I’m becoming a DFH, but I like these guys. They remind me of Dead Can Dance. Yes, I’m aware that I’m old. I can remember perhaps getting into a fight or two with the hippies in Ann Arbor back in the day…
A quick review of Jo Walton’s Among Others:
About half-way through this novel I wondered if Walton isn’t doing something unheard of in SF/Fantasy (unless George R.R. Martin does it) – creating an unreliable narrator. Mo (the narrator)is sharing her diary with us, and in it she chronicles a horrible story of her insane mother who causes the death of her sister and cripples Mo in some sort of ultimate battle of magic. As I read I started to realize that maybe she wasn’t all that sane – she sees fairies that no one else can see (except a boyfriend, later, one who desperately wants to believe as well), she sees her mother’s magic (she thinks that her mom is a witch), again, something no one else seems to be able to see, she thinks her aunts on her dad’s side are all witches because they want to give her earrings, and so on.
I became fairly convinced that I was right by the end. Her boyfriend wonders why no one else can see what they see, and the climax is fairly uneventful – she confronts her mom (we think – no one else seems to see her mom), and she meets the men in her life at the bus. She then goes on to essentially live a normal life.
My guess, then, is that Walton shows us a young girl confronting some fairly horrible actions of her mother, and maybe she even invents a twin after she runs away from the trauma. I hope that’s the case, because otherwise this is a fairly mundane novel about fairies.
Notes on my re-read:
- I definitely need to add a few more close reads from my diss – the Robold story and a couple of others should do the trick…
- I think that the actual argument I’m making is for the ways that the pulps mirror the anxieties about technological development felt in the larger culture – among a group that is presumed to be pro-technology (whatever that means)…
- the better focus here will be to start immediately with the invention process (very relevant, very current) and look at the components of it
- tech should be rational, right?
- where does agency come from – shouldn’t we know who is inventing this shit, and what their motivations are?
- where does faith come into this process…
- I need to find copies of the pages with the editorial introductions – might be available here…
This is all for now…
Had a lovely dinner with my folks last night, but woke up this morning hating myself, mostly because I did not contradict the following points:
- they repeated the lies about Obama’s position on the pre-1967 borders, and
- my father compared Bill O’ Reilly’s spirituality to that of Brother Powers.
I hated myself because I didn’t fight them, show them how they’re wrong, remind them that as Fox news viewers they’re horribly misinformed. I should have gotten self-righteous on their asses.
I also hated myself because I didn’t not correct them out of some high-minded principle, but out of panic, if I think about my emotions at the time. I was terrified – of losing their affection, of engaging them in a confrontation, of fighting and perhaps getting my brothers involved again. I know that my emotional state wasn’t that clear at the time, but still I’d be willing to bet that a sincere desire to clear up Fox-based confusion was not high on my list.
Here’s hoping I sleep tonight!
I just finished the steampunk series by Stephen Hunt (Court of the Air, Kingdom Beyond the Waves, and the Rise of the Iron Moon – I guess he calls this the Jackelian series), and I wonder if I haven’t given Hunt enough credit. He seems to love the old pulps, because his novels read like them – heroes and heroines escaping from near impossible situations at the end of every few paragraphs, and his fairly cartoony villains seem often to be caricatures of evil.
Still, the novels are doing something interesting with the genre, methinks, something that’s not just pulpy. For instance, none of the novels ends with the solution to all problems being the result of the heroes’ actions, as instead the world just keeps turning, avoiding that utopic bent that most of the pulps seem to end on (although I wonder if my memory is a bit off). I’m wondering, if this is the case, how exactly I’m getting that sense. I sort of got bored in them, but I want to think that he’s not just cranking out a warmed-up version of what sci-fi did in the thirties, for instance…
His website is here.
Brainstorming some ideas for internship projects for students:
- Large project designed to understand how writing instruction (and student improvement) affects students as they move their careers.
- Placement numbers – how do students do after fyc (does placement matter beyond assisting students in adjusting to college writing?)
