On Sexual Harassment at Conventions — Elise Matthesen speaks out

Fri 28 Jun 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal. | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Thank you, Elise.

Posted on Mary Robinette Kowal‘s site and cross-posted at the blogs of Jim HinesSeanan McGuireBrandon Sanderson John Scalzi, and Chuck Wendig.


(Don’t) take your vitamins

Thu 13 Jun 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | 1 Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Read this, “Vitamins: stop taking the pills,” the other day in The Guardian and haven’t been able to get it off my mind. There are years of training, ads, articles, infographics, friends and family voices all saying “Take your vitamins!” and then there is the science:

“In October 2011, researchers from the University of Minnesota found that women who took supplemental multivitamins died at rates higher than those who didn’t. Two days later, researchers from the Cleveland Clinic found that men who took vitamin E had an increased risk of prostate cancer.”

Just two studies.

“At least 15 studies have shown that vitamin C doesn’t treat the common cold.”

But how dangerous can it be to just pop a pill? All my life I’ve heard that this is solid, preventative medicine, the one thing I can easily do (er, besides being aware of what I’m eating and doing some exercise) that will keep me healthy and enable me to enjoy a long life?

“In 1996, investigators from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre in Seattle studied 18,000 people who, because they had been exposed to asbestos, were at increased risk of lung cancer. Again, subjects received vitamin A, beta-carotene, both or neither. Investigators ended the study abruptly when they realised that those who took vitamins and supplements were dying from cancer and heart disease at rates 28% and 17% higher, respectively, than those who didn’t.”

“In 2007, researchers from the National Cancer Institute examined 11,000 men who did or did not take multivitamins. Those who took multivitamins were twice as likely to die from advanced prostate cancer.”

Read the article: “Vitamins: stop taking the pills.” Might be time to chuck the supplements.

• This is an edited extract from Killing Us Softly: The Sense And Nonsense Of Alternative Medicine, by Dr Paul Offit, published on 20 June by Fourth Estate at £13.99. To order a copy for £11.19, including free UK mainland p&p, go to guardian.co.uk/bookshop.

In the USA it is being published by Harper under the title Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine

Neko Case, “Man”

Tue 11 Jun 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin


On Geoff Ryman

Mon 3 Jun 2013 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Here’s another post I meant to put up at some earlier point. Like, you know, when this fabby book was coming out. But, hey, it’s a fab book so this can go up any time:

Written for Readercon in 2011:

Publishing Geoff Ryman’s books—and reprinting his backlist—has been a fantastic experience, in most senses of the word. But first I should mention: Geoff Ryman is a busy guy which makes his email signature line actually worth reading: there’s always a new project or collaboration or a project he thinks is worth pushing. 

And pushing is what he’s good at. In his writing, he’s pushed across every boundary he’s ever come across from his very first stories right up to the present day, and, with luck, he’ll continue to do so for many more years. There are many of his stories where the reaction I’ve had has been, “No, please don’t go there! Don’t . . . oops.” Which is generally followed by “Wow.” There were readers who could not stand the thought of “Pol Pot’s Beautiful Daughter,” but once a writer has an idea like that how could he resist writing the story? Forty-nine percent of the readership of “Omnisexual” probably winced along with me when something burst. And let’s not talk about “Birth Days.” Or, rather, let’s. It’s so uncomfortable, but so optimistic; so light to begin with, so huge by the end.

The way he pushes out beyond the comfort zone with his omnivorous gaze for the uncomfortable and telling detail makes for fascinating reading. Two of his recent stories, “The Film-makers of Mars” (first published on Tor.com) and “K is for Kosovo (or, Massimo’s Career)” (first published in Paradise Tales) capture something of the breadth of his writing. The former is a slow burn instant science fiction classic that by the impossible and inevitable end has the audience in the bleacher seats standing up and cheering for more. The latter is an intense, hard-hitting realistic story of a series of post-war interviews with a Kosovar family that could have been background for a piece right out of the New York Times. The story is not at all fantasy or science fiction, but it is pure Ryman: an uncomfortable story aired out with respect for all concerned, a very human weariness at the things we do to one another, and just a touch of humor.

We’re lucky to have someone who isn’t afraid to write such stories who also happens to be a great storyteller and I’m looking forward to reading many more of Geoff’s stories and novels with their unique mix of nitty-gritty human moments and mind-blowing ideas.