Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Chrysostom Society has taken to killing each other

The Chrysostom Society has taken to killing each other. 

"That may sound like unseemly behavior for a group of celebrated Christian writers," Jeffrey Overstreet explains, "but you can read all about the murderous conspiracies of The Chrysostom Society in their first collaborative literary effort: Carnage at Christhaven. It’s a serial murder mystery — satirical, smart, and subversive — each grisly chapter contributed by a different society member."

This looks like a marvelous group.

Life Paint easy spray-on aims to reduce injuries and fatalities by increasing visibility

Pray until you Pray

Industry insiders could probably make several lists of twenty-four secrets or misunderstood facts or contentious minutiae about publishing, but here's a good list on the writing life from Curtis Sittenfeld. I like this one most:

10. The goal is not to be a media darling; the goal is to have a career. 

I believe in magazines. You could even say my devotion to Stoke ‘zine was a kind of “common grace” expression of believing in the sacramental power of the Word. It’s like I had a inchoate sense of the unique grace and influence of a word become flesh.

All of that to say: I believe in what you are doing, and it’s an honor to think with you about this calling to publish our little journals. To be committed to such endeavors is to believe, as Raymond Carver put it, in “small good things.”

. . .

My colleague Fr. Raymond de Souza, editor of Convivium magazine, recalls a conversation he once had with Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, the founder of First Things: “‘Raymond,” he said, “if you want to advance an idea, write a book. But if you want to change a culture, you need a magazine. Because magazines are literally periodical, they create an ongoing community—readers, writers, editors, benefactors. And only communities can change cultures.”
He offers a few high altitude principles and some practical tips on getting the work done. (via Justin Taylor)

Dorothy Sayers encourages readers to engage the work in their laps, not just kill time with it.

"Pray get rid of the idea that books are each a separate thing, divided from one another and from life. Read each in the light of all the others, especially in the light of books of another kind," she says.
If you don't like what you're reading, think through your reasons. "Does the subject displease you? — and if so, is it by any chance one of those disquieting things that you 'would rather not know about', though you really ought not to shirk it? Does the author’s opinion conflict with some cherished opinion of your own? — If so, can you give reasons for your own opinion? (Do try and avoid the criticism that begins: 'We do not like to think' this, that or the other; it is often so painfully true that we do not like to think.)"

She also thinks marking up your book is foolish, perhaps because you won't remember where to find your notes afterwards.

In response to this, Alan Jacobs observes the different occasions for reading and how they aren't all the same. We read for fun and we read for specific purposes, and not necessarily at the same time.

What many of these people really want, it seems to me — and I base this on decades of talking with folks who are anxious about their reading — is not to read Henry James but to be the kind of person who, when left at loose ends, positively wants to read Henry James, wants to read Henry James so much that he or she will toss aside Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Fifty Shades of Grey without even noticing what they are in order to get to that precious copy of The Ambassadorsthat someone has inexplicably left at the bottom of a stack. 

Writing and Polishing

  • One person's crap is another person's media dragon blog"

“‘He thought he’d wasted his life,’ Carpenter says, ‘and he thought if only he could finish this book, and I could help him, then that would be his immortality.'”

Five tips for would-be writers – No 1: if you want to shine, you have to polish

Of all the possible endeavours to choose from, writing a novel has to be one of the most quixotic. Prepare to sacrifice lie-ins, holidays, and your social life in favour of sitting alone in a room making things up and writing them down, until you have crushed somewhere in the region of 100,000 words into submission, all in the knowledge that the odds of publication are stacked against you.

It was with this question in mind that I recently launched the blog myfirstbookdeal.com, where I post interviews with writers on how they surmounted the slush pile and got their first novel published.
Tipping Writers

THE mystery is worth a book in itself. How could a hitherto unknown novel by Harper Lee, writer of “To Kill a Mockingbird”, remain hidden for 60 years, and why was it not published before? For all the swirling questions, there is one certainty. The book will become a blockbuster without Ms Lee so much as signing a copy. If only every author could be so lucky.
Succeed these days authors must be more businesslike ever authorpreneurship

14 Reasons why you shouldn't dream of being a full time author

helen macdonald
“Bondage is so last year. Publishers who spent much of the past year in search of the next Fifty Shades of Grey are now seeking to exploit another literary phenomenon: the British public’s seemingly unfettered desire for nature writing.”