- Proficiency exam numbers – how do students in writing for classes they take as they proceed? Both students who failed and those who passed will be important, although getting data will be easier (and more understandable) for those who don’t, because we have a pretty good idea of what goes in English 230, 240, and 323…
- Goal, once we’ve completed these tasks: come up with some way to code fyc essays that will translate to later essays, and help us determine what’s helping students become better writers (this might be impossible b/c of the situational nature of writing and the importance of working with individuals, but the hope is that a better grasp of numbers from a meta perspective will help at least target what we’re doing)
- My guess is that this project will eventually take the form of some XML development – we might want to see if computer science wants to get involved…
- Creating your portfolio
- Using e-Portfolios to improve your job prospects
- Part of this process will be understanding what tools we need – for instance, as of now the only way we have of tracking how well students do in subsequent classes is by grade. We’ll need to understand what courses they’ve had to write in, what kind of writing they did, did they well or poorly based upon mechanics or content, etc.
- We’ll need to talk to Edna about getting permission to look at grades and such, and we might need to talk to Leigh about IRB concerns…
- Tools – how do we collect data? What sorts of forms should we use to count, and how do we ensure that we have accurately tracked the numbers?
In case anyone cares.
I’m taking the opposite task of Posnanski, who feels bad that he has spent so much vitriol on Lebron, and I respect Posnanski, so I’m feeling a bit on the defensive. I’m also on the defensive because the right thing to do is to forgive, forget, move on, especially knowing Lebron’s life story.
I can fuel my anger and disgust with Lebron’s blase post-game answer, about all the haters having to go back to their lives while till be rich. That answer is so ignorant of what the fans mean to him, so out-0f-touch with what he owes to the people who actually do pay his salary, if not directly. This statement alone could justify my feelings.
But come on man, my internal monologue goes on, he had a shitty childhood, not in any middle class my daddy didn’t love me enough sense, but in actuality, a mom who abandoned him, his only savior being basketball and his god-given ability. And this mother never truly leaves, with ugly vague rumors that even spread to his girlfriend popping up at the worst times. He tries control everything in his life, and the more control he tries to instill, the crazier things get, and the more he seems to withdraw, become passive and unresponsive and lacking in energy. He doesn’t fight unless he’s ahead, and I hate front-runners, without, perhaps, understanding what they are all about.
I also him for the standards he’s violated. He hand-picked his team like the NBA is the goddamn AAU, recruited (which he never did in Cleveland), picking a big brother who is older and wiser and came from a bit less chaos, a bit more stability, including three years of college. Players should not be able to pick their own teams in my vision of the NBA, and superstars should understand the importance of being a part of a team, the tradition, and not join a pseud0-family member/role model in a city that isn’t real (except for the Hispanic parts, but that’s another story).
And he picked up his own daddy, one who flashed rings at him and didn’t put together a real presentation in that dog-and-pony show bullshit last summer. I have never liked Pat Riley, with his comb-over and his relentlessly died-dark hair and his thuggish Knick teams and his Van Gundy proteges. He’s a smug bastard much like Lebron, with no built0in points of sympathy due to his upbringing. Riley is NBA royalty with no humility or self-awareness, and the fact that Lebron chose him, over even the Russian billionaire, pisses me off even more. Alpha males who seem to have earned nothing violate nearly everything I believe in.
And yet, as I write, I realize that my hatred of Lebron is for things he can’t affect, things about me and who I am. I have witnessed my teams win championships – Michigan in 1997, the Reds in the 70s and 1991, and I saw the Bengals at least go to the Super Bowl twice. I’m not stuck in the Cleveland malaise because I have rooted for champions who I grew up watching, so I’ve experienced that vicarious pleasure, and I shouldn’t need Lebron to do this for me, or for Cleveland.
What gives me this joy in hatred, then? I know that in Lebron’s mind this failure to beat Dallas is a failure, and it’s one that cannot have looked good as he looked back at the tape. Do I hope that he has discovered something about himself, and that that discovery will make him wiser, gentler, kinder, more secure in himself and not so interested in promulgating ridiculous notions of masculinity rooted in aggression and preening and fake stupidity? Am I so invested in wanting to like someone who’s a basketball player extraordinaire because I love the game and want to think that good people play it? Am I so interested in looking for someone who can dispute that narrative that will at first ignore all evidence that he’s not and then revile him when I discover the truth? In either case, this is not a comfortable scenario to be a part of.