This essay might be of special interest to writers of detective and mystery novels who would like to enrich their stories by providing their readers with a gift of extra details. It might also be of general interest to many other readers, especially those who are CSI and NCIS fans.
The prosecution of Jimmy Blake was going smoothly. He and several of his friends had been accused of conspiring to set a series of fires in government buildings. Unfortunately for Blake, one of his recently acquired accomplices was an undercover agent who had managed to audio tape Blake discussing the plan during a meeting Blake had held in his house in the late afternoon of October 28. A prosecutor presented the tape as evidence during Blake’s trial, and it represented major evidence against him.
The case appeared to be open-and-shut until Blake’s defense attorney challenged the court’s acceptance of the tape as legitimate evidence. He claimed the tape could have been altered by simply patching separate recordings together. He stated that, although a naked eye can see that an audio tape has been cut and spliced, such a discovery could be prevented by simply recording the spliced tape onto an unspliced one. He also called Blake’s wife to the witness stand, and she testified that he had been out of town with her all afternoon on October 28.
The attorney prosecuting the case explained a bit of physics to members of the jury. As many persons are aware, in most areas of the United States, electric energy arrives at their houses and businesses as what is generally referred to as an alternating current (AC) having a frequency of 60 hertz (Hz). Some persons might recall a time when a hertz was referred to as a cycle per second. A graph of a 60 Hz frequency would show a wave having 60 pairs of peaks and valleys per second, each pair representing an alternation in the direction of the flow of electric energy. Direct current (DC), as its name implies, refers to electric energy flowing in the same direction. Blake’s house was supplied with AC.
The frequency of supplied electric energy is quite constant, but it varies slightly over time by an order of a few thousandths of a hertz. The variations are in response to continuous variations in demand by consumers for electric energy. Variations in demand are, of course, random and thus unpredictable; so the frequency variations are likewise random and unpredictable. If the demand for electric energy exceeds the supply, the frequency will decrease. If the demand is less than the supply, the frequency will increase.
Electrically charged particles in motion create electromagnetic fields. Electromagnetic fields caused by oscillations of AC emanate from many sources. Examples range from high-voltage electric transmission lines to household lamp cords. The fields induce electric currents in such items as audio circuitry in recording devices, introducing what is referred to as “hum.” Consequently, audio recorded anywhere near a source or carrier of an alternating current, will likely have a background hum. The frequency of the hum will vary as described in the foregoing paragraph.
The United States has five electric energy grids, each of which distributes electric energy to users within a specific area. The unique patterns of frequency changes of the hum in each area are continuously recorded, as are times and dates, to create a data bank. The frequency-change patterns of a hum recorded by an audio recorder such as the one that recorded Blake’s plan in his home can be compared to patterns of those recorded in an associated data bank. If they match, the date and time of the recording can be accurately established. Such an analysis is referred to as an electric network frequency (ENF) analysis.
The hum on the tape entered as evidence in the Blake case was so compared. The tape was found to have not been edited and to have recorded Blake’s plan in the late afternoon of October 28. Jimmy Blake now resides in a different home.
Advances in technology might limit some applications of electric network frequency analysis, but it is presently being used effectively in a growing number of countries.
Interestingly, and as most quantum-theory buffs know, electric charge does not flow as a continuous stream. It is quantized, that is, it exists only in integer multiples of an elementary charge (e). Exceptions are quarks, which are elementary particles that are components of matter. Quarks have charges of either one-third or two-thirds that of the elementary charge.
One might wonder how quarks can have fractional charges. The reason is that the discovery of quarks and their charges occurred after the elementary electric charge had been established. The assigned names of their charges simply reflect their relationships to the previously defined, elementary electric charge.
The 2013 World Horror Convention is now history. As I prepared for the trip to New Orleans, I was faced with the age-old question: how many of my books would I take with me?
The answer I arrived at, after a little reflection, was: none. I know that a lot of writers make a significant percentage of their income by selling copies of their books at signings and conventions, but that’s never been my experience. Nor do I have an internet storefront where people can purchase copies directly from me.
There are a number of reasons for this. At well organized and well run conventions, you must provide a tax ID and collect the appropriate sales tax on each book that you sell. This means that you also have to subsequently file a sales tax return, which is a separate entity from income tax. Getting a tax ID isn’t as arduous as it used to be (the one time I acquired a single-use ID, I had to drive 30 miles and wait nearly an hour in a place that reminded me of the DMV), but I can do without the extra paperwork.
Since the HWA, the organizers of WHC 2013, is a non-profit entity, they could only allow sales in a room or booth paid for by them if the sellers made a charitable donation to the HWA hardship fund. I’m not against that policy, but it meant that sellers had to keep track of their sales (on the honor system) and then make the donation after the show wrapped up.
Then there’s the matter of lugging books around on planes. Worrying about damaging them in transit. Worrying about taking too many and having to schlep them back home. Carting them around at the convention itself.
Though this wasn’t a done deal until late in the process, the convention found a bookseller who stocked copies of books by attending authors, who handled all the gory details, like sales tax, etc. I pre-signed some of their stock and attendees who wanted my John Hancock were able to pick up a copy before the mass signing or at any other time during the show. There’s no direct money in it for me (though the sales would contribute royalties to my account with the publisher), but autograph seekers were able to get what they wanted.
I will let people send me books to be signed, so long as they include an addressed return mailer with postage affixed. I don’t keep an inventory of books in the house. Packing up books, labeling the packages and delivering them to the post office would chew into my already limited writing time. If I can just sign a book and slide it into an envelope that I drop into a mailbox on my way to the day job, that mitigates the time required.
Most of my books are available readily at major bookstores and online, so I don’t feel the need to duplicate their business models. Sure, I could probably generate a little more revenue, but I’m more concerned about generating more output than income. I know that’s not true of everyone, so your mileage may vary.
Besides, if I’m going to carry books back from a convention like WHC, I’d prefer that they not be my own.
Smokin’ good feedback in my emailbox this month! Answering questions has become like chopping the head off a Hydra. Soon as one is answered, new ones pop up – which is grand and sort of a slo-mo conversation. I like your wide-open Qs. Writing and a writer’s life are as unconstrained as…as creativity itself. Here are a few of your latest:
Q [Danbury, CT]: You admitted to having cried when you wrote something. How about when you read something?
A: Very unmanly here, but OK. The ultimate tribute is a reader’s tears – book sobs (that’s sobs, not S.O.B.s) – and I love writing that is moving. I think THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME got to me the first time I read it in high school. Also parts of GREEN MANSIONS. A terrific dog story did it too – BOB, SON OF BATTLE – though it’s a difficult read because of the Scottish dialect. Others coming back now. Have to stop on account of I’m gonna tear up…
Q [Iowa Falls, IA]: I have trouble writing endings. I’m pretty good with ingenious twists, but the words just seem to want to go on and on. Any suggestions?
