Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Red Rum Virus: Karma behind venomous alien Schadenfreude

The most infuriating thing about the public service role models and business class isn’t that they’re smug and arrogant; it’s that they’re smug and arrogant while not even being good at their jobs. . . 

A Spoonful of Elmore ...
To me, Elmore Leonard is as comforting in extremity as Pym, and as safe, in the last resort, as Wodehouse. The guys with the best lines are going to come out the other side; the dumb fucks are going to get it in the head or chest; and we are going to hear as much of the word motherfucker as we will of dashed in a Jeeves story. Typing it, I feel a little better already.

Another legend bites the dust …

‘Deaf’ genius Beethoven was able to hear his final symphony after all | Music | The Guardian

Any Child Who Dies of Hunger Is a Murdered Child Daily Beast

Why Is Everybody So Damn Angry? Who.What.Why  

1 big thing: Trump’s sense of invincibility Axios. After hubris, nemesis…

 Robert Peters was such an inveterate liar that it was impossible to believe a single word that he wrote or said: even the most mundane facts would need to be verified independently 
Professor as a con

The latitude east science of crying wolf. Our bias for negativity means we're conditioned to see the worst in everything. So what?... Wading through the smiling assassins and aliens 

'Independent' report by the PM's former fixer: pull the other one

The manner of Bridget McKenzie's political execution raises difficult questions about government accountability and the independence of the public service.

RICHARD FERNANDEZ: A Thousand Ways to Get Sold Out

Grose Valley fire extinguished but most of Blue Mountains’ heritage areas burnt

Up to 80 per cent of the Blue Mountains' world heritage areas have been burned to some extent, initial estimates show.

Coronavirus cases ‘doubling every five days’ as world battles spread of disease - Post 20200202

Kerala declares coronavirus a state calamity, Hong Kong reports first death The Hindu BusinessLine

Scientists Warn: You Can Catch Coronavirus More Than Once. “For those patients who have been cured, there is a likelihood of a relapse.”
China uses talking drones to scold citizens amid coronavirus lockdown

The Pandemic of Xenophobia and Scapegoating Time

Watch wolf puppies stun scientists by playing fetch Science

How the Lawyer Who Beat Chevron Lost Everything The Intercept

ANALYSIS: TRUE. Age discrimination affects people worldwide 

CLAUDIA ROSETT: The same sickness that spread the coronavirus threatens to bring Hong Kong to ruin: the Chinese Communist Party 

Steven Johnson (Ghost Map, How We Got to Now) is out with a new book in May called Enemy Of All Mankind: A True Story of Piracy, Power, and History’s First Global Manhunt. The book combines the story of a pirate with the beginnings of global capitalism and the end of an empire in Johnson’s polymathic fashion.  

At its simplest, Enemy Of All Mankind is the story of a rogue pirate and his sensational crime. While piracy is an ancient profession, the most famous pirates of history would not take the stage until two decades or so after the voyage of the Fancy. But that “golden age” generation — Blackbeard, Samuel Bellamy, Calico Jack — was very much inspired by Henry Every’s crimes and the legends that spun up around them. While Every is not as famous today as those iconic  figures from the golden age, he had a more significant impact on the course of world events than Blackbeard and his peers. Enemy Of All Mankind is an attempt to measure that impact, to chart its boundaries. It tells the story of the individual lives caught up in the crisis that erupted after the mutiny of 1694, but also the stories of a different kind of character, one step up the chain: forms of social organization, institutions, new media platforms. One of those institutions was as ancient as piracy itself: the autocratic theocracy of the Mughal dynasty. The others were just coming into being: the multinational corporation, the popular press, the administrative empire that would come to dominate India starting in the middle of the next century.
Samuel Johnson said that a man is not on oath in an epitaph

“The best obituaries are humane stories. They show the person in their full humanity—sometimes their attainments, sometimes their shortcomings. Sometimes it reveals their weaknesses or abject failings. The worst obituaries are always about celebrating the life. I can’t stand celebrations of life. These are news articles. They’re critical evaluations of people’s lives done in a humane way.”

Read more via this link. 

Personal Postscript — Here is an idea: write your own obituary, share it with a few friends whom you ask to be honest editors, and be surprised by the finished product. 

P.S. The writer of the article should have been more careful with his grammar; for example, a good editor would have told him to fix the pronoun-antecedent agreement problems. 

And while we’re on the subject of obituaries, there is this on Mary Higgins Clark.

First Monday – Fear and loathing on Facebook? Tracking the rise of populism and platformization in viral political Facebook posts, Anders Olof Larsso – “Adopting a longitudinal ‘demand’ perspective to the study of online political campaigning, the present study details developments in supporter engagement on party Facebook Pages during three Swedish elections — 2010, 2014 and 2018. Specifically, the work presented here uncovers the roles of populism and platformization as ways of constructing political messages. Results indicate that over time, viral posts emerge as increasingly crafted based on the ever-changing affordances of the studied platform, evolving from text-based in 2010 to image-based in 2014 and emerging as primarily video-based in the 2018 elections. Implications for political campaigning are discussed.”

