Monday, April 30, 2007
So Scientific American thinks it's important that "83 percent of Americans now say global warming is a "serious" problem, up from 70 percent in 2004 ..." Unfortunately, it fails to note that the same survey of the same people indicates that "58% agree that 'as the Bible says, the world was literally created in six days.' "
-Text appears by caressing the face with your cursor.
-Paratext appears by passing your cursor over the first words of the quote.-Speakers on.
This is page 15 of a projected 35 pages.
Button at bottom right returns you to the Introduction.
Sunday, April 29, 2007
I realized, while I was reading Bryan's excellent book, How to Live Forever or Die Trying, that I was, regarding the current quest for immortality - or, more precisely, an indefinite lifespan on earth - completely old-fashioned. I don't want to live indefinitely. I'm not sure I would want to even if I had optimum health and at least a modicum of youth. Aesthetically, it seems to me, there has to be an end to the story. As for having my body preserved in some way or another, I'm content to have my ashes scattered in my garden.
... Ed Pettit's look at Adam Sisman's take on Wordsworth and Coleridge: A friendship that sparked great poetry.
... and Patrick Kurp's look at Scott Donaldson's take on Edwin Arlington Robinson: A poet's life that's worth resurrecting.
... Katie Haegele is charmed and moved by Eavan Boland: An Irish poet writes of her land.
... Katie also likes Catherine Ryan Hyde's The Year of My Miraculous Reappearance: Young Adult Reader Good kid makes some bad moves, but there's hope by the end.
... and Desmond Ryan is impressed by Asa Larsson's latest: Swedish novelist spills out engrossing intrigue.
Yesterday, Michelle Reale reported on Rishi Reddi's new story collection: Book Review Surprising variation on popular South Asian themes.
And, during the week ...
... Scott Esposito took the measure of Roberto Bolaño's The Savage Detectives: Hispanic's epic tale makes its English debut.
... and John Rooney paid a visit to umpiring: Book Review An umpire's memories of the Negro Leagues.
There should be something for everybody in that mix.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Two things, it seems to me, that one ought to know in order to be educated (at least in the English-speakinmg world) are the Authorized Version and Shakespeare. Not the only things. But necessary things.
I think this is an admirably reasonable post, but I was struck by this sentence: "... I would go so far as to say that religions tend to be inherently misogynistic and intolerant, because they reflect the inherently misogynistic and intolerant cultures that produce and maintain them."
I presume this means that atheism, by definition, is neither misogynistic nor intolerant. So atheism has either been produced by some other culture, which is not misogynistic or intolerant, or atheism does not reflect the culture in which it is produced. In the former case, it would be useful to know what culture(s) that is. In the latter, atheism would seem to be a cultural aberration, and would have to demonstrate what makes it necessarily superior to the culture(s) it deviates from. (I happen to think that misogyny and intolerance are bad and do not think my religion encourages either, though I am well aware it has been gulity of both. Moreover, anyone who has read Dawkins or Dennett knows that tolerance at least is not their long suit.)
Friday, April 27, 2007
Thursday, April 26, 2007
It is interesting how artificial Pound's approach is (by which I mean no disparagement; I use the term simply as the adjectival form of artifice) both as regards the writing itself and the reading.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
About 10 years ago I wrote a piece detailing how the Internet was revolutionizing the seond-hand book business. As I see it, if a second-hand bookstore gets connected to the Internet, the enhanced revenue that results helps underwrite the store itself, keeps it afloat, and leaves it as place to visit and to browse.
I fully share Bryan's feeling that this is a tiresome debate. As I have said before, it is like having one group of people trying to explain Hamlet in terms of the carpentry of the Globe Theater and another group convinced, by virtue of having figured out the carpentry of the Globe, that Shakespeare never existed. Neither bothers to watch the play.
Grand assertions about religion, such as those Gordon seems fond of, remind me of the grand assertions one hears about blogging. You cannot arrive at a valid general proposition about something tens of millions of people are doing in all sorts of diffents ways for all sorts of different reasons. Surely even Gordon can see that a nun working in a hospital in Africa manifests faith in a way differently from some oleaginous preacher shilling on the tube.
Moreover, I think one has to consider that John Polkinghorne, Owen Gingerich, Francis Collins and others are no less scientists for being believers. Does Gordon think lack of faith makes for a superior scientist? As I pointed in a review a while back, Collins had made significant contributions not only to human knowledge, but also to the alleviation of human suffering. The Great Dawkins has done nothing comparable.
Like Bryan, "I'm perfectly happy for people to shout their disbelief as I am for them to shout their belief," even though I am reflexively skeptical of those who feel a need to shout about such things.
Update: I notice just now that Dave Lull also sent mea link to Bryan's post. Great minds at work again.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
More here: Your International Pixel-Stained Technopeasant Day Gift: The Durant Chronicles.
And here's ... How to get Involved in Saving Book Reviews.
