Entries Tagged 'Digests' ↓

Digest 2

The second digest in my aggregating/anthologizing experiment. Basically, what I find especially interesting in my day’s Internet reading. Here’s the digests category of my blog. Without further ado — oh, wait. The “What I’m reading and listening to” bit: Today I’ve been reading more of Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress and listening to Kraftwerk’s “Computer Love,” Metallica’s “Fixxxer,” and REM’s “Shiny Happy People.”

  • At ReaderCon 2010, Eric Rosenfield and JF Quackenbush of Wet Asphalt conducted quick video interviews with several big names mostly asking variations of the same questions: What’s the future of publishing? and What’s the future of genre?. In his interview, Peter Straub said: Although “people will continue to write books” — of course! — publishing is becoming “less centralized, more electronic” and publishers are “infinitely less willing to take gambles.” Also: “blogging’s going to become an essential element of a brand” and “that’s just the way things are going, you know? Adapt or die.”

    The interviewer asks Straub about publishing his latest novel The Skylark through a small press to preserve an artistic vision not chosen by the major press editors of the book’s incarnation as A Dark Matter (unfortunately I’ve yet to read either, though I own ’em!); the interviewer specifically asks, “Do you think small presses are going to be much more important in the future in taking up the reins of preserving the artistic vision of writers, and that major presses are just going to advocate anything that — lowest common denominators?” Straub answers — it’s hard to hear given the crowd noise — that he thinks “megabooks are going to antiquate[?] the concept of catering to writers of unproven earning capacity; that means small presses are going to reap an enormous benefit […] and become more commercial.”

    Ted Chiang takes the studied-neutrality view on publishing’s future: “There will be publishing […] I expect that there’ll probably be something that no one right now can predict” and says that though genre’s boundaries “aren’t going to go away,” they’re “fading.”

    John Kessel, asked about the future of genre (particularly with recognition of his efforts toward pushing the academy into accepting genre fiction), comments: “I think there always will be something that presents[?] as science fiction written. […] As a separate genre, [science fiction] will probably persist still. […] But also more and more writers seem to be dealing with [*inaudible*] science fiction concepts without being part of the subculture.”

  • Writer and editor Scott Edelman captured and/or published footage of a recent panel, also at ReaderCon 2010, that focused on Theodore Sturgeon, perhaps my favorite writer. Scott Edelman’s YouTube page offers Part 1 and Part 2 of the footage, and I hope more parts were recorded and will be published. From the YouTube descriptions:

    On Sunday, July 11, 2010, Samuel R. Delany, Paul Di Filippo, Barry Malzberg, Noël Sturgeon, and Diane Weinstein appeared on the panel “From Microcosmic God to Slow Sculpture: The Short Fiction of Theodore Sturgeon.”

  • At DailyKos, Meteor Blades (whose handle sounds like a Final Fantasy spell) writes a worthwhile post on economic inequality in the States, employing statistics and charts impressively.

  • In time for this coming Tuesday’s 41st anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, Ryan Brown at Salon.com interviews Stephen Pyne about his recent book Voyager: Seeking Newer Worlds in the Third Great Age of Discovery which starts with “the first sputterings of Sputnik and reach[es] all the way to our recent space shuttle disasters.” Although Pyne is inclined away from manned space exploration, he says:

    Science fiction actually preceded [space exploration], and many people involved in the program had grown up reading these books and took the ideas within them very seriously. I think that what made the literary side so potent was that it gave space exploration a sense of story. It helped us answer those big-picture questions: What does this all mean? How can we understand what is unfolding?


    [The Voyager spacecrafts] are each equipped with a gold-plated phonograph record and instructions (if anyone is able to decode them) on how to play it. They’re filled with sounds and greetings in most of the earth’s languages.

    You can hear the global music recorded on the Golden Record; it includes the best performance of Bach’s 2nd Brandenburg Concerto, 1st Movement — by Karl Richter’s Munich Bach Orchestra — that I’ve ever heard. It’s at a very fast tempo, yay!

  • NPR reports on the high number of job seekers hoping for jobs with the federal government. Excerpt:

    With a 9.5 percent unemployment rate reported in June, there aren’t a lot of job opportunities for recent graduates. But the federal government is looking to fill an estimated 50,000 entry-level positions in the next year, according to the Partnership for Public Service, and public sector work is looking better and better to some people as private sector job growth remains anemic.

  • The NYT wonders about the French government and digital piracy since

    “President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed what was to have been the world’s toughest crackdown on illegal file-sharing [… yet] not a single warning has been sent out; not a single broadband connection has been cut.”

