Thursday, May 31, 2007

Instead of me ...

... since I am weary after a very long day, I give you Jacques Brel Madeleine English Subtitles.

... and Jacques Brel Jef 1966 English subtitles.

Dissing Allies ....

... The Book Critics' War on Bloggers.

What Maxine has to say in connection with this is very worth reading, a summa of common sense on the subject: The Critics’ War on Bloggers.

Let's not forget technology, though ...

... Sniggering at Greens.

Bryan is a being a little too modest in this post when he says that it's just his lay person's opinion and as suich as worthless as every other lay person's. Having read Understanding the Present I can assure all who read this that Bryan has a much better grasp of science than most of us and is extraordinarily good at explaining it. He also has a much better grasp of science's epistemological implications than most scientists have.
That said, I don't get one point: "Whether it is cyclical is irrelevant ..." If it is cyclical, it is, well, part of the cycle and has happened before and will presumably happen again. Is there any evidence for such a catastrophic cyclical occurence? Catastrophes have occurred in the past - asteroid collisions and the like - but they're not part of a cycle.

Moreover, it seems to me that the solution to whatever problem there may be is going to come by way of technology not eco-asceticism. I am amazed atv how the same people who preach at us that Nature is so much greater than humankind can turn right around and preach at us that only humankind can save oh-so-fragile Nature.

You heard it here first ...

... yet another Reprise of haecceity, only this time transmogrified into Melicity.

Among the best reviews I've read ...

... period: Josie Appleton's Measuring the political temperature. Talk about a must read.

This is surely odd:
We can also see political concerns imprinted on scientists’ theories of the Earth’s past. In the 1980s, scientists formulated the theory that the dinosaurs had been wiped out by the striking of a giant asteroid. One scientist at the time noted that such theories should be measured not just by the facts of nature, but also against the concerns of the age. ‘[The asteroid theory] commanded belief because it fit with what we are prepared to believe.… Like everyone else...I carry within my consciousness the images of mushroom clouds…. [It] feels right because it fits so neatly into the nightmares that project our own demise.’

It feels right? What the hell kind of science is that?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Novalis and the Blue Flower ...

... A Romantic Everywhere at Home. (Hat tip, Joe of New York.)

Poetry finds a home ...

... With Lilly backing, poetry group closes on prime home. (Hat tip, Laurie Mason.)

Mirabile dictu ...

... some (mostly) interesting remarks from Daniel Dennett as interviewed by Alessandro Lanni. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

By and large I have no objection to a "scientific" study of religion or anything else. One thing I find interesting here is that, in talking about religion's evolving and the species and subspecies of religion, Dennett has to be speaking metaphorically. A species of religion is not the same sort of thing as a species of reptile. The "evolution" of religion or culture is not the same as the evolution of biological species. To speak as if they are the same is either to speak metaphorically or to equivocate.

Publishing past and present ...

... When the going was better.

Today's must read ...

... Marilynne Robinson's That Highest Candle.

Though doubt, alienation, and even parody are elements in some of these poems, the collection is quite appropriately aware that these all have reference to the field of thought and meaning ordinarily called religious. Any reader of Ecclesiastes or the Book of Job is aware that the canon of scripture has room for thought that can disrupt conventional assumptions about the nature of belief, whether these assumptions are held by the religious or by their critics. ... To associate religion with unwavering faith in any creed or practice does no justice at all to its complexity as lived experience. Creeds themselves exist to stabilize the intense speculations that religion, which is always about the ultimate nature of things, will inspire.


But really, read the whole thing.

Another blogger departs ...

... Farewell, Miss Snark.

You talkin' to me ...

... Pecuniary Respiration.

So you're down on Joyce Kilmer ...

... well try, "Versified and rhythmic non-prose verbal arrangements are fashioned by people of alternative intelligence such as myself, but only the divine entity, should he or she actually exist, can create a solar-shielding park structure from low-rise indigenous vegetative material."

John Leo On Good Writing.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I'm doing double duty ...

... this week. So blogging be light for now.

Possible Tasmanian conspiracy ...

... Ed Champion reviews Richard Flanagan's The Unknown Terrorist: Australian version of Böll novel.

Room with a desk ...

... and some books, and ... Authors’ Writing Rooms.

The tyranny of Nanny ...

... or, Wowsers control news agenda, in which Nige, quite properly, deplores "the erosion of Judgment in both personal and professional life, and its replacement with legalistic structures of compliance and proscription."

Albert Jay Nock many years ago pointed out the inverse relation between state and social power: "... it follows that with any exercise of State power, not only the exercise of social power in the same direction, but the disposition to exercise it in that direction, tends to dwindle."

Here is Chapter 1 of Our Enemy, the State>

Monday, May 28, 2007

But for blooging, I might never ...

... have discovered George Mackay Brown.

The pause that refreshes ...

... Reading in the bathroom.

In the Left corner ...

... a global warming skeptic: The Greenhousers Strike Back and Out. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Burning books ia bad, period ...

... Unwanted books go up in flames. (Hat tip, Scott Stein.)

I give away thousands of books a year to the Philadelphia Prison System, senior centers, and schools. The guy should have looked harder.

Wise words ...

... The M&C Interview 1: Charles Johnson, 6/07. (Hat tip, Jessica Schneider.)

A hell of a place ...

... but a warm welcome, to be sure. (Hat tip, Lance Parry.)

Today is Memorial Day ...

... let us not forget.

The genuine article ...

... my colleague Marc Schogol passed away yesterday morning, leaving the world a much, much poorer place. Marc really was a star reporter, to say nothing of a fabulous writer and an absolutely world-class human being. You can see for yourself in the links accompanying his obituary.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Beauty and truth ...

... Writer's choice 88: Mark Vernon. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Note that all of the pieces in this series may be found here and here.

More on Heaney and Auden ...

... Heaney on what Dave Lull discovered: Frisky!

On the global warming front ...

... Cold snap brings 54 new records.

... Brrr... SA is freezing cold.

... First snow brings winter delight.

... and right here in the good old U.S. of A. - Climbers get the cold shoulder.