A: Judging from the rest of your email, it doesn’t seem to be a pure wordsmythery problem. I think you have the stylistic skills to pull off endings. I’m guessing that you’re struggling to conclude the characters rather than the storyline. This is a common problem for writers, and the feeling that the words have to go on and on is a dead giveaway that you’re sensing this. Drawing things & events together is one thing, disengaging from the nuances of character relationships and inner conflicts is another. Assuming that you have solid character threads throughout, try aiming at a resolution of the “people stories” apart from the nuts and bolts of a plot. Think of that thread as a separate book and make your character conflicts strong enough to warrant solving them at the end rather than just aimlessly trailing off. Great endings resolve and disengage from facts and deeds, but they also resonate thoughts and feelings.
Q [Sydney, AU]: What was the biggest mistake of your life?
A: Ah, now there’s a competition! Rueful laughter aside, biggest mistake…umm, that doesn’t have to mean the biggest mistake I made. Just a big mistake. Wrong turn. Well, I loved the question, but now that I think of the answer, I’m just going to say it isn’t something that happened, it’s something that didn’t happen. An omission that was just terribly, terribly wrong. I still shake my head and swallow dryly when I think how pointlessly wrong it was. What a miss in life! And you know, if you look at the most quotable people in history, they all seem to have said the same thing in one way or another. I.e. that the big regret isn’t something they did but something they didn’t do. And, yeah, it was a love that happened for all the right reasons that never locked in for all the wrong ones.
Q: [Pomona, CA] Do you have a favorite song?
A: Willie Nelson yodeling a rap version of “Here we go loop d-loop…” I dunno, what’s yours? Doesn’t it reflect whatever you’re trying to say at the moment? Mine changes, though I guess there are a couple that stay in the Top 10. Many years ago a woman told me I was “Desperado,” if that counts. Had never heard the song until she said that, and I’ve been haunted with it ever since. So that one is always high on my hit parade.
Q: [Athens, OH] What was your first sale?
A: If you mean short story/novel under my own name in a major publication, that would be “The Sixth Face” in Analog magazine.
Q [Mumbai, Maharashtra, India]: You are always smiling in the pictures I’ve seen. Are you ever unhappy?
A: Excluding a perpetual state of bliss, a dose a day of unconflicted living keeps me happy. I define that as having my dreams and deeds on the same page. If my actions don’t catch up with my true feelings, thoughts, needs and desires somewhere in every 24 hours, I am unhappy. I can live the world’s façades if I get that minimum of being in sync with who I am, but living smothered 24/7 won’t fly for me. Shrink-wrapped people and pretend situations just kill me. On the other hand, someone who expands me can share my entire universe – BE my entire universe – so it’s not, strictly speaking, that I need isolation. For a dark period of my life I tried bending my thoughts/words to my actions. The roles in my life were locked in – I thought – so my freedom to think and express had to be subjugated to them in order to be in sync. It wasn’t until I realized I had it backwards that I learned how to be happy again. Instead of trying to force my thoughts to agree with the roles I was trapped in, I had to do things that were consistent with what I truly felt and thought. Thoughts come first because they are the source of who you are, arising in private, unguarded. The honest you. You have to align your actions to fit your thoughts. If you try to warp your thoughts to fit your actions, you’re just brainwashing yourself. I had done that – become a frightened zombie, in effect. It was a hypocritical, meaningless waste, and it took its toll. You can’t fake your own thoughts! Gradually my sanctuaries have expanded over the years – funny how that works out: you become who you really are! Surprises me that most of us lose touch with the wild primal passions of newness and excitement that defined our lives when we believed in things and just naturally dreamed, totally in touch with our core truths. Some of that – if not all of it – has to survive if you are going to be happy. “To thine own self be true…”
Q [Austin, TX]: How much revising do you do? I know that some writers are spontaneous and I just wonder if you go with a first draft.
A: Lots of revision! Even columns and Sullygrams (you should see what I throw away!). I don’t think it has anything to do with spontaneity. You can still be an impromptu person and benefit from revising and editing. Never revising is a pretty sad limitation. Being good enough isn’t the same as fulfilling your potential, and for that you have to reach beyond a single moment’s version of yourself. Be a committee – REVISE!
Q [Savannah, TN and others]: I love your insightful definitions of things, but please no long winded answers. Yes or no are you in a relationship?
A: Yes or no, yes or no, yes or no…hmmm. Got me in a box. Well, I’ll give you a “yes or no,” but you have to let me aim it: I have no obligations to anyone.
Thanks for another sterling batch of questions, my good friends. Wishing you a grand entry into summer. We had to mow a little snow here in Minnesota, but now the thatch is catching up and I’m about to invent the world’s first all-gravel golf course where my lawn used to be.
Thomas “Sully” Sullivan
You can see all my books in any format here on my webpage or follow me on Facebook:
I think that anyone who has the book bug has been to this one single strange place at some time or another during their book collecting days: the aesthetics of it all.
There is something innate, a sense of beauty, a sense of symmetry, an aversion to helter-skelter chaos on one’s bookshelves, that demands that if you own a book which belongs in a defined series then you owe it to – I don’t know –yourself, your bookshelves, the look of your library, a higher force – to have your series books be good soldiers. You have to be able to glance at a shelf and see a matching set of spines and know that you are looking at “a series”.
Trust me, I know. I’ve done it myself. I have an early paperback edition set of the first three books in Mary Stewart’s Merlin saga, and they have been well read, thank you very much – their spines are raked by the fine cracks of having been held open by avid hands. These are the editions that I know and love. I could probably find you any passage you wanted in the context of the books because I know where in these editions those passages fall. These have held a proud place on my bookshelf for many years.
But then the fourth book in that series came out, the Mordred one, and uh, alaaaaarm, it was a different edition, different cover, different everything. It looked… odd and mismatched next to my old loved trilogy. And not just because it was pristine and new when it was added to the shelf beside the well-worn books which had graced it for years. It was other stuff. It was the presence of color next to the black spines of the other books. It was a different font and typeface in which the title and the author appeared. It was… an accretion of all of these things.
And so I caved. I now have two sets of the Stewart Merlin books. My old trilogy, as beloved and well known as ever, and a whole newly reissued and now matching four-book set of the original three books plus the fourth novel. Which now looks perfectly at home next to these new books, because it matches them perfectly. But here’s the thing. The three books in the “new” trilogy, there on the shelf – they look wonderful and it all fits together again but will I ever read THEM? Those books, as opposed to the old editions that I own and know so well? Or are they just window dressing for the Book Collector within me…?
