Friday, February 29, 2008
The Times piece mentions that the question was raised when George Romney, who was born in Mexico, ran in 1968. And it was dismissed, because his parents were citizens of the U.S. and the child of U.S. citizens is also a citizen, irrespective of where said child is born.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
The connection between McLuhan and Teilhard de Chardin is interesting: Marshall McLuhan, Teilhard de Chardin & Theology and A Globe, Clothing Itself with a Brain.
Wonder what Denyse O'Leary thinks of this.
My former colleagues, in an act of extreme generosity, ordered one for me as a retirement present. As soon as Amazon has them back in stock I shall one. And I intend to write about the experience. So stay tuned.
Update: Dave Lull wonders if Sokal is in fact insufficiently skeptical and sends along Sokal and Bricmont: Back to the Frying Pan and Being an Absolute Skeptic.
Which is why I am neither pro- nor anti-feminist. I just like women, but then I was raised by my mother and grandmother (with an assist from my rather older brother). Such details count.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
I first met Bill Buckley back in 1964. What impressed me most about him was what a perfect gentleman he was.
Here's the NYT obit (hat tip, Dave Lull) and a piece by Sam Tanenhaus: The Buckley Effect (hat tip, Paul Davis).
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
I thought there was more to that than met the eye.
Mark has A FEW THOUGHTS ON REVIEWS, PROMPTED BY PW & KIRKUS. (Hat tip to Dave Lull for both links.)
Monday, February 25, 2008
I'll have more to say about this later, but cursory look makes me wonder how familiar O'Leary is with Teilhard. Schönborn's point about Teilhard is that the Jesuit paleontologist clearly believed that evolution was purposeful. He was also something of a neo-Lamarckian.
In response to Maxine's request for my review of An Army of Davids, here it is (if I do say so myself, it holds up, especially the last paragraph):
An Army of Davids
How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government and Other Goliaths
Nelson Current. 289 pp. $24.99
Like the baby boomers who still account for much of its staff, Big Media is perpetually nostalgic. It yearns to revisit the glory days of its opposition to the Vietnam War and, of course, Watergate. So it often portrays the war in Iraq as another Vietnam. But the analogy is facile - as Mark Twain is said to have observed, "History does not repeat itself; it rhymes. "
In the meantime, something very similar to what happened in Vietnam is happening - to Big Media. As Glenn Reynolds puts it in An Army of Davids: "Where before journalists and pundits could bloviate at leisure, offering illogical analysis or citing 'facts' that were in fact false, now the Sunday morning op-eds have already been dissected on a Saturday night, within hours of their appearing on newspapers' websites. "
Dissected by whom? By bloggers. Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee, knows as much about blogging as anyone: He's the man behind InstaPundit.com, which on some days racks up as many as a half-million page loads.
Reynolds' highly informative book - a must-read if you want to have some idea of the direction things are taking - is about a lot more than the effect of blogging on Big Media. Its theme is "the triumph of personal technology over mass technology," which is a trend Reynolds believes is only "going to strengthen over the coming decades. "
Recalling that John Kenneth Galbraith's 1966 book The New Industrial State argued that the very size of big corporations protected them from both failure and competition, Reynolds points out that now, a mere 40 years later, "a laptop, a cheap video camera, and the free iMovie or Windows Movie Maker software (plus an Internet connection) will let one person do things that the Big Three television networks could only dream of in Galbraith's day, and at a fraction of the cost. "
That and other changes have come about with remarkable rapidity. Reynolds, sitting with a laptop in "a pizza place with 27 kinds of beer on tap, a nice patio and . . . a free wireless Internet hookup," is able "in less time than it takes the barmaid to draw me a beer" to look up the Hephthalite Huns, Tsiolkovsky's rocket equation, and "how much money Joe Biden has gotten from the entertainment industry. "
As recently as 1993, he wouldn't have been able to, because the Web was just getting started, Wi-Fi was only a couple of years old, and Google didn't exist. Most remarkable, Reynolds says, is that "the Web, Wi-Fi and Google didn't develop and spread because somebody at the Bureau of Central Knowledge Planning planned them. They developed . . . from the uncoordinated activities of individuals. "
Reynolds covers a lot of territory in this little book, from being able to have a state-of-the-art recording studio in your home for about $1,000 to "electronic privateering" in the war on terror, to video games' potential as teaching devices (likely to discombobulate teachers the way blogs have journalists). Reynolds knows how to pack a lot of information into a relatively small space and provides clear and concise explanations of such things as "horizontal knowledge" - "communication among individuals who may not know each other, but who are loosely coordinated by their involvement in something, or someone, of mutual interest. "
As a professed "transhumanist," Reynolds waxes enthusiastic on nanotechnology, planetary colonization, and "Scientifically Engineered Negligible Senescence. " But, like Ray Kurzweil - author of The Singularity Is Near, last year's big futurist book - Reynolds is well aware of the dangers that technological change can pose and favors taking reasonable steps to prevent such things as a terrorist-generated plague from happening.