    Like many, my thoughts on digital copyright are mixed and currently not very useful, so here’s some copyleft stuff to read — Cory Doctorow’s nonfiction collection Content — and some far copyright stuff to read — Abjectivist Greg Perkins on intellectual property. Further, there’s the studied, tumultuous-change-is-inevitable neutrality (if I’m not mistaken) of William Gibson and Clay Shirky. Learn more than I have and make up your own mind! I will say, however, that some writers (such as myself) who loudly specify that they don’t write for profit also overly fret about digital copyright, and that seems contradictory to me, unless they’re worrying about publishers/presses affording their costs of production, or about making sure authentic versions of their texts are reliably available to readers as opposed to tampered versions — presumably there’s tech for the latter problem?

  • Letters to the NYT Editor debate the value of Teach for America.

  • This one will probably anger some of my readers especially. The United Farm Workers union has issued a job-offer call to unemployed American citizens as rhetorical defense for immigrants. In response, the NYT opines on immigration:

    It is safe to conclude that few if any Americans will take up the [UFW] offer, no matter how hungry they are. The campaign is a sly attempt to draw attention to the push for immigration reform, particularly an effort to legalize undocumented farm workers. With anti-immigrant resentment running hot, many accuse immigrants of stealing American jobs. The union replies: How can immigrants steal jobs nobody else wants?

  • My Clarion West ’08 classmate Kristin Janz praises a Realms of Fantasy short story about zombies. I hope Kristin keeps on blogging! (Also, here’s her brave post attacking annoying habits some fiction editors have). Hope you don’t mind the liberal excerpting, Kristin:

    The [Realms of Fantasy story] also hinted at a parallel with the way western culture often attempts to experience other cultures, stealing bits of the other cultures and incorporating them into their own in a misguided attempt to understand them, perhaps ruining or at least diminishing the original culture as part of the process. “… that was the zombie way. Forever to yearn for new things. Forever to absorb them and turn them into the same old McHuman.”

    Of course, this tendency is hardly unique to American, Canadian and modern European culture. I think of the ancient Romans borrowing from Greek culture. Or the Mughal conquerers of northern India (especially Akbar) borrowing from Hindu culture. And I’d also question whether it’s entirely bad.

  • Tim Shorrock posts about the Corporate Intelligence Community

That’s a wrap, folks! I hope readers are enjoying these digests.

Digest 1

This post starts a new type of entry that I hope to make regular here at Babel Krieg. Possibly you’re familiar with blogs that largely serve as aggregators — Boing Boing and to a lesser extent Maud Newton‘s site are two examples. Aggregating is sort of the blog equivalent of anthologizing. Since I already bombard a targeted group of friends with link-excerpt-snark emails, several have encouraged me to replace those emails with blog posts instead. I was reticent to do so because typically when I visit someone’s blog, it’s to read their original content, not to follow a chain of links leading to someone else’s original content. On the other hand, like anthologizing, aggregating is a useful service for many reasons: my idiosyncratic interests might take you down fresh roads, my excerpting might enlighten you or dismay you at my intelligence or lack thereof, etc. As I often do, I sought a compromise solution, and found one: occasional one-post digests of online content I’ve been reading that day, primarily selected from my Google Reader account (RSS FTW), Twitter, emails, etc. Without further prolegomena:

  • Brain Mysteries adapts a University of Pennsylvania news release about research led by Gary Lupyan that demonstrates:

    an image displayed too quickly to be seen by an observer can be detected if the participant first hears the name of the object. [..] “This research speaks to the idea that perception is shaped moment-by-moment by language,” said Lupyan. “Although only English speakers were tested, the results suggest that because words in different languages pick out different things in the environment, learning different languages can shape perception in subtle, but pervasive ways.”

    The single study is part of a greater effort by Lupyan and other Penn psychologists to understand how high-level cognitive expectation can influence low-level sensory processing

    Might go a ways toward explaining hallucinations in psychotics suffering delusions, perhaps if research can, ala Libet, time the latency between the high-level cognitive expectation and the low-level sensory processing.

  • Awesome science fiction writer Nancy Kress mentions on her blog Judith Merril‘s autobiography Better to have Loved which includes a “lengthy chapter” on Merril’s relationship with Theodore Sturgeon.

    “[Pohl] sanitized everything [in his autobiography The Way the Future War]!” [Merril] said [according to Kress]. “I’m going to write those years the way they really happened!”

    I have yet to read Merril’s autobiography, but anything on Theodore Sturgeon, one of my favorite writers, makes my mental radar beep loudly.

  • In Fort Worth a twelve-year-old boy, CBS 11 reports, is not only volunteering for Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White (will I meet the boy?) in this city, but also founding his own political party (The United Party — he’s filing with the Federal Elections Commission soon. Totally awesome.