This popped out into the open because of a similar situation brewing with my own work. On my blog I had announced the reissue (with different covers) of the first three books of my Worldweavers trilogy to be followed in turn by a Brand! New! Story! set in that world – a finale, if you like.
A reader by the name of Kat left a comment giving voice to exactly this conundrum – that she is looking forward to reading the new novel when it comes out but that she’ll be leery of putting it on the shelf with the rest of what she calls “these wonderful books” (thank you, Kat!) because “it won’t match the original covers”.
Let me now circle back and do a devil’s advocate argument. I started out by saying that I collect matched-set series and have been known to purchase an entirely new set of books so that things will look right on the shelf. But I don’t ALWAYS do it, and I have books on my shelves that definitely do not match at all – and without which my shelves would be the poorer. There are books I wish to own NO MATTER WHAT – and if the price of owning them is that they look ridiculous next to the rest of their ‘book family’ on the shelf then so be it. Sometimes the price of having what you want is giving up a little of what you think you absolutely need – and when it comes to HAVING a book I want or NOT HAVING it because I can’t find it in a matching edition, well, there is no contest.
Let me use another example from my own shelves – books by a breathtakingly good historical novelist by the name of Sharon Kay Penman. I own three of her books that vaguely “match” – the rest of the novels with her name on their spines are a mismatched hodgepodge of editions (paperback, trade paperback, hardcover) depending on which book I could lay my hands on at any given time and how badly I wanted to read it.
There are, in other words, instances in which CONTENT really truly trumps APPEARANCE – and I think that those of us who truly love books eventually gravitate to that place and away from how things “look” on our shelves. It is not at all the same thing and this is not what I am saying but in one sense I am personally aware of this basic choice in the context of turning away from that concept of “books as decoration” and “books as an aesthetic value” to just “BOOKS, dammit, and I want THAT book and I don’t care what it looks like” – a turning away, if you like, from the ultimate awful hell to which the books-for-looks system can take you, and that is buying books “by the yard”, for the binding, in order to make a statement of décor in your home.
Physical books are, in that particular instance, irrelevant – because there comes a point where you realize that you own the book because of the story which it contains and which you love. And you almost stop seeing the covers of the editions in which you own these stories at all, because they’re filler, they’re irrelevant, they’re just the brackets which are necessary in order for the rest of the book, the important bits, the pages with the words on them, to hold together in a format in which you are able to hold it and read it.
Book covers have morphed amazingly in the ebook age. The criteria are different, because ebooks, seen on the computer screen, have to “work” as tiny thumbnail images. That requires large readable fonts spelling out the name of the work and its author with the background as simple as possible. There is no real room here for the intricate and lovely art of some of the tomes of yore because, frankly, you barely SEE that cover, and often if you have just a plain black and white reader even things like color doesn’t really have an impact never mind some of the really detailed background. If you were looking at a steampunk cover in a “real” book format and an ebook you would probably find that the paper book’s cover may have teeming details on cogs and levers and wheels and what have you and the more you look the more you see while the ebook has a cover “code”, with only a few plain and well chosen images which need to convey the idea of the whole steampunk thing without its clutter and intricacy and drama.
It would not occur to anyone reading ebooks to “match” the covers of any particular series.
There may be some of the sentiment left in the marketing of the ebook – because you are still visually buying it, and a set of covers which actually manages to keep a certain look that alerts you that you are actually seeing a new book in an ongoing series which you might like is a marketing tool which draws the buyer’s eye to an extent of that buyer realizing that oh, I own books #1-3 in this series, here’s #4, click “buy” right now. But after that… it doesn’t matter.
The virtual bookshelf is a far more forgiving place than the packed old-fashioned and warmly familiar shelves in your study.
I don’t know that there’s a bridge between these two things, or not an immediately obvious one, anyway. These are two ways of thinking about the book (and of judging it by its cover, in one sense) that run on parallel tracks and do not really meet.
For the collectors (this is for you, Kat), all I can say is that the reissued Worldweavers books are hopefully going to be graced by a “set” of covers which will now include the new material that will thus be taken under the mantle of the series and declared to be canon (because of the visual signals that it is so) – but also that, at least initially, these reissues are going to be in ebook format and so the problem of the new novel “mismatching” the books already someone’s shelves won’t actually arise, in real terms.
Down the track a ways the new Worldweavers books might well turn up in a new set of paperbacks – and at that point the collector will have to make a decision, as I did with the Merlin books, whether to invest in a whole new set of books because they need to match one another properly… or to decide to discard the “it’s gotta match” view and (hopefully) purchase the new book anyway because the story inside… the story that picks up the tale of Thea Winthrop and concludes it in sparkling style, and it’s this story, the finale, the end of the story that Thea had to tell, that will matter more than the font on the book’s spine and the fact that it is different from the books that came before.
This I leave to the readers, and their decisions will likely be much like mine – arbitrary, and irrational, and perfectly fine for any one given individual no matter what they do. But I very much hope that Thea has achieved enough of a presence, as a character, as a protagonist, to deserve her fans stepping across the great divide if they see her standing on the other side holding out a hand.
All I can promise you is that Thea and I will do our best to make that choice one which no-one who has read and enjoyed the Worldweavers books will ever have a reason to be unhappy with.
Even if the font on the spine of the book is different to the rest of the series.
This essay might be of special interest to writers of detective and mystery novels who would like to enrich their stories by providing their readers with a gift of extra details. It might also be of general interest to many other readers, especially those who are CSI and NCIS fans.
Smithereen is a powerful word. If one reads that something has been broken, it usually conjures an image of something that can be fixed and made useful again. If one reads that something has been smashed to smithereens, however, it conjures an image of tiny fragments of what is now utterly useless. There are persons, though, who often find smithereens extremely useful. These special persons are forensic examiners. The following describes a case in point.
Within the first 38 minutes after takeoff from Heathrow Airport in London, a Boeing 747 had reached an altitude of some 31,000 feet. Clearance to begin an oceanic segment of a flight to NY had been issued. A blip representing the plane on a tracking radar screen confirmed that it was right where it should have been. All seemed to be proceeding smoothly when the single blip suddenly disintegrated into a number of blips, the movements of all indicating a new, downward course. A bomb had exploded inside a baggage compartment of the plane. It was four days before Christmas in 1988.
What must have been an unimaginable, horrific scene within the plane was shared with observers on the ground, who watched as body parts as well as aircraft parts and flaming fuel showered downwardly. Wreckage was spread over an area of 50 square miles, and debris, over an area of 845 square miles. A wing of the plane struck the ground with such force that it plowed a crater 155 feet long, displacing some 1500 tons of dirt as it did so. All 259 persons aboard the plane were killed, as were 11 persons on the ground, and 21 houses were completely demolished. Thus ended the flight of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
The explosion initiated an intensive investigation whose research extended into more than 40 countries. Some 180,000 pieces of evidence were examined, and 15,000 persons were interviewed. It was determined that the bomb was made of Semtex, a malleable, general-purpose, plastic explosive used by civilians and military personnel. It was favored by terrorists because it was extremely difficult to detect (which is no longer the case). The explosive was secreted within a Toshiba radio-cassette player packed in a brown, Samsonite suitcase.
