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Ngram Search: “Calligrapher”

Calligraphy: Fancy penmanship, especially highly decorative handwriting, as with a great many flourishes [link]. But how do you call a person who practices the art of Calligraphy? I started Ngram-ing again (note that the first graph is not smoothed while the other two are).

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Source: Google Ngram Viewer [link]

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Source: Google Ngram Viewer [link]

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Source: Google Ngram Viewer [link]

So after much search and replace, my Victim #14 serial killer is The Calligrapher *accomplished sigh* (This all started, by the way, because I keep typing “Caligrapher” instead of “Calligrapher” and my spell check did not like any of them, thus the LL/L search. Then I came across “Calligraphist” and banged my head against a wall, did a search/replace, then undid it and now I am happy.

Yes, this post was completely pointless. You may go complain in the comments for wasting your time.


“Serial Killer” Ngram Search

I was doublechecking some information offered by the book I am reading (Malicious Intent: A Writer’s Guide to How Murderers, Robbers, Rapists and Other Criminals Think), and went to play in Google Ngrams. The results were interesting. The little bump in “serial killer” just before 1900 might be related to 1888, when Jack the Ripper was roaming the streets of London, and the first big peak of “mass murder” seems to be around the World War II and its aftermath. 1980 brought the boom of the serial killer book, both in fiction and true-crime literature.

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Source: Google Ngram Viewer [link]

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Source: Google Ngram Viewer [link]

I hope to add up to that not-so-little fiction pile sometime ^^

Decisions, Decisions

A while back I got myself a couple of books from the Howdunit Series. I loved one of them, Murder One and hated the other, Armed and Dangerous. For a while I have been thinking that I need to break the tie-in, because one bad and one good… gah. I am on a research book hype since I got myself Yakuza – Japan’s Criminal Underworld, which I love but I need to read slowly to absorb all the facts, so I have been looking at the Howdunit Series again (Side note: be prepared for a completely flaily review about Yakuza when I’m done with it).

So here’s what I want:

  • Body Trauma : A Writer’s Guide to Wounds and Injuries by David W. Page
  • Deadly Doses: A Writer’s Guide to Poisons by Serita Deborah Stevens
  • Cause of Death: A Writer’s Guide to death, murder & forensic Medicine, by Keith D. Wilson
  • Malicious Intent: A Writer’s Guide to how murderers, robbers, rapists and other criminals think, by Sean P. Mactire

… I wonder what that list says about me XD

Malicious Intent really caught my eye, because it presents itself as a “reference book offering information on criminal psychology, covering motivation, choice of victim, and police detective methods”, but the reviews are… disheartening to say the least, most of them reasoned and backed-up. On the other hand is out for less than £3 (second hand), shipping included, so maybe it is worth it? After all I am interested in the psychological part of it all…

Body Trauma calls me because… well, it is no surprise to anyone that many of my charas end up beaten a lot and yeah, there is that weird hospital fixation of mine too, and Deadly Doses sounds awfully interesting, and kind of handy to have, especially when you can search for poisons based on their symptoms. And lets face it, it will help me look less like a psychopath on my google history XD. Finally, you may call me morbid but I want Cause of Death because I would like to write about a Medical Examiner at some point. I’ve actually tried it before, but always given up due to different reasons, or only have had them as minor characters.

But there’s the want and then is the hm. I’d really like to get the last three books, and let’s be honest, I probably will get at least two of them. They are cheap in Amazon’s marketplace after all XD, and for some reason I don’t mind them being second-hand. Probably due to the lack of faith I have at the moment XD

About the first one, Malicious Intent… I don’t know, maybe for that price I will consider it, even if the reviews were so negative. Thinking about it, however, I have remembered a resource I have been using before, from the US Federal Bureu of Investigations (yup, the FBI): Serial Murder –Multidisciplinary Perspectives for Investigators which actually makes a few interesting points on how ‘bad guys’ think. Although the hand-out focuses on serial killers, it can be used for other criminal profiles and makes an interesting myth vs. truth list. Considering how much we are exposed to fictional psychopaths, it was a good thing to read, very informative.