    “You have to file a statement of organization,” he explained, “That way we’ll be able to raise money, and expand from there.”

    What were you accomplishing at twelve?

  • In the NYT Brian Ladd gives a mixed review of Peter Watson‘s The German Genius, a “lengthy compilation of essential German contributions to philosophy, theology, mathematics, natural and social science and the arts since 1750.” Watson discusses, Ladd says, the great pantheon of creative Germans ranging from Kant to Goethe to Haydn. Two notes from Ladd’s review:

    “German Romanticism and German erudition placed truth and creativity firmly inside the human mind” […] “Germany invented the modern university, combining teaching with research in both humanities and science.”

    Sounds to me like a Babel Krieg.

  • With a NYT article on the young duo behind USA Twitter statecraft, “The Internet will save us” scores a half-point on the scoreboard against its perpetual enemy, “The Internet will ruin us.” (It’ll do both.) The duo discussed gives credit to Hillary Clinton for opening the doors to cyber-statecraft; in the article she reminds us that half of humanity is under 30. One of the duo’s cool ideas is to set up a virtual clearinghouse to help NGOs get a directories of who’s helping with what (education, clean water, etc.) in countries such as Kenya. But when one of the pair — the guy closer to Bush, not the Obama campaigner — comes down on wikileaks, which I suppose makes sense given the duo’s direct employer, they run afoul of me. You, of course, should be following @OpenCongress on Twitter, as well as the @EFF and @wikileaks Don’t miss the quote from NYU’s Clay Shirky in the excerpt below. Meanwhile, Chinese ‘net censorship continues.

    On Twitter, Cohen, who is 28, and Ross, who is 38, are among the most followed of anyone working for the U.S. government, coming in third and fourth after Barack Obama and John McCain. This didn’t happen by chance. Their Twitter posts have become an integral part of a new State Department effort to bring diplomacy into the digital age, by using widely available technologies to reach out to citizens, companies and other nonstate actors. Ross and Cohen’s style of engagement [is] perhaps best described as a cross between social-networking culture and foreign-policy arcana […]

    [Evgeny] Morozov no doubt voiced the concerns of many when he wrote [in the WSJ]: “Diplomacy is, perhaps, one element of the U.S. government that should not be subject to the demands of ‘open government’; whenever it works, it is usually because it is done behind closed doors.” […]

    Clay Shirky, a New York University professor who has engaged in an ongoing debate with Morozov, has given […] advice to members of the State Department. “The loss of control you fear is already in the past.” […] “You do not actually control the message, and if you believe you control the message, it merely means you no longer understand what’s going on.”

    This stuff will continue changing the world like mad, in my opinion, though it’s easy to underestimate the importance of the ‘net’s physicality; the danger the ‘net faces from, say, power grid loss, for example.

  • Has anyone else noticed that Salon.com is growing more and more contrarian? Maybe I’m imagining things.

  • Lifehacker’s Top Ten Tips for Surviving Office Life includes a true-to-my-experience tip:

    Due to social psychology or personal guilt, many work-from-home types end up dishing out more hours from home to clients than they ever would have at the office. It’s still an exciting challenge, but consider what you’re getting to get away with at the office before you curse it too deeply.

    I’ll add that others, however respectful of your work they might say they are, tend to expect you to attend to errands, etc., while you’re working. I think this is partly because they don’t get to see anchoring signals that you’re going to work — no briefcase, no tie — and partly because they see you goofing off a little while working, which people do in offices, but less visibly.

  • Wikileaks tweets that a far-reaching story comes out Monday in the Washington Post that will initiate “real change” by the end of the year. Especially with the midterm elections in November, I’m eager to see what’s revelead about the men behind the curtains. Meanwhile, Boing Boing is curious where WikiJulian — as I call Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks — is, especially in light of Wikileaks tweets that USA federal agents were hunting for him Saturday. The TV show The Good Wife will, TV Fanatic says, soon will feature a guest-star for a season premier:

    Jacob Pitts […] He’ll come aboard as the owner of a Wikileaks-type website who faces a murder charge.

    The guest-starring: Coincidence? Technohip show writer? Disinfo/scare campaign? In a democracy people need to know the truth about the issues they’re voting on. I say we all promise to forgive each other, then show all our cards, and let the chips fall where they may. I don’t think others will agree to that, though, nor might it be beneficial — dunno!

I’ll cap off this post with a note that I’m listening to REM’s “Shiny Happy People” and reading Nancy Kress’s novel Beggars in Spain, which uses the conceit of children who’ve been genetically engineered so as not to need sleep — and therefore, to work later hours — as a way for Kress to explore the contrast between Ayn Rand’s laissez-faire capitalism and Ursula K. Le Guin’s communism.