Fortunately, in a forest 80 miles from Lockerbie, a man walking his dog discovered a T-shirt having pieces of a timer suspected to have been used in the Lockerbie bomb. Examination of the T-shirt and timer pieces ultimately provided the names of two men suspected of being responsible for the explosion on the Pan Am flight. It took eleven years before the two suspects could be brought to trial in the Netherlands. In 1999, one of the two suspects was sentenced to life in prison, and the other was acquitted.
The lives of the 259 persons on the plane and the 11 on the ground need not have been lost had a device capable of detecting the explosive that brought the Pan Am plane down been used to screen items and persons being loaded aboard it. Due to terrorist activities, interest in developing such a device has been keen. A promising device has been developed that reportedly equals or betters the performance of highly trained sniffer dogs, which have long deserved a commanding reputation in the various fields of sniffing. Fittingly, the device is referred to as Fido.
It can be handheld or mounted on an apparatus such as a tracked military robot that can take it where humans dare not go. Fido can detect both explosive vapors and particulates. It’s sensitivity is such that it detects explosive materials in parts per quadrillion (ppq). Fido can detect vapors from buried land mines and has even, without the aid of preconcentration, detected a plume of explosives in sea water. Fido has seen duty in explosive ordnance disposal (OED) applications in such foreign hotspots as Iraq and Afghanistan, and it has been used in the U.S. for explosive detection operations. It’s usefulness has been recognized by having won the U.S. Army Greatest Invention Award multiple times.
A major key to the Fido operation includes amplifying fluorescent polymers (AFP). Electrostatic and oxidation-reduction properties of AFP, contribute to a high level of selectivity, minimizing false alarms.
The inside surface of of a glass capillary tube is coated with AFP to form therewith a sensing element. The presence of explosive vapors in surrounding air can be detected by inserting the sensing element into the detector and exposing it to a light source having a specific wavelength . The light stimulates the AFP, causing it to fluoresce. While the AFP is fluorescing, surrounding air is pulled through the sensing element. Traces of explosive vapor will react with the AFP, causing the fluorescence to dim, or “quench.” The structure of a chromophore chain in the AFP amplifies the quenching effect, which provides ultra-low detection limits. A quench is detected and maximized by optical and electronic components, which also maximize the sensitivity of the detector and notifies a user of the detector of the quench. Within a few seconds, the sampling response can be reversed to prepare the detector for additional samplings.
In addition to buried mines, bombs and such, a person’s skin, their clothing, tools, residences and means of transportation can also be sources of explosive vapors. Explosive detectors can be used to scan the sources to expose evidence that a suspect had been in contact with and possibly assembled or transported an explosive device.
As a parting thought, consider that, buried around the world, there are estimated to be millions of buried landmines and millions of acres of land containing live ordnance left from past battles. It makes one want to search catalogs for a pair of explosive-detecting shoes.
AFP was invented by MIT Professor Timothy M. Swager.
In a short-scale country like the United States, a quadrillion is equal to 1,000,000,000,000,000 (one thousand million million or ten to the fifteenth power).
A chromophore is a portion of a molecule that provides color.
A glass capillary tube is a tube having an inner diameter of a proper size to draw in a liquid as a result of capillary action.
Fluorescence is the emission of light by a substance in response to having absorbed electromagnetic radiation such as visible light.
A number of persons have taken advantage of the fear generated by widespread bombings to market fake explosive detectors. One person took advantage of countries having no technology capable of testing his phony device and made millions of dollars. Tens of millions were from Iraq, which equipped hundreds of check points with them. The worst result was the loss of lives caused by trusting the devices to discover explosives. Unbelievably, Iraq was still using the devices several years after they had been found to be fake and its seller had been sentenced to serve 10 years in prison.
After a long hiatus while working on other things, I’ve finally reached a place in my schedule where I can focus on a novel again. I’m not exactly starting from scratch: I have a 3000-word chapter that was thoroughly critiqued by some writer friends a couple of years ago and a fairly solid idea of where to go next. I went on a research trip to an important location a couple of months ago and took along the video camera to film the locale. I know the main character quite well, because I’ve written about him before, though only one short story featuring him has been published, and that in a fairly obscure anthology.
This isn’t my first time at the rodeo. I’ve written four or five novels already, one of which I worked on extensively with my agent over a period of about two years. That was a learning experience, even if the manuscript ultimately didn’t attract any publishers. However, I’m going to approach this book a little differently from my previous efforts. One of the biggest changes is the tool: instead of using the old tried-and-true Word, I’ve decided to shift to Scrivener. I’ve had the program on my computer for a long time, but until now I haven’t taken the time to explore its features. Now, after watching a few tutorials, I’m hooked.
It’s just a tool, little different from a pen and paper in the end, but it has a few attractive features. The one that caught my attention in the first place was the fact that it’s more than a word processor—it’s a workspace. Once you’re inside the program, you don’t have to leave it to pick up your research files or other related documents. You can attach them to the workspace so they’re all in one place. You can open up a pdf or an image or even a video and overlay it with what you’re working on. You don’t have to rummage around on your hard drive to find the document. Even if you’re really organized, that can take some doing. Here’s a screenshot of my workspace, which is in its infancy:
The “Binder” on the left is your project. Everything under “Manuscript” is the work in progress. But there are also sections for character sketches and place descriptions, plus the Research folder, which in my project currently contains the video from my trip and an image.
Note the main area of the window, which resembles a cork board. In Scrivener, you write in scenes which are collected together into chapters and, ultimately, the entire manuscript. This cork board display makes it easy to move scenes around until you find the optimal order. My cards above are currently blank except for a caption, but once I get to work they will contain short descriptions of what happens. You can also have Scrivener automatically create a synopsis of the scene, though I haven’t tested that feature yet to see how effective it is.
When you get down to the writing, you click on your scene and type. You don’t worry about formatting—only content. Formatting is the last thing you do, when you assemble the manuscript for output in one of a myriad of supported document types. Just type. Write. Put down words.
You can split the screen (horizontally or vertically) and open the document twice so that you can refer to text earlier or later in the scene without constantly scrolling back and forth, which can be quite helpful. Or you can open a second document in the split screen for reference. Got a web page that you keep referring back to? Simply drag the URL into the reference area and the whole page will be imported into your workspace. Or export it as a pdf and add the pdf version to the reference area, which ever works best for you.
