Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Save the children …

… Zero-tolerance stupidity at school: Column.

"A Photo turns 45"


Earthrise

So that's why! I'm Creative!

Why Creative People Sometimes Make No Sense

Really sour …

…  Roger’s Rules — Inadvertent Comedy from the ASA, or, an ecofeminist does milk


…  “Toward a Feminist Postcolonial Milk Studies” really exists, and my is it in earnest. How many things had to go wrong — intellectually, socially, morally — to account for prose like this:
Because milk is produced by female mammals, a feminist perspective seems to offer a logical foundation for such inquiry. From the start, feminism has been a movement for justice: at its heart is the centrality of praxis, the necessary linkage of intellectual, political, and activist work. Feminist methodology puts the lives of the oppressed at the center of the research question and undertakes studies, gathers data, and interrogates material contexts with the primary aim of improving the lives and the material conditions of the oppressed. Using standard feminist methodology [standard feminist methodology?], twentieth-century vegan feminists and animal ecofeminists challenged animal suffering in its many manifestations (in scientific research, and specifically in the feminized beauty and cleaning products industries; in dairy, egg, and animal food production; in “pet” [note the scare quotes] keeping and breeding, zoos, rodeos, hunting, fur, and clothing) by developing a feminist theoretical perspective on the intersections of species, gender, race, class, sexuality, and nature. Motivated by an intellectual and experiential understanding of the mutually reinforcing interconnections among diverse forms of oppression, vegan feminists and ecofeminists positioned their own liberation and well-being as variously raced, classed, gendered, and sexual humans to be fundamentally interconnected to the well-being of other nondominant human and animal species, augmenting Patricia Hill Collins’s definition of intersectionality to include species as well.

Professor Irwin Corey would be hard-pressed to surpass the inanity of this.

A cozy writer …

Anecdotal Evidence: `I Am a Sovereign in My Library'.

The persistence of memory …

… a commonplace from eastrod: A narrative that was written twenty years ago because of an early reading of Wise Blood.

Near the beginning …

… Byliner publishes two early Elmore Leonard stories - latimes.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Family matters …

… Bryan Appleyard — Pain on the Plains. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I ask Letts why this kind of play keeps coming back. He was driving at the time, but I think I heard him do that writerly shrug, the one that means he does not wish to line his works with the costly stuff of explanation. “Yeah, well, it will take someone smarter than me to explain why that is the case. I am sure there are all sorts of good sound sociological reasons why, as Americans, we have always been fascinated with the family. We don’t seem to be capable of writing the purely political play or social satire that you guys seem to excel at, so who the hell knows?”

I was raised by factory workers. I wouldn't get this sort of thing, either, if I hadn't got out into the world and mixed with my social betters, whose family dynamics have always struck me as peculiar.

Listen in …

… Podcast: The Guest List: 2013 | Virtual Memories.

The consequences are unintended …

… Joseph Epstein: ObamaCare and the Good Intentions Paving Co. - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

One might think the board of directors of the Good Intentions Paving Co. are all liberals, but they are not. One of the firm's most impressive undertakings was hatched in the Oval Office among George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Why not, they decided, knock off a wretched tyrant and bring democracy to a Middle Eastern country and thereby stabilize the region—all in one bold action? Tens of thousands of violent deaths and many billions of dollars later, with car bombs regularly exploding in downtown Baghdad, and with Sunni and Shiite hatred not in the least abated, the Good Intentions Paving Co. deserves to take another bow.

Indeed it does …

… The Owl Bag Sees All | Flickr - Photo Sharing! (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Plenty to choose from …

… Another Year, In the Books: 2013 | Virtual Memories.

There really is a lot here. So I plan to bump the post for the next few days to serve as a reminder.

Post bumped, as promised.

Other worlds...

Interesting pursuit...

A thought for today …

Faith which does not doubt is dead faith.
— Miguel de Unamuno, who died on this date in 1936

Monday, December 30, 2013

Life is not your friend …

… Happy Birthday, 'O Pioneers!' : The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Posing a most interesting question …

… a commonplace from eastrod: And on the 6th day of the Christmas . . . 12/30.

The bilking of the green …

… Killing the Tiger - The Barnes & Noble Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Kerrigan's territory is chiefly Dublin and the surrounding area. His subject, broadly speaking, is the state of Ireland: the crimes and cover-ups of the country's politicians, property developers, financiers, and the whole old-boyo network which so ardently and self-regardingly embraced the calling of "entrepreneur" during the years of the Celtic Tiger, now itself a species of roadkill.

Integrative aesthetics …

… Philosophy and The Novel // Reviews // Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // University of Notre Dame. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Part of the reason for philosophers to engage with literature, and particularly novels, is that so much literary criticism from professional literary scholars is formalist in nature, or perhaps more concerned with arguing for one fashionable theory or another. Here Goldman comes to the rescue in the second part of this book. The novels chosen are not from the fringe, but rather canonical works familiar to many readers outside the hard core of literature lovers.

Sage advice …

… Remember, if approached by a librarian, keep still. Do not run away. | MetaFilter. (Hat tip, Dave Lull, who should know.)

Inquirer reviews …

… The sounds, souls, and story of Stax Records.

… Allie Brosh, blogger, triumphs in 'Hyperbole and a Half'.

Tyranny alert …

… Inside TAO: The NSA's Shadow Network - SPIEGEL ONLINE.