Oh, I know: Weather and climate are not the same. But many who are quick to tell me that are just as quick to cite any warm spell as proof the other way. This past January, people were going on about the cherry trees along Kelly Drive blossoming because of the unseasonably warm weather. They should have noticed that the trees native to the region didn't change their schedule. And they might have noted that the phrase "unseasonably warm" is thrice familar because, well, weather is often unseasonable. I continue to think that predicting the climate is about as fool-proof as predicting the weather.

Andante moderato ....

... "B" Was for Blogger Who Went For a Walk.

(So what' the point of the headline? Andante means walking.)

I am not a baby boomer ...

... but I quite remember when they started to arrive: Boomer Guilt.

The boomers are not detached. They fret and fuss over their ambitions for their children, as if unaware that they are simultaneously bleeding them dry. The big, destructive points about boomers are that there are too many of them and they simply haven’t the good manners to die.

Bryan has such a way with words.

Remembering Peggy Lee ...

... (She gave us) Fever.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... John Freeman looks at Natasha Tretheway's Pulitzer-winning Native Guard: Poems give voice to the forgotten.

... and Michael Peich chats with Tretheway: Erecting monuments: To troops, her mother.

... Maxine Clarke has a theory about James Grippando's latest: Soap opera shocks plus thriller chills.

... Katherine Bailley encounters Margaret Drabble's The Sea Lady: Drabble, with Orator: Second childhood of distinguished lives.

... Rathe Miller checks out Anthony Holden's latest poker adventures: The sequel to hitting the poker-book jackpot.

... Katie Haegele is impressed with some short fiction for young adults: Young Adult Reader | Genre's best writers pen a fine collection of young adult tales.

... there's also a bit of Harry Potter news: For 'Potter' finale, midnight hoopla.

During the past week, Ed Pettit had high praise for a new Tolkien: More about Middle-Earth before Frodo.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Before the day ends ...

... let us note that on this date in 1703, Samuel Pepys died.

One bad dude ...

...The Real Jack Sparrow: He would have eaten Johnny Depp for breakfast.

Angels and Ages ...

... Adam Gopnik on Lincoln’s language and its legacy.

"Lincoln’s rhetoric is, instead, deliberately Biblical. (It is difficult to find a single obviously classical reference in all of his speeches.) Lincoln had mastered the sound of the King James Bible so completely that he could recast abstract issues of constitutional law in Biblical terms ... "

"... undeniably, as the war and his Presidency progressed, Lincoln spoke increasingly of God—inserted God, as it seems, into the Gettysburg Address—and evidently had some kind of complicated and rich sense of 'necessity' and a supernatural presiding power."

That's it for now ...

... it's Saturday, the start of a holiday weekend. I want to do some gardening and some shopping . Tonight we're going out to dinner.

The state of books ...

... Quarterly Report: Book Industry Trends.

Another view of Martin Manning ...

... Ed Pettit's review in the City Paper.

Fiction runs up against reality ...

... Fictional characters you would like to meet.

I'll have to think about this. I think I'd like to meet Jane Eyre. I don't scare easily, but certainly Dracula would bear watching carefully.
What is interesting about this is that the characters one most likes are those one identifies with and so in once you don't have to meet them and in another a meeting would necessarily disappoint. One wants to meet someone like Jane Eyre because, if you're a male reader, you're likely to have a crush on her.

Maxine on the GOB ...

... Books and bookman in blogs.

For Memorial Day ...

... tales of arms and men, as chosen by John McCain, who knows more about combat than most of us would want to: Five Best War Stories.

Remembering John Wayne ...

... whose centenary is today (how appropriate - Memorial Day Weekend): Happy birthday John Wayne. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A hard choice ...

... The Official Top 20 Countdown of the All Time Greatest Love Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar

Carol Saba comments that "A Florida Night' gives a glimpse of "old Florida." I had a sample of "old Florida" myself and I know what she means. Check out Carol's Polar.

A party we missed ...

... was apparently Quite a Bash.

Clever Bryan ...

... does the roundup bit: Saturday News Round-Up.

I'm not given to conspiracy theories, but Scientolgy does seem to have set its sights on the rich and famous. If that could ever translate into political power we might well find ourselves governed - even more than we are already - by the rich and the famous. After all, such a development would surely gain the support of the merely rich (do scroll down for the auto show).

Appreciating a classic ...

... Bang Bang You're Dead.

The New World ...

... How one writer found her home among the poet bloggers. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Friday, May 25, 2007

It's the start of a holiday weekend ...

... I am closing in on restoring order to my life. Blogging may be spradic during the weekend, but should be back on track by next week.

Emerson was born on this date ...

... in 1803. He remains one of the greatest influences on my life and thought and feeling. I can still vividly remember the cold, clear February day in 1957 - I was 15 - when I first read "Self-Reliance." It was for me a personal declaration of independence:

What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.

Here's a good Emerson Page.

Gwendolyn and I visited his house some years ago. For me, of course, it was an act of pilgrimage.

Attention, Cormac McCarthy fans ...

... McCarthy Meets Oprah. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something new ...

... The Continental Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Words and pictures ...

... Natural Beauty.

Not your usual grandstanding ...

... The White Rose. (Hat tip, Joe of New York.)

Metaphors out of control ...

... I think: Blanket Exceeds Tightrope. (Don't you hate it when that happens?)

A nasty business ...

... I suppose if you're the sort who "outgrew" pondering the meaning of life, Colin Wilson is a perfect target for your disdain. But it is a bad idea to thoroughly disown one's adolescent enthusiasms - even if they include Colin Wilson. That said, this new book of his does sound rather mean-spirited.
Oops! I forgot the link: Amis: boozer. Tynan: cold. Beckett: rubbish (Thanks to Dave Lull, for jogging my brain.)

Critcizing a professional reviewer ...

... imagine that! When a Book Reviewer Is In Over His Head (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Of course, maybe Kinsley didn't read the whole book.

This is interesting, though: “It’s blindingly obvious: the great religions all began at a time when we knew a tiny fraction of what we know today about the origins of Earth and human life. It’s understandable that early humans would develop stories about gods or God to salve their ignorance. But people today have no such excuse. If they continue to believe in the unbelievable, or say they do, they are morons or lunatics or liars.”