The changes Reynolds chronicles have proved unsettling to a number of settled institutions, including government, corporations and the media. Reynolds, who knows his away around the First Amendment, thinks that "the press establishment's general lack of enthusiasm for free speech for others (as evidenced by its support for campaign finance 'reform') suggests that it'll be happy to see alternative media muzzled. "
"You want to keep this media revolution going?" he asks. "Be ready to fight for it. "
I think it will prove to be not much of a contest. As Reynolds knows, "open communication, quick thinking, decentralization, and broad dispersal of skills - along with a sense of individual responsibility - have an enormous structural advantage. " If Big Media could figure out how to partner with alternative media - putting together, as Reynolds suggests, "a network of freelance journalists" or "knit[ting] together a network of bloggers" - the outcome would be good for all concerned.
But that's not going to happen as long as corporate journalism continues to insist on ever more bureaucratic protocols, on making articles conform to some goofy packaging concept, and on a top-to-bottom command structure. It's as though a World War II army were marching through a jungle infested by guerrillas. Just like in Vietnam.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
I like the term subeditor better than copy editor, which is what we call them over here.
I should add that there is also on the Tilson Thomas record what is probably the best version of Walter Piston's second symphony, a fine work by an unjustly neglected composer. Of course, there are plenty of those. Audiences need to made familiar with works like Piston's symphonies, and those of Roy Harris and Edmund Rubbra, as well as knottier works like those of Ives and Ruggles. As it is, when they hear the premiere of a contemporary work, it's like trying to read an academic imitation of Finnegans Wake without ever having read Ulysses, or Faulkner or Woolf or Eliot.
By the way, take a look at the comment thread attached to that post.
... Carlin Romano objects to messing around with Will: Shakespeare with 'No Fear,' no flavor.
... I am impressed with Mary Beard's The Roman Triumph: A tradition not so well understood after all.
... Ed Pettit looks into metempsychosis: 19th-century tale of reincarnation had Poe's praise.
... and Rita Giordano is much taken with a new memoir: 'How could you . . . not be gay?'
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Friday, February 22, 2008
Henry and I obviously share a love of Keats. Keats at his best - and Henry is right that "in general, the quality of Keats’ poetry tends to vary in inverse proportion to its length" - is what poetry is all about.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
I'd go a step farther and opt for formal dinner dress. But then I look good in tails - as I'm sure Nige does as well. Not that I favor any Dinner Suit Diktat - or any other Diktat - from the Office of the Supreme Leader.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Sounds pretty up-t0-date to me.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
So You Want to Be a Writer and South High official on leave over sexy poems.
I think the mechanics of writing can be taught. After that, you're on your own. As for the other piece, well you can cast your vote.
Interesting to see if the media takes up his case.
I think this is one Americans have adopted because they think it makes them sound British. For Americans, to sound British is the same as sounding intelligent. Like Bryan, I prefer "so to speak," but only in a humorous context - so to speak.
Monday, February 18, 2008
During one of the bleaker periods of my life I read Powys's great autobiography. For some reason I was immensely cheered knowing that he had frequently walked through Germantown, the section of Philadelphia I was living in at the time.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Though it might be too much to ask for, I, for one, would be interested in hearing the reasons why these changes were deemed necessary.
I can only account for my own thinking, but it is perhaps worth noting that a book review section of some years ago would not boast a column on digital lit, but would feature genre roundups. Just a thought.
... Carlin Romano really doesn't like John Edgar Wideman's latest: Too little bio, and too much stale racial rage.
... but Mary Dixie Carter is impressed by a new biography of Ezra Pound: Irritating, captivating, quirky Pound. (Funny, I knew Pound had gone to Penn, but I hadn't realized he grew up in Wyndmoor, just outside Philly.)