Take, for example, when they intercept shipping deliveries. If a target person, agency or company orders a new computer or related accessories, for example, TAO can divert the shipping delivery to its own secret workshops. The NSA calls this method interdiction. At these so-called "load stations," agents carefully open the package in order to load malware onto the electronics, or even install hardware components that can provide backdoor access for the intelligence agencies. All subsequent steps can then be conducted from the comfort of a remote computer.
Did that computer you ordered online arrive late, by any chance? Most transparent administration ever my ass.

Whatever works, I guess …

… Is science inconsistent? | OUPblog. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And many happy returns …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Happy Birthday To Rudyard Kipling.

Hmm …

… prairiemary: REFLECTIONS ON FIVE PERFECT SENTENCES. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Crime at its best …

… Crimewave: Corpse Flower, Boiling Point & Cold Cases, and the best of 2013 | National Post. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

And the winners are …

… Best of Word Soup 2013 | Wordnik. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Sociological Research and hard numbers ...

The 2009 book Positivity: Top-Notch Research Reveals the 3 to 1 Ratio That Will Change Your Life, by Barbara Fredrickson, was praised by the heavyweights of psychology. Daniel Gilbert said it provided a “scientifically sound prescription for joy.” Daniel Goleman extolled its “surefire methods for transforming our lives.” Martin E.P. Seligman, often called the father of positive psychology, raved that “this book, like Barb, is the ‘real thing.’”
But the top-notchness of the research that underpins the book has been called into serious question. Even Fredrickson, a professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has now backed away from the ratio in the book’s subtitle, saying she didn’t really understand the mathematics behind it and had relied instead on the fact that it had been peer-reviewed.

Well, as Barbie said "Math is hard."

How many people do you know?

The average American knows about 600 people.

The Dunbar number

Over the past two decades, [Dunbar] and other like-minded researchers have discovered groupings of 150 nearly everywhere they looked.

A thought for today …

If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.
— Rudyard Kipling, born on this date in 1865

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Shopping with flair …

… Michelangelo’s Handwritten 16th-Century Grocery List | Open Culture.

Child abuse …

… The Devious Ad Campaign That Convinced America Coffee Was Bad for Kids - Jordan Weissmann - The Atlantic.

I've been drinking coffee since I was 4.

FYI …

… a commonplace from eastrod: Rx for readers looking for penetrating critiques of two fascinating writers.

Fancy flights …

… First Known When Lost: "When Have We Not Preferred Some Going Round To Going Straight To Where We Are?"

Absurd monologues …

… The Neglected Books Page � Blog Archive � At the Green Goose, by D. B. Wyndham Lewis.

Labyrinthine ways …

… Short Stories: Costumed — l. lee lowe.

Very worth reading carefully, subtly layered.

Even better with coffee …

… Brain function 'boosted for days after reading a novel'.

Who would have thought...

Beyond satire …

… Speaking Bureaucratically - Taki's Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The author … displays that crucial social skill in the modern world, the ability to talk endlessly about himself without revealing anything of any importance or interest whatever. This skill comes naturally to those who are self-obsessed without self-examination. Psychobabble is to self-knowledge as political correctness is to political philosophy.

Bellwether …

… ‘Duck Dynasty’ Mess Revealed That Not All Fundamentalists Live in the Bible Belt | TIME.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

You know what would be nice? If the people who make and shape culture — TV producers, journalists, activists and the like — would take this moment to reflect on how ignorant and intolerant they are of their own country, and the world beyond their cultural bubble. Here’s a reading assignment for them: The Moral Mind, a 2012 book by UVA research psychologist Jonathan Haidt.Haidt, a secular liberal, explores social science findings that educated, upper middle class Americans are the most extreme moral outliers in the world. That is, the moral framework they impose on human thought and behavior is radically alien to the moral perceptions of the overwhelming majority of humanity. This doesn’t make them wrong, but it does make them extremely unusual.

Really interesting choices …

… TQC Favorite Reads of 2013: Patrick Kurp | Conversational Reading.

A thought for today …

Religion is more like response to a friend than it is like obedience to an expert.
— Austin Farrer, who died on this date in 1968

Machines better learn to read then ...

Well, okay then ...

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The gullible media …

… Paul Davis On Crime: A Neglected Anniversary: H. L. Mencken's Tub & Hot Water.

Don't tell Richard Dawkins

… a commonplace from eastrod: Thought for the Day - Flannery O'Connor.

See also:  Returning to Andalusia . . . let the journey begin . . .

The many facets of college life...

A 'negative' anniversary …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `He Doesn't Beat His Fists on the Table'.

Sad to learn …

… Every Country Music Song Sounded the Same in 2013 [VIDEO]. (Hat tip, Sarah Weinman.)

I was at a luncheonette recently and the TV was tuned to some music channel and one current pop tune after another played. I remember one was by Miley Cyrus, but they were all by performers as well known as she. They all sounded to this first-generation rocker as if they had been written by machines. 

Climactic moments …

… on Starlite Terrace, stories by Patrick Roth, translated by Krishna Winston (Seagull Books) | On the Seawall: A Literary Website by Ron Slate (GD).

Tied with the Bard …

… who also wrote 154: Zealotry of Guerin: CONTEMPLATIONS (Sonnets #153 and #154).

Listen in …

… Andras Schiff on Beethoven | Music | theguardian.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


The lectures given by Andras Schiff on Beethoven's piano sonatas in May were electrifying - and sold out. Now you can listen to them all here.

