Sunday, August 05, 2018

Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read: Born in a Serbian village so tiny as to be missing from maps

“An immigrant can see things which escape the attention of the native.”

From Immigrant to Inventor: The Great Serbian-American Scientist Michael Pupin on the Value of a Penniless Immigrant Boy Full of Promise

Life is no straight and easy corridor along which we travel free and unhampered, but a maze of passages, through which we must seek our way, lost and confused, now and again checked in a blind alley. But always, if we have faith, a door will open for us, not perhaps one that we ourselves would ever have thought of, but one that will ultimately prove good for us.
— A. J. Cronin, born on this date in 1896

 Work is a good thing in small doses,” wrote Philip Larkin, who proved an efficient librarian. Today, however, labor often goes hand in hand with ... soul-crushing misery

The mythic personification of evil has been around for a long time, and our sense of its reality has not vanished with the steady march of rationalism All The  Evil Deeds 

Gorgeous Libraries to Inspire Your Home Library

Chasing the ‘Holy Grail’ of Baseball Performance

Inside the wide-ranging search—led by economists and psychologists—for the elixir that turns good squads into great ones

In 1948, Hemingway set sail for Europe with more than 30 pieces of luggage and a royal-blue Buick convertible. He was in search of a second act  Improbably, he found it

A Literary Agent Wants You To Know That You Really Do Not ‘Have A Book In You

Ouch, but also, too real: "Every story is not a book. A story may be things that happened, embellished for interest, but that’s not a book. Many stories don’t get good until the end. Some stories — true ones even — are hard to believe. Other stories are just too short, don’t have enough tension, or frankly aren’t that interesting. The stories we tell that enrapture our friends and families may be extraordinarily boring to those who don’t know us. Those stories are not a book." …[Read More]

The Death of Truth by Michiko Kakutani: Kakutani is best-known as the long-reigning—and frequently eviscerating—chief book critic at The New York Times, a job she left last year in order to write this book. In The Death of Truth, she considers our troubling era of alternative facts and traces the trends that have brought us to this horrific moment where the very concept of “objective reality” provokes a certain nostalgia. “Trump did not spring out of nowhere,” she told Vanity Fair in a recent interview, “and I was struck by how prescient writers like Alexis de Tocqueville and George Orwell and Hannah Arendtwere about how those in power get to define what the truth is.” (Emily)

PLR data reveals the most borrowed authors and books in UK public libraries

BOOK REVIEW: 'The Corporation' by T.J. English - Washington Times.“Given the ubiquitous presence of bolita among Cubans of all classes and genders, it was perhaps inevitable that the game would thrive in the Cuban exile communities of Miami and Union City,” Mr. English writes. “The man whose name would come to be associated with this illegal activity in the United States had not been a seasoned bolitero, or bolito boss, back in Cuba. He had been a cop in the city of Havana during the reign of the Batista dictatorship. His name was Jose Miguel Battle y Vargas.”

Russian Author, Former Soviet Dissident Voinovich Dies At 85

The Atlantic: “”Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read” This has applications beyond books — it applies to TV, too, and for that matter, email newsletters. Ask me at 4 P.M. what I emailed out that morning and it’s a 50/50 proposition whether I’ll remember. The good news: that’s pretty normal, and arguably appropriate for our digital age.
In the internet age, recall memory—the ability to spontaneously call information up in your mind—has become less necessary. It’s still good for bar trivia, or remembering your to-do list, but largely, Horvath says, what’s called recognition memory is more important. “So long as you know where that information is at and how to access it, then you don’t really need to recall it,” he says. 

“The most regretful people on earth,” the poet Mary Oliver wrote in contemplatingthe artist’s task and the central commitment of the creative life“are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”

“Invention,” Frankenstein author Mary Shelley wrote in contemplating how creativity works“does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos” — the chaos of existing inspirations, properly comprehended and reconfigured into something new. Einstein termed this reordering “combinatory play.” But it is a process mostly unconscious, the product of which — the creative breakthrough we call originality — cannot be willed. It arrives unbidden, with an abruptness that often startles the very mind to which it alights — an exhilarating startlement the French polymath Henri Poincaré called “sudden illumination.” It constitutes the third stage in Graham Wallas’s pioneering 1926 guide to the four stages of the creative process — a moment Wallas described as “the culmination of a successful train of association, which may have lasted for an appreciable time, and which has probably been preceded by a series of tentative and unsuccessful trains.”