Of course, Plato and Aristotle did their work at a time " when we knew a tiny fraction of what we know today about the origins of Earth and human life," too. Should we dismiss them wholesale as well, I wonder? And just think, Freeman Dyson, Francis Collins, Owen Gingerich - rather accomplished scientists all, and believers - must be "morons or lunatics or liars.”

Who knew?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I guess I have to see this ...

... The Lives of Others. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Wise words ...

... from the journal Nature:

...scientists need to take care not to overstep their expertise. It is reasonable to expect a Manhattan Project physicist to weigh in on the dangers of nuclear weapons, with which he or she is entirely familiar. It is less clear-cut to, say, support the candidacy of a politician. ... Political advocacy can, in fact, be the trickiest road for a scientist–activist to navigate. Nobel-prizewinning economists, for instance, are routinely recruited to either side of US presidential campaigns, with their names trotted out like endorsements. ... Scientists who want to promote change in the world would be better off selecting their areas of activism carefully. Nobel laureates have a special responsibility, as they are regarded by the public with a level of awe. Many of them do use their names wisely to advance education or underappreciated areas of science. Last week, for instance, 40 of them helped launch a US$10-million fund to support scientific research in the Middle East. Such efforts are targeted, specific and worthy of the Nobel name.

A charming tale ...

.. of post-grunge London bookstores. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

A twofer ...

... Daniel Hoffman and haecceity: `A Gift You Couldn't Have the Wit to Choose' (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Back to Middle-Earth ...

... Ed Pettit reviews The Children of Húrin: More about Middle-Earth before Frodo.

Words, words, words ...

... Blog About Language.

McDonalds' vanity ...

... Catering News.

The fast-food objects that the OED defines McJob as "an unstimulating low-paid job with few prospects." Take out the unstimulating and you've got contemporary journalism.

The eye of the beholder ...

... Cosmic Vanity.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Oh, blessed rage for order ...

... I have been pursuing order for the past couple of weeks - in my book room at the office, and in my office at home. A goodly measure has in fact been achieved. But boy was it tiring. And I have had little time to read. So that's it for blogging tonight.

In the meantime, fetch ...

... or, to be more precise: Tamar Yoseloff - Fetch.

Nice kitty ...

... Adopt A Shameless Lion !


I expect I'll get around to doing this over the Memorial Day weekend.

Lions on the loose ...

... Not Steve.

Lots worth reading ...

... in Mark Sarvas's Wednesday Marginalia.

I linked to this earlier ...

... but why not link to it again, from Petrona: Memoir of a Ghost by Susan Balée.

Update: I should have added that I read the story this afternoon and agree with Maxine.

Squaring off ...

... cordially, of course: A frank exchange of opinion.

Size matters ...

... How big?

Bringing down the house ...

... Vangelis and the Elgins.

Online at last ...

... John Freeman's Q&A with Steven Hall, auhtor of The Raw Shark Texts: How he beat literary exhaustion.

Be afraid ...

... be very afraid. Glenn Reynolds reviews John Robb's Brave New War: Open Source Warfare.

Happy birthday, Karl ...

... you don't look a day over 250: How Linnaeus named life on Earth. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Sad, sad news ...

... the Gotham Book Mart has closed. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Sex, war and dogs ...

... an unbeatable combo. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I'm no pessimist ...

... nor am I apocalyptic. So I can't quite subscribe to the degree of doom suggested (I think we will adapt as we always have - and invent: technological innovation should never be underestimated). That said, I agree: Thnking Greens Hate Windmills.

(Looks like Bryan is outsourcing the proofreading to The New York Times.

And so it is ...

... summer's near here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A freebie ...

... Mr Fenman's Farewell to His Readers.

The (ahem) discussion continues ...

... More of a Critical Mess.

The latest issue ...

... of The Pedestal magazine.

'Twas ever thus ...

... Marxism's Successor. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I'll have to try this ...

... Cooking From Novels.

A Broadway notice ...

... Coram Boy on Broadway.

A lesson in journalism ...

... from a master: Sweeney, YouTube and Scientology.

The days dwindle down ...

... to a precious few, or `Awesome Ambush'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Superflous Man sighting ...

... Bill Whittle discovers - thanks to Albert Jay Nock - that You Are Not Alone.

In August 1968 I gave a lecture at Rockford College on ... Albert Jay Nock, for whom I have had a lifelong enthusiasm.

Oh, Nock is the author of Memoirs of a Superfluous Man.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

A daunting project ...

... Scavella is aiming to compose 1,000 lines of blank verse. Having just finished a poem that consists of 38 lines of BV, I can appreciate how onerous it is. When I mentioned what I was doing to Dan Hoffman, who knows about these things as much as anyone alive, he commented drily, "Not as easy as it looks, is it?" No, it isn't.

Something from Pascale Petit ...

... The Treekeeper's Tale. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Yet another hissy fit ...

... over book reviewing, this one from Richard Schickel: Not everybody's a critic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

"Criticism — and its humble cousin, reviewing — is not a democratic activity. It is, or should be, an elite enterprise, ideally undertaken by individuals who bring something to the party beyond their hasty, instinctive opinions of a book (or any other cultural object). It is work that requires disciplined taste, historical and theoretical knowledge and a fairly deep sense of the author's (or filmmaker's or painter's) entire body of work, among other qualities."

Oh, my. Moreover, "D.J. Waldie, among the finest of our part-time scriveners, in effect said "fine." But remember, he added, blogging is a form of speech, not of writing.

I thought it was a wonderful point." I was always under the impression that writing, too, was a form of speech. To be half-decent reviewer, you have be a careful reader of what a text says, you have to be able to think clearly about said text, and write clearly what you think. Which is why, "Very often, in the best reviews, opinion is conveyed without a judgmental word being spoken, because the review's highest business is to initiate intelligent dialogue about the work in question, beginning a discussion that, in some cases, will persist down the years, even down the centuries."

Why one could not do that on a blog escapes me.

Gee, where does this leave me ....