Neologisms …

… The Words That Popped in 2013 - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Pushing back …

… The Weekend Interview With Camille Paglia: A Feminist Defense of Masculine Virtues - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

RIP …

 Now more than ever, “white on white”: Regina Derieva (1949-2013) | The Book Haven.

A thought for today …

Something unknown is doing we don't know what.
— Arthur Eddington, born on this date in 1882

Reasons

Lazy Journalists Aren't to Blame for Death of Print

Guidance ...

Why you need the church to read your Bible

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Best of American History

Required reading

Master of logic and ethics …

Peter Geach obituary | Education | The Guardian. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Occam's Razor at work, or, it's Anthropology Day!

Lordkipanidze and colleagues say their work shows the entire early fossil record for Homo – comprising perhaps nine species dating between about 2.3 and 0.5 million years old – is in fact a single long-lived group.
Here’s the list of now apparently defunct species: Homo habilis, Homo rudolfensis, Homo gautengensis, Homo ergaster, Homo georgicus, Homo soloensis, Homo pekinensis and Homo mauritanicus.
All of them would now be sunk into Homo erectus according to the study findings.
Their work also has major implications for later Homo, implying that a further six species should all be sunk into our kind, Homo sapiens. The species no longer required would be: Homo heidelbergensis, Homo rhodesiensis, Homo antecessor, Homo neanderthalensis, Homo helmei and Homo floresiensis.

So, the entire ~2.4 million years of evolution of the genus Homo comprises, this new study proposes, at most two species: Homo erectus and Homo sapiens.

They got around too!

Three years ago the genetic analysis of a little finger bone from Denisova cave in the Altai Mountains in northern Asia led to a complete genome sequence of a new line of the human family tree - the Denisovans. Since then, genetic evidence pointing to their hybridisation with modern human populations has been detected, but only in Indigenous populations in Australia, New Guinea and surrounding areas. In contrast, Denisovan DNA appears to be absent or at very low levels in current populations on mainland Asia, even though this is where the fossil was found.
Published today in a Science opinion article, scientists Professor Alan Cooper of the University of Adelaide in Australia and Professor Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum in the UK say that this pattern can be explained if the Denisovans had succeeded in crossing the famous Wallace's Line, one of the world's biggest biogeographic barriers which is formed by a powerful marine current along the east coast of Borneo. Wallace's Line marks the division between European and Asian mammals to the west from marsupial-dominated Australasia to the east.

Good ol' Empire...

Poems about moments …

… Weekly Poem: Michael Collier reads 'At the End of a Ninetieth Summer' | NewsHour Poetry Series | PBS. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Figures in the sky …

… Constellations by Billy Collins | The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Author picks …

… Salon’s ultimate book guide for 2013  — Salon.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A convenient overview …

… Roth Unbound: A Writer and His Books - The Barnes & Noble Review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

For the third day of Christmas …

… Christmas, Clive Wilmer, and the “world that was before it was” | The Book Haven.

FYI …

… The Millions : A 2013 Cheat Sheet for All You New Kindle (And Other Ereader) Owners.

Hard-working star …

… Victoria Wilson (The Bat Segundo Show #531) | Reluctant Habits.

Minority report …

The Stupidity of Ancient Egyptians � The Dabbler.

Indeed …

… Tom Tomorrow Spin cartoon from 1994 predicted Patriot Act, NSA surveillance.

Stuhlgangsgenuss, and more …

… zmkc: There's Still Time.

The critic as tough guy …

… More Dynamite: Essays 1990-2012 by Craig Raine – review. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Listen in …

… A Bill Evans Rehearsal. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A thought for today …

I rail against writers who talk about the loneliness of it all — what do they want, a crowd looking over their typewriters? Or those who talk about having to stare at a blank page — do they want someone to write on it?
— Wilfrid Sheed, born on this date in 1930

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Mother...

A thought for today …


The moment one gives close attention to any thing, even a blade of grass it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.

— Henry Miller, born on this date in 1891

Elizabethan Politics and Correspondence



Plugging a new book from an old friend. Check out Rayne Allinson's work on Elizabethan letters.

FYI…

….. We’ll Be Back in January | Fox Chase Review.

Terrific …

… Meet Pentatonix's "Little Drummer Boy" | Mother Jones. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Cheerily spooky...

The good doctor nods …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `Now This Poem, Now This Scrap of Old Furniture'.

I have never shared Johnson's view of Gray.

The premium is intimacy …

… How Theaters Can Combat the Stay-at-Home Mindset - WSJ.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

We were at dinner Christmas Eve with some very bright young people, neither of who was especially inclined to go to even movie theaters.

Hear, hear …

… Snowden cites Orwell in Christmas message | New York Post.

Q&A …

… NewsBusters Interview: Dana Gioia on Christian Retreat from the Culture | NewsBusters. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)


“Christians have been naïve to think that they can prosper in a society and not be engaged in cultural creation,” Gioia says. “Christians are naïve to think that they can be engaged positively in society and ignore culture. If you turn your back on the arts, essentially you are leaving all of those stories, those images, those forms of communication in the hands of others. And that’s what we’re seeing. People of faith have unambiguously lost the culture wars. They complain about it but they aren’t doing anything about it.”
Amen, brother.


Post bumped.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A surfeit of vision …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `Eyes Are Vocall, Tears Have Tongues'.

For shame …

… The 10 Worst Colleges for Free Speech: 2013 | Greg Lukianoff.

More on James Salter

...and his identity, his roots...

A vintage seasonal …

To Frank, Vikram, Jesse and you, dear reader ....