Mario Vargas Llosa: “You have such a mass of information about everything that qualification disappears completely, and everything is equally measured…. Now the novels that are read are purely entertainment – well done, very polished, with a very effective technique – but not literature, just entertainment.” The Telegraph (UK) 

“Though writers and historians have been arguing since the seventeenth century that Richard III wasn’t the villain whom Shakespeare described, it was a 1951 mystery novel that sparked mass interest in Richard’s redemption. The writer went by the name Josephine Tey, and the novel was called The Daughter of Time.” The New Yorker

“Why not enjoy success? Why not accept that you are a genius, if people insistently tell you that you are? One way or another, from this point on it will be hard to achieve the same concentration, the same innocence, when you return to the empty page and the next stage in a life story that is now radically transformed.” New York Review of Books

Q and A out of this Universe

Not before time, the nation had cause to ponder the obvious: Education Minister Christopher Pyne as a creature from another planet.
It took an American comedian, an American-born Nobel Prize winning physicist, and Q&A -  the ABC's Monday night exploration of the deeper, stranger recesses of our national psyche - to bring us to this necessary point.
A boy born near Snowtown Christopher Pyne an alien from another galaxy

Unis withdraw support for higher ed reform

Major publisher retracts 43 scientific papers amid wider fake peer-review scandal Washington Post

Monday, March 30, 2015

Daley Hardworking Bra Boy

“When all the others were away at Mass” by Seamus Heaney has been named Ireland’s best-loved poem from the past century.  Find it in this collection of Heaney's poetry.

The day after a sweeping victory in the heartland seat of Maroubra, Michael Daley has ruled out a challenge to the Labor leadership, stating now was a time to come together and rebuild.
The man who has been earmarked as a potential candidate for the Labor leadership since 2011, when Kristina Keneally stepped down from the role, ruled out a challenge against newly elected Auburn MP Foley.
Mr Daley said Saturday’s 9 per cent swing, which could deliver at least another 12 seats to Labor, had made a win in 2019 within the reach after the Labor Party government was defeated in a landslide in 2011

Maroubra MP Michael Daley with wife Christina and children Olivia, Michael, Austin, Jake

Maroubra MP Michael Daley with wife Christina and children Olivia, Michael, Austin, Jake celebrating his election win. Michael Daley

Maroubra election Day

Maroubra MP Michael Daley as a school boy with best friend Catherine Foster. The pair are
Maroubra MP Michael Daley as a school boy with best friend Catherine Foster. The pair are still good mate
School ties bind re-elected Maroubra MP Michael Daley, Coogee MP Bruce Notley-Smith and Heffron MP Ron Hoenig 

Foley: The double edge Muslim electoral sword

Baird has the same problem as Abbott an unfriendly upper house

ANZAC stories

Discovering the Anzac records on the Ancestry website will be fascinating reading.

When Dawn Dudkowski was growing up, she would beg her grandfather to tell his war stories over and over. And some rippers did he have.
After missing the battle of Gallipoli due to dysentery, Thomas Ralph Tipton Brian, born in South Yarra 17 years before, went to fight in France.
12-million Anzac records available online

Faces of Anzac: Island paradise of Lemnos led straight to Gallipoli hell

Lemnos Island links to WWI


Writers old and young staring across moat

History author Susan Wise Bauer talks about taking a break from writing under deadline--well, behind deadline--for a few years.

"So about a year ago, I promised myself that when I hit my last big deadline, I wouldn’t sign another contract immediately. Instead, I decided to take six months and just write. Go down to my office and work on anything that struck my fancy. Read, reflect, experiment, let my horizons expand."

A few weeks into this hiatus, she entered 'fish mode', and you'll never guess what happened next. It completely blew my mind. I was weeping by the end of her story. Ok, I'm not saying what you might easily conclude I'm trying to say. All I'm saying is click the link to her post to see what 'fish mode' is and how Bauer feels it.

That's all I'm saying. Really.

Oh, and I should also say that Bauer is the excellent author of several history books, such as The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade. Her newest book is The Story of Science: From the Writings of Aristotle to the Big Bang Theory.

Pillow Talk: Australia's most dangerous public service workplace

“I like to read about people who have done nothing spectacular, who aren’t beautiful and lucky, who try to behave well in the limited field of activity they command, but who can see, in the little autumnal moments of vision, that the so called ‘big’ experiences of life are going to miss them; and I like to read about such things presented not with self-pity or despair or romanticism, but with realistic firmness and even humour.” 
~ Reflections on Cold River

Dark matter even darker than once thought ESA/Hubble

The format that humour takes is very important; it is generally delivered in short sharp bursts so advertising is the ideal platform, more so with today’s shorter attention spans. Where advertising is interruptive, humour is a way of providing some sort of payback in exchange for your attention  The Psychology of Humour in Advertising

Canberra's Parliament House has emerged as Australia's most dangerous place to be a public servant. Official figures reveal that riding a desk on Capital Hill with the Department of Parliamentary Services is riskier than battling crims with the Australian Federal Police or taking to the high seas with the Customs service
Australia's most dangerous public service workplace

The Irish Independent has gathered response from several Irish young people who love to talk about being Irish. The Irish on YouTube are flagging themselves with #WhatItMeansToBeIrish, both there and on Twitter. 

