Insurgent

Rachel Barnhart is a Rochester-area celebrity who ran a primary challenge against another Democrat for a New York State Assembly seat earlier this year.  Barnhart lost, and wrote a book about the experience, Broad-Casted.  Her book contains lessons for anyone thinking about running for office, or even those of us who are looking for Democrats to challenge incumbents in the next elections, because Barnhart was probably a better candidate than the average first-time Democratic candidate, even Democrats running for federal office.

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For a Good Time In Radioland (Short Notice Self Aggrandizement)

ETA: So, we lost the connection to Blog Talk radio.  Jay and I continued the conversation to tape; he’s editing it now and will post the audio as a podcast tomorrow.  I’ll let y’all know when it’s up.  Sorry…

dou_astronomer-by-candlelight

Don’t know if anyone reading this has had their fill of The Hunt For Vulcan, but just in case you haven’t, I’ll be talking soon about that book, missing planets, error in science (and life, perhaps) and more with Jay Ackroyd on his internet radio program, Virtually Speaking.

Time: 9 p.m. Eastern, 6 Pacific (one hour from now!)

Here’s the link.

Tune in, if you’re not absorbed in more down-to-earth matters. (I.e….Go Sox!)

Image:  Gerrit Dou, Astronomer by candlelight1665








Some Stray Reading For When You’ve Finished Your Luke Cage Binge

Hey all,

I’ve got a couple of pieces out in what we might call the mainstream media that might reward your attention.

The first closes the loop on that lovely Royal Society award shortlist we talked about a while back.  The winner was announced a couple of Mondays ago and, alas, it didn’t go to The Hunt for Vulcan (which you should still totally read).

Instead the prize went to Andrea Wulf for her intellectual biography of Alexander von Humboldt, The Invention of Nature.  It’s a very strong book, as were each of the others on the shortlist.  I commend all of them to you.

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The event itself was great, and the organizers made sure that each of the titles in the finals had a chance to shine, and while I was certainly disappointed, I was also greatly chuffed — and why not?  My work had been recognized as among the class of the year, I got to rub shoulders with some wonderful writers, (including a personal hero, the head judge Bill Bryson), and hey — London! What could be bad.

Nothing — until, as I was getting ready to leave that green and sceptered isle, I came across a piece at The Guardian in which the writer argued that there was something dodgy about Wulf’s win — that she had garnered a feminized prize, one that sought to reward a woman’s interest in people instead of a man’s pursuit of “problem, a mystery or an underexplored scientific field.”

I couldn’t let such arrant nonsense fly unanswered, so I wrote up a response for The Atlantic.  In it I drew both on my experience as one of the competitors in the contest Wulf won, and my prior encounter with prize judging as a Pulitzer juror in 2012.  Check it out, if you’ve a mind.

The other article you might find fun is a book review that I wrote a little while ago that went live yesterday at The Boston Globe — my take on James Gleick’s new book, Time Travel.  The shorter is that the book is great, really fine work, and I commend it to you all.  Here’s a sample:

Mostly, though, Gleick leads us on a thrilling journey of ideas. Augustine talks to Robert Heinlein who talks to Kurt Gödel, all the while someone is trying to connect a call between Marcel Proust and the ever patient Sam Beckett. Alongside the big ideas come the odd facts too delicious to leave out, as when we learn that among the audio selections placed on the Voyager spacecraft is the Bulgarian folk song “Izlel je Delyo Hagdutin’’ or “Delyo the Hajduk Has Gone Outside.” Pity the alien trying to decipher that code!

So, yeah. I’ve been delinquent in my blogging here.  Think of these as peace offerings.

Have a great weekend, all.  I’m going to continue nursing my dread catarrh; nothing like a full 747 to offer a smörgåsbord of viral delights.  Honey-lemon tea (possibly helped by some bourbon) in my future.

Image: William Harnett, Job Lot Cheap, 1878.



Expelliarmus

RPV

An interesting study suggests that reading Harry Potter increases the probability and intensity of anti-Trump political sentiment:

Mutz polled a nationally representative sample of 1,142 Americans in 2014, and again in 2016, asking about their Harry Potter consumption, their attitudes on issues such as waterboarding, the death penalty, the treatment of Muslims and gays, and (in 2016 only) their feelings about Donald Trump on a 0-100 scale.