All my love to each of you, and to the families of those who have them, this holiday season.  To those who have much, remember your neighbor who has little.  To those who have little, and to those who are suffering, all you may be able to do is hold on.  But hold on and believe, in God if you can, and in love. Because you are loved.

Virgin Birth and Believers ...

A new poll by Pew Research, just in time for Christmas, shows 73 percent of Americans believe in Jesus’ virgin birth by His mother Mary. Even 32 percent of the self-professed religiously unaffiliated said they believe.  White evangelicals were the most believing (97%), followed by black Protestants (94%), white Catholics (88%), Hispanic Catholics (81%) and Mainline Protestants (70%).  By comparison, other polls show about one third of the British people profess belief in the Virgin Birth.
Popular lore claims America is always growing more secular, like Europe.  But attachment to core Christian beliefs remains high and shows no major sign of falling.

Ho hic ho

Police in Poland said a Santa and his helper could face drunken driving charges after they were thrown from their sleigh on a busy street.
Witnesses said the 51-year-old Santa and his 31-year-old female helper were both visibly drunk as they rode a horse-drawn sleigh down a busy road in Ustrzykach Dolnych and they were thrown from the vehicle when a car horn spooked their horse, the British newspaper the Mirror reported Monday.

Staring down the mind …

… Proust: The Accidental Buddhist by Pico Iyer | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Speak up …

… Saving the Lost Art of Conversation - Megan Garber - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Uphill reading …

… a commonplace from eastrod: If at first you do not succeed . . .

The life of words …

… From brainwashing to sag: my personal history charted in words | Michael Rosen. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Fine-sounding brass …

… Bruce Charlton's Miscellany: Jimmy Shepherd, cornet virtuoso. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Flight of fancy …

… Badass birds for Christmas … and not for your dinner table. | The Book Haven.

A giant quilt of music …

… Everything That Rises - Tune In for Superabundance. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A thought for today …

Poetry is simply the most beautiful, impressive, and widely effective mode of saying things.

—Matthew Arnold, born on this date in 1822

Monday, December 23, 2013

Dead end …

… Other Countries, Other Shores - NYTimes.com. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

If I could save time in a bottle ...

It’s become a common complaint—almost a joke—that time seems to whiz by faster and faster as we get older.
Of course, aging doesn’t grant us the power to disrupt the space-time continuum, so it’s not a real problem. But why do we perceive it to be?

Late but a list ...

Of the 15 best books for the political junkie on your list, by Sean Trende of Real Clear Books (and Politics)

The bugbear style …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `More Terrour Than Danger'.

A Hardy Christmas …

… First Known When Lost: Christmas, Part Eight: "A Merry Christmas, Friend!"

Radical form …

… Book review: ‘Blinding,’ by Mircea Cartarescu | Dallas Morning News.

“Hallucinatory” is a much-abused word in critical writing, usually applied with great laziness, but in Blinding it does seem appropriate, along with “rapturous” and even at times “exhausting.” How quickly Cartarescu takes us from scenes of Communist tedium to a fantastical New Orleans, while also inviting us to inspect the intricately detailed biblical scenes painted on a woman’s toenails!

Tracing revision …

… Mapping the Lyrical Essay | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

In case you wondered …

… What Is Art For? by John Armstrong, City Journal Autumn 2013. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Shock can do little for us … when we seek other adjustments to our moods or perceptions. We may be paralyzed by doubt and anxiety and need wise reassurance; we may be lost in the labyrinth of complexity and need simplification; we may be too pessimistic and need encouragement. Shock is pleasing to its adherents in its assumption that our primary problem is complacency. Ultimately, however, it is a limited response to impoverished thinking, timid or ungenerous reactions, or meanness of spirit.

The poetry of battle …

… The Daggers of Jorge Luis Borges by Michael Greenberg | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Borges calls himself a “hedonic” reader—he seeks pleasure in books, and beyond that, a “form of happiness.” He advises his students to leave a book if it bores them: “that book was not written for you,” no matter its reputation or fame. As a reader, he hunts for specific passages, or even just phrases, that move him. “One falls in love with a line, then with a page, then with an author,” he says. “Well, why not? It is a beautiful process.”

Eternal rest grant her, O Lord …

… a commonplace from eastrod: The death of an adjunct . . . God bless you, Margaret Mary Vojtko.

Mind and soul …

… Unapologetic • Advent calendar 22: from 'Funeral Music' by Geoffrey Hill. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Getting Elmore Leonard right …

… The Elmore Leonard Paradox - Christopher Orr - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Occasionally hit, mostly miss …

… PN Review Online - Edmund Wilson and the Poets - Tony Roberts - PN Review 214. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The quality of mercy …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Joseph Wambaugh's Hollywood Confidential: The Actor, The Comic And LAPD Vice.

Appreciation …

… Leiter Reports: A Philosophy Blog: In Memoriam: Peter Geach (1916-2013). (Hat tip, Dave Lul.)

A warrior's tale …

… Paul Davis On Crime: My Washington Times Review Of 'The Trident: The Forging And Reforging Of A Navy SEAL Leader.

Conviction and technique …

… Colin Wilson, the permanent outsider – Ken MacLeod – Aeon. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

A thought for today …

To rage and mock is gentlemanly, to grumble and whine is not.
— Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, born on this date in 1896

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The man who went away …

… Cynic’s Progress | The Weekly Standard.

Hmm …

… zmkc: A Theological Discussion.

Quite a bunch …

… Philosophy, lit, etc.: Anglicans -- mostly literary, some musical.

