sábado, 9 de febrero de 2019

Is the article where mexican scientist cures cervical cancer fake news?

Honestly, I don't obsessively check each and every medical journal. I am obliged to try to keep up to date on breakthrough discoveries pertaining towards anesthesiology, and I do read what I can in my free time. Medical news comes bursting at an insane rate and it's impossible to read everything.

Last week, ground breaking news burst through the twitters-phere about a group of mexican scientists from IPN university who found a way to "eliminate HPV virus, the leasing cause of cervicouterine cancer. This is a devastating disease that is still the second leading cause of death of mexican women (at least regarding cancer), and the patients I have met with the disease suffer greatly from it.

Like usual, news outlets became excited from the ground-breaking discovery.

Unfortunately, while the news at first sight sounds great, and it will become a huge boost for government funding for IPN (and I believe the school will surely make good use of this aid), the news is actually misleading.

Why?

Look no further than the abstract of the original article:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28380684



The article for starters is from 2017. The second tidbit of news is that while it used an innovative technique, scientists were only capable of eliminating the virus in 83% of patients where 57% of them remained cancer free 12 months later. I have not yet read the full article, but the abstract is pretty self explanatory.

But but but... I read this article from El Universal that stated they found the cure!

https://www.eluniversal.com.mx/english/mexican-scientist-cures-human-papilloma-virus

I read it too. I also cringed at the crummy English used by the newspaper. Even Google translate is better than whoever translated the article.

Now, pubmed can be a highly reliable friend when you want to search for medical articles. I use it a lot because I need to for my job. I looked at the name listed in the Universal article and searched for her most recent published article.



This article is obviously not about the ground breaking discovery, and any 2018 articles are unrelated to HPV cancer. Now, I can't deny that perhaps this mysterious ground breaking work is still yet to be formally published. I will give it the benefit of the doubt.

In the meanwhile, the next time some reporter is about to release somewhat relevant medical literature, they should be certain that the information is correct with the aid of a doctor. Spreading confusing news can cause havoc and potentially ruin the hard earned reputations of doctors.

In an era where people prefer to listen to quacks and con artists (anti vaxxers anyone?) instead of people who have spent 12 or even more years in higher education, it should be the responsibility of journalists in an era replete with fake news to verify their sources first.

lunes, 4 de febrero de 2019

An Ominous Book 7 Harlequins coming live!


I have taken an insanely and unjustified long hiatus before releasing the 7th novel of the Ominous Book series. In an ideal world, I would have waited an additional year and a half to officially publish the book in order to afford the publicity the book deserves.

Against better sense, I opted to release this book so that I can focus my attention on my many other half finished and close to finished projects, amonst them, to publish the 8th book of the series as well, which is still going under some extra revisions that I engage in when I have the chance.

The 7th novel Harlequins is the longest book of the series, and probably and the 5th book, it is my second favorite because it explores a new and very exciting character Hama, and her buddling relationship to an always reluctant Lord Spaulding.

The drawing above is the first cover of the 7th novel. I have always wanted it to feature both Hama and her arch-nemesis Gulraj in the cover, because they look really nice together even though Hama would never agree to date him. Quite frankly, I didn't like how Hama's face turned out too much, and I tried redrawing it like 3 times or something. I find it to be a shame because Gulraj turned out so close to how I have always imagined him to be, cunning smirk and harlequin steel sword included!

All in all, while an extremely limited amount of people have read the 3rd novel, much less read all the way to the 7th, I am deeply pleased with this book that I love reading over and over again, and hope Hama's story delights you half as much as I enjoyed writing and laughing about her voyage.

The ebook is stated to be published February 14th, and I am trying to upload the pdf file with little success for some reason so that the paperback is available as well. Click on the image below to get it on Amazon right now!


sábado, 29 de diciembre de 2018

Do you like taking MOOC courses?

I'm a geeky bookworm. There you go, simple as that.

I enjoy learning and reading new things for fun. Reading books is just a huge source of fun for me, and I feel sad that I spent so much of my life devoid of the joy of ebooks because the technology didn't properly exist yet.

Now, I have a college degree, and in 14 months, I will graduate from my Masters degree as well. Again, that is really cool.