... Critical Mass of a Mess. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

I mean, one of the key reviews on The Inquirer's book page today is by Mark Sarvas ... who blogs at The Elegant Variation. Katie Haegele does a bi-weekly column for The Inquirer called DigitaLit, which today is about The 2007 Blooker Prize, which is "devoted to 'blooks' - books based on blogs or other websites." Oh, and I blog.
Of course, I'm also the book review editor of a metropolitan newspaper ... and I'm a member of the NBCC, whose president, John Freeman, also has a piece on today's book page, an interview with Steven Hall, author of The Raw Shark Texts, which I will link to as soon as it gets online.
Like Maxine, I find the comments Marydell quotes a bit over-the-top. Applying Shannon Byrne's metaphor to my own case, I guess one could say I am my very own parasite.
Really, folks, it's time to chill: Reading books and reading about them, writing about them, talking about them, arguing about them (in a civil manner, of course, because well-read people ought not to be boors), and yes, blogging about them - these are all good things, good for books, for readers, for civilized society.
And while I'm at it, I may as well commit the ultimate heresy: Some bloggers are better than some professional reviewers.

Postscript: I just saw this item on Bill Peschel's blog (scroll down to "I've Been Meaning to Comment ..."). Like Bill - and both as an editor and a reader - I have "
rarely cared about the reviewer’s opinion of the writer’s place in history, or anything that smacks of something you’d find on a college exam in American Literature."

Blogging will resume later ...


... because I have all sorts of other things to do today. But I thought I would post this little watercolor of Debbie's, which I have decorating my desktop, where it looks rather nice.

A truly appalling thought ...

... Pope Rosie? Pray for us. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The notion that I should take an opinion seriously because it is spouted by a tumbler or buffoon really grates on me.

In the meantime, though ...

... what about The Future of Publishing? (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

This is interesting: "Parry Hotter and The Sorcerer's Mirkin."

I wonder if merkin was meant instead of mirkin.

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... Richard DiDio considers two views of everybody's favorite genius: On Einstein's genius, fame, love and lust.

... Mark Sarvas has mixed feeling about Steven Hall's The Raw Shark Texts: It might be better in the movie version.

... Katie Haegele talks to the Blooker winner: Iraq War blogger wins online publisher's inaugural book award.

... Carlin Romano considers Gao Xingjian and The Case for Literature: Chinese laureate a literary Olympian.

... St. John Barned-Smith has reservations about Jonathan Santlofer's Anatomy of Fear: Imperfectly drawn novel about artists.

... Sandy Bauers listens to Aryn Kyle's debut: Novel of a family's harsh desert life is flawed but powerful.

... and Dan DeLuca looks at an oral history of Warren Zevon's life and times: The delightful and difficult Mr. Zevon.

Note: In what is becoming a regular feature, one item on the book page - John Freeman's Q&A with Steven Hall - hasn't made it online yet. Once it does, I'll link to it.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The citadels of learning ...

... get some well-deserved attention. Here are some further, related links.

A civilized discussion ...

... of matters religious may be found in this post at 2Blowhards: Philip Bess on Chesterton. (hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It never fails ...

... post about the works and pomps of evangelical atheism and everybody pipes up: Delusional NIge. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I wouldn't make too much of commuters reading The God Delusion. Were I a commuter I might well have read it on the train myself, since I reviewed it and have to read the books I review in whatever moments I can grab. I don't think it is a good book judged by the standard set by Dawkins's other books. The organization is haphazard and the hectoring tone grating. As with other recent atheist tracts, it suffers from an identification of religion with churches and creeds. Churches and creeds are a consequence of religion, a manifestation of it, not the cause of it, just as literature is a product of language, not the cause of it. Which is why the religious impulse is so discernible in the writings of Harris, Hitchens and Dawkins, and why they come off merely as secular counterparts to the fire-and-brimstone preachers they claim to loathe.

Just in time ...

...Clive James on Keats. (Hat tip, Joe of New York.)

"Kingsley Amis said in an essay that no English reader could know much about poetry who did not think at some time in his life that Keats, because of the initial impact of his verbal music, was the greatest poet in English after Shakespeare. But Amis definitely meant that an enthusiasm for Keats was a callow enthusiasm, because the poetry was callow poetry."

A judgment such is this may be why Amis was merely a competent poet, not a great one. Keats is the greatest poet in English after Shakespeare. Long before the French Symbolists came along, Keats was making music out of words:

Turn the key deftly in the oiléd wards,
And seal the hushéd casket of my soul.

He was the clearest and most authentic thinker among the romantics, and he had the most engaging personality of all of them. He is the one you would have wanted to meet and know. There is the chilling story of his asking for a candle after he had coughed up blood. 'I know the colour of that blood; - it is arterial blood; - I cannot be deceived in that colour; - that drop of blood is my death-warrant; - I must die.' Brave fellow, too.

Friday, May 18, 2007

A day of epiphany ...

... happiness gets a boost, the suburbs find a poet, and I - thanks to Patrick Kurp via Dave Lull - discover David Solway: `A Stubbornly Conservative Mind.'

Two quotes from the FrontPage interview Patrick links to:

"Politics, for me, consisted of a series of appropriate gestures and unexceptionable utterances, of a more or less demonstrable left-of-center tropism, and of course I read all the intellectually-certified gurus, Chomsky and Said in particular, with some enthusiasm. This was par for the course. You might say I belonged to what Milosz called the ketman society—he defined ketman as the false stance adopted by a person “in order to find himself at one with others, in order not to be alone.” Which is another way of saying that, although I was not a card-carrying member of the sinister cadre, I adhered to a pervasive culture of Leftist thinking predicated on the evasion of unpalatable truths."

"This did not mean that I would have to start theorizing in my poetry about specifically social or political themes. Indeed, when poets undertake to do so, they tend to produce what I’ve dubbed the “higher drivel”—even Seamus Heaney is no exception here—or generally make a hash of it—look at Yeats, Eliot or Pound, who all ended up flirting with fascism. (In Pound’s case, he married it.)"

First happiness ...

... now some good words for the suburbs: Firmly entrenched in Lawnboro. (Hat tip, Gwendolyn.)

Could this signal a trend?