I've been arguing for years that if readers of newspapers would make it plain to the people who run newspapers that they'd like to read more book reviews and fewer deep ponderings of American Idol said newspapers would likely run more book reviews. Readers have to understand that newspapers are giving them what the people who run them think they want.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Of course, here is a recent post of Glenn's on a different subject: I agree that Tim Lambert makes a poor spokesman for, well, ... anything.
I realize there is a cultural divide on the subject of firearms and I hope to have time to elaborate my thoughts on the subject later today (I am at the office still trying to restore order to the book room). But I feel obliged to remind people that a human being killed the 32 people at Va. Tech. He used firearms. The fiorearms did not act on their own. They never do. Had the killer been unable to use firearms he would likely have used explosives, since it seems clear he was bent on killing. It is those factors - him and his being bent on killing - that should be the focus of the debate. The logic of asserting that because criminals (who do not bother to obtain them legally) and lunatics commit crimes - often horrendous crimes - with firearms, no one else except the state should be allowed to posses forearms simply eludes me. As if the state itself were never guilty of horrendous crimes, often commited with firearms.
Update: I think we all would like to hit upon effective ways to lessen the likelihood of incidents such as the one at Va. Tech. But the reflexive gun-control response is not effective, if for no other reason than that it is not going to happen. So the question is this: Given that it is not going to happen, are there other things than can be done? I think training people to be prepared for such events and steps to take should they occur is feasible. And I do think it both possible and desirable to enact laws mandating strict licensing for gun possession. After all, why should anyone be sold a gun if they don't know how to use and use it with skill. A proper licensing procedure might also serve to alert the authorities to anyone mentally unstable seeking to possess a gun.
... but Vikran Johri has a hard time finding that love in Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist: A perplexing shift to hatred of America.
... David Hiltbrand has some reservations, but on the whole finds Scott Stein's Mean Martin Manning enjoyable: Urban hermit's rescuers. I think it worth mentioning that the photo editor who scanned the book cover into the system came over to me and said she started reading the book and became so absorbed she realized she had forgotten to scan it. So she borrowed it to read on vacation. Proof, if any were needed, that reviewing is far from being an exact science. I may read reviews differently from the way many others do: I am less interested in the reviewers judgment of a book than I am in his reporting of it. So David's review struck me as fundamentally positive and I thought it would prompt most readers to take a look at Scott's book, irrespective of David's quibbles. But, one of the great things about the Internet and blogging, is that it makes dialogue possible. So here's Scott's Response to a review.
Katie Haegel looks at Getting a handle on just what is e-literature.
Carlin Romano recommends a Scholar's canny look at hip-hop's denigration of black women.
Susan Balee is disappointed in Tracy Chevalier's take on Blake: Been done before, and done far better.
Sandy Bauers listens to a couple of physicians: Two books by doctors explore controversial, intriguing topics.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.
I particularly like this point of Bryan's: "I don't think Daniel Dennett, for example, is a philosopher at all, but merely a flunky at the court of secular, materialist scientism. He's just there to assure Dawkins and friends that they are wonderful in every way. I find no sense of exploration or meditation in Dennett. Much academic philosophy is like this and I am constantly disappointed when, having read the works of hyper-intelligent philosophers, I find they are, in the real world, amazingly, well, unamazing."
23 at 8 p.m.!!! Upstairs at 1718 Sansom Street!!! It's an ultra-secret
ritual!!! SHHHHH!!! ... We are giving these new producers and our
new Web site a big stinking top-secret launch party!!! Doors open at
7:30 p.m.! It's FREE! It's top secret!!!!
Friday, April 20, 2007
Only in America, right?
Not in this case. It happened in France, in a region called Gex near the Swiss border, across which many residents commute daily to jobs in Geneva. That's what Jean-Claude Romand's friends and family thought he did. And however appalling Romand's deed may have been, his motive for it - to avoid being exposed as a liar and fraud - only makes it more so.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
I don't like to go into detail about my wilder years, but let me just say I've been among people and in places where peace, love and understanding just wouldn't cut it. I also think the classic distinction between an agent and an instrument ought to kept in mind.
Carlin's been busy lately: Will George Tenet's book be a dud?
Perhaps book editors should be placed on the list of endangered species.
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Here we are enduring one of the colder Aprils on record, I gather. Of course, I am old enough to remember one May in the 1950s - I remember it because it was last the day of the school year - that was so cold and rainy we had to have to heat on. This past January was one of the mildest on record, but was followed by one of the coldest Februarys ever. March was pretty nice until spring ariived. It's been mostly unseasonably cold ever since. (In January, people kept pointing to the cherry trees along the drive here that were blossoming. A more pertinent observation would have been that no native species was taken in by the warm weather. Philadelphia's weather - and I speak as a native - is unusually variable.)
Bryan links to the whole set: Some Cinematographer Talks About Love, Life and the Movies.