Do you use real people—actors or actresses, for example—as models for some of your characters? I’ve been known to do that in the past, creating folders of images I culled online. In Scrivener you can create a pinboard to which you add these images randomly, along with whatever notes you want to insert. Have you ever seen one of those boards on TV created by a character who is obsessing over something? Messy affairs with strings connecting items from different parts of the board, everything haphazard to a casual viewer, but which has an internal logic to the creator? You can do that in Scrivener.
Stuck coming up with a character name? Scrivener has a built-in name generator with a ton of options, including specifying whether you want a common or rare name or a name in a different language.
Another nice feature is the fact that you can go into full-screen mode, which really keeps your head in the game. Once you have everything you need set up, all your research and images and related documents, you can blank out the rest of your screen and tune out such distractions as email, Facebook and Twitter.
For me, this latter aspect is one of the most intriguing. My writing time is limited, so I want to make the most of it. The software is intuitive and you can get going quickly without doing much more than watching a 5-minute intro video. Then it’s game on. Avoiding distractions, not having to search for research documents, being able to overlay images when I want to describe something…everything about Scrivener is designed to make it easier to get the job done without venturing into the Internet during your writing session, where all manner of traps and lures await to distract you from the manuscript.
Check back next month. If all goes well, I should have an update on my experience with this new (to me) program, which is available for both Mac and Windows users.
Who says the cost of education is out of sight? All you have to do is write a Q&A column and readers will send you a Doctorate’s worth of stories and thought-provoking new Q’s. A writer couldn’t ask for more education than that. Here are some of your most interesting posers, including straight writer Qs, generalities about this here scribe, and at least one intriguing corker I found challenging to answer.
Q [Brooklyn, NY]: Which do you like writing best, humor or horror?
A: Humor. But that’s just who I am. If you break the labels down, the gap narrows. One of those labels is dark (horror/negative); one is light (humor/positive). The dark one causes tension; the light one relieves tension. But when done effectively, they each use contrast, and what greater contrast can there be than playing off each other? The contrast isn’t specifically humor to horror or vice versa, rather it’s the lightness and darkness, the positive to the negative. Want to create intense horror? Create lightness first, something positive — innocence, vulnerability. Let Frankenstein’s monster discover the little girl by the lake; tie the fair maiden named Pauline to the railroad track. Want to create humor? Create the negative first – sit-com angst or insoluble dilemmas or misperceptions. Set the table with everything going wrong until it all comes together in the end. In each case, the incongruous and the unexpected carries the rise and fall of the story. The difference is the emotion that is evoked by the incongruous. A man slipping on a banana peel is funny. A spider with intelligent eyes is scary.
Q [Arras, France]: Have you ever cried while writing a scene?
A: Hmmm. What a strange question. But somehow too honest to ignore (you must’ve done this, right?). Yes, I have reached that point while writing. Not that I’ve written anything so profoundly moving, but sometimes you just get too close to the bone, you know? And probably every writer tries to purge painful things now and then, or maybe falls in love with their characters, or – it must be admitted – just gets carried away with illusions about what they’ve created. I don’t think it can be a bad thing to write with that much passion, as long as you don’t drop it in an envelope or hit SEND before you get a good night’s sleep and re-read in a cold frame of mind. Footnote: it is always affirming to me when someone tells me that something I wrote moved them to tears.
Q [Portland, OR]: Are you a vegan? What’s your favorite veggie?
A: Hahahahahahahah! I’ll eat any vegetable if it’s prepared right, which is to say vaporized. That way you can just exhale the stuff in the same breath that lets it in. I mean, you are what you eat (“it ain’t easy being green”). … OK, truth be told, I’ll eat corn, peas, green beans, lettuce, cole slaw – a few others on the side. Not a guy to make a meal out of a cucumber doused in carrot juice and topped with one perfectly shaped fava bean wrapped in a strand of kelp. Vegan? Where did that come from? I thought that was an Indian word for bad hunter.
Q [Prescott, AZ]: I just finished reading THE WATER WOLF. Did you visit Egypt, Ireland and Peru before you wrote the book?
A: Peru, long before I wrote TWW. Don’t remember if I ever saw the Inca pyramid Sacsayhuaman that’s in the book. Was a mere Niño, and we didn’t live there long. Egypt and Ireland? Well, they were both only a tour by mouse over the Internet. Hope to have THE WATER WOLF out in e-book in the near future, if promotion like we got last summer for DUST OF EDEN shapes up.
Q [Tuckahoe, VA]: I love your romantic writing, especially when you write about relationships. Are you so certain others don’t share your views? I believe many do.
A: Mercy! My brand of romantic is not normal, mature or realistic. I don’t recommend it for anyone. I suppose I could look at it oh-so intellectually and say that if my romanticism is not normal, mature or realistic, it is also true that divorce is normal, and idealistic expectations are immature, and lasting passion is not realistic. Not a world I want to pitch my tent in. And I’ve already found out the most important thing I need to know – that a soulmate is possible for me – so you might say that an intensely romantic take on life is a proven point to me. For sure, such a woman justifies everything I ever wanted to believe in and keep faith with. Should I accept that as enough? Maybe my soul will shrug its shoulders and tell me, “OK, you know what could have been and there’s nothing more you can do about it, so live like everyone else now.” But I still like to feel my heart open up with a blood rush that unites everything I know, every recognition, every trigger inside the total me, and every unblemished, uncompromised dream anchored in my instincts. Whatever strange mix of idealism and realism I accumulated from, it is right for me…a strategy, an imprint of things that I can love without limit. A romantic view in all things is fidelity to one’s dreams.
Q [Castle Rock, CO and others]: Well did something happen to you on around March 17 this year? You haven’t written or posted anything that I saw.
A: Ah, you’re referring to the Miracle Curse that has followed me since before the Earth was flat and Joan of Arc was my poly sci teacher. On or about March 17th almost every year for decades now something life-changing has happened to me. Sometimes it’s bad, sometimes it’s good. Sometimes it’s ambiguous or TBD. Something did happen this year, but I’m not sure how it will shape my life or future events. I’ll know when I see which Karma pulls into the station.
Q [Shaker Heights, OH]: I know you write across many categories, but what is your favorite genre to read?
A: It’s called “good writing,” and it’s the only genre I recognize, really. If it’s great writing, I’ll tap my foot to the music, emote with the verbs, and savor the adjectives until they melt in my memory. In addition to wordsmythery, good writing always tells a compelling and insightful people story within the thing-and-event content. I’ll read anything in fiction that is strong enough on those two counts.
Q [Windsor, Ottawa, Canada]: I read what you wrote about rejection and still loving someone, but I think I disagree. How can you still love someone if their actions are a betrayal of your love?