Real and contemplative …

… Issa's Untidy Hut: John Martone: Bheid - Small Press Sunday.

Posthumous success …

Lisbeth Salander to return in Millennium Trilogy sequel | AbeBooks' Reading Copy.

De-normalizing …

… Re-Education Camp | National Review Online. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I am sorry my editor at NR does not grasp the stakes. Indeed, he seems inclined to “normalize” what GLAAD is doing. But, if he truly finds my “derogatory language” offensive, I’d rather he just indefinitely suspend me than twist himself into a soggy pretzel of ambivalent inertia trying to avoid the central point — that a society where lives are ruined over an aside because some identity-group don decides it must be so is ugly and profoundly illiberal. 

A pleasing convergence …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `Just Before Night Wipes Them Out'.

Worth pondering …

… AttackingtheDemi-Puppets: Three Problems.

Whether you agree or not overall, there is lot here that ought to be thought about. Regarding hipsters, they are not necessarily hip, in fact, they are almost necessarily not hip, since aping the hip really isn't something someone hip would do. The hip are born, not made.

Have a listen …

… Preservation Hall Jazz Band: Tiny Desk Concert : NPR. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

ter for the stars …

… Detectives Beyond Borders: Detectives Beyond Borders schmoozes Dashiell Hammett's editor.

Music for the season …

… Dies Natalis — The Dabbler.

Eternal triangle …

… Murugan Poems | The Caravan - A Journal of Politics and Culture. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

In place of a lecture …




(Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

The triumph of life …

… Joel Weishaus-Beginner's Mind: Toward an Ecohumanities-Blog.

David Byrne, How Music Works, and free news ...

Or is the artistic impulse so strong that you think people will do it and it will be found? Or does a culture of “free” lead to less culture?
I think people will perform and create music because it’s fun. It’s a social thing. It might be something they only do on weekends or something like that. That’s certainly possible.
I agree with a lot of those people that the copyright laws have extended way to far and they’re crippling creativity. It’s just too much and it’s just too extensive. And it’s too controlling.
It’s not always about the artists. The companies grab that copyright  But on the other meaning of it, where there’s a feeling that no one should pay for anything that creative people make, well, go down that road and it means that people aren’t going to make things.
It’s happening in the media as well: If all news is free, there are fewer jobs, and sometimes the information you get is less valuable. You end up with city halls or town meetings without any reporters there to keep an eye on people.
There’s no money for research into pieces. All those kinds of things. Those kinds of things have changed the course of history, and they keep the government in check, they make a democracy work. And if you take that away then the scales have kind of tipped in a really bizarre way.

The rest of the interview is here.

Sad news …

… Waka Huia: RIP Peter Geach. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Inquirer reviews …

 Books to give any time: The Inquirer staff's recommendations.

Religion, Journalism and other stuff ...

When W.B. Yeats wrote, almost a century ago, that “Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry,” he would not likely have guessed that the phrase would someday apply to a gay, deeply Catholic Latino living in California. Richard Rodriguez is more than just a string of contradictory signifiers; ...
Rodriguez’s new book, “Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography,” looks at the state of religion after 9/11 – the hatred of Islam, the revival of atheism, the disorientation of secularism. The 2001 attacks sent Rodriguez, literally and intellectually, to the Middle Eastern desert as a way of making sense of the three great monotheistic faiths — Islam, Judaism and Christianity — by experiencing their origins. It’s his first book in more than a decade, since the 2002 publication of “Brown: The Last Discovery of America.” The new book also muses on Cesar Chavez, California’s tradition of disappointment and the death of newspapers. “When a newspaper dies in America,” he writes, “it is not simply that a commercial enterprise has failed; a sense of place has failed.”
Lyrical and rigorous, “Darling” is essentially travel literature — a kind of journey.

Worth visiting...

Incredible indeed...

A thought for today …

I don't say what God is, but a name
That somehow answers us when we are driven
To feel and think how little we have to do
With what we are.
— Edwin Arlington Robinson, born on this date in 1869 

Cause for concern …

… World War Three? - The American Interest.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Kingsley Amis


Christopher Hitchens wrote of Kingsley Amis that his work was an amalgam of Waugh and Wodehouse. 

Having recently finished Lucky Jim, I'd like to agree: Amis articulates that hapless quality of Wodehouse, while writing with the same perceptive (and damning) qualities of Waugh. 

For me, there was something of Brideshead in Lucky Jim. But there was something of Jeeves, too. Frankly, I enjoyed Lucky Jim - more than I thought I would at the start. 

At least part of that enjoyment was a result of Amis' prose, which I found to be a wonderful mixture of patience, rhythm, and comedy. 

The comedy here is jaded, of course, but that's because the academic life that Amis captures is equal measures cloistered and absurd. His main character, Jim Dixon, confronts that absurdity with a sinister indifference, one that ultimately gets him drunk and sacked. 

And that's where Amis seems to make his most strident point: to be ejected from the academy is to be liberated. Dixon is freed at the end of the book, despite the embarrassment that comes with it. That, for Amis, is the great comedy, the great joke. Dixon is better off without the struggle.

Research into academic life yields one revelation for Amis: that it quickly spirals into provincialism, petty quarreling, and a smug sense of self-satisfaction. 

Not that I necessarily agree. But Amis does have a point.




Losing my religion ...