James Wood, haters claim, is a hater. The New Yorker’s most influential and polarizing critic hates gaudy postmodernists like Paul Auster and cute sentimentalists like Nicole Krauss. He can’t stand the Cambridge fixture George Steiner, whom he pillories as “a statue that wishes to be a monument,” and he dismisses Donna Tartt as “children’s literature.” Most famously, he loathes fidgety, frantic novels by the likes of Thomas Pynchon and Zadie Smith, works of so-called “hysterical realism” that can’t shut up and sit still. In 2004, the editors of n+1denounced him as a “designated hater.”
Far from the hater he's made out to be, James Wood is an enthusiast. And when he does write a pan, "his disapproval is only a correlate of his abiding love"  The Joy of Tex(t)  

Under fire: Josephine Cashman stands firm against author Bruce Pascoe

Josephine Cashman says her reputation has been trashed, her family targeted and her sanity questioned.
...In an interview with The Sunday Age, she says her reputation has been trashed, her family targeted and her sanity questioned. “Everybody I know has been called and told I am mad,’’ she said.

“A poor, who hates power, once become powerful, hates poor.”

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a totalitarian regime in charge of a country must be in want of a sense of humor. It is likewise a truth that mockery of such regime is how the inmates in the country maintain some kind of psychological health. Hence all the jokes in the Soviet Union about the country and leadership  – “They pretend to pay us, we pretend to work” 
Prophetic study … Towards 3024  
It Was Never About Economic Anxiety: On the Book That Foresaw the Rise of Trump | Literary Hub
… part of the great value of re-reading Blue-Collar Aristocrats now is being reminded that Trump is not a Republican exception but rather the culmination of a Republican trend, going back to Barry Goldwater and only defied by “compassionate conservative” anomalies like George W. Bush, of playing on their resentment of women and racial minorities in order to win white male votes. LeMasters brings us much closer to the origin of that trend.See also:  Moose' selling Club Tavern after 39 years.

 Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.
— Anton Chekhov, born on this date in 1860


Last lines: Clive James | Ian Shircore | Standpoint.

Clive says that “The Book of My Enemy” was prompted by an actual experience of seeing a rival’s work stacked waist-high among the remaindered dross, though he has always refused to name names. “It was almost a religious experience,” he says. “It’s a sin to rejoice so much in someone else’s misfortune, to write out of vengefulness. But I did see these huge piles of deservedly unsold books. And I did enjoy it. It wasn’t my most worthy moment, but I probably had more fun writing this poem than anything else I ever wrote.”

New Witches: Female Flogging Horse unveiled in Indonesia

Wading Through The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered
The book of my enemy has been remainderedAnd I am pleased.In vast quantities it has been remaindered,Like a van-load of counterfeit that has been seizedAnd sits in piles in a police warehouse,My enemy’s much-praised effort sits in pilesIn the kind of bookshop where remaindering occurs.Great, square stacks of rejected books and, between them, aislesOne passes down reflecting on life’s vanities,Pausing to remember all those thoughtful reviewsLavished to no avail upon one’s enemy’s book—For behold, here is that bookAmong these ranks and banks of duds,These ponderous and seemingly irreducible cairnsOf complete stiffs.
The book of my enemy has been remainderedAnd I rejoice.It has gone with bowed head like a defeated legionBeneath the yoke.What avail him now his awards and prizes,The praise expended upon his meticulous technique,His individual new voice?Knocked into the middle of next week.His brainchild now consorts with the bad buys,The sinkers, clinkers, dogs and dregs,The Edsels of the world of movable type,The bummers that no amount of hype could shift,The unbudgeable turkeys.
Yea, his slim volume with its understated wrapperBathes in the glare of the brightly jacketedHitler’s War Machine.His unmistakably individual new voiceShares the same scrapyard with a forlorn skyscraperOf The Kung-Fu Cookbook .His honesty, proclaimed by himself and believed in by others,His renowned abhorrence of all posturing and pretence,Is there with Pertwee’s Promenades and PierrotsOne Hundred Years of Seaside Entertainment.And (oh, this above all) his sensibility,His sensibility and its hair-like filaments,His delicate, quivering sensibility is now as oneWith Barbara Windsor’s Book of Boobs,
A volume graced by the descriptive rubric“My boobs will give everyone hours of fun.”

Soon now a book of mine could be remaindered also,Though not to the monumental extentIn which the chastisement of remaindering has been meted outTo the book of my enemy,Since in the case of my own book it will be dueTo a miscalculated print run, a marketing error—Nothing to do with merit.But just supposing that such an event should holdSome slight element of sadness, it will be offsetBy the memory of this sweet moment.Chill the champagne and polish the crystal goblets!The book of my enemy has been remainderedAnd I am glad.

American Dirt hits the fan, and I give up on the world

Wednesday afternoon, Flatiron Books — a New York-based publishing house — announced that it would be cancelling author Jeanine Cummins' book tour for her newly released novel"American Dirt." Just two weeks ago, this would have been a shocking statement; many thought  "American Dirt" was poised to be the darling of the 2020 publishing world. It had a major budget, some splashy advance reviews, and the backing of the Oprah's Book Club machine. 
But over the past few weeks, criticism against the book and its author has steadily mounted, especially by Latinx and migrant authors. Questions were raised about creating fictional voices, "trauma porn," and the representation of writers of color in an overwhelmingly white publishing landscape. 

Personal Postscript — As I have no interest in reading American Dirt, I guess I have no dog in this fight (though I ought not mention the dog), but I look at the bigger picture and wonder if people have lost their minds. If I understand the complaints here, a white woman is only allowed to write about white women; stating it the other  way, only a Latina migrant can write about the Latina migrant experience. Carried to its logical but absurd extension, only a space alien can write about space aliens, only a dog can write about dogs, and only a dead white man can write about dead white men. Yes, the world has gone crazy. Stop the world. I want to get off. 

P.S. And I give up on contemporary literature and publishers