Barry Eisler

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Interview With A Brain Scientist, And More

Updated Below

Three quick items:


1.  Brain scientist (really!) and novelist Livia Blackburne and I had a fun discussion about the extent to which radically low-priced sales are a useful tool for selling digital books, why some readers freak out about lesbian short stories, and whether buyers of 99-cent novels are more apt to leave bad reviews.

2.  The second edition of Violence: A Writer's Guide is now available.  As I said in the blurb I was proud to offer, the book is an amazing resource and written by a man who really knows his stuff.  The beginning to the intro says it all:

"My name is Rory Miller, but I've been called 'Sarge' in a jail, 'sensei' in a dojo and 'abu Orion' in Baghdad.  Rory is fine. 
"I don't write fiction.  I do write fight scenes.  I have written some of the most realistic fight scenes ever… because they have to stand up in court.  Conflict is the core of drama and much of my adult life has centered around conflict.  The good side is that I know a lot about real violence.  One of the many downsides is that I know enough that most fiction is infuriating to read…"

The book is incredibly informative, eye-opening, and at times hilarious.  For under six bucks, you can learn all about what this guy has paid for in blood and broken bones.  I guarantee you this is a bargain you don't want to miss.




3.  The Guardian has revealed that the NSA has been collecting the phone records of millions of Americans daily (glad to see that the New York Times is following up -- more interesting details here).  I posted a link on Twitter and Facebook along with a comment that "This must be okay because it's Obama."  Obviously I meant the comment as a dark joke.  Incredibly, many people are finding ways to at least partly agree with it.  Within the average mind, the battle between principle and partisanship seems barely even a struggle.

UPDATE:  A Facebook reader assures me regarding the NSA program, "If you are doing the right thing and minding your own business you have nothing to hide."  I know I'm being naive, but I can't stop being amazed when Americans blithely spout statements like this one, which would be perfectly at home in the North Korean Politburo or in 1984.  As I said in response:


"It's not a question of having something or nothing to hide.  If you were at a dinner party and someone took out a dictaphone and said he just wanted to record the conversation so he could listen to it later, what sort of impact do you think this would have on people's behavior?  Now, what sort of impact do you think there will be on the creativity, spontaneity, amount of dissent, and other aspects of the free flow of information that are critical to the healthy functioning of a free society if people have reason to believe the government is monitoring everything?

"If the framers had wanted the government to have a free rein surveilling the populace because 'if you are doing the right thing and minding your own business you have nothing to hide,' we wouldn't have or need a Fourth Amendment.  But we do -- unless you would prefer to abolish it."
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5 Comments:

Blogger Amber Lough said...

That book on writing violence is something I wish I had while writing this latest book. I will have to get it for revisions. Thank you for alerting us!

Also, Livia is one smart scientist. :-)

Thursday, June 06, 2013 1:13:00 PM  
Blogger David Gaughran said...

The Guardian have posted an intriguing video interviewer with the whistleblower - who asked Glenn Greenwald (the reporter who broke the story) to reveal his indentity "because I know I have done nothing wrong." It's fascinating and revealing, and there's one chilling part where he's asked what he thinks is going to happen to him now, and he replies, "nothing good."

You can see it here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/09/edward-snowden-nsa-whistleblower-surveillance

Also, I don't know if you have been following the Bradley Manning trial, but there's an excellent piece by Matt Taibi of Rolling Stone here: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/as-bradley-manning-trial-begins-press-predictably-misses-the-point-20130605

Off to check out the chat with Livia, she always has smart things to say...

Sunday, June 09, 2013 1:55:00 PM  
Blogger A.Rosaria said...

It's disheartening when something so obviously wrong (mass spying on people who done nothing wrong)still gets so many people defending it.

About the book on violence: I want it.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 9:52:00 AM  
Blogger Ma'ruf Hidayat said...

It's disheartening when something so obviously wrong (mass spying on people who done nothing wrong)still gets so many people defending it.

About the book on violence: I want it.
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Saturday, December 07, 2013 9:38:00 AM  
Blogger Nova Aryanto said...

It's terrible if all of our activities can be easily monitored by government, but what may make all already can be easily done. Looks like we only within the limits of privacy of our own home, turn off all electronic devices ... ha ... ha ..... Just a comment from me alone.
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Friday, December 20, 2013 2:01:00 PM  

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