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An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2010-05-18 05:39
Subject: [links] Link salad is going to drive its daddy to drinkin'
Security: Public
Tags:culture, healthcare, links, personal, photos, politics, publishing, religion, science, writing
Long Live the Anti-Novel, Built from Scraps — Plot is dead? Hmm. Someone should tell the people who read books.

Scott Adams on the value of attention — I suspect I read this article very differently as a working pro writer, where attention is a meaningful aspect of my career, than I would have ten or fifteen years ago when it was not. Some things to think about here.

Vacation Snaps: 1904 — I love this bit of portraiture from Shorpy.

Metric Mania — A very interesting article on the flaws of measuring data, and how we interpret such.

In which records says nothing meekly — "The Cold Equations" meets modern medicine.

Race under fire: Is being white something you can learn? — Hmm. Interesting.

Vatican details US sex abuse defenseThe Vatican on Monday will make its most detailed defense yet against claims that it is liable for U.S. bishops who allowed priests to molest children, saying bishops are not its employees and that a 1962 Vatican document did not require them to keep quiet, The Associated Press has learned. Wow, that is a level of disingenous argument that would make Karl Rove blush for shame. So bishops don't work for the Catholic Church, huh? (I assume this is technically true under US employment law, but it's a disgustingly self-serving avoidance of accountability.)

Kagan's Political Advice: Does Principle Matter? — This is disgusting. I've been neutral on Kagan so far — I agree with the general criticism that Republican presidents appoint SCOTUS judges as far to the Right, while Democratic presidents appoint centrist judges for some damned reason — but this article really stirs my passions against someone who is willing to reason like Kagan sitting on the high court. Bad enough we have Scalia, Thomas and Alito distorting justice for political ends on a daily basis. We don't need Kagan doing it, too.

Texas congressman uses porn to kill science funding — Because you know, we can't have science. People might learn to think, and then the GOP would lose a lot of votes. And what goes better with science than porn! Conservative America: working hard to return us all to the nineteenth century.

Going to Extreme — Paul Krugman on the GOP's rightward march. Somehow, though, the radicalism of Texas Republicans wasn't a story in 2000, an election year in which George W. Bush of Texas, soon to become president, was widely portrayed as a moderate. Yep, I remember those days. Your Liberal Media sure liked W, back in the day.

Palin Has No Political Future — Conservative commentator Daniel Larison with a fascinating critique of Sarah Palin. He begins nicely by describing her thus: Palin is aggressively ideological and obnoxiously partisan, which is very satisfying to most ideologues and partisans, but this is exactly what people outside the Palinite bubble dislike about her. That's far from the substance of his critique, but it's an excellent point. I don't agree with his conclusion — her media-driven political presence will be a huge factor in the 2012 campaign, to everyone's detriment. John McCain has a lot to answer for, and I predict his place in political history will be to remembered as John the Baptist to Palin's twisted conservative Jesus.

?otD: What's the fastest car you ever drove?

Writing time yesterday: none (chemo exhaustion)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 9.0 (fitful)
This morning's weigh-in: 233.4
Yesterday's chemo stress index: 6/10 (fatigue)
Currently (re)reading: Cetaganda by Lois McMaster Bujold

Post A Comment | 12 Comments | | Flag | Link

User: jimvanpelt
Date: 2010-05-18 14:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"I predict his place in political history will be to remembered as John the Baptist to Palin's twisted conservative Jesus."

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User: madrobins
Date: 2010-05-18 15:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm picking up the pieces of my brain after imagining Palin as Jesus. Sort of like "Buddy Christ" with lipstick. ::shudder::
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User: curiositist
Date: 2010-05-18 15:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Plot is... dead? Well, HIS plots apparently did go toe-up on him. And a lot of other peoples' plots might have bored HIM to toe-up. He's so entirely well read and educated that of course for him it's all old hat, old school, and he's looking for something new. He's looking for depth in his characters and scenes and commits his resourced to those and you know? That's kind of awesome. I don't think, however, that plot can be declared dead.