But for all of the cool stuff I learn that is fully applicable to my degree, I never get to have any fun. My degree was different from the average undergrad where you could take a dozen intro 101 courses and learn a little of what you want. Had I had this option, due to the nauseating amount of college credits needed to graduate (almost 500!), I would have never finished undergrad ever.

So, I got the degree, but didn't really get to enjoy "the college experience". My Master degree is another fluke. To this day, I have only set foot into the university that will recognize my degree a whopping total of 10 times, half of which were quick 10 minute visits to pay the reinscription fee. I have never seen the massive library that the school boasts. Heck, I don't even have an ID card as such. It's been 2 years, and they still haven't sent us one in the mail and I was too lazy to get one myself when I had the chance. Bummer.

Therefore, while I don't have a lot of free time, I do enjoy taking a MOOCs course here and there. Most of the courses are not directly related to my degree, but given my degree involves a lot of Chemistry and Physics, I have found relatable knowledge from MOOCs I have taken as seemingly unrelated such as the CSI esque Real Life Criminal Investigation MOOC I once took (spectrometers used in crime labs to identify chemicals follow the same physics as some of the medical equipment I use on a daily basis).

I took a Harvardx course on Public Health a few years ago for fun, and while there were things about the course I feel like I had to disagree with, the website sometimes sends me brochures when new courses pop up.

Today they just sent me one about the Cairo pyramids in Egypt. It seems like a fun course, it's free and it's a set-your-own-pace sort of deal. I really can't enjoy it right now because of time constraints, but in case you want to learn more about the ancient pyramids, you can click on the image below.

Enjoy!


domingo, 23 de diciembre de 2018

Is Mortal Engines a failure as a film?

Quite frankly, I have never, ever heard of this movie called Mortal Engines before, but there is just something about this film that has earnestly intrigued me.

For starters, It's based on a 5 book series by an author named Philip Reeve where the first book was published quite a short time ago, back in 2012, but it was already competing and won awards as far back as 2002.

I am not familiar with this author. I tend to stick with reading indie titles, a huge part of the reason because they are more likely to be on Kindle Unlimited and thus making it more likely that I could actually afford to read them. Philip seems to have written quite a lot of books. A quick search on his Amazon Author Central page states he's written probably somewhere around 30 books, and it looks like he's exclusively Trad published.

Some things have indeed intrigued me about his book. The first novel only has around 280 reviews on Amazon. Now, don't get me wrong, while it's a really amazing feat for any author to get even 100 reviews for a book, much less almost thrice as many, I just find it to be bizarre that this unknown book managed not only to sign a Hollywod script deal, but it was a member of the lucky 10% of books with a signing deal that actually ended up being turned into a film.

Meanwhile, books with more than 500 ratings don't have film or tv deals despite strong fan followings and attractive plots that would have chances of selling tickets in cinemas. Just look up any moderately successful LitRPG title and chances are they have over 400 reviews and chances are they could sell tickets, at least for the majority male audiences.

One thing that also stroke me a bit odd was the fact that this book is not just a YA title (well, I have not read it, I'm only basing myself on the Amazon category... maybe it's middle grade), it's also from a genre that has very few films: Steampunk.

Yes, Mad Max Fury Road did well in the movies (that doesn't mean I find the movie to be enjoyable to watch), but there are very few Steampunk films, and even less directed to younger audiences.

Risky? Indeed, but it's a nice breath a fresh air that at least a few Hollywood producers are willing to risk a flop by giving new ideas. The fact that they are delving into making movies from genres that aren't comic book superhero flicks is also welcoming.

Now, I have not read the book, and have not seen the film either. Therefore, I can't judge how good it is.

However! Sometimes Yahoo! articles are quick to blame a failing movie sales due to being a bad film. Pacific Rim did very poorly in the US (apparently Americans simply didn't find the movie to be appealing in some way), but Mexicans and Chinese audiences loved it, and not just because it was directed by Guillermo Del Toro and taken place in Hong Kong instead of NYC. I never get tired of seeing that movie on tv, and it's mostly because of the character interactions. I haven't seen the sequel though. Heard that it sucked.

Many people forget that films are not released on the same day worldwide. Some movies with high risk of being mercilessly bootlegged are released pretty much everywhere, but it's not a rule of thumb.