A: It’s not that I don’t understand that degree of crushing pain. Quite the opposite. I was writing about dealing with it in that January column to which you refer. When someone hurts you in a relationship, you can either try to hurt them back (which is pointless because it amounts to a band aid on your pride), or you can find a way to work around your pain. If you simply accept all the suffering, you eventually go numb, because you have lowered the standard of what you will endure – lowered your self-worth. You cannot hate yourself and survive. That’s the root problem. But pure love isn’t complicated. It can live in a vacuum or on a one-way street. It’s the expectations and testing that follow love that get complicated. All I was saying was that if you can alter those expectations, you can survive – your ability to love outside yourself can survive. This can be difficult because of a perceived lessening, but it doesn’t have to be reductive. If shared love is self-proving, love without reciprocation is self-healing. And it doesn’t have to be without reciprocation. Sometimes people get it right in the beginning, but then reach beyond that, then have to return to where they started. Dreams should not be demands. They flow like oxygen and cannot be shared by two people who are suffocating each other. Think sanctuaries…think communication sustaining moments lived outside the box.
Thomas “Sully” Sullivan
You can see all my books in any format here on my webpage. I also try to post news on Facebook:
This month – a little quiz. My favorite column in The Writer each month is HOW I WRITE. In fact, I flip straight to the back of the magazine while carrying it in from the mailbox because HOW I WRITE is always the last thing to be found between the pages. Like the name implies, a featured author (different each issue) answers a series of simple questions and takes you step by step through their own personal method for creating new work, which usually includes spilling the beans about their daily habits and writing schedule. This passing glimpse into another writer’s world is comforting to me, regardless of how much my own process may vary. After all my years of reading it, this is what I’ve learned from HOW I WRITE: Celebrity or newbie, moneyed or broke, seasoned or still sorting it all out, we all put our pants on one leg at a time, and it’s often pajama pants.
In the end, it’s a very intimate and diverse thing, where we write, how we write, and what we drink and/or eat while we write. I’d love to hear how you get the creative juices flowing so today I’ve created my own little HOW I WRITE.
Here are my questions, as well as my own answers. Thanks for sharing your process with me! I greatly appreciate it.
WHY DO YOU WRITE?
ME: Have to! It’s like hunger. I would shrivel to nothing and blow away if I did not write.
WHERE DO YOU WRITE?
ME: At my computer in my wonderful half-sloppy/half-organized home office. The half-organized part is my husband’s part.
WHERE IS THE CRAZIEST PLACE YOU’VE EVER WRITTEN?
ME: On a rotted sofa in Death Valley surrounded by dusty running burros and rusty bedsprings and a smoky potbelly stove in the sagging shell of an old miner’s cabin, rumored to be the burial ground of Manson’s unfound victim.
DO YOU WRITE EVERYDAY?
ME: Monday – Friday, unless I’m on vacation, and sometimes even then.
WHAT IS A TYPICAL WRITING DAY LIKE FOR YOU?
ME: I put my daughter on the bus at 6:30, pour a bowl of cereal, and head to the office. I deal with email and social media first, then, if I can tear myself away from that, I dig in. I devote a great deal of my time to marketing these days and spend less time writing, but that’s all part of the job, right? I work until 3, when school lets out, having polished off several cups of coffee and lunch and maybe a snack or two over the course of my workday. It’s difficult for me to accomplish much after my family gets home. I love my writing time but I love family time even more so it’s usually by choice that I clock out for the day at 3.
DO YOU USE OUTLINES WHEN YOU WRITE?
ME: Not a proper outline, no. I do a lot of my pre-writing inside my head. I’m a note-jotter. My first draft is kind of an in-depth outline. I often write out of order just to get the important bits down on paper while they’re clear in my mind. I do a lot of editing and switching things around once I get the whole story hammered out. If I write an outline, it’s usually because I need one to sell the piece.
WHICH COMES FIRST FOR YOU WHEN RESEARCH IS NEEDED FOR YOUR WORK: DO YOU WRITE AND GO BACK AND FILL-IN THE NEEDED FACTS AFTERWARD, OR DO YOU DO ALL OF YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE YOU START?
ME: I do a combination of both but most of the research gets done after the fact or as I’m going along. I LOVE research. Often times I find that I don’t know what I’m going to need until I get the story sketched out.
HOW DO YOU REVISE YOUR WORK?
ME: Often and repeatedly. It’s probably my worst writing habit. I’ve gotten better at leaving things alone but it’s a constant temptation to go back and switch words around. It’s hard for me to ever feel like a piece of work is completely done but there comes a point when you really do have to type the words THE END and mean it.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PART OF WRITING?
ME: I love creating characters and giving them a voice and building a home for them.
WHAT DO YOU WEAR WHEN YOU WRITE?
ME: You know ☺
Carole Lanham is the author of The Whisper Jar, The Reading Lessons, and Cleopatra’s Needle. Visit her on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/carole.lanham?ref=tn_tnmn
In the process of writing fiction as we know it, things have always been in flux – what comes first, the plot, the idea behind the plot, the problem, the setting, the character?? Which single one of those informs all the rest to the point of being given first billing, of
being considered the most important, the most essential, tool?
One of the basic definitions of a story (and there are many) is A Character With A Problem. And essentially this is where I pause and nod my head slowly – because for
me, that is precisely correct, exactly the order in which things tend to come to me. I am not saying that this is the only way, the One True Way, and I daresay there are thousands out there who have put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) who would disagree with me
emphatically? but for me, it starts with CHARACTER.
Readers and aspirant writers have asked me how I ‘create’ my own characters – and my less-than-satisfactory answer has always been, I don’t. I meet them fully formed, complete with the problems they carry. They tend to step out of the woodwork and essentially grab
my hand, shake it firmly, tell me their name and rank (as it were) and then march me smartly to the first writing platform available and demand I take dictation.
This is partly why I never have real problems with a character’s individual voice, or at the very least, the only times I do so occur when I try to make the character do or say
something that that particular character does not want to do or say, or in other words try to make the character act against itself.
So long as I listen, and obey the instructions I am given, my characters tend to assume a certain three-dimensional reality, at least to me, and I very much hope to my readers also by the time they get to meet them. Wearing my reader or viewer hat, I have had occasion to meet characters like these, characters who were so vivid and so alive that it remains impossible for me to think that they have never existed, that they were always just a product of some other writer’s imagination.
As it happens, I have a couple of perfect characters in hand – NOT mine – to begin to explain this phenomenon. I’ve been re-watching Babylon 5 in its entirety (I own the whole series on DVD, one of the very few that have merited such a distinction) and no matter what ELSE the show was about, in the broader sense of the story arc, it crystallises as the story of two exceptional characters and their relationship.
Londo Mollari, and G’Kar.