Even if I think I know where a plot is going I'm often still interested to find out how the characters make the trip. Sometimes I'm right about my prediction of the plot, sometimes not. It could certainly be argued the point I refer to it's the characters and the setting that are holding my attention rather than the plot; but the storytelling styles that I (personally - your mileage will vary) love the best so intimately combine the three elements of setting, character, and plot that any one element being altered or abandoned intrinsically alters the other two in a detrimental way.

Does that make all three necessary? Well, apparently not in Mr. Shields' writing and I salute him for managing that, but the people who're reading those books on planes read them because (as you said, Jay) they are enjoying them. Nostalgia would be reading some book from high school English classes over and over. Mr. Shields has a highly literary style and opinion, but the fact is that those highly literary styles can simply be too big a bite for some readers. Shouldn't our job as writers be to help readers reach an appreciation for those rarefied heights? Seems a little cruel to say 'see that, up on the roof? You've got to see the view from there' and then take away the rungs on the ladder.

[edited for dyslexic moment]

Edited at 2010-05-18 03:07 pm (UTC)
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User: madrobins
Date: 2010-05-18 15:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Post narrative world? Not so much. Shields appears to mistake his own personal preference for holy writ. He also seems to read for one thing, all the time--no momentary lapses for "I've had a rotten day and I just want a cup of cocoa and a thriller" or "fear of flying; need distraction; gimme a nice immersive story." I wonder how he stands on movies, which generally do have some plot to them somewhere.

I used to work for a guy who didn't believe in fiction because it was all made up; why would you want to read things that weren't true? I suspect Shields would have liked him.
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User: paulshandy
Date: 2010-05-19 02:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I wonder how Shields can navigate through a bookstore without running into books with plot. Does he have blinders on? A sixth sense attuned to artsy stuff instead of regular sight?
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shelly_rae: Dolce
User: shelly_rae
Date: 2010-05-18 16:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
My great-aunt's Masserati. She let me take it out for a spin. I chose the stretch of (then) unfinished I-5 near my house--rarely used and opened the car up to 130mph before I chickened out and slowed down. I think it could have gone faster.
I'd go faster now...
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User: kellymccullough
Date: 2010-05-18 17:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
'73 Camaro. The speedo topped out at 130 and they were serious about that. Of course, it turned like a pregnant hippo on ice.
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User: ex_truepenn
Date: 2010-05-18 18:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Republican presidents appoint SCOTUS judges as far to the Right, while Democratic presidents appoint centrist judges for some damned reason

Because, contrary to the shibboleths of the right wing, Democrats are not leftist. They are centrist. We don't HAVE a leftist political party in this country, and oh how I wish we did. At least that way we'd understand the difference between the left and the center. Being to the left of the far right does not make you leftist except from the far right's POV.

(I'm making this comment because the Democrat != Leftist thing was a kind of mini-epiphany. Not that I didn't know it--or, at least, I should have known it--just that I hadn't thought it through before.)
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2010-05-18 18:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Agreed and understood. The other angle, insofar as I can tell, is that Republicans since at least Nixon haven't given a damn what Democrats think, while Democrats seem obsessed with seeking consensus (as well as presuming good faith on the Republican side in the face of all evidence and experience). Which means Republicans appoint whoever they damn well please, while Democrats appoint with an eye to pleasing Republicans.
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User: ex_truepenn
Date: 2010-05-18 18:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's part of the whole centrist thing. I mean, sort of definitionally, a centrist position is about compromise between the left and the right. And the Democrats have apparently never noticed that there ISN'T a left, so all they're doing is compromising with the Republicans when there's no counter-balancing compromise to the left.

The Democrats would make a hell of a lot more sense, come to think of it, if there WAS a leftist party they had to worry about.
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User: paulshandy
Date: 2010-05-19 02:03 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
With any luck, the Tea Party will cripple the GOP and then the Coffee Party can drag the Democrats to the left.
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User: joycemocha
Date: 2010-05-19 02:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Fastest car?

Hmm. Either the '68 Firebird, the '90 Probe, or my current wheels, the '05 Subaru Outback (which lines right out and holds the road better than the Firebird or Probe did at high speed).
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