Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Wrong day, but …

… Friday poem 'The Double Agent' - Picador. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

End of the line …

… Bookslut’s Jessa Crispin on the decision to shut down the site. (Hat tip, Virginia Kerr.)

Hmm …

… The ''Cli-Fi-Scene": Lydia Millet on why ''cli-fi'' novels have a moral obligation to stand up and speak truth to a terribly distracted world.

That literature has a moral dimension is certainly true. But to identify that with activism is problematic. Art explores the subtleties and ambiguities involved in moral choice. For activists the choice has been made and there is no subtlety or ambiguity left to consider. So activist fiction is likely to devolve into mere propaganda, something we hardly need any more of.

Something to think on …

The triumphs of the warrior are bounded by the narrow theatre of his own age; but those of a Scott or a Shakspeare will be renewed with greater and greater lustre in ages yet unborn, when the victorious chieftain shall be forgotten, or shall live only in the song of the minstrel and the page of the chronicler.
— William H. Prescott, born on this date in 1796

Who would've thought...

RIP …

… Death of a Word Man - WSJ. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In his various writings, Robert insisted on distinctions: between forcefully and forcibly, fortunately and fortuitously, tortured and tortuous, and many more. He could be death on academic locution and on the ungainly “in terms of,” the overused “scenario,” the misused “transpire,” the merely hideous “prioritize.”
As well he should have. Of course, I was for many years a  copy editor.

Hmm...

...Democracies end when they are too democratic
This is an age in which a woman might succeed a black man as president, but also one in which a member of the white working class has declining options to make a decent living. This is a time when gay people can be married in 50 states, even as working-class families are hanging by a thread. It’s a period in which we have become far more aware of the historic injustices that still haunt African-Americans and yet we treat the desperate plight of today’s white working ­class as an afterthought. And so late-stage capitalism is creating a righteous, revolutionary anger that late-stage democracy has precious little ability to moderate or constrain — and has actually helped exacerbate.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

For the defense …

… Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance criticised for doubting Shakespeare wrote plays - Telegraph.

Miscellaneous Biblical Fact - make of it what you will

Of the 3,237 people named in the Bible, only 188 are women.  Biblical Archaeology Review, Jan./Feb 2016 p. 61.


That was water into wine

A Jerusalem brewery has produced a craft beer with a taste it says dates back to the time of Jesus. 

The times, they are a changing

I calculated how demographically similar each U.S. metropolitan area is to the U.S. overall, based on age, educational attainment, and race and ethnicity.  The index equals 100 if a metro’s demographic mix were identical to that of the U.S. overall.
Philadelphia is 9th.  Lancaster Pa is the 2nd most like the 50's America "when the country was much whiter, younger and less-educated than today." 

And lest we forget, "in 2014 there were more than 20 million children under 5 years old living in the U.S., and 50.2 percent of them were minorities."

Information, please …

… zmkc: What's the Story. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

… I didn't come on here to wallow in regret for the past. No, I came on here to enunciate my latest theory which is that, if newspapers do disappear, it won't be because of the Internet; it will be because they don't do what they should do. They don't explain what's going on.

Check it out …

… New Pop Lit | Not NFL. Not NPR. A mutant offspring: New Pop Lit.

Together at last …

… On Beets, Rice, and Writing Family History | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

Success and failure …

… The Writers' Almanac: Encounters with Emily Dickinson - No. 11.

As in baseball, you win some, you lose some. The point is to have fun playing the game.

A way with words …

 'Gossip,' and other words repurposed by Shakespeare - Columbia Journalism Review. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

And a lot else besides …

… AttackingtheDemi-Puppets: Misunderstanding “Ben Hur”.

An important book …

… Book Review: An Experiment in Criticism by C. S. Lewis. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In this concise and provocative book, Lewis proposes an unconventional method for evaluating literature: to judge books by the ways in which they are read. “Let us try to discover how far it might be plausible to define a good book as a book which is read in one way,” he writes, “and a bad book as a book which is read in another.” It is an intriguing experiment that proves rewarding regardless of whether or not one agrees with Lewis’s conclusions, for it leads to a serious, intelligent, and insightful discourse on literature.
- See more at: http://www.nwreview.com/reviews/an-experiment-in-criticism.html#full


Something to think on …

There is no surer sign of decay in a country than to see the rites of religion held in contempt.
— Niccolo Machiavelli, born on this date in 1469

Monday, May 02, 2016

I used to devour Science Fiction...

I missed out on the "Golden Age" but Anderson, Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, Dick, Ellison, Heinlein, Herbert, etc. etc. were all very much alive and producing.  I recall the straightforward fiction of Asimov say was, even then, sort of in disfavor, whereas someone like Ellison was in critical favor.  Pretty much the majority was involved with exploring liberal and outlandish ideas (maybe the drugs back then.)  I still recall a short story written by [someone who I can't recall] with the premise being a device that would allow a person to live through another's eyes and thoughts.  The denouement was something along the lines of the protagonist using the device and seeing the world through his girlfriend's eyes, and then I think she did the same thing in reverse -- saw the world through his eyes.  Which was interesting back then (and now, when I think back.)

In any event, I never thought of science fiction as all that conservative -- even Asimov was fairly liberal politically if I recall rightly -- and I am surprised to see that there is such a fight over liberal and conservative in the science fiction world.  Although I haven't read it for years so maybe the old liberal is the new conservative and the new liberal deals with sheep love or some such.  

