace, my goal for the night was not one thousand words, but that scene. I wasn’t sure how much that would be.

2169, in case you were wondering.

But wait! There’s more! You see, at that point I was over 89K. And that nice, tasty 90K landmark looked so close. I could write part of the first scene of Act Five, and feel really virtuous.

. . . except that the first scene ended up dropping me a hundred and fifty words shy of 90K, because it was so short.

So, in a fit of sheer bull-headedness, I started the next scene, praying I would get that 150 before I got into the meat of it, since I haven’t yet decided how [spoiler] is going to happen. I should have had two more days to make that decision, going at a normal pace, but tonight was not normal; tonight was 3041 words of headlong charging.

The novel is now 90005 words in length.

Act Four ran long, by a couple thousand words; that isn’t the end of the world, but when I revise I’ll see if I can’t tighten it. Act Five . . . you know how sometimes people say, “I know how long my legs are; they’re long enough to reach the ground”? Act Five will be long enough to reach the end. It may be short. I don’t kow. I’m just praying it doesn’t head too firmly in the other direction, because that would muck up this whole August 8th plan.

Unless I wrote 3K every day. But that would be a bad idea.

In fact, why am I still at my keyboard? Good night.

Authorial sadism: They figured out the plot.

LBR quota: Love and blood — my favorites.