[links] Link salad thinks about meals it wishes it hadn’t eaten

The voting poll for the Endurance caption contest will be open for another day or two

A reviewer talks about swords and sorcery in sub-Sahara Africa — Holds up Mainspring as a negative example of 19th century attitudes. Except Mainspring is in large part about 19th century attitudes, so from my perspective, it’s an odd critique. And though it’s not germane to either reading or critiquing the book, I did in fact spend some years of my life living in sub-Saharan Africa. As always, the story belongs to the reader.

A reader responds to Mainspring — They liked it, a lot.

Lessons From the Gutenberg Bible for Publishers Going DigitalGutenberg’s reward for the invention of the printing press was financial ruin, but others figured out a unique way to keep the printing business afloat.

HG Wells or Enrique Gaspar: Whose time machine was first?

A Start-Up’s Camera Lets You Take Shots First and Focus Later — Interesting. More from Tech Review. (Via David Goldman.)

St. Jude Postdoc Faked ImagesA former postdoctoral researcher at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital fudged images published in two papers, one of which has since been retracted. Faking cancer research results… I have no words.

As arctic ice shrinks, so does a denier claim — You know, reality wouldn’t have a liberal bias in the first place if conservatives didn’t insist on ideological counterfactuals over actual data.

Despite horses and buggies, Amish aren’t necessarily ‘low-tech’

Bible condemns a lot, so why focus on homosexuality? — Bigotry, pure and simple. If this was about the written word of God, the Christianists would be campaigning just as vigorously to ban shrimp, mixed fabrics and crop rotation. (Via @willshetterly.)

Quench Not the Spirit — Slacktivist Fred Clark on the doctrine of Hell. This is inside baseball for a part of the culture that isn’t my game, but I still find it pretty interesting.

Christian Faith Requires Accepting Evolution — I have no objection to people denying evolution if that’s their interpretation of their faith. What I have enormous objection to is people projecting the deliberate irrationalities and counterfactuals of their faith onto the political and social landscape, as if a personal opinion could substitute for reality.

Surprise! Bachmann Supports Creationism in Schools — Apparently she thinks this is a scientific issue of reasonable doubt. Repeat after me: Just because you believe it doesn’t mean it’s true.

Michele Bachmann’s Holy WarThe Tea Party contender may seem like a goofball, but be warned: Her presidential campaign is no laughing matter Yes, Virginia, the GOP’s deliberate fostering of the crazy in their base to drive votes does have consequences.

“Gooble, gooble, one of us!” — Digby on conservative pacifism.

Journalists Reportedly Outnumber Voters At Huntsman’s GOP Campaign Events — Your Liberal Media, fluffing Republicans every day.

?otD: Ever eaten live eel soup?


6/23/2011
Writing time yesterday: 2.0 hours (Kalimpura revisions, plus a little WRPA)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 6.75 hours (solid)
Weight: 230.2
Currently (re)reading: A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

6 thoughts on “[links] Link salad thinks about meals it wishes it hadn’t eaten

  1. Meredith Schwartz says:

    Somehow misread that as “Surprise! BATMAN supports creationism in schools.” Actual headline thus came as a considerable relief.

  2. Arthur says:

    On this point: “Holds up Mainspring as a negative example of 19th century attitudes. Except Mainspring is in large part about 19th century attitudes, so from my perspective, it’s an odd critique.”

    As I understand the criticism, the point is that Mainstring isn’t *just* about 19th century attitudes, but presents a scenario in which 19th century attitudes are *literally correct* – those beastly people from the Dark Continent *really are* savages and warlocks.

    Is the reviewer incorrect in asserting this? If so, where have they misrepresented the book? If not, isn’t it rather problematic to not just present those unpalatable attitudes, but to go to the extent of engineering a scenario in which the facts of the setting justify and reinforce them rather than challenging them?

    “And though it’s not germane to either reading or critiquing the book, I did in fact spend some years of my life living in sub-Saharan Africa.”

    I agree that that point isn’t especially germane. I’m also not sure it’s an especially good point to raise in this context. Living in a place doesn’t give you a magical authority to have your statements concerning that place stand unchallenged.

    1. Jay says:

      Hi, Arthur. Thanks for the comments.

      Speaking from the perspective of my auctorial intent, your comment that “those beastly people from the Dark Continent *really are* savages and warlocks.” is pretty much exactly backwards to what I was trying to do with the text. Is the reviewer correct in asserting this? Well, that’s their experience of the book. I don’t come with the book to explain myself, so it has to stand for itself. That’s what I mean when I say “the story belongs to the reader”. Either I failed to make my intentions clear or the reviewer brought their own frame of reference to the text. In either case, once the book’s in print, that’s out of my hands. I just find such vastly differing interpretations quite fascinating.

      To answer your second question, “If not, isn’t it rather problematic to not just present those unpalatable attitudes, but to go to the extent of engineering a scenario in which the facts of the setting justify and reinforce them rather than challenging them?” Yes, it certainly would be if that had been my intention. The reviewer is free to impute that intention to me if they wish, but I assure you that wasn’t what I was reaching for. See above, the book has to stand for itself, and belongs to the reader once they pick it up.

      You also said, “Living in a place doesn’t give you a magical authority to have your statements concerning that place stand unchallenged.” Mmm, I’m pretty sure that wasn’t what I said, and I’m quite certain that wasn’t what I meant to say. You’re certainly free to interpret my statement that way, but speaking as the primary source regarding my own words, I was actually making the same point you were … that it isn’t especially germane to the text.

      It is, however, germane to extratextual criticisms of me as an author, or as a human being. I’ve caught a lot of flak in the past for being a typical clueless white male author from people who actually know nothing about me, my history or my experiences. The fact that I’ve spent some years living in Africa does give me a perspective on Africa not shared most Americans of any gender or ethnic group. There’s a completely valid argument to be made about whether you agree with my perspective, though it would be naive to assume that something I say in a piece of fiction in fact reflects my real life views on *anything*, but arguing that I don’t have the standing to view something through the lens of my own life experience is just judgmental and intellectually lazy.

  3. Arthur says:

    Jay, thanks for your response. I wasn’t actually questioning your standing to talk about your own life experiences; I was, however, querying the apparent invocation of your standing in response to criticism, which seems to be a weak response unless the criticism is of the form “You don’t have any standing”.

    The reason I read you mentioning the fact that you lived in Africa as a response to the criticism was that if it wasn’t meant to be some kind of defence of your position it seems to be a total non sequitur. I mean, if as you say the fact that you lived in Africa isn’t germane to the criticism, and isn’t germane to the text, what’s the point of raising it in this context in the first place?

    1. Arthur says:

      (To be more specific: the reviewer you linked to didn’t actually engage there in extratextual criticisms of you as an author or a human being; in fact, they keep their Mainspring comments 100% focused on the text.)

    2. Jay says:

      I apologize, Arthur. I misunderstood the point of your comment. This occasionally a touchy topic for me, because of the extratextual criticism (and frankly, unfounded hatred) I’ve been targeted with over the past few years.

      To answer your question again, mostly I mentioned my experience in Africa because I was musing on the connections between fiction and life.

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