... Happiness wins science book prize. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Of course, there seems to be no shortage of people who seem to be happiest preaching impending doom.

On this date in 1911 ...

... the great Gustav Mahler died in Vienna. No one did more for advancing the cause of Mahler's music than Leonard Bernstein. And here is Bernstein conducting the Vienna Philaharmonic in Gustav Mahler's Symphony no.7 Rondo Finale Part Two.

Sounds like something I'd like ...

... and maybe you would, too: Thirsty?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The summer 2007 issue ...

... of Simply Haiku is up.

My kind of town ...

... I lived there through part of 1968 and fell permanently in love with it: Some shots of Chicago in springtime.

A term I didn't know ...

... at least in connection with books: Heatseeker Reviews.

An extra added attraction ...

... Not on the list of inclusions.

Something I discovered ...

... while Web browsing: Charles and Dorothea Warren Fox.


Odd, isn't it, how much better advertising used to be?

Can't rid myself of this guy ...

... James Wood on Cormac McCarthy's The Road: Getting to the End. (Hat tip, Rich Barron.)

"One has a persistent, uneasy sense that theodicy and the absent God have been merely exploited by the book, engaged with too lightly, without enough pressure of interrogation. When Ely says that "there is no God and we are his prophets," the phrase seems a little trite in its neat paradox of negation."

I would submit that the very relation between the father and son is exploitative. McCarthy knows that such a relation is deeply affecting and he uses it to camouflage the nihilism of his book: "Son, we're all gonna die and everything's headed to pure oblivion. Let's hug."

Now that I think of it, something Chuck Palahniuk said at the library last week seems pertinent. Chuck said that he thought oh-so-slow movies like The English Patient could be improved with the inclusion of some fast-moving zombies. So could The Road.

Vive le flaneur ...

... Nige Flâne. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I have to admit I like thinking of myself as a flaneur.

Metaphors be with you ...

... espcially when you mix and don't match: My Favorite Mixed Metaphors. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And hey, an ode to Dr. J ...

... Julius Erving
--for Dr. J.
by Curtis Crisler

Who says there's no there there ...

... oakland summers. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Check out also this
A note from Abdul Ali.

Fighter meets boxer ...

... which usually means ( as I think it does in this instance) boxer wins. Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Wilson debate: "Is Christianity Good for the World?"


Wilson touches upon a point that I have myself been ruminating on a bit lately: If there is only causation, there is no motivation. What one does is merely the outcome of the chain of causation that you happen to be - and that is all that you are. So Richard Dawkins preaches atheism because he is helpless to do otherwise, being forced to do so by the chain of causation that he is. And I argue against his position because I am helpless to do otherwise, and for the same reason. Everything that happens - and you must include people in the category of eveything - is simply a consequence of whatever happened previously. The Nazis perpetrated the Holocaust because they were caused to. The opponents of slavery opposed it, not because it was wrong, but because they were caused to. Slavery and the Holocaust can't be thought of as wrong because nothing can be. Things just happen. You just happen. And so do I. I think this is a perfectly logical way of looking at things if you accept the premise of pure, impersonal causation. I have my doubts, however, as to whether anyone can or does honestly live in accordance with it.

Cormac McCarthy redux ...

... A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a piece taking a contrarian view of Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Road. The book really rubbed me the wrong way and I expressed my feelings in no uncertain terms. But I also cited details of the text that prompted those feelings.
I am told - though I haven't bothered to check - that some in the blogosphere took great umbrage at my effrontery. There were objections here, too, though most were expressed civilly. In fact, Lee Lowe and I had a pretty informative exchange.
A surprising number of people emailed me to thank me for confirming their own reaction. A couple wrote to demur. One of those who agreed was Ian Abrams, a literature professor at Drexel University, who invited me visit the class he teaches on apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic literature. I accepted and I have to say I was very impressed by the students. Their questions and obervations were well thought-out and engagingly put. Most liked the book, but all were open to discussion of it, without rancor. At one point, Ian reminded us all of something very important - that it isn't critics or reviewers or literary scholars who determine whether a book is great or not. It is readers.
And this has some bearing on why some people took my piece so personally. Reading is not an entirely passive undertaking. The reader only gets out of a book as much as the reader brings to it. The words set the reader's imagination going - or they do not. My imagination resisted McCarthy's words. Others' imaginations were engaged by them. So my - admittedly pointed - criticism of his book challenged a world those readers had helped bring into being. Perhaps the highest praise that can be conferred upon McCarthy's book is that neither admirers nor detractors react to it with indifference.

Take heart, friends ...

... there still lives `The Dearest Freshness Deep Down Things'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

“It is a consolation of a kind – less so, perhaps, when one has come to love a place, and only three-score-and-ten years are allotted; and it may take many centuries for the pristine freshness to overcome the entrenched rust, and steel, and concrete.”

This may be unduly pessimistic, actually. I have seen pictures of Sullivan County, Pa., taken around 1900. The hills had been denuded of trees. Towns had proliferated, with mansions and theaters and mills. Go there now and the hills are once again thick with trees - and the towns, along with their mansions and theaters and mills, have left scarcely a trace, in some cases, no trace at all. In one instance, all that was left was a bit of foundation stone. Never underestimate nature.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

On this day in 1953 ...

... the great Django Reinhardt died.

Order has been restored ...

... to the book room, and I have a few days off during which I hope to resume blogging on a more prderly basis than has recently been the case.

At the KR Blog ...

... check out Take Two and Short Takes.

The black heart ...

... of the green movement: Occult News.

So, what is it?

... Why, It's a plant.

Hip, hip, hooray ...

... Let's hear it for the humble hyperlink.

When it is not necessary to change ...

... it is necessary not to change. So, What We Talk About When We Talk About Change (Part... 1)

Something I missed ...

... On the Newspaper Review Controversy.

False analogies ...

... and a weak grasp of history: In the Hour of Our Pride. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

"In many ways, Mr. Murphy's argument is less about America in general than about the Bush administration in particular. Thus he worries about the transfer of government functions to private contractors like Halliburton, seeing an analogy to the Roman system of patronage."