A survey of more than 2,000 Writers Guild of America West members found that 64% of female writers have experienced sexual harassment sometime in their careers

Award-winning columnist says strife can spur best work

Humor columnist Mark Harmon says the satirist Art Buchwald loved the Watergate scandal, because there was so much bizarre material that he could get his column done in an hour and be on the tennis courts by mid-morning.
“I think a lot of humor comes from being aghast at something,” says Harmon, who earlier this week won this year's National Press Club humor-writing award for his work with the Knoxville News Sentinel. 
Harmon says he's been pretty much non-stop aghast for the past year and a half. That's helped him imagine a column cited by award judges about Mitch McConnell in hell. (“You have a lot of admirers here,” Lucifer tells McConnell in the column.)
A similar inspiration prompted another column set in a psychiatrist's office. Sergey Kislyak, Russia's former ambassador to the United States, was complaining that no one, like Michael Flynn or Jeff Sessions, can seem to remember meeting him. Here's one exchange:
"Oh I didn't see you come in," said the receptionist.
"That happens a lot," replied Kislyak.
Press Club judges said Harmon has "a knack for taking a simple idea or detail ... and spinning it into a highly creative scenario.” Harmon, a journalism professor at the University of Tennessee, has been spinning those scenarios since he was a columnist for Penn State's Daily Collegian four decades ago. Harmon says he finds his search for other, often absurd ways to tell a story to be satisfying, if not therapeutic. 
Harmon's two-fold goal: Make people laugh. And help people consider another perspective.
A liberal who has spent his adult life in conservative northwestern Texas and eastern Tennessee, Harmon says he uses humor to bring people together.
“There’s no margin in treating political opponents as enemies,” he says. That doesn't mean, however, that he won't use a hammer — in the style of one of his idols, the departed Molly Ivins — to show hypocrisy or a lack of courage by local politicians on issues such as climate change. 
The Press Club award comes at a bittersweet time for Harmon. The Knoxville paper, like many nationwide, has had cutbacks, and in late June, he was among four contributing columnists to get the ax. 
On Wednesday, however, he got a new venue for his column — the weekly Farragut Press, in western Knox County. The gig came just in time, Harmon says.
"Have you seen all these stories about Bigfoot Porn?" he asks. "What a time not to be writing a column. It's just sitting there."
Here is the full list of winners.

Quick hits

ANOTHER CONTROVERSIAL HIRE: The New York Times is defending a just-hired technology writer  after criticism of some of her early tweets. In a statement, The Times said it had checked Sarah Jeong’s social media accounts before her hiring to the editorial board. The Times said Jeong, from The Verge, had in the past dealt with frequent online harassment by “imitating the rhetoric of her harassers. … She regrets it, and The Times does not condone it. … She understands that this type of rhetoric is not acceptable at The Times.” 
JEONG'S RESPONSE: The reporter, in a statement, characterized her unearthed tweets as satire, adding, "I deeply regret that I mimicked the language of my harassers." In one tweet, she said "it must be so boring to be white." In another, she wrote: “White people have stopped breeding. You’ll all go extinct soon. This was my plan all along.” A third read: "Oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men.” Meanwhile, her coworkers on The Verge's editorial board strongly condemned online harassment of journalists and applauded the Times for standing by Jeong.
ONCE BEFORE: In February, The Times had announced the hire of Wired's Quinn Norton for the job, but within hours, she had departed after previous social media postings of hers emerged. In those posts, she used offensive language and admitted she was friends with neo-Nazis,
DEAD MEN WALKING: That story on John Kelly? Done. Dan Coats? In process. How one newsroom is getting a jump on White House exits in the high-turnover Trump administration — by writing the story early. “It’s sort of like the old long-standing practice of having prewritten obits,” Los Angeles Times Washington bureau chief David Lauter tells The New Yorker’s Charles Bethea.
MORE LAUTER: The L.A. Times bureau chief has announced the hiring of Politico’s Jennifer Haberkorn and the WSJ’s Del Quentin Wilber. “Great to be hiring again,” Lauter tweeted, after the LAT spent months in limbo before billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong finally wrested the the paper from Tronc in June.
HELPING LOCAL NEWS: Facebook announced a $4.5 million investment to help local newsrooms retain subscribers, build membership programs and match donations. That includes a $1 million gift to News Match program for nonprofit newsrooms.
THE STORY SO FAR: Here’s a summary of a few subscription techniques via Facebook that publishers have adopted, including a successful, opportunistic sign-up program by the San Francisco Chronicle during the California primaries and NBA finals.
GRAIN OF SALT: Jemele Hill, the National Association of Black Journalists’  journalist of the year, has this advice for young sportswriters: Don’t take social media too seriously — particularly the criticism. “It’s not life or death.” said Hill, a senior correspondent and columnist for ESPN and The Undefeated, at this year's NABJ convention in Detroit. (h/t Kevin Merida)
IN ANOTHER MOVE: Sherry Skalko, director of the Amplify project at the Investigative News Network, is moving to become executive director of Injustice Watch.

What we’re reading

‘I LOVE YOUR DOG’: What happens when a reader becomes a stalker, tracking your dog walks, noticing your Christmas decorations, coming to your door? “If anyone were to shoot and kill you,” he said, “it would not be a loss at all!” Chilling story by Stephen Petrow for CJR. (h/t Matt DeRienzo)
STUDENTS THREATENED: A shadowy online group is targeting American Jewish college students who support Palestinian rights, and in one case, two unknown people in costumes tried to intimidate students on a Washington campus. Here's the first part of a series by The Forward.  
JUST THE LATEST WRINKLE: Why the panic over blueprints to build plastic guns on 3D printers? Well, they could evade metal detectors. However, since the 1980s, “anyone can purchase the most lethal of firearms free from all legal regulations,” writes Timothy Lytton for The Conversation.
Cartoonist Rob Rogers has a similar take.