Dear Mr. Gaiman. I'm an aspiring writer looking to be the best author I can be, and because of that, I try to research the things I write about so I know everything there is to know about it. However, the current project I'm writing is proving to be challenging. In fact, I need to talk to a coroner, to research the decaying of a human body and any means of which to slow it down. Do you have a suggestion as to how I can contact someone willing to talk to me, despite me sounding totally insane?
All research enquiries sound insane. Sometimes, as when you are squodging through a sewage tunnel researching Neverwhere, they seem insane to you too.
When I needed to write an autopsy in AMERICAN GODS I called my family doctor, and he turned out to have been the county prosector, and we spent a couple of hours on the phone with him answering all my questions, even the stupid ones. (“Why do you have to put the organs back in the same order you took them out?” “Because otherwise they won’t fit.” “Oh.”)
There are a LOT of books about death, dying and what happens to bodies post mortem, that you could use too. Check your library. Talk to your librarians. In my experience, they like the weird requests.*
*do not stare at them in an unsettling way while you ask, though. Try to smile, unless you have an unsettling smile.
Biologists call a small male fish who darts in to fertilize eggs a “sneaker,”, a medium male who resembles a female a “female mimic,”, and a large aggressive territorial male a “parental,” to place a positive spin of his egg guarding. Both the sneaker and the female mimic are “sexual parasites” of the parental male’s “investment” in nest construction and territorial defense. The sneaker and the female mimic are said to express a gene for “cuckoldry,” as though the parental male were married to a female in his territory and victimized by her unfaithfulness. In fact, a territorial male and the female who is temporarily in his territory are not pair-bonded. Scientists sneak gender stereotypes into the primary literature and corrupt its objectivity. Are these descriptions only harmless words? No. The words affect the view of nature that emerges from biology.
Joan Roughgarden (2004) Evolution’s Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and People, University of California Press, Berkley
Saw this this AM at the Atlanta airport. In case you need somewhere to lie down sleeplessly and wonder how you’ve wasted your life.
You guys know about vampires? … You know, vampires have no reflections in a mirror? There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all.
BEFORE YOU GET THERE, YOU GOTTA GET THERE — A train engine transports a Soyuz rocket from the assembly building to the launch pad at the Baikonur complex in Kazakhstan, October 20, 2000. This rocket carried a three-man crew on the first expedition of many to the International Space Station. (NASA)
A capital gains tax rate (making money off money) that is lower than the earned income rate (making money off work) is just not fair. Bestowing that rate on hedge-fund managers through a specially designed loophole is just not fair. Allowing the rich to take mortgage deductions for second and third homes, or for homes worth over $1 million, is just not fair. Allowing business owners like me to take myriad deductions that our employees cannot take is just not fair. But, most of all, allowing the wealthy to pay very low tax rates while interest on the war debt accumulates, deficits continue, and middle-class incomes deteriorate is just not fair.