Then again, this whole post might be me ranting because I’m totally stuck on Undeliverable and I don’t want to type a ‘Writer’s block’ post? You’ll find out what I decided when I start making reviews of the books I get in the end…

Internet Newspaper Note: Yakuza to the Rescue

Newspaper Article: Yakuza to the Rescue. [link]
Author: Jake Adelstein.
Source: The Daily Beast
Date: March 18, 2011

Yakuza code of honor is rather… special, I’d say. When I started my research a while back I found a note on the 1995 Kobe Earthquake which said that the yakuza had been the first on scene with some kind of organized/efficient relief strategy. Kobe is the main HQ of the Yamaguchi-gumi, so it made some kind of sense that they would ‘do something’ for their people.

This month, when the Great Tohoku Earthquake hit again, the yakuza moved again, and once more they were the first on scene. In barely 24 hours they arranged trucks of basic necessities and drove up north east with whatever they could find. Probably they just plunged into Conbini storage warehouses or something and just took what they wanted; as mentioned their code of honor is rather particular.

What gives, nonetheless, a glimpse of the magnitude of the disaster is the fact that the yakuza, an extremely ethnic and racist group is this: There are no yakuza or katagi (ordinary citizens) or gaijin (foreigners) in Japan right now. We are all Japanese. For the yakuza, this is something huge. Then again, I’m probably just flailing the fact that they drove north for 12 hours to drop by the supplies and ‘not mentioned that they were from the yakuza so they did not get rejected’. Oh, minna ♥

Ongoing Research Resources list and tips

Note: Not complete, not universal, not comprehensive either. Just a few favourites, tips, and shameless pimping of some of my sources.

Google [link]
Google is available in many, many languages. In my opinion, the English one (.com) is the most powerful one. Google works on a keyword-query. The trick to google is patience to make different searches. Here’s a few tips:

  1. When doing a search, try different keywords, with and without quotes. osaka guardians and “osaka guardians” will not yield to the same results.
  2. Google does not understand upper or lowercase, so OSAKA, Osaka and osaka will get you to the same pages.
  3. Use -keyterm to exclude certain words.
  4. Remember that Google has options to search for images and videos, too. And there’s Google Scholar [link] for the geekiest.
  5. * is a wildcard, meaning it can substitute any word you’re looking for in a sentence.
  6. Use filetype:pdf to get only pdf results (filetype:ext to get any file extension).
  7. Be careful of brilliant pages and with what you download in your computer!!
  8. Google can (and many times will) lead you to other kind of engines, such as answers.com [link] or yahoo answers [link]. Link hopping is really useful
  9. Skim at least 3 pages of links before giving up


Wikipedia comes in various languages, and what makes it awesomely useful is the fact that you can search for anything in any language and switch into any other. Generally, the English articles are more extensive, but you can (and should!) check for information in any language you read and has a good article.

Find your way around

  1. Google maps [link] will give you walking and car distances from and to many places, and with the street view feature, you can be IN the map
  2. Google Earth is nice and handy too, for bookmarking your own locations

When on the internet: link hop

Explore wikipedia’s references, and ‘related topics’ when you’re on answering engines.


Don’t give up on the third link.


I’m old school, when I was younger getting a photocopy was a luxury, and there was no internet XD

  1. Your local library can be a good source of information.
  2. ebay [link]. Here you can buy second or first hand books, many of them cheap.
  3. Amazon [link] is the reference online bookshop, and has some second hand book for as little as 1cent + S&H
  4. A personal favourite: The Book Depository [link] has 0 S&H and nice offers.
  5. Public Domain Books (and basically anything) can be found in The Internet Archive [link]

Writing Forums or LJ communities

  1. Detail Oriented [link]: an LJ community for writers.
  2. NaNoWriMo’s forums [link]

Uber-geeky search engines (Research Journal articles):

  1. I use Science Direct [link] a lot, but if you got access to a university library you might have access to many more.
  2. JSTOR [link] is more focused on social science, and thus is useful too

Specific Forums
Forums are an amazing fountain of wisdom and real life experience. The people posting there have specific knowledge about a specific topic and can help you cross-reference your preconceptions.

TED Talks [link]
TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) provides access to a wide range of information under a Creative Commons license in 18 minutes or less, bringing together some of the authorities in the topic at hand – whichever that is.

What is not a good idea to count as research:

Anything that comes from a movie or a tv series, unless you’ve double-checked. Sometimes screenwriters get amusingly unaccurate. An example? Old blood is not blood red. How many times have you seen in a cop show a body covered in bright red blood when the victim was killed a few nights before?

Personal list of Resources:

  • Apparelized [link] Spinal Cord injuries forum.
  • eMedicine [link] Medical Articles in plain/acessible English