Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Miscellaneous Stuff

This is a round-up of various miscellany:

1) Four separate people have now emailed me articles about the new gene discovered by researchers in San Francisco. This gene, which is relatively rare, is a mutation that has enabled a woman, 69, and her daughter, 44, to get along on about four hours' sleep per night, year after year, with no ill side-effects at all. If I do only four hours sleep for even one night, I am grouchy and non-productive the next day. This is still a long way from engineering the Sleepless of my novel BEGGARS IN SPAIN, but it's a start. An interesting question: Since this gene would seem to confer a distinct evolutionary advantage, why isn't it more widespread? One possible answer: It may be a recent mutation. In that case, since it appears to be dominant, natural selection may do its work and propagate it in centuries to come.

2) Heathrow now has a writer in residence. Airports do not usually sponsor this. But according to the NEW YORK TIMES (thank you, Kate), "Travelers at London's Heathrow Airport this week will encounter the writer Alain de Botton seated at a desk, tapping away at his laptop computer. His typing appears in real time on a screen behind him, and a placard explains that Mr. de Botton is serving a one-week appointment as Heathrow's 'writer in residence.'" Now -- how do I get this job?

3) Mary Robinette Kowal has a terrific article on the SFWA site about how authors should conduct their public readings (thank you, Jack). If you contemplate doing such a thing, check it out:

4) I recently read of a wonderful anecdote concerning Bernard Baruch. He was asked, "To what do you attribute your success?" He replied, "To making the correct decisions." "How do you know what the correct decisions are?" "From experience." "How do you get the experience?" "By making the wrong decisions." This seems to me to apply completely to learning to write. Even if you can't do it at Heathrow.

5) Blogging may, or may not, have a hiatus of ten days or so. I am going away for a family reunion, to my brother's summer place on the Atlantic coast. This tends to involve a lot of boats and I get sea-sick easily, which is why I may not last the full ten days. I emailed my brother to ask if the beach house has Internet Access. He, even more technologically impaired than I, said he didn't know. So there may be blogging from there or there may not. Either way, have a good rest of the summer, everybody.


Andrew said...

Not being able to sleep through the night was probably a distinct disadvantage for most of history, in most places, even up to today. It's best to stay indoors at night away from roaming predators, religious inquisitors seeking witches, modern gangs and Mexican police.

Now in the last 50 years, in the nicer urban areas of first world countries, there have arisen some distinct hedonistic and productivity advantages to be gained by an extra few hours of wakefulness each day. Certainly I wish I had another 3 hours in my day (night). But we haven't had enough time to spread that gene around yet.

And I really do hope that summer won't be over in ten days. Enjoy your vacation.

bluesman miike Lindner said...

I wonder why perpetual wakefullness might be an evolutionary advantage, Nancy. Doesn't the body shore itself up during sleep? And aren't dreams necessary to us? Wonderful ideas occur in Dreamland, creatives from chemists to musicians can testify. (I believe after about 72 hours of wakefulness, we start to dream while "awake".)

Is there =any= mammal that doesn't sleep?

anghara said...

...unh. If you find out how to get the Heathrow job, can I have it after you...?

Nancy Kress said...

Here is a good general round-up article on theories of why we sleep, sent to me by Kevin Wozniak (thanks, Kevin!)
What is interesting is that ALL these possibilities were already been tossed around in 1992, when I reserached BEGGARS IN SPAIN.