A lawyer shows up at a ‘right-to-work’ hearing. And … cue the laughter. Upworthy

The House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts fiftieth report covers tax avoidance and the HMRC's approach to prosecutions Report of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee on tax avoidance and improving tax collection

Learning to See Data New York Times

Of course the number of staff at HMRC matters when it comes to collecting 

Top UK industrialist channelled millions through obscure company  

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Busking: Scream it From the Rooftops! Every Asset a Monetizable Asset

Welcome to Ohio State, Where It Is All For Sale, by Steven Conn (Department of History, Ohio State) Chronicle of Higher Education op-ed:
I'm excited to announce that my university has changed its motto. Out with the old and in with: “Omnia Venduntur!
Our old motto, “Disciplina In Civitatem,” or “Education for Citizenship,” just sounded so, you know, land-granty, so civic-minded. It certainly doesn’t capture our new ethos of entrepreneurial dynamism and financial chicanery. ...
So instead: “Everything Is for Sale!” (Actually, the trustees originally wanted to carve “Every Asset a Monetizable Asset” into stone, but it turns out “monetizable” doesn’t have a Latin translation.)
We’ve been moving in this direction for some time. We were among the first to become a “Coke campus,” which means that in ex-change for some cash, we’ve agreed that Coke and Coke products are the only soft drinks permitted on campus. ...

Mark Sandusky has a good article on that topic, here is one excerpt:
Time your busks wisely! Profits can vary widely from day to day, hour to hour. Our low for a Friday night was $98 for two hours of performance. Our high for two hours of performance on a Monday afternoon was $3. This was also our low, because we never busked on another Monday afternoon. We made the most money in between 5pm and 10pm, on evenings before weekends or holidays. Our understanding is that money drops best when people are feeling tipsy, but before they’re actually drunk.

The highly esteemed and extremely proficient Thomas MaCurdy has a new piece in the JPE (jstor) on exactly that question.  The news does not surprise me:
This study investigated the antipoverty efficacy of minimum wage policies.  Proponents of these policies contend that employment impacts are negligible and suggest that consumers pay for higher labor costs through imperceptible increases in goods prices.  Adopting this empirical scenario, the analysis demonstrates that an increase in the national minimum wage produces a value-added tax effect on consumer prices that is more regressive than a typical state sales tax and allocates benefits as higher earnings nearly evenly across the income distribution.  These income-transfer outcomes sharply contradict portraying an increase in the minimum wage as an antipoverty initiative.
MaCurdy also writes:
About 35 percent of the total increase in after-tax benefits goes to families with income less than two times the poverty threshold, a common definition of the working poor or near-poor; nearly 13 percent goes to families principally supported by low-wage workers defined as earning wages at or below 117 percent…of the new 1996 minimum wage; and only about 14 percent goes to families with children on welfare.
Unlike most public income support programs, increased earnings from the minimum wage are taxable.  Over 25 percent of the increased earnings are collected back as income and payroll taxes…Even after taxes, 27.6 percent of increased earnings go to families in the top 40 percent of the income distribution.
File under “Scream it From the Rooftops!
An American male is 4,582 times more likely to become an Army general if his father was one; 1,895 times more likely to become a famous C.E.O.; 1,639 times more likely to win a Pulitzer Prize; 1,497 times more likely to win a Grammy; and 1,361 times more likely to win an Academy Award. Those are pretty decent odds, but they do not come close to the 8,500 times more likely a senator’s son is to find himself chatting with John McCain or Dianne Feinstein in the Senate cloakroom.

Further very good Ross Douthat points about whether economic factors explain the collapse in marriage

That is all from Seth Stephens-Davidowitz.

There is an interview with me by Emily Hare in the latest issues of Contagious, a glossy British marketing periodical.  Here is one bit:
Q: What should marketing do to ensure it lives up to its potential?
A; This is what I see happening and this may be disquieting for some of your readers.  The people who are really good at marketing in this new environment are typically not formal marketers, they are not called marketing agencies, they have not studied marketing.  They are people who know some areas very well and then they teach themselves a kind of marketing on the fly.  A good examples if Facebook.  Mark Zuckerberg is not in any formal sense a marketer, but he’s actually one of the most brilliant marketers that the world has seen in the past few decades.  General principles are not that useful anymore.  What is paying off is incredibly detailed, context-specific knowledge of particular areas.  that’s what it takes to craft unique messages.
At all levels we’re seeing this takeover by the content people and everything is supposed to look authentic, so in a sense, authenticity is the new inauthenticity.
Marketing has never been more important, but life has never been tougher for at least some of the marketers.

For those who have enjoyed her work: Professor Margaret McKerchar will retire from UNSW effective 30 April 2015 and has been appointed as an Emeritus Professor in recognition of her distinguished service to scholarly academic work and to the development of the University. Reported in the ATTA newsletter March 2015.