Sunny Jim

by Kieran Healy on November 26, 2003

While we’re on the subject of literature, Jacob Levy points to a subscriber-only piece in Even the New Republic about the perenially sad state of modern literature. I can’t read it because I’m not a subscriber, but Jacob quotes a chunk. Who’s to blame for the terrible condition of the novel? James Joyce, that’s who.

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Imaginary Alternative Big Reads

by Kieran Healy on November 26, 2003

So Austen and Tolkien top Norm’s poll. Assuming fungible goods and transitive preferences, it follows that a hybrid version of these two authors would also prove very popular. Thus, I want to see Pride and Prejudice rewritten a la Tolkien. A new title might be needed. Pride and Preciousness perhaps, or Sauron and Sarumanity. Also vice versa. “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in grubby clothes smoking pipeweed in the corner must be leader of the Dunedain, lost King of the West and worth four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our Hobbits!”

Alternative big read

by Chris Bertram on November 26, 2003

The results of Norman Geras’s “Alternative Big Read poll”:http://normangeras.blogspot.com/2003_11_23_normangeras_archive.html#106984589089946590 are out, with _Pride and Prejudice_ in first place. The selection is pretty good except for the appearance of _Lord of the Rings_ in second place (ranked their top book by eight witless people).

Genre fiction redux

by Chris Bertram on November 26, 2003

I’ve been following the discussions about genre and literary fiction in the threads started by “Henry”:https://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/000875.html and “Maria”:https://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/000881.html with some interest. As I mention in a comment to Henry’s thread, I’ve always rated Ken Worpole’s writing on this topic both in his “Dockers and Detectives”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0805271988/junius-20 and in another little book he produced called “Reading by Numbers: Contemporary Publishing and Popular Fiction”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0906890454/junius-20 (Comedia, 1984). I picked it up of the shelf this evening to check on a passage I dimly remembered about book design:

bq. Paperback cover design in the 1940s and 1950s was often very strong and innovative, employing traditions borrowed from Expressionist and Surrealist styles of the early part of the century. Typography was often highly innovative too.

bq. Unfortunately, what displaced this bugeoning populist publishing tradition was the introduction of the “trade paperback” in the 1970s, a development of questionable value. The “trade paperback” is a larger format, more expensively produced paperback designed exclusively for bookshop sales, and carries an aura of a higher “seriousness” than the cheap, easy-to-fit-in-your-pocket book. Many publishers moved their more “serious” writers over into their new “trade” paperback lists or re-printed books with new “classical” covers … This not only raised the price of the books but literally took them out of the supermarkets and the chain-stores. The “trade” paperback was designed specifically to be sold by the book trade. Much writing was thus taken out of the arena of popular literature, as can be gauged by thumbing through the paperback sections in second-hand bookshops, where it is not unusual to find Sartre, Trocchi, Lawrence, Faulkner, Steinbeck, Richard Wright, Nell Dunn, Mary McCarthy, Cesare Pavese, Ignazio Silone, Norman Mailer and many others being promoted as sensational fiction with garish covers – and being sold in their tens of thousands rather than thousands. It is the development of the trade paperback which further separated out “serious” literature from “popular” literature and created a vacuum in the cheap paperback field which formula writing rushed to fill. (pp. 7–8)

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Waugh to Retire

by Harry on November 26, 2003

Just thought I’d register a Brit’s regret at Waugh’s decision to retire as captain of Australia. It is hard to know whether he is the greatest captain Australia has had, or whether he has just been lucky to have under his command the greatest test team in history. I’m in the ‘Anyone But England’ camp except when England plays Australia, when my principle of supporting the underdog gets the better of my anti-patriotism. But watching Australia the past few years, against just about anyone, has been sheer bliss. And Waugh’s quiet battle against the increasing and grotesque commercialism in the international game, even if it has been carried out in a spirit of patriotism, has made him almost as much of a hero as his captaincy.

More on late starting

by Chris Bertram on November 26, 2003

In “a post yesterday”:https://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/000880.html about the later age at which academics get proper jobs nowadays, I focused on how this means that academics now have fewer children later (or none at all). But there’s another consequence of the way the job market and accreditation process have changed: pensions. Academics here in the UK still have a final salary pension scheme (which is nice). The scheme assumes to that to receive a full-value pension (50 per cent of final salary) you have made 40 years worth of contributions. I’ve even met some academics — appointed at around age 23 in the 1960s — who’ve managed this. But those who have entered the profession late (and burdened with debt) from the 1990s onwards, at age 30+ will _never_ pay in their 40 years (given retirement at 65) and will therefore receive a lower income in their old age. I’ve assumed in this post that the system is the UK one, but obviously the point generalises beyond final-salary schemes. Those who earn proper salaries later (and are debt-ridden) will not contribute so much towards their pension — especially if they are trying to bring up a delayed young family! — and will suffer in their retirement.

Cloning and Mitochondrial Disease

by Brian on November 26, 2003

In his paper “Dolly: The Age of Biological Control”, Ian Wilmut suggests one interesting use for cloning technology. In that paper Wilmut basically opposes what we normally think of as reproductive cloning. (In a recent paper with Glenn McGee he has slightly softened his attitude.) But he thinks the following procedure, which as far as I can tell would be illegal under current anti-cloning legislation, would be entirely appropriate if provably safe. I agree with Wilmut, and I think there’s a very strong argument for amending the legislation to ensure this procedure is permissible.

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Cloning and Adoption

by Brian on November 26, 2003

One of the central issues in the cloning thread has been whether infertile couples should adopt rather than use new technologies like cloning. So far I’ve been content to run with the line that even if it would socially advantageous for the couple to adopt rather than clone, they should have a legal right to clone, because they should have the legal right to have children from their own genetic stock. But perhaps I was too quick to accept the virtues of adoption. Stephen Coleman, in Should Liberals Ban Reproductive Cloning? argues that adoption may have flaws of its own.

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Cooking week

by Eszter Hargittai on November 26, 2003

For those celebrating Thanksgiving this week, I wanted to share some tried-and-true recipes. I’m an especially big fan of the pecan pie recipe. In addition to the dishes on that list, I will also make a batch of peanutbutter bars courtesy of Laura’s family (one of the Lauras who sometimes posts in the comments).

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Race for funds

by Eszter Hargittai on November 26, 2003

This map should be of interest to those who are curious about financial contributions to the US presidential candidates.. and those who like to compare numbers and dissect graphs. Be sure to try out both county and state-level illustrations. And don’t miss the differences in scale of contributions depending on the candidate. [via Neat New Stuff]

More on free speech at Toronto

by Henry on November 26, 2003

“Jacob Levy”:http://volokh.com/2003_11_23_volokh_archive.html#106977924026050818 has a long and thoughtful response to my “post”:https://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/000877.html yesterday, which does an excellent job of getting at the underlying issues. I’m not sure if the controversy is quite as unconnected to controversies over free speech as Jacob argues that it is. But his analysis, and solution, offers a good, intellectual foundation for the common-sense solution that U of T adopted even if the issue is (as Jacob acknowledges) messy around the edges.