... Vernon Clark likewise is impressed by Major Jackson's Hoops: Poetic nuances of Phila. (I regard this as one of my more inspired assignments: Vernon is a reporter who knows the city as well as anybody.
... Jesse Freedman is not altogether happy with Eric G.Wilson's Against Happiness: Celebrating melancholy, the essential artist's muse .
... but Katie Goldstein rather likes Arturo Pérez-Reverte's latest: Photographer becomes subject.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
It would seem to me that the same would apply to non-believers concerning their lack of belief (which inevitably is itself a kind of belief).
Friday, February 15, 2008
—Sigismund, at the Council of Constance (1414), to a prelate who had dared to point out a few errors; Sigismund was born on this day in 1368.
(Via Today in Literature.)
Thursday, February 14, 2008
An awful sentence, I would say, downright Orwellian in its vacuity.
But, speaking of me, I don't remember if I linked to this or not: Frank and Duane and me. I link to it now because it brought to mind this line of Oscar Wilde's: "To lose one parent, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness."
The archbishop, who seems like a nice enough guy, has come off in this as a bien-pensant parody.
Just for the hell of it, here's a view diametrically opposed to Archbishop Williams's: John Quincy Adams Knew Jihad.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
My point is that a state initiative to produce artists is an absolute waste of time whereas one to produce audiences might just work.
Perhaps. But why does the state think it needs to do something about producing artists? Why not plumbers, who are at least as useful, and often enough more necessary?
The search engine Technorati currently tracks "112.8 million blogs and over 250 million pieces of tagged social media" on the net. The number keeps growing. In the face of 110 million of them, simply by saying "all blogs are X" the person who utters (or writes) that sentence betrays themselves as foolish. ... It is pretty much impossible even to try to keep up with the blogosphere without reading widely in it -- only a newsfeeder allows you to do that systematically.
I found what Susan Hill is quoted as saying in the Vulpes Libris post that is linked to interesting:
Some bloggers see themselves as the same as book reviewers in the papers but they are not. You are unedited. You are uncut. You write about what you want not what they ask you to; you are writing in a more relaxed way. You do not stick to publication dates etc. or only new books.
Well, in the column I used to write - which was edited, of course, and by some very good editors - I wrote about what I wanted, I wrote (I like to think) in a pretty relaxed way, I didn't necessarily stick to pub dates, nor to new books. True, I was the assigning editor, but I also ran pieces by books that had come out decades earlier (ask Roger Miller). The primary aim of my column was to recommend a book I had enjoyed reading. But it didn't always end up that way. I was initially much taken with Paul Theroux's Blinding Light, but ended up hating it and saying so. The same was true of J.M. Coetzee's Diary of a Bad Year. I read it because I thought I would like it - I had liked Elizabeth Costello.
I should also add that not one of my editors ever toned down any negative criticism I wrote.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Thanks very much, Jen.
(Jen used to sit right next to me at the paper, and she once wrote a really nice piece about Debbie. One of my more inspired acts was getting Becky Sinkler, retired editor of the New York Times Book Review, to review Good in Bed.)
The exceedingly good point is this:
Some of us still read books, write letters, shop at real stores and make up our own minds about art, film, drama or music.
Yale First Amendment scholar Thomas Emerson also argued, writes McChesney, that in the 1930s nothing in the Constitution “prevented the government from establishing a completely nonprofit radio and television system.”
And now we have PBS and NPR. So what? McChesney's whole point is that he wants to make sure that people read only what he thinks it is important for them to read. I'll read what I feel like, thank you. If corporate media fail to provide people what they want, people will vote with their pocketbooks - oh, but they've been doing that, haven't they?
I link to this because of Blackmail's comment that I "was something of a Tory critic." That would be Old Tory, Blackmail, as Bryan pointed out only last week.
Monday, February 11, 2008
... there is nothing more sobering than a 30 year old newspaper. You can’t figure out what the headlines mean. You don’t know who the people are. Theodore Green, John Sparkman, George Reedy, Jack Watson, Kenneth Duberstein. You thumb through page after page of vanished concerns—issues that apparently were vitally important at the time, and now don’t matter at all. It’s amazing how many pressing concerns are literally of the moment. They won’t matter in six months, and certainly not in six years. And if they won’t matter then, are they really worth our attention now?