Both of them began almost two-dimensional. Cartoons, almost. Mollari as the effete buffoon courtier, G’kar as the blinkered and violent thug whose first instinct was to whack something. There was an early scene between the two of them, in the cartoon days, bickering while they are waiting for an elevator, and getting so carried away at trading insults that the elevator arrives and leaves before they quite realize it and then they look at each other and blurt, in comically identical annoyance, “LOOK what you made me do!”
But they didn’t stay caricatures.
Their choices began to take them in unexpected directions.
Londo, who is essentially all heart, someone passionate about things and letting all those passions hang out, ANSWERS the question that the Shadows put to him, the inspired “What do you want” which goes on to define so many of the B5 characters.
Londo’s passionate response is that he wants to see his people, the proud Centauri, up “where they belong”, as the Lords of the Galaxy. And he is given that, in spades. At least on the surface. But he gradually comes to know the cost of his answer, and of the thing that he was given when he asked for it. I will never forget the appalled dawning understanding of it written on his face as he stands at the window of a Centauri warship watching the destruction of the Narn homeworld – something he never wanted, that he himself would
never have condoned, but that he is nonetheless in a very real sense utterly and personally responsible for. He then finds himself defending all of it when his people are brought up to face the consequences of it all. He cannot step up to accept his own guilt because doing so would admit guilt by the Centauri and he will not do that to his race.
We see him developing, in the aftermath, and grappling with the consequences of the choices that he has made – right until the final choice that he makes, at the end, when he willingly surrenders his body and his soul – his self – to the Drakh Keeper parasite in order
to keep his world and its people ‘safe.’ He tells G’kar, in one of his last moments of freedom, that once he had all the choices in the world and no power and now, now that he is about to become Emperor, he has all the power he could ever want and no choices at all.
Mollari is the martyr. In a powerful moment when the parasite takes control of
him we see none of it except his hand, lax by his side, suddenly clenching into a fist – and we know that the Mollari we (or anyone in his own universe) have known is now gone and in his place is a puppet who will dance to a tune others command in order to preserve what is left of that thing he so passionately believes in, the Centauri place in the universe and their pride, and in this instance their very continued existence. He does what he must, and in this moment he earns our most profound pity as well as our deepest respect. It’s a long way from the original caricature.
G’Kar’s journey is an even greater one. If Mollari is all heart, then G’Kar is the soul, the spirit. His passions are no less deep, and certainly no less volatile, than Mollari’s – but they are the crucible in which his ultimate nobility is forged, in fire and in pain.
It seems, with G’Kar, that the more he loses… the more he gains in return, the more he grows, the more he becomes a towering figure who is a true leader, and perhaps even a true saint. He is occasionally portrayed as brash, sometimes even buffoonish, but underneath it all is a kind of iron nobility and the closer we come to the core of him
the more we learn of what he truly is.
In a moment at which I always weep, just before Londo is about to go off and surrender himself to his fate, he goes to say farewell to his old enemy and his old friend, G’Kar. And as he is about to leave, G’Kar calls him by name and as Londo pauses by the door G’Kar says to him that too much has passed between their races -
“My people,” he says, ” can never forgive your people. But I…can forgive you.”
And Mollari’s face changes, just for a moment, as the two old foes clasp hands and exchange a last long look – because here, maybe, lies a glimmer of that salvation that Mollari has sought for so long and has almost – almost – given up on finding at this point.
When I heard that the actor who had portrayed G’Kar in the series had died, I wept – I felt as though I had lost a brother. But it was not the actor whom I was mourning, may those he loved and left behind forgive me for that – it was G’Kar. The indomitable. The irascible.
The funny, the tragic, the wounded, the triumphant, the glorious, the inspired. The character who never really existed, who could not exist, and yet who was as real to me as though I had grown up in his physical shadow. There was a video made in his memory, and I watch it and weep, even today -
Such can be the impact of character on someone who is immersed in that character’s story.
I remember my own characters who came to me and let me tell their stories.
The lost heiress of Miranei who turned into a goddess known as the Changer of Days, my Anghara Kir Hama, heroine of my “Changer of days” fantasies, who was such a pivotal character for me that I have borne some form of her name as my online identity for as long as I’ve had a presence on the Internet.
The girls who strolled onto the stage as the eight main protagonists of “Secrets of Jin Shei” – the poet, the healer, the gypsy, the warrior, the alchemist, the sage, the rebel leader, and the Empress who dreamed of immortality and nearly destroyed them all. Or the one who followed them, the many-times-granddaguther of my little poet from the first book, and the other characters who shared her story in “Embers of Heaven”.
My girl-mage, Thea, from the Worldweavers trilogy, and the people who helped shape her world.
The five people who make their choices on the eve of the projected end of the world in “Midnight at Spanish Gardens”.
I didn’t create any of those people. They had stories they wanted told. They came, they introduced themselves to me, and they began to talk. It was all I could do to keep writing fast enough to keep up, sometimes.
For me, for this one single writer, that is what it comes down to. It’s a question of character, in a HUGE and important way, and it’s the character who drives the story arc forward. The arc that Londo Mollari took to its extreme – the arc of going from the beginning, where you have all the choices in the world, to the end, where all the choices you have made have herded you into a place where there is only one way forward, only one thing left to do, and there are no choices left other than that one. For better or for worse.
A story is simply and solely an account of the winnowing of those choices – and the writer can only hope that the character who is making them will be strong enough to pull in the reader right along, strong enough to trigger strong emotions, because those emotions will serve to make that reader remember that character – remember some of that character’s lines of dialogue, even, verbatim sometimes – long after they have closed the book of that character’s story.
Because they live on, in our memories. All the characters who once walked down the roads in that strange country in our mind’s eye, and let us follow them on their journeys. It is the privilege of the writer to create characters like that, the ones who live long after a
particular snatch of their story which the reader might be privileged to directly know is done and dusted. It is the privilege of the reader to find such characters, and to treasure them, to keep them alive, to keep them immortal, to shield them from the fading and the oblivion which comes with the passing of the years.
I hope that some of my own characters will live on, in YOU, the readers. It is only then that my work here will be done.
NOTE: Bob Jones does not have access to SU and so he sent his column to me (Sully) to post on my page. I’ll try to manage comments from here, but the following is wholly Bob’s excellent work:
FORENSICS 164: UNWELCOME VISITORS
by Robert C. Jones
April 19, 2013
This essay might be of special interest to writers of detective and mystery novels who would like to enrich their stories by providing their readers with a gift of extra details. It might also be of general interest to many other readers, especially those who are CSI and NCIS fans.
Nogales is a city located on the southern border of Arizona, just north of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. It is the main entry port for Mexican produce and is one of the busiest land ports in the United States. In 2011, 2,641,068 cars, 287,091 trucks and an uncounted number of pedestrians passed through it. Through the combined sea port in Guaymas, Sonoro, Mexico and ports of entry in Nogales, Arizona, some $26 billion of international trade makes its way into Arizona every year. Nogales is thus a logical place to test a lie-detecting device to help identify persons trying to enter or to smuggle illegal items into the United States.
