Friday, June 6, 2014

Week in Links (Another Dairy-Based Edition)

It cannot be in compliance with the health code to put Beatles in the meat balls.


This is bad news for academic publishing, which is already not nearly as streamlined or good at its gatekeeping function as it would like to think itself to be. And frankly, I'd think that T&F might embrace the editors' suggestion of adopting an iTunes-type model for academic articles. 

If academic publishing smells bad, at least books still smell good. Here is a chemical explanation of why:

The back-and-forth about whether the binding of Harvard Houghton FC8.H8177.879dc (could they use a more inscrutable system for their shelfmarks?) does, in fact, represent an example of anthropodermic bibliopegy appears to have swung back:

And a lovely tribute to independent bookstores of New York.

Literary prescriptivists are just about as bad as linguistic ones. While I agree with a premise that adults should be reading a wide variety of sophisticated books (and even this is not a hard and fast rule — ultimately, people should read what they like), I cannot abide an article that includes the sentences "Fellow grown-ups, at the risk of sounding snobbish and joyless and old, we are better than this" and "Books like The Westing Game and Tuck Everlasting provided some of the most intense reading experiences of my life. I have no urge to go back and re-read them, but those books helped turn me into the reader I am today. It’s just that today, I am a different reader." I reread the Westing Game a few years ago for the same reason I periodically reread the apparently more respectable Tender is the Night, and for the same reason that this author gives for not rereading young adult lit: because those are the books that made me the reader I am now. When I reread The Phantom Tollbooth as an adult, I realized how much of its raucous humor went straight over my head as a kid. Condemning adults reading children's literature doesn't only make you sound snobbish, joyless, and old; it makes you sound like a dreadful, unimaginative reader.

Adults Should Be Embarrassed to Read Children's Books


In Finland, PhD graduands receive a top hat and a cane. (Of course, what this means is that beyond just being a snappy dresser, Moomin Papa has a PhD!)

Eight reasons why medievalists should use Twitter. I disagree pretty strongly with #2. On the tweeter's end, I've live-tweeted a couple of talks, and I find it to be a very distracting form of note-taking. When you're trying to edit down your tweet to 140 characters or figure out where to break a longer thought into two or three tweets, the talk keeps going on and you're not giving it your full attention. On the reader's end, I've only ever seen one live-tweeted talk that I thought was helpful. The person basically gave a topic sentence for each paragraph and didn't use a lot of abbreviations and jargon. Most live-tweeting, I find, is too stream-of-consciousness, too much like the tweeter's personal notes, to be useful to others; and it's awful clutter in a timeline. I've started muting or temporarily unfollowing people as they live tweet conferences. On the other hand, I'm completely on board with #5. That's my primary motivation for being a medievalist on Twitter.


< political rant >

This is about politics, but it's also about the culture of monolingualism in the US that treats anyone who seems foreign, broadly defined, as suspect: It's clear that the GOP machine is working the trade of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl hard for political points. It's also clear that there's a lot of unhappiness in the ranks over how the whole situation was handled from the beginning. (One retired officer, on the other hand, retorted by saying that even if he had wandered off alone when he was captured, it doesn't matter: "We rescue guys who have done stupid stuff all the time.") But somehow, getting other soldiers from his platoon to say that he was strange and didn't deserve to be rescued because he was studying critical languages doesn't strike me as being the right move. Really? You're trying to sell this as not being a monolingual, xenophobic, imperial war on Islam and you're going with: God, what a weirdo, trying to learn the local languages. He must have been a communist Muslim terrorist traitor?

“'He wouldn’t drink beer or eat barbecue and hang out with the other 20-year-olds,' Cody Full, another member of Sergeant Bergdahl’s platoon, said in an interview on Monday also arranged by Republican strategists. 'He was always in his bunk. He ordered Rosetta Stone for all the languages there, learning Dari and Arabic and Pashto.'”

Bergdahl's Vanishing Before His Capture Angered His Unit

< / political rant >

The blogger-train wreck I regularly read as though I needed some regular dose of aesthetic and cultural disgust — now that, and not the Chronicles of Narnia, is a reading choice to be ashamed of! — has finally written a post that gives some psychological insight into why the punchline of so many of her anecdotes is some variant on: "It's like an old Jew!" I still wish she would lay off it, though. A choice to become as offensive and artlessly bigoted as an oppressor makes the victim the same thing and to do so under the rhetorical guise of academic authority is gross:


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