One of the foundations of the scientific method is the reproducibility of results. In a lab anywhere around the world, a researcher should be able to study the same subject as another scientist and reproduce the same data, or analyze the same data and notice the same patterns.
This is why the findings of a study published today in Current Biology are so concerning. When a group of researchers tried to email the authors of 516 biological studies published between 1991 and 2011 and ask for the raw data, they were dismayed to find that more 90 percent of the oldest data (from papers written more than 20 years ago) were inaccessible. In total, even including papers published as recently as 2011, they were only able to track down the data for 23 percent.

Will it last?

One of the world's largest academic publishers has launched a wide-ranging takedown spree, demanding that several different universities take down their own scholars' research.

Oh, well …

… Bryan Appleyard — Famous Five – Our Only Hope. (Hat tip,Dave Lull.)

Just read somewhere that walking for 20 minutes a day can reduce stroke and heart attack risk by 8 percent. Hell, I walk several times that just about every day, and I have for almost my entire life. Even gimpy knees don't deter me from my appointed rounds.

Christmas spirits …

… Hitting the road with Charles Dickens and A Christmas Carol | The Book Haven.

A dragon's tale …

… The Desolation of Smaug – A Review | The End Of The Pier Show. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Fragility …

… Zealotry of Guerin: The Moth (Balthus).

What do you want? Information …

… This Week's Must Read: 'Ashenden,' by Somerset Maugham : NPR. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Predicting is difficult …

… A strong defense of Mr. Clifford Stoll — Articulate Ventures. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Something different …

… Nikki Giovanni mixes it up in 'Chasing Utopia' - latimes.com. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Coincidence. ..

...The mean streets

A thought for today …

One ought to go too far, in order to know how far one can go.
— Heinrich Böll, born on this date in 1917

Friday, December 20, 2013

Carnival may skis …

… First Known When Lost: Chimeras.

Unsentimental …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `One of the Masters of Pity'.

Economy …

… Would You Eat A Holiday Dinner in a Can? | Innovations. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Points of view …

… Seriousness by Stephen Dunn | The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

In case you wondered. …

… BBC News - A Point Of View: Why Charles Dickens endures. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

As an observer of the human scene Dickens wasn't the cosy sentimentalist to whom we were introduced at school, any more than he was just an angry protestor against Victorian injustice. As he saw it, if I read him right, human life was fickle, erratic and inherently unruly. There was no prospect of remoulding things according to some more exalted plan. Yet this wasn't for Dickens an altogether melancholy thought, for he had a powerful sense of excitement when he contemplated the intractable human world.

Both, maybe?

… Bob Dylan - Musician or Poet? - NYTimes.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Vlad the Not-So-Magnificent …

… Does Putin's new Literary Assembly bode ill for Russian writers? (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Culture for all …

… interview with Tim Lacy on 'The Dream of a Democratic Culture: Mortimer J. Adler and the Great Books Idea' | Inside Higher Ed. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I have a set of the Great Books. It includes Aquinas's Summa.

Neat ….

… PHOTOS: Frozen Bubbles Create 'Whimsical' Winter Art - AccuWeather.com.

Walter Pater and Beauty and Art ...

All art constantly aspires towards the condition of music. For while in all other kinds of art it is possible to distinguish the matter from the form, and the understanding can always make this distinction, yet it is the constant effort of art to obliterate it. That the mere matter of a poem, for instance, its subject, namely, its given incidents or situation — that the mere matter of a picture, the actual circumstances of an event, the actual topography of a landscape — should be nothing without the form, the spirit, of the handling, that this form, this mode of handling, should become an end in itself, should penetrate every part of the matter: this is what all art constantly strives after, and achieves in different degrees.
...
Low-keyed though it was, The Renaissance was unmistakably a manifesto, and its message ran counter to some of the most deeply held convictions of his society. The secret of living well, it affirmed, was to live beautifully. “Not the fruit of experience but experience itself is the end”—experience judged in terms of intensity, “stirring of the senses,” aesthetic satisfaction. 

R.I.P.

Peter O'Toole was born in 1932 in Connemara, Ireland...

Although it was his mother, Connie, who instilled in O'Toole a strong sense of literature, by far the biggest influence in his young life was his father, Patrick, a bookie who was often drunk.
One day, Patrick stood his young son up on the mantelpiece and said: "Jump, boy. I'll catch you. Trust me."
When Peter O'Toole jumped, his father withdrew his arms, leaving the boy splattered on the hard stone floor. The lesson, said his father, was "never trust any bastard".

Conflicts ...

Archaeologists and physicists are at loggerheads over ancient Roman lead—a substance highly prized by both camps for sharply diverging reasons.

Retail …

… The Awkward Art of Book Trailers : The New Yorker. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Lovely …

… Dream by Wisława Szymborska | The New York Review of Books. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Q&A …

… Restoring Faith in Fiction: A Visit with Walker Percy and Paul Elie. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

The varieties of ourselves …

Penelope Lively: 'So this is old age'. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)



Am I envious of the young? Would I want to be young again? On the first count – not really, which surprises me. On the second – certainly not, if it meant a repeat performance. I would like to have back vigour and robust health, but that is not exactly envy. And, having known youth, I'm well aware that it has its own traumas, that it is no Elysian progress, that it can be a time of distress and disappointment, that it is exuberant and exciting, but it is no picnic. I don't particularly want to go back there.

A thought for today …


I have everything, yet have nothing; and although I possess nothing, still of nothing am I in want.
— Jean Racine, born on this date in 1639

Thursday, December 19, 2013

That's one way to look at it...

Their word...

Mismarketing...

Fine selection...