What is telling is how hatred for the Bush administration has inspired this bogus historicizing. Murphy would do well to look up the number of companies in the world besides Halliburton that could have taken on the contracts he objects to (I believe it is less than five and most are not American). He would also do well to read Amaury De Riencourt's 1958 book The Coming Caesars and also his 1968 book The American Empire.

The place we all live ...

... Wilder's Ode to Mortality. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Saving philosophy ...

... from (certain) philosophers: Another think coming. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Man of letters ...

... Henry James's magic touch. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Cool ...

... A Fridge Magnet Childe Roland.

Down the shore ...

... as we call it in thse parts, an effort has begun to save Cape May's Beach Theatre, which was founded by my wife's grand uncle. In connection with this my sister-in-law has managed to make it onto YouTube. Here you can see the Beach Theatre Interview with Jane McNutt. Please rate it.

A classic review ...

... of a classic: Edmund Wilson on Ulysses. (Hat tip, Joe of New York.)

I find Wilson's reference to " the homeless symbolism of a Catholic who has renounced the faith" interesting. I read Ulysses pretty carefully a few years ago to prepare for a long piece for the centenary of Bloomsday, and it struck me, as a Jesuit-trained Catholic, that critics tend to get Joyce's Catholic connection wrong. Joyce's animus toward the Church was rather specifically directed toward the Irish Church and while he certainly ceased to practice his faith, he remained uncommonly loyal to the philosophy of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Indeed, Ulysses can be fruitfully read as a fictional demonstration of Thomism.

High-toned laughter ...

... Maud Newton on Dryden’s 17th century literary propaganda. (Hat tip, dave Lull.)

Shelter for book lovers ...

... Literary Lodgings: Inns and B&Bs for Readers and Writers. (Hat tip, Vikram Johri.)

Post 1,008 ....

... from Maxine: PW on Maiden Mysteries. Congratulations, my dear!

Where to look ...

... Things Found In Books.

Come one, come all ...

... An Idiot’s Guide to Evolution. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

"You pick an object or agent, whether individual, social, or culture, and you ask how it is has changed in a given situation. Then you try to figure out what advantage it gained by changing. ... itworks only in hindsight, as an explanation of a trait that has already been observed."
I have recently begun to notice how many scientists are not very good when it comes to pure, abstract reasoning. Richard Dawkins's grasp of logic - or his capacity to distinguish it from rhetoric - does not impress me at all.

Boy, do I agree with this ...

... Maugham Moment. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

" ...here's Maugham doing some pitiless psychologizing without violating traditional storytelling. This is fun, by the way, at least for those who enjoy tweaking the usual modernist account of literature, because Maugham was anything but a modernist. "

But Maugham's sensibility was distinctly modern, whereas the sensibility of many modernists was not.

The importance of orthography ...

... or Your questions answered. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke.)

Note how splendid that brief quote from Wuthering Heights is.

Summa contra Harry ...

... Potter 7, Bookstores 0. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke, who calls it, pointedly, "a daft post.")

Monday, May 14, 2007

Spent much of the day ...

... plugging away again at restoring order to the book room. Once I have caught up with that, I hope to be able to maintain it with just steady attention ( and some assistance that has been promised me). I should also point out that were it not for several of my colleagues - Rich Barron, John Brumfield, Rob Copestick, and Bonnie Weller, and also Katie Haegele, I would never have got as far along as I am. But I am feeling a bit brain dead and just want to read a bit and sleep. Until tomorrow.

A fine roundup ...

... at Petrona: The Shape of Water and other media.

What ho, a kindred spirit indeed ..,.

... Walking Nige.

"We inhabit a different world - richer, more detailed, more apparent to all the senses ... the kind of walking that my kind of pedestrians do is a very different affair - marginal, unofficial, unpretty, solitary ..."


Like Nige, "I'm a pedestrian by habit, necessity, desire and conviction. I love to walk everywhere (time and distance permitting). I do not drive ..." - can't say I never have, but did it for only a very short time. Absolutely hated it.

Update: Here is the link Gwendolyn sent for America Walks.

In bed with history ...

... and No fan of Hannibal.

In praise of brevity ...

... Terry Teachout on abridgements: Short Is Good.

An unnecessary conflict ...

... that what, it seems to me the Battle of the book reviews is. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The only thing really worth noting in all this - and it's something the people who run newspapers seem not to have noticed - is how interested so many people are in books. Is there anything comparable going on with pop music or movies or TV?

A poet in full ...

... W.H. Auden: Saviour and scapegoat. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

So Seamus Heaney thinks Auden is "a writer of perfect light verse."

I'd like to see what Heaney has written comparable to this: "Who stands the crux left of the watershed, / On the wet road between the chafing grass".

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Read a bit of Tolstoy ...

... and call me in the morning: Prescribed Reading. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something for Sunday ...

... True faith is greater than the ranters.

One could disprove any theory by taking the silliest arguments that have been used by the most ignorant people to support them. To knock down Christianity on the basis of American evangelists, while failing to face up to the arguments of Bonhoeffer, who was both a very wise man and a hero, is not a scientifically respectable proceeding.

A backward glance ...

... at National Poetry Month: The Saddest Thing About National Poetry Month.

Ami did a fine job.

A search for origins ...

... Where Did Blogs Come From? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The Grumpy Old Bookman ...

... grants an interview. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A good question ...

... 9/11 as a novel: Why?

I am spent ...

... after spending my striving to restore order to my book room. Considerable progress, but still a ways to go. Piles of useless snail mail. My favorites, of course, the book packages that are so tightly wrapped you'd think there were gold bars inside. Of course, the more difficult you make it for me to get to your book, the less well disposed I am toward it. Also, making it difficult to find the pub date is annoying, to say the least. Sorry ... I'm venting.

Another installment ...

... of North 4 - Text 1.

Remember: Designed for screen resolution: 1024x768. Text size: Medium. Monitor: 17" or larger. MS Explorer preferred.
Paratext boxes opened by holding cursor over words.

OK, sleuths ...

... apply yourselves to The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript.

Au contraire ...

... Lee Lowe notes The problem with authors - in this case, Richard Powers.

Happy Mothers Day ...

