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November 19, 2009

These "Virtual Movies" Creep Me the Fuck Out!

So many men of fine letters muttering from beyond...

Continue reading "These "Virtual Movies" Creep Me the Fuck Out!" »

November 18, 2009

Philip roth, Nick Cave and Paul Theroux shortlisted for the Bad Sex in Fiction award

Bad sex award shortlist pits Philip Roth against stiff competition | Books | guardian.co.uk
The Pulitzer prize-winning Roth makes the line-up for The Humbling, in which the ageing actor Simon converts Pegeen, a lesbian, to heterosexuality. The Literary Review singled out a scene in which Simon and Pegeen pick up a girl from a bar and convince her to take part in a threesome. Simon looks on as Pegeen uses her green dildo to great effect. "This was not soft porn. This was no longer two unclothed women caressing and kissing on a bed. There was something primitive about it now, this woman-on-woman violence, as though in the room filled with shadows, Pegeen were a magical composite of shaman, acrobat, and animal. It was as if she were wearing a mask on her genitals, a weird totem mask, that made her into what she was not and was not supposed to be," writes Roth. "There was something dangerous about it. His heart thumped with excitement – the god Pan looking on from a distance with his spying, lascivious gaze."

November 16, 2009

Michael Moorcock to write Doctor Who novel

Michael Moorcock to write Doctor Who novel | Books | guardian.co.uk Wow. This is like Scorsese directing an episode of CSI.
Acclaimed science fiction writer Michael Moorcock has moved to calm the concerns of Doctor Who fans after he revealed he would be writing a new novel about the adventures of the Time Lord. Moorcock, author of nearly 100 books, ranging from science fiction to fantasy and literary fiction, announced on his website Multiverse that he had been approached by BBC Books to write a new Doctor Who novel for publication by next Christmas. "Still have to have talks etc with producers and publishers but we should be signing shortly. Should be fun," said the author, perhaps best known for his creation of anti-hero Elric of Melnibon�, the doomed albino sorcerer-prince. He said he sensed "a suspicion of the 'outsider'" at the news from some Doctor Who fans, which he compared to the response "you used to get when someone with a reputation as a non-SF writer would decide to write an SF novel".

November 14, 2009

On the failures of Malcolm Gladwell

Book Review - 'What the Dog Saw - And Other Adventures,' by Malcolm Gladwell - Review - NYTimes.com Pinker enjoys Gladwell's books, but also articulates some problems. These are the same reasons I find it impossible to listen to Gladwell without muttering "horseshit" under my breath.
Gladwell frequently holds forth about statistics and psychology, and his lack of technical grounding in these subjects can be jarring. He provides misleading definitions of “homology,” “saggital plane” and “power law” and quotes an expert speaking about an “igon value” (that’s eigenvalue, a basic concept in linear algebra). In the spirit of Gladwell, who likes to give portentous names to his aper�us, I will call this the Igon Value Problem: when a writer’s education on a topic consists in interviewing an expert, he is apt to offer generalizations that are banal, obtuse or flat wrong. The banalities come from a gimmick that can be called the Straw We. First Gladwell disarmingly includes himself and the reader in a dubious consensus — for example, that “we” believe that jailing an executive will end corporate malfeasance, or that geniuses are invariably self-made prodigies or that eliminating a risk can make a system 100 percent safe. He then knocks it down with an ambiguous observation, such as that “risks are not easily manageable, accidents are not easily preventable.” As a generic statement, this is true but trite: of course many things can go wrong in a complex system, and of course people sometimes trade off safety for cost and convenience (we don’t drive to work wearing crash helmets in Mack trucks at 10 miles per hour). But as a more substantive claim that accident investigations are meaningless “rituals of reassurance” with no effect on safety, or that people have a “fundamental tendency to compensate for lower risks in one area by taking greater risks in another,” it is demonstrably false. . . . The common thread in Gladwell’s writing is a kind of populism, which seeks to undermine the ideals of talent, intelligence and analytical prowess in favor of luck, opportunity, experience and intuition. For an apolitical writer like Gladwell, this has the advantage of appealing both to the Horatio Alger right and to the egalitarian left. Unfortunately he wildly overstates his empirical case. It is simply not true that a quarter­back’s rank in the draft is uncorrelated with his success in the pros, that cognitive skills don’t predict a teacher’s effectiveness, that intelligence scores are poorly related to job performance or (the major claim in “Outliers”) that above a minimum I.Q. of 120, higher intelligence does not bring greater intellectual achievements. The reasoning in “Outliers,” which consists of cherry-picked anecdotes, post-hoc sophistry and false dichotomies, had me gnawing on my Kindle. . . .

November 08, 2009

Hunh . . . I wonder if this book was re-titled later

. . . 'cause I don't remember this title, but...