Noted in passing

by Henry Farrell on May 17, 2005

Matt Yglesias writes about “philosophical zombies”: which reminds me to mention that this particularly refined class of undead gets a nod in Charles Stross’s Singularity Sky. It’s a nice example of a genre trope getting picked up by the academy, spun around, then yanked back into the popular culture with its references skewed. The few moments in the last couple of days which I haven’t spent grading, I’ve been reading Stross’s The Family Trade, a novel contribution to the somewhat exiguous genre of economic fantasy. Sort of like Roger Zelazny’s _Amber_ but with real feudalism – illiterate peasants, aristocrats who are obsessed with their fishing and mining rights (even if they don’t know much about what fishing and mining actually involve in practice), and a spunky heroine determined to reform the gung-ho mercantilism of her family business. It’s all enormous fun. I don’t usually buy books in hardback, but I couldn’t wait for a year to order a copy of the sequel, which is coming out in June. Good stuff.

They both took towels to school today

by Harry on May 17, 2005

I knew they’d make a film of it when I first heard it, one of a few thousand apparently, in my teenage bedroom just outside Slough (ironically, as it turns out, for where would Martin Freeman be without Slough?). So I waited. And waited. And waited. 27 years or thereabouts. There have been months (years, perhaps) in which I haven’t thought about it, and when it finally opened I thought, “well, I can wait a few weeks more”. So yesterday I took my 8 year old and her friend. My hopes were not high — I didn’t even care whether it would be good, I was just fulfilling the wish I had 27 years ago. It couldn’t possibly match the radio series, I knew that, not least because Peter Jones is dead and Simon Jones is…over the hill.

I’m not going to review it: I’m already behind the curve.
[click to continue…]

Savage Minds

by Kieran Healy on May 17, 2005

“Savage Minds”: is an elegantly-designed new blog run by six anthropologists. Its roster includes Alex Golub, whose site I used to read more often in the days before blogs, and who once “wrote a post”: containing the following story:

bq. Met with my advisor the other day to go over a conference paper I gave him that would eventually be turned into a chapter. He said that it was ‘better than ok’, which is the most positive comment I’ve ever gotten from him. Much better than when I was writing my MA, when he’d give me back drafts with comments like “don’t ever give anything of this quality to me again ever”.

I sometimes relate this anecdote to graduate students in order to preempt any passive-aggressive whining about my comments on their work being insufficiently kind and appreciative.