... Mother, any distance. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Today's Inquirer reviews ...

... Carlin Romano weighs in on Michael Chabon's latest: His brio needs more of Bellow's braininess.

... Susan Balée asks Jim Crace Where 'the pesthouse' came from.

... by the way, here is a link to Susan's story "Memoir of a Ghost" at the Wild River Review.

... Kelly Jane Torrance has mixed feelings about Crace's The Pesthouse: America the barren: A vision of the future.

... Roger Miller has high praise for Thomas Mallon's Fellow Travelers: Life's pain, joys infuse Mallon's story of the Red-baiting '50s.

... Desmond Ryan hits the road with C.J. Sansom and Henry VIII: Thriller charts a royal rake's progress.

... Katie Haegele really likes Siobhan Dowd's debut: Young Adult Reader Family's hardships unfold into a gripping tale, ending in hope.

... and Jen Miller is impressed with Lois Pryce: Boredom spurs motorcycle trek for a new direction.

Last week ...

... Karen Heller had thoughts on Mergers and Acquisitions: Witty, breezy 'Mergers' loses it in last act.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Something truly depressing ...

... Nigeplus.

We're always being told we have to do [fill in cause here] for the children. But since we're systematically eliminating childhood, why bother?

Rhapsody in wax


... here's an encaustic painting by Gwendolyn.

It's saturday ...

... the day I go light on blogging. So I won't be back until later, maybe not until tomorrow.

Walk like an Egyptian ...

... but dress like Ivan Turgenev: The Translation Game. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

One more time ...

... Curling up with a good ebook. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Good starts ...

... What's your favourite first line?

One of mine is the opening sentence of Anthing Burgess's Earthly Powers, which is mentioned in one of the comments. I'm very fond of the openings of both A Tale of Two Cities and Moby Dick. Also the opening fo Henry Miller's Tropic of Capricorn (which I think is much better than Tropic of Cancer): “Once you have given up the ghost, everything else follows with dead certainty, even in the midst of chaos.”

Fine and dandy ...

... Librarian Couture. (Wonder what Dave Lull thinks of this.)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Nice ...

... Onan kara

Learning to read ...

... Live Ink offers better way to read text online. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

The example suggests that William Carlos Williams was on to something.

Just in case ...

... Scandinavian noir summarised.

A tale of airborne statuary ...

... or Maidens of the air.

Blogging has been light ...

... because I have been hunkering down trying to get the book room back in order. With a little luck - and some more work on Sunday - that should be accomplished by Monday. Blogging will pick up tomorrow.

From Ethelbert Miller ...

... a ShoutOut to my Phillies. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Something medieval ...

... The Murthly Hours.

A useful distinction ...

... to say the least: On Bullshit and Humbug. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A gloss on me ...

... More Book Review Fodder: Frank Wilson's Epiphany. (Hat tip, Paul Davis.)

"It seems like everyone is more interested in hanging on to what they have then evolving with the changing landscape." Yes, I think that is the problem.

Of blogs and newspapers ...

... Norm Geras declares, Long live the blogosphere.

"... blogs and bloggers in the press domain are constrained in ways that independent bloggers aren't, and it's a domain, theirs, that isn't freely open to entry. "

I think the problem with many newspaper blogs is that the bloggers just do their newspaper thing as a blog - an online column, as it were. Real blogging is not quite the same as that. As for constraints, I am less constrained on my blog than I ever would be in the paper. I started this blog because I liked reading blogs and wanted one of my own and thought that connecting it to my job might make it interesting to others.

A pair of literary stars ...

... Last night, I introduced Elmore Leonard at the library. What a cool guy. I pray I'm in his shape when I am nearing - as he is - birthday No. 82. He didn't read from his latest novel. He just told stories about writing, why he stopped doing screenplays - too many people have a say in what you're doing - what a pleasure it is just to write what you feel like, and how you have to hear the characters talking. He explained that it's his characters who tell the story, that he has to work through them because - as he put it - he doesn't have the words to do the telling for them. He was laid back, down-to-earth, wry, sly, and - as I already said - just plain cool.
The Montgomery Auditorium holds, I think, about 300 people. It was pretty much filled for Elmore's appearance at 7. Most of Elmore's fans left when he did, but a few stuck around, including yours truly, to see the next author on the bill: Chuck Palahniuk. At least twice as many people as the auditorium could hold came to hear him. So there was 20-minute delay while they set up an audio connection for people to hear him in the lobby.
He put on quite a show. He would toss a bridal bouquet (yes, you read that right) to everyone who asked him a question. He read a couple a stories and some fan letters (the letters sounded like Palahniuk stories). He brings to his often gruesome fiction an engaging, rather gentle manner, somewhat like a slightly deranged Mr. Rogers. His fans love him and they were all young. I was without doubt the oldest futzer in the audience. But I enjoyed the event as much as anyone (hey, I reviewed Diary and liked it).
The whole event was the literary equivalent of a rock concert. When Chuck announced that he was going to read one his more notorious stories, "Guts," the audience cheered, the way they would if a rock star said he was going to perform a legendary hit.
I kept thinking on the way home how newspapers are desperate to attract younger readers, but haven't a clue as to how popular this guy is with just the people they're looking for. Never have I had a greater sense of just how out of touch newspapers have become.
One final note: Both Elmore and Chuck made the same point: Both think that the great pleasure of writing fiction - for the author - comes from finding out what happens in the end. In other words, neither knows what the ending is going to be until it occurs to them as they write.
Update: Andy Kahan at the Library sends me this link. Apparently, something like 900 people showed up.
Update II: I didn't notice what some posting as Rabitte did: "i laughed when i saw that some elderly folks stayed after elmore leonard was done and got about halfway through guts before walking out. " This elderly folk stayed to the end.
Update III: I think it worth linking to Katie Haegele's Inquirer review of Rant - Spreading rabies and an odd sort of wisdom and this one in the NYT: Appetite for Destruction: A Messianic Monster, Trained in Pain.

Let's hear it for truth ...

... and careful reasoning. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

" ... if you are committed to sound reasoning ... not to speak out against bad arguments because they come from the right team is deeply antithetical to the pro-reason cause."