This movie has not premiered in Mexico, and according to the Cinemex movie franchise website, there is no date of release yet. Mmmm... Oh wait! It will premiere Jan 1st (darn, I work that day >_>), but it's only available at Cinepolis cinemas. It's like the movie is doomed from several angles at the same time. Not released worldwide at sufficiently similar dates, and due to licensing problems, in at least Mexico, it will run in only 50% of the country's major cinemas.

I am indeed curious to see the film, just for the sake of supporting more lesser known books to be turned into movies, and if there is a producer lurking around here, feel free to read An Ominous Book, it's available at Amazon and caters to the Young Adult audience. ^_^

lunes, 10 de diciembre de 2018

Draconian ways to fix page numbering in word documents

Along with countless other indie authors, I used createspace for my paperbacks. Expensive? Verymuch for mexican standards when you include shipping. But the chance to print on demand to save storage space is practical.

Amazon bought the site several years ago and both sort of worked independantly. Createspace offers nice easy to use templates as well.

However, Amazon is now integrating both services and the transition has been problematic for many autors. The bugs prompted me to wait until I had no other choice and even today it is still buggy.

I have several books deemed unsuitable for kdps publishing standards. Mostly the page numbering issues which have been problematic because word is very jumpy and psychotic placing the page numbers automatically it feels like.

Okay, so maybe I should ditch the casual pc user and learn a real software like InDesign. The issue comes with finding the free time to learn how to properly use it which I don't have right now.

Nobody on the internet seems to know how to get around this issue. Last Friday I was fiddling with the bloody program and found an insanely tedious way to fix the paging issue to keep up to Kdps demands and retain the overall style I personally like.

I have sent the fixed files for books 1, 2, 3 for Amazon to approve. I should have books 4,5,6 within the next few days which might take longer because they are longer novels.

Book 7 is also almost fully formatted up to kdp standards. I will draw a cover within these next few days and hope to have it finally published!!

viernes, 16 de noviembre de 2018

Writing updates!

I have completed the first 9 chapters and did 50% of the 10th chapter of a new fantasy novel. It's unrelated to An Ominous Book and titled "Hyperian Monarch". The story is indeed rather odd I dare say and it has been a very difficult book to write.

I have around 25,000 words finished and at the rate the book is heading along, it is probably around 50% done.

If I try to keep up with 2 chapters a month at the slowest, I should have a finished manuscript in around 4-5 months at the latest.

I will probably be asking people around if any one of them is interested to beta read it and give valuable input.

Well, just here to show that while sparingly, I am still writing.

Thank you!

jueves, 15 de noviembre de 2018

A writing pet peeve of mine

Like any reader, there are things in stories (not just books, I am currently musing animated tv shows) that I find to be annoying.

Today, I am going to write a small excerpt about something that always annoys me about some shows: screwing up winter and summer.

But... what about Game of Thrones? That tv show doesn't count because it purposely states it's based in a strange magical world where winter and summer can last for several years at unpredictable intervals. I am personally unsure how this strange seasonal structure works. Either perhaps the world is flat and the sun bounces farther away, or the world has a very elliptical orbit.

But, let's get back to my main pet peeve case in point.

If you have ever traveled from the North to Southern hemisphere as I have, you will soon realize the seasons are reversed. I went to Chile on two occasions during October-November and enjoyed the country during their Spring.

Also, the closer you get to the poles, the days & nights will suffer from a starker contrast. Guatemala is closer to the Equator than Mexico, and therefore, while they still enjoy some variance of weather during the differing seasons, the hours that last each day show far less variation than Mexico. Pretty much, their people are used to seeing the sun come up around 6 am and setting at 6 pm all year round.

If you travel to the other side of the world, the hours will be vastly warped. The only hours of the day where it seemed sensible to chat with loved ones when I visited Japan and China was either very early in the morning, or between 8-11 pm Asia's local Time.

When writing a book, it doesn't take much brain power to keep these little writing tidbits into the equation. It would be just as dumb to state the sun sets at midnight in Quito Ecuador, as it would be dumb to state the sun is shining brightly in a village close to the polar circle during the respective hemisphere's Winter Festival.

Yes, I'm looking at you, Korra's hometown in the new Avatar series!


In the best of cases, shouldn't the daylight hours of her city lasted just 1-2 hours during the Winter Solstice?