Money quote: "The covers capture the babbling inanity of the newsstands where each mag demands your attention by being exactly the same as every other mag."
Monday, April 16, 2007
People should skip journalism school and just study Bryan's work. Though I do have one nit to pick: The Baby Boom offcially started, I believe, in 1946. So people Like Dylan - and me - are not Boomers. There is a difference between those born before WWII ended and those born after. trust me.
"... belief in something is almost always preferable to belief in nothing." Come now. I don't think I'm alone in feeling I'd rather believe in nothing than in National Socialim.
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Update: Looks like the obit's been written: The news, the purveyor of 'new things,' dies at 606
... I was completely charmed by Sheridan Hay's debut novel: Through the prism of enchantment.
... Chuck Leddy is impressed with Chandra Manning's look at How Civil War soldiers saw slavery.
... Judith Musser finds something missing in Nikki Giovanni's latest: Giovanni hails the 'Acolytes,' sounds the call for power poetry.
... Rita Giordano finds The Knitting Circle deeply affecting: After losing child, finding way to go on.
... Katie Haegele likes the way Dana Reinhardt grapples with the truth in Harmless: Young Adult Reader | Three young women and three views of a life-changing lie.
... Paula Marantz Cohen casts an appreciative glance at Nora Roberts: At first suspicious, but now appreciative of NR.
During the past week:
... John Freeman took delight in Pete Dexter's journalism: Book Review | Dexter's weird tales ripped from the headlines.
... Karen Heller just loved Tova Reich's My Holocaust: Brash satire set at Auschwitz mocks martyrdom.
... Jen Miller gave an A to Pauline Chen's Final Exam: The making of a physician.
Also, I forgot to link to this great profile of Pete Dexter that Amy Rosenberg did: Driving with Pete Dexter. This even comes with video: Video: Dexter on interior decorating and Video: Dexter on some childhood memories.
Finally, Carlin Romano had a pleasant chat in Brooklyn with Man Booker and NBCC winner Kiran Desai: Bagging laurels, logging miles on book tour.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
The story eneath the headline concludes with one of the more inane analogies:
"Locke points out that the rallies are on the 95th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, which struck an iceberg near Newfoundland.
" 'They didn't see it coming, the tragedy,' she said. 'But we do.' " (400 miles from Newfoundland - which is where the Titanic collided with the iceberg - doesn't seem too "near" to me, by the way.)
The comment at the other link makes mention of someone I much admire: Gifford Pinchot.
Friday, April 13, 2007
Suppose someone were to say that we would be better off without love. After all, love often leads to disaster: the love of Helen for Paris, for instance, which led to the Trojan war. Love brings with it jealousy, possessiveness, obsession and grief. People can love the wrong things and the wrong people. They can go astray through love as through hatred.
I didn't know it, either. And, in fact, I don't believe it. Any of these people read Willa Cather or Isak Dinesen?
Thursday, April 12, 2007
This, in particular, caught my eye:
(Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
Bryan, Maxine, where art thou?
I read that he died. Probably the best-natured cynic in American literature since Twain.
A long time ago, after being shot in Vietnam, when I was lying immobile in a hospital bed at Walter Reed Army Hospital, my father saw me reading something by Vonnegut. My father rarely talked about his WWII experiences but he told me that he was Vonnegut's squad leader and they were captured together at the Battle of the Bulge.
They had not had contact since being liberated but my father sent him a new copy of "Slaughterhouse Five" for autograph. I have it still. It says "To Bruce Boyle who was the wise commander of me and Bernard V. O'Hare in World War II. Peace."
We exchanged a couple letters after that and I remember getting one after I'd made some remark about war never being justified. He didn't defend World War II or Vietnam but said Biafra was worth supporting in its then fight with Nigeria.
Years later I was working as a reporter at The Bulletin and on its last day he called the city desk and asked me if there was anything he could do for me. There wasn't but I remain grateful for the thought.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
I particularly liked this:
And here am I, a person who never had a PhD myself and fought all my life against the PhD system and everything it stands for. Of course I fought in vain. The grip of the PhD system on academic life is tighter today than it has ever been. But I will continue to fight against it for as long as I live. In short I am proud to be heretic.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
People have sent me their manuscripts via email. The result is that my email ceases to work until I get rid of their manuscript. I actually do sympathize. But it would be useful for people to remmeber that they are not alone in wanting to get attention for their work. That, in fact, people wanting get attention for their work are legion.
I think, by the way, that this is right on the money: "... wise rulers are not experts, quite the opposite in fact. The expert in power is a malign, utopian, technophile fantasy."
Not surprisingly, the Times is getting around to this fairly late in the game. GLenn Reynolds, who has been on it from the start has more that is more to the point here and here.
I quite agree with this: "I certainly don't believe that deleting nasty comments is an assault on free speech. Commenters can always get their own blog -- why should they have a 'right' to have their comments appear on other people's blogs."