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Dark nostalgia ....

... The Song of the Mad Prince. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A touching and gracious gesture ...

... In memory of Karen.

Living our dilemmas ...

... Theodore Dalrymple on Arthur Koestler: A Drinker of Infinity. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Not a lot of romance ...

... Carlin Romano considers a legendary founding: After 400 years, it's time to see Jamestown clearly.

So you want to be a writer ...

... well, here's some Writerly Advice.

Great news ...

... Terry Teachout promised it, and he delivered: Lend me your ears (and eyes).

Curiosity at its best ...

... a very nice discussion of Chesterton's "Orthodoxy". (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The notion of God entering His creation in order to resolve the problem of evil through His own suffering and death has always struck me as aesthetically apt.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Sad news ...

... Steve Clackson has signed off. Steve is a class act. I hope, after a a break, he decides to come back.

Who knew?

... According to the poet Adonis, the Arabs are extinct. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

More on book reviews ...

... and it's not all flattering: What's the optimal number of book reviews? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Blogging has been light ...

... bceause my schedule is rather loaded today.

And the winner is ....

... Cormac McCarthy yet again. (Hat tip, Rich Barron.)

Maybe we ought to take some time ...

... to think about this: The First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Book Reviewers. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Lynne actually makes some good points. I've been asked to write something about this for another blog - and I'm still thinking about it.

Of great interest to local writers ...

... WoW 2007.

A bit of local lore ...

... Ardrossan, fabled estate of the high-society family that inspired The Philadelphia Story, is up for sale: End of a class act.

... Frank Lloyd Wright synagogue named National Historic Landmark .

,,, se also Mount Sinai in the Suburbs.

... and finally, Clickable city history.

Here are some sites near where I grew up. A colleague referred to the Far Northeast of the city as being a wasteland back in those days. For me, it was paradise. Our house was where the street ended. It was surrounded by woods. During migration, dozens of varieties of birds passed through those woods - which at this time of year would be filled with spring beauties and adder's tongues and, of course, may apples. There was a stream in back of our house. I walked through the woods to get to my school, which had a working farm attached. It's all gone. And people wonder why I have little sense of nostalgia.

Bad news for the apocalyptic ...

... which is to say, good news for the rest of us: Not the End of the World as We Know It.

See also The Faithful Heretic.

The point of my posting these is to suggest that there is less unanimity on the issue than the media tends to indicate. As I have said before, one of the themes of this blog is the nature of discourse.

Rescuing reading ...

... from the pedants: For Different Takes on Reading.

And speaking of Terry Teachout ...

... how about this: High-voltage teaser and Teaser No. 2.

Attention, theater lovers ...

... Terry Teachout has A proposition for stagebloggers.

Cause to celebrate ...

... IF ONLY WE COULD READ RUSSIAN

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Well, why not ?

... Some Canadian Poems with Birds.

A miracle post ...

... from Maxine: Not in the mood (small wonder, given that "the people in the room are listening to Queen's greatest hits at high volume while cooking a Mexican meal." Who knew Maxine moved in such circles?)

Fortunately not catching ...

... A List of Fictional Diseases

Neat ...

... Cathy Park Hong, "The Lineage of Yes-Men"

My speed ...

... One Small Step for Man. (Hat tip, Maxine Clarke, who knows what I'm about.)

Poetry and crime ...

... bet you didn't think they mixed: Solve the Case, Solve the Sonnet. (Hat tip, John Brumfield.)

Back to basics ...

... from Harper & Brothers: How to open a book.

Pass the dolce de leche ...

... hold the favorite novel. My sentiments exactly -especially regarding the dolce de leche.

Decrying the technopeasants ...

... Nobody could have predicted the breadth of the outrage.

Everybody knows something's happennng, but noobody's quite sure what it is - and that's making some people very angry.

Quite a site ...

... E. Ethelbert Miller.

Here's his poem Geography.

(Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

For the birds ...

... that's what Daphne du Maurier thought of Alfred Hitchcock's adaptation of her most famous short story: Mistress of menace. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A free book ...

... Download Mortal Ghost.

While you're ther, you might want to get your head in the clouds: Nephelococcygia.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Reality bites ...

... Incredible Stories Behind The Fiction.

Another good point ...

... Nige 2.

The Edwardians,' these trails tell us again and again,'were not so very different from us.' Is this the only way top 'sell' history now? Wouldn't it be much more interesting if they actually were very different from us (as of course they were)? Isn't this, in fact, the nature of the past and the point of taking an interest in history?

One would think so.

How to sink a newspaper (cont'd.) ...

... the Minneapolis Star Tribune seems to be a leader in the field. Bill Peschel has a good roundup with key links: More on Lileks.

The new publisher of the Strib is Par Ridder, scion of the moron who used to run The Inquirer.

Nice comment here, too (including one of my all-time favorite Evelyn Waugh quotes): Regarding Lileks.

Some good news and some bad news ...

... How to Sink a Newspaper. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Of course, to rack up the circulation figures the WSJ online has you have to have something to offer that people think is worth paying for. Since most newspapers seem to gauge their readers as a bunch of morons interested only in American Idol and the adventures of Paris Hilton - in other words, people who move their lips when they read - it's small wonder that those who like to read are taking their business elsewhere.

And there's The bias. The solution to any problem is contained in the structure of the problem itslef, so good reporting, by exploring the complexities and ambiguities of a given problem, goes much farther toward solving the problem than mere crusading - which starts with a presumed solution - ever can. Which is why good reporting is harder.

Talk about a contrarian ...

... consider Tom Wolfe: Dandy with a taste for literary spats.

“Bush is portrayed as a moron. I’ve only conversed with him a couple of times – not for very long – but I found he was more literate on literature than the editor of the New York Review of Books, Bob Silvers. I’ve talked to both of them, and he makes Bob Silvers look like a slug.”

Plenty to look at ...

... over at the GOB. Start at the top, with Successes and failures -- possibly.

Speaking of Maxine ...

... if you haven't visited Librarian's Place lately, well you should. Maxine set this up as a repository for links the intrepid Dave Lull discovers on his daily rounds. Invaluable. My thanks to both.