Following the discovery that physiological responses often accompany stress caused by lying, many devices and procedures have been developed in attempts to detect deceptive answers to questions. Polygraphs have been around since their advent in 1921. They measure and record such physiological indications as pulse and respiration rates, blood pressure and skin conductivity, the latter responding to perspiration. Polygraphs operate under the theory that deceptive answers to a series of questions will result in indicationss that can be differentiated from indications resulting from nondeceptive answers. In spite of their questionable reliability, many government agencies and police departments reportedly use polygraphs to interrogate criminal suspects and to screen prospective employees.
In view of their unreliability, however, results of their tests are usually not allowed as evidence by many courts. Also, procedures used to pass polygraph tests while lying have been discovered and put to use–sometimes by persons with access to sensitive information related to national security. As a case in point, In 1986 and 1991, Aldrich Hazen Ames, a former CIA counter-intelligence officer and analyst, passed two polygraph examinations while spying for Russia and the Soviet Union. Ames is believed to have compromised the second-largest number of CIA assets. Robert Hanssen compromised the most, and he also reportedly passed periodic polygraph exams.. Ames claimed that all it took to pass an examination was confidence and a friendly relationship with the examiner.
In view of the poor reliability record of lie-detecting devices based on a few measurements of physiological responses, it was thought that an increase in the number of responses measured would provide an accompanying increase in reliability. Devices measuring many of the following have been constructed:
Blinking rate (high-speed camera)
Blood pressure (laser focused on a carotid artery)
Brain activity (thermal camera)
Breathing rates (camera)
Delayed verbal responses (microphone)
Eyebrow elevations (high-speed camera)
Eye movements (high-speed infrared (IR) camera)
Facial expressions (high-speed camera)
Facial temperature variations (thermal camera)
Head movements (high-resolution video camera)
Overall body movements (3-D camera and weight scale)
Pulse rate (laser laser focused on a carotid artery)
Pupil dilations (high-speed infrared camera)
Respiration rate (camera)
Retinal responses (infrared camera)
Rubbing (high-resolution video camera)
Scratching (high-resolution video camera)
Stiffness associated with trying to prevent physical changes (camera)
Shoulder movements (high-resolution video camera)
Voice changes in pitch and inflection (microphone)
Weight shifting (high-speed camera and weight scale)
Responses are analyzed to identify persons that should be ushered to an interview with a human.
A lie-detecting device capable of sensing and recording most of the listed measurements was installed for a test at the port of entry in Nogales, Arizona. It was named AVATAR. The device was not related to a worldly form of a descended, Hindu deity, but a lifelike image of a person did appear on a computer screen. The word “AVATAR” is an acronym for Automated Video Agent for Truth Assessment in Real-time.
A border protection official posed as a person trying to pass into Arizona from Mexico. He stood before the lie-detector device, which was about the size of an automatic teller machine (ATM). He pressed an image of a large red button to start an interrogation process. The image (avatar) of a person appeared on the screen and “asked” him a number of questions requiring yes or no answers. The questions and their answers included such as the following:
Are you a citizen of the United States of America? (Answer YES)
Have you ever been arrested? (Answer NO)
Have you been employed in the past five years? (Answer YES)
Is your address the same as the one you entered on your entry sheet? (Answer YES)
His answer to the question about his address garnered special interest. He had a home address at one location and had another residence near his office in Washington, D.C. The duality caused him to pause for just a bit. AVATAR caught that and recommended that it be a subject of discussion with a human interrogator.
As lie-detection technology continues to improve, more persons will probably find themselves face-to-face with devices such as an AVATAR.
Variations of facial temperature during questioning are detected in areas around eyes and cheeks, which are highly sensitive to temperature rise.
Brain activity changes when someone is making up a story on the spot.
During conversations, nervous liars have been found to use more filler words such as “ums” and “ers.”
Infrared radiation comes in three flavors (spectral regions): near-infrared, mid-infrared and far-infrared. The wavelength of near-infrared radiation is just outside the range of visible red light, and those of mid-infrared and far-infrared radiation are just beyond that. Although you can’t see it, you can feel the warming effects of the far-infrared region of solar radiation on the back of your neck on a sunny day. What warms your food and smooths your clothes is far infrared radiation from gas stoves and electric irons. Radiations of other wavelengths also transfer thermal energy, but your skin is more sensitive to wavelengths of far-infrared radiation.
Having a temperature, you, yourself, radiate at an intensity dependent upon your temperature. Infrared detectors can thus be used to reveal your presence in the dark. Since infrared light passes through smoke, dust and fog, infrared detectors such as IR cameras are being used by searchers to locate trapped persons in burning buildings, hiding criminals and lost persons. Military peronnel are using them to locate both enemy personnel and their vehicles.
Remote-control devices for television sets, indoor saunas and such use near-infrared radiation. Laser pointers concentrate infrared light into a narrow beam, the energy of which represents a potential danger to one’s eyes. Reportedly, Class 1 lasers are relatively harmless. Classes 2 and 3 lasers are used for pointers. A study revealed that Class 3 lasers might cause eye damage if pointed at the same retinal spot for 10 seconds or more. Both Classes 2 and three must carry a warning to avoid pointing them at anyone’s eyes. Class 4 lasers are not used in laser pointers, but have been found useful by medical, military and industrial personnel.
Don’t confuse infrared radiation with ultraviolet radiation. The latter is at the opposite end of the visible light spectrum and is the one that can damage skin cells and cause cancer.
According to a recent study, until recently, chronic infrared exposure, below a level that would burn, was known to cause only one skin problem. The legs of persons sitting too close to fireplaces were subject to a form of dermatosis (a noninflammatory skin disorder) . It has now been discovered that persons sitting for prolonged periods with a hot laptop computer on their legs are also beginning to experience the same, uncommon problem.
If you have seen the 1951 movie, DAVID AND BATHSHEBA, you have seen portions of Nogales. Most of the location scenes of the 1955 film, OKLAHOMA, were shot there. Nogales was also the main location site for the 1995 film, THE FANTASTICS; and portions of the documentary, BORDER WARS, were filmed there.
While OKLAHOMA was being filmed, the governor of Arizona ordered that the filming location be made an honorary part of the state of Oklahoma.
Roger Smith, star of 77 SUNSET STRIP and husband of actress Ann Margret, called Nogales home for a time. Actress and second wife of Marlon Brando, Movita Castaneda, was born in Nogales, as was wig-maker to the stars and secret mistress of Humphrey Bogart, Verita Bouvaire-Thompson.