Taking on a racist …

… A Jazzman’s Sour Notes on Race | FrontPage Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I reviewed  Terry
Teachout's biography of Louis Armstrong, and I missed the racism in it. I think that's because there wasn't any. But I'm just another white guy, so what do I know? Only wait, I'm not even a white guy, since, according to this fellow Payton, there aren't any white people:
To be Italian, Spanish, Jewish, or Polish, now that means something, but what does it mean to be White? It means that the basis of your history starts with a lie. Black is synonymous with being African, but being White is synonymous with no nation or culture in particular. To be White is to align yourself with centuries of violence and oppression. To be White is to say that you’re a part of those who went into Africa and told them your White Jesus is more powerful than their Black Ancestors. You came into our villages and told us we would go to hell if we didn’t serve your God. You separated children from their families, you emasculated and effeminated [sic] our boys and men, you raped our girls and women….
Wow. Dare I suggest that the Ibo, Kikuyu, and Bantu — and many others — might take exception to this.  Bear in mind, one of my college classmates was the son of a Kikuyu chieftain. As for my own ethnic background, my brother and I call ourselves Heinzes, since we may have most of the 57 different varieties in us.

Depends on what you mean by journalism …

… Does journalism have a future? | TLS. (Hat tip, Dave Lull)

See also: Black and White and Dead All Over. (Ht tip, Paul Davis.)

Where was all the great investigative journalism when it came to Obamacare, or Fast and Furious, or Benghazi, or Solyndra, the NSA, or the IRS?

In the meantime, we have this: The best and worst media errors and corrections in 2013.


Memory and time …

Helping actors seem interesting …

… Bryan Appleyard — Learning to Love the Luvvie. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Looking for enchantment …

… Paris Review – T. S. Eliot’s “The Cultivation of Christmas Trees”, Casey N. Cep. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

I was a child for whom those lights were stars and that angel was more than a decoration. I read “The Cultivation of Christmas Trees” to remember that what Eliot says was once true for me, and to hope that it might be true again. But December after December my memory fades and “the spirit of wonder” seems like something traced in the vapor of a breath on a cold windowpane: once visible, but long since disappeared.

Troubled thought …

… Robert Frost revealed in his letters | Harvard Magazine Jan-Feb 2014. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

From a (former) DC journalist ...

When I returned from my 28 days in rehab, in January 2010, it was harder to ignore the near criminal disconnect between Washington and the rest of the country, especially in an industry that has turned neighbors against each other while its instigators clock out and meet for a beer together, skilled actors who in many cases spend the day feigning hatred for each other on camera but are actually bound by their shared nihilism and reckless self-absorption. In Washington, a divided America is good for business.

A thought for today …

We believe in healthy, hearty laughter — at the expense of the whole human race, if needs be. Needs be.
— H. Allen Smith, born on this date in 1907

Get the tape out ...

Marcus Thomas, former assistant director of the FBI’s Operational Technology Division in Quantico, said in a recent story in The Washington Post that the FBI has been able to covertly activate a computer’s camera — without triggering the light that lets users know it is recording — for several years.
Now research from Johns Hopkins University provides the first public confirmation that it’s possible to do just that, and demonstrates how. While the research focused on MacBook and iMac models released before 2008, the authors say similar techniques could work on more recent computers from a wide variety of vendors.

Hmm ...

"A certain type of person becomes a reporter, and generally speaking — generally speaking, I'm not saying every reporter in the world — the kind of person who is a reporter in Washington, D.C., or New York City has never worked a minimum-wage job outside of high school, has never experienced poverty, is not an evangelical Christian, like much of the country is," Tapper said. "There are a lot of experiences that the kinds of people who are reporters, editors, producers in Washington and New York City have not had."

What we know, and what we don't …

… In The Beginning There Was ... Nothing? : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture : NPR. (Hat tip,Dave Lull.)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Voyage into self...

In case you're interested …

… How to Write: A Year in Advice from Franzen, King, Hosseini, and More - Joe Fassler - The Atlantic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Books in order …

… Forget selfies, we want to see your shelfies | Books | theguardian.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

It's a mystery …

 P.D. James: Who killed the golden age of crime? — The Spectator. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Outsider …

… Jenny Turner reviews ‘Penelope Fitzgerald’ by Hermione Lee � LRB 19 December 2013. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Fitzgerald’s novels, Byatt concludes, are best approached as ‘very English versions of European metaphysical fables’ – English, maybe, in the sense that Muriel Spark was Scottish and Isak Dinesen Danish, and that Marguerite Duras was French. Byatt does not make this point, but it’s worth noticing, surely, that this minor modern tradition often attracts women writers, maybe because its minority and smallness work well with limited resources, or because its irony makes sense to writers in secret protest over the limitations within which they work. As a conventional literary career, Fitzgerald’s life’s work was, as one reviewer put it, ‘an awful hash’. But really and truly, in what universe does the phrase ‘literary career’ make the slightest sense? Not on a leaky houseboat, when life is a daily struggle to look after all the people you have to look after. Nor, presumably, in the realms of ethical life and spirituality. Though she said and wrote little about it, Fitzgerald was a practising Anglican, and when she went on a coach tour of ‘the Holy Land’ in the early 1990s, headed straight for the Jordan to be rebaptised.

Too Much, Too Fast? OR just Blah, Blah, Blah? ...


The Stream represents the triumph of reverse-chronology, where importance—above-the-foldness—is based exclusively on nowness...

A Look Back At the Year ...