Fascinating...

Four men, four incomes:
The poverty line for a family of three is $20,090 a year. The median household income in America is $53,657. Politicians draw $250,000 as the line between the middle and upper classes. And the true starting point of real wealth remains a cool $1,000,000. We asked four more or less typical men, each of whom earns one of these incomes, to tell us about the lives they can afford. 

A New Biography of...

...Frank Gehry 

The Great Conversation …

 Anecdotal Evidence: `To Serve As So Many Small Epilogues'.

The lighter side of genius …

… or so I think: The Writers' Almanac: Encounters with Emily Dickinson -- No. 10.

Quantum transportation …

 “Schrödinger’s Cab”: a poem by Steve Kronen. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

The Age of Temerity …

 The Obamas Met British Royalty in Kensington Palace in a Room With an Awkward Painting – Tablet Magazine. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)
I don’t know what I find funnier: the idea that a couple as erudite, educated, and powerful as the Obamas would be upset by a clearly anachronistic reference in a work of art dating to 1660, or how Will and Kate apparently thought, that while the word might be offensive, it was probably totally cool to have a picture of a little slave boy on the wall while the man to whom it belongs—a man who owes this and everything else he owns to the accident of birth—makes polite chitchat with the twice-elected, Nobel Peace Prize winning, African-American Leader of the Free World.

Q&A …

… Whose Words These Are (6): Ron Slate | Open Source with Christopher Lydon. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Did he or didn't he?

… that is the question: Declaration of Reasonable Doubt | Shakespeare Authorship Coalition at DoubtAboutWill.org. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Dave has shaken me from my laziness and prompted me to look up J. B. Priestley's comment on those who doubt the man from Stratford wrote the plays. I remain too lazy to copy it all out (though may do so sometime later — I have a deadline to deal with today), but will quote one key passage:

The authors of these strange claims make the same mistake as many Shakespearean scholars who tell us that he must have been at one time a soldier, sailor, lawyer, traveller in Italy, and so forth: they cannot grasp the simple fact that a highly imaginative and sharp-witted young man like Shakespeare, familiar with theatres and their various patrons, dodging in and out of London taverns, could soon pick up all the scraps of expert knowledge and professional jargon he needed for his plays. The astonishingly wide acquaintance and sympathy with all manner of folk, including yokels, watchmen, tapsters, peddlers, harlots, bawds,vbroken-down soldiers, that we find in these plays do not suggest that were written by a great aristocrat or a committee of earls and countesses.
Is there no room for doubt, as the declaration linked to, asks? Well, there's always room for doubt. But no  room was made for this doubt, as I pointed out earlier, until some 200 years after the Stratford fellow's death. That said, it is all very entertaining, and I suspect that "Shakespeare," whoever he was, would love it.

Matters of conscience …

 On Memoir: When Angst Is A Prompt | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

The importance of challenge …

… Constraints Can Be a Catalyst for Creativity — Pacific Standard. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something to think on …

Knowledge is only one half. Faith is the other.
— Novalis, born on this date in 1772

Storytelling in Pakistan...

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Listen in …

 Episode 165 – Fred Kaplan w/#NJPoet’s Corner | Virtual Memories.
“I asked someone who had worked at Tailored Access Operations [the NSA’s black bag division], ‘I’m in your cubicle at work; what am I seeing?’ and he said, ‘I’m sitting at a monitor, and I’m typing code. And behind me is a supervisor, and behind him is a lawyer, and they’re taking down all of my keystrokes.'” 

Lost and found …

… Newly discovered works by Pablo Neruda and other best poetry this month - The Washington Post. (Hat tip, G.E. Reutter.)

Have a look …

… DAVID TOTHERO.

Debbie and I are privileged to have one of David's sculptures gracing our patio.

Clearing the record

… A Wronged Man | City Journal.

Time and again, what Leerhsen discovered through exhaustive research undermined the Cobb created by Stump, who didn’t source his work (“because he produced fiction,” as a contemporary said). Leerhsen could find no tangible evidence that Cobb hated blacks. On the contrary, he spoke in support of baseball’s integration when asked—and he wasn’t asked, as best Leerhsen can tell, until 1952. “The Negro should be accepted and not grudgingly but wholeheartedly,” Cobb said then. “The Negro has the right to compete in sports and who’s to say they have not?” On another occasion that year, he said: “No white man has the right to be less of a gentleman than a colored man. In my book, that goes not just for baseball but for all walks of life.” The virulent racist of legend, supposedly driven to derangement if even touched by a black man, attended Negro League games, threw out a first pitch, and often sat in the dugouts with black players. He came from a family of abolitionists. He endowed educational scholarships for students of all races.

In the beginning …

… The Writers' Almanac: When God began to create heaven and earth --

Methinks it best to regard even texts thought sacred as, well, texts — human constructs trying to express what must always remain beyond expression, but no less precious for that, since they enable us to encounter the mysterium tremendum et fascinans.

Hmm …

… 2 Shakespearean Actors Revive Debate Over The Bard's Identity : NPR. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
No one seems to have doubted that the fellow from Stratford wrote the plays until about 200 years after his death. That tells you something.

Q&A …

… The Digital in the Humanities: An Interview with Laura Mandell - Los Angeles Review of Books.

In case you wondered …

… What Poetry Are We Going to Write | Boston Review. (Hat tip, G.E. Reuter.)