Monday Miscellany: Masterpost, Metaphors, MOVING

Housekeeping Note: I move to the Bay Area for the summer, beginning June 6th. I have a MASSIVE AND SCARY list of things to do before then, and posts will be slightly shorter. If you live there, lovely! I will be deeply sleep deprived for at least several days, but will be around through the middle of August, at which point I will be moving to Boston. 

1. A LOT of people seem to be messaging therapists as a result of this series of posts, so I’m relinking to the Guide to Getting a Therapist Masterpost. Yes, I’m linking to my own stuff in my link round up. I can do what I want!

2. I want to think about this more, but it has been making me think already, so I throw it open to you for thinking Thoughts about.

3. With full credit to Erica for suggesting I might enjoy them, this series of books ate one weekend and threatens another. Start with Steerswoman.

A fantasy with an underlying theme that sets rationality and science against the unknown world of magic and superstition. The heroine is a steerswoman, one of a group of mapmakers and fact collectors who is intrigued when she discovers some blue stones embedded in trees.

4. Statistical handwavery to claim you’ve created a test for suicide risk. Nopenopenope.

5. Publication bias.

6. “When one is in the penalty box, tears are permitted.

7. I recant my snottiness (undeserved, nose-in-air snottiness!) about Listening to Prozac, and recommend it. The first chapter or two seemed to have Kramer using fuzzy and odd definitions of ‘drugs’ and ‘personality’ (hence, snottiness) but I enjoyed all of the following sections, and it’s one of the quickest and easiest-to-read summaries of how we ended up with antidepressants I’ve read. I do not have a psychiatry background at all; I think laypeople will find this approachable and easy to read.

8. I know just enough about code and recall just enough of my Arabic lessons to tell you that this Arabic programming language is NEAT. (h/t Leah)

9. A spectacular article on the life of a fact-checker. (h/t Ed Yong)

One of the first stories I ever fact checked was about paleontology in a big city. The text was a little over 1,000 words. The editor handed me a thick envelope full of papers, notes, and newspaper clippings for reference. All this paper and ink had gone into making two pages of a magazine. I learned that fact checkers also act as last-ditch reporters: There were still more questions that the editor needed me to answer — details like “What did the paleontologists dig out of the ground first?” (Answer: snails, and along with it the mind-pop reward of tracking down a good detail.)


Sometimes the metaphor is all wrong, and I’m left to triage. Once I was fact checking a line that went something like this: “If you were to scythe off a human head, the carotid arteries would shoot blood five feet up.” The first source I contacted, a doctor, said, “I don’t know, I haven’t tried that.” The writer emailed me the calculation — blood pressure is 120 millimeters of mercury, equal to the pressure of 62 centimeters of water. I contacted a forensics expert, just to be sure. On paper, the pressure of that artery is enough to shoot blood five feet up. But the body is not a freshman-year physics problem. Sever a neck, and the blood vessels collapse and the nervous system shuts down.

“Immediately?” I asked the expert. He sent me a link to some videos, all with one common search term: “beheading.” Indeed, there was no shooting blood.


  1. movablebooklady says

    Moving twice in one year? And bicoastal, at that. Stress city. Take care of yourself.

    Ah, the Steerswoman series! Fabulous books. She’s just gotten all four of them up as e-books. Unfortunately, she’s coping with breast cancer right now so writing has slowed way down. All her fans are waiting patiently for the next in the series. How nice of your friend to recommend them. Enjoy.

    • Kate Donovan says

      heh, not only that but moving and traveling during my finals and graduation. :P

      But I’m really terribly excited for both locations, so that makes up for much of it.

  2. lpetrich says

    Great. I hope that you like it. I have fond memories of it. Where in the Bay Area will you be staying or working or whatever?

    • Kate Donovan says

      Oakland! :)

      I visited a few weeks back, and spent pieces of vacation there previously–I love it, but want my home!place to have more seasons :P

      • lpetrich says

        I’m afraid that I’ve mostly passed through Oakland, so I can’t say much about that city.

        But I remember Berkeley well, at least the parts near its university. It’s a little north of Oakland. I also went to San Francisco a lot, though mostly to its downtown area.

        I’d lived and worked in Livermore, which is on the east side of the East Bay Hills. I remember biking a lot there.

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