God Freaks Self Out By Lying Awake Contemplating Own Immortality

Report: World Now Down To 5 Stories That Are Inspirational
Grisly Remains Of 15 Hobbits Discovered In Peter Jackson’s Attic

From America's Finest News Source

Like a soufflé...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Change of symmetry …

TAKE HEART: A Conversation in Poetry | Daily Bulldog. (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

Makes sense to me …

C�zanne: ‘The artist must avoid thinking like a writer’ - Book News | Literature & Book Reviews & Headlines |The Irish Times - Sat, Nov 16, 2013

You never know …

… First Known When Lost: Signposts.

Never toplofty …

… Anecdotal Evidence: `I Could Just Read Him Over and Over'.

Not your usual book list …

… EFF's Reading List: Books of 2013 | Electronic Frontier Foundation. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

FYI …

… What You Need to Know about Dana Gioia - Front Porch Republic. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Indeed …

… Remember Peter O'Toole the Writer | Bill Peschel.

Something I just came upon …

 Peter Wilby on the extravagant lives and loves of the poet George Barker | Books | The Guardian.

I am a great fan of Barker's poetry and have been for many decades.

Q&A …

… Richard Rodriguez: “New Atheism has a distinctly neo-colonial aspect” - Salon.com. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In case you wondered …

… 10 of the Greatest Essays on Writing Ever Written – Flavorwire. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Watch your step …

… Nonfiction’s Slippery Slope | BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog.

The latest contenders …

… Who is the greatest American novelist? 1: Saul Bellow v Raymond Chandler. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

More than a fellow traveler …

… the making of american literature - bookforum.com / current issue. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

That would be at the plate …

… RealClearBooks - Swing and a Myth: Finding the Real Ted Williams.

Academic fashion statements …

… American Studies Assoc | Israel boycott | Talking Points.

… Swarthmore Jewish students break with Hillel policies.

Chesterton's advice seems apt: “Do not be so open-minded that your brains fall out.” 

Sounds about right …

… Paul Davis On Crime: Jimmy Fallon On James Bond's Hard-Drinking Lifestyle.

Fleming also wrote Bond's (and his own) epithet: "I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time."
Indeed.

A thought for today …

However, no two people see the external world in exactly the same way. To every separate person a thing is what he thinks it is - in other words, not a thing, but a think.
— Penelope Fitzgerald, born on this date in 1916

Monday, December 16, 2013

Obscure gems...

In case you wondered …

… Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: How to Open a Wine Bottle With a Shoe.

For the defense …

… It’s a Man’s World, And It Always Will Be | TIME.com.


From my long observation, which predates the sexual revolution, this remains a serious problem afflicting Anglo-American society, with its Puritan residue. In France, Italy, Spain, Latin America, and Brazil, in contrast, many ambitious professional women seem to have found a formula for asserting power and authority in the workplace while still projecting sexual allure and even glamor. This is the true feminine mystique, which cannot be taught but flows from an instinctive recognition of sexual differences. In today’s punitive atmosphere of sentimental propaganda about gender, the sexual imagination has understandably fled into the alternate world of online pornography, where the rude but exhilarating forces of primitive nature rollick unconstrained by religious or feminist moralism.

Clearing up misunderstanding …

… Scientism and the Integrity of the Humanities - The New Atlantis. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Source material …

… Was Dickens’s Christmas Carol borrowed from Lowell’s mill girls? - Ideas - The Boston Globe. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Will and cosmos …

… Rome: Sex & Freedom by Peter Brown — www.nybooks.com — Readability. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Harper’s book makes plain that the modern spate of works on sexuality and on the construction of gender in Roman and early Christian times, ingenious though they may be, are lightweight confections compared with this gross, ever-present fact of Roman life. We must look up from our literary games and see what is almost too big to be seen—the fact of slavery, towering above us like the trees of an immense forest of unfreedom that covered the Roman world. What mattered, in Roman law and in Roman sexual morality, had little to do with sex. It had everything to do with whose bodies could be enjoyed with impunity and whose could not be touched without elaborate formulas of consent.

C.S. Lewis and Legacy ...

 Lewis did not regard his legacy with much confidence. He thought he would be remembered for about five years, then forgotten by all but specialists. Washington Post book critic Michael Dirda recently poked some fun at that dour assessment: “Lewis was clearly no prophet."

J.R.R. Tolkien and Defeat ...

Tears ago, when this forest was filled with vitality and effervescence, Galadriel had uttered these words, found with little pomp in J. R. R. Tolkien's masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings (LOTR), yet running like lightning throughout the pages of his seminal work:
". . . together through ages of the world we have fought the long defeat."

Happiness ...


It has been said that “happiness is as a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you. Social scientists have caught the butterfly. After 40 years of research, they attribute happiness to three major sources: genes, events and values.

I really am shocked …

… a commonplace from eastrod: An important digression: eliminating writing requirements in college courses?

I really didn't think things were this bad. I taught freshman English in college for all of one semester once. I have it on good authority that those in both classes went on to be regarded as good writers. This probably had something to do with the fact I was already at the time a professional writer and editor (even if still in the larval stage). But it a had a lot to to with the fact that all of my students had the basics of grammar and usage down. I just taught them techniques.

Character in life and art …

… Marly Youmans / The Palace at 2:00 a.m.: Out-of-fashion characters, creation, one writer's mind. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Holiday hi jinks …

… Paul Davis On Crime: 'Big Book Of Christmas Mysteries' Offers Yule Time Fun And Crime.