Party affiliation did not affect the likelihood that a person had read the Harry Potter books, the study found; Democrats, Republicans, and Independents have all read Rowling’s books in roughly equal numbers.

The study found that each Harry Potter book read lowered respondents’ evaluations of Donald Trump by roughly 2-3 points on a 100 point scale.

“This may seem small,” Mutz acknowledges, “but for someone who has read all seven books, the total impact could lower their estimation of Trump by 18 points out of 100. The size of this effect is on par with the impact of party identification on attitudes toward gays and Muslims.”

Time to read the third chapter of The Sorcerer’s Stone to my kids as inoculation against future fascism or at least one hell of a great world to play in at all ages.

Open thread



Open Thread: The Ignerntz Coalition Foiled

Earnest congratulations to Carla Hayden, now our fourteenth Librarian of Congress — first woman, first African-American, and (according to Robinson Meyer, in the Atlantic), “the first Librarian of Congress appointed during the internet age”

Carla Hayden, a former Chicago children’s librarian who rose to preside over the American Library Association and oversee Baltimore’s enormous free library system, was confirmed by the Senate Wednesday to lead the Library of Congress, the nation’s largest library and its oldest federal institution…

Hayden replaces James Billington, an academic historian appointed by President Ronald Reagan who spent almost three decades at the institution’s helm. Billington renovated the Library’s main building and doubled the size of some of its collections (while also enlarging its pocketbook), but he neglected networked technology near the end of his tenure. He retired last year.

As I wrote then, Billington’s lengthy tenure means that Hayden will be the first Librarian of Congress appointed during the internet age— and the first librarian who seems to understand its power…

She inherits a library that desperately requires an update. A report from the Government Accountability Office last year found that the Library, once a leader in adapting to the internet, had fallen behind the times and needed to update its aging computer systems.

Hayden was confirmed 74-18 by the Senate. All of the dissenting senators were Republicans, including Senators Mark Kirk, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Tom Cotton. And though she was unanimously endorsed by the G.O.P-controlled Senate Rules Committee, an anonymous Republican senator blocked the vote to confirm Hayden’s appointment for more than five weeks…

Of course the Talibangelicals in Congress object to a professional knowledge-distributor, especially one with a history of encouraging children and other people of color to step beyond the boundaries of home and neighborhood, as decreed by the councils of the Talibangelical…

I posted this next video back in February, when Hayden was originally nominated. The one below it is C-SPAN’s coverage of her opening statement when confirmation hearings opened back in April.



Summer Travels and Reading

This summer, I’ll be in

Minneapolis (Wed, June 15 only)
Davidson, NC area (for a few days around July 4)
Denver (July 22-24) – I’ll be speaking at VegFest
and Japan (!) early August (Tokyo and Tohoku region)

Area Juicers – email me (see Quick Links menu at right) if you want to get together.

Also, anyone have any reading / listening plans for this summer? I can recommend:

The Long Ships by Frans Bengsston – a rollicking good read about the travels and travails of a Viking. Set in and around the Year 1000.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman – great book that I heard HBO is making into a miniseries. In particular, I reocmmend the ensemble audiobook.

As a bonus, both of these books feature road trips (or, in the case of Ships, the watery equivalent), and (for Betty) both put the Thor back in Thursday.

No Thor in this one, but otherwise fine: the audiobook of Goodwin’s Team of Rivals was a superb listening experience.

Anyone else have any summer plans or recommendations to share?

 

 








Authors In Our Midst: Horror, YA and A Work In Progress

I picked three works today. They are diverse, so a little something for everyone. If you want to be featured, send me your information and I’ll include you. Also, you can add your work in the comment section.

I have two playwrights that I’m going to feature next, so if you are a playwright and want to be included, now is the time to shoot me an email.

The previous Authors In Our Midst can be found here. I had a request from Tissue Thin Pseudonym, he’d love it if anyone would review his book Becoming Phoebe (featured in the first author’s post) and post it on Amazon.

Now on to our featured works:

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Read about all of them below the fold…

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