In journalism just one fact that is false prejudices the entire work. In contrast, in fiction one single fact that is true gives legitimacy to the entire work. That’s the only difference, and it lies in the commitment of the writer. A novelist can do anything he wants so long as he makes people believe in it.
* I asked William Pannapacker how to responsibly advise students who want to go to graduate school in the humanities. He said you can’t.
* UNC’s New Grading System Could Show What That ‘A’ Is Really Worth. Tentatively, this seems like a good improvement on the existing system, though I’m not in love with the administration’s “now we can finally catch unscrupulous faculty!” line.
* Supposedly we’re supposed to be outraged by Snowden not infiltrating the Putin government and leaking details about his massive surveillance state apparatus. Or something. I can’t make heads or tails of it to be honest.
* After comparing the average achievement of children whose parents regularly engage in each form of parental involvement to that of their counterparts whose parents do not, we found that most forms of parental involvement yielded no benefit to children’s test scores or grades, regardless of racial or ethnic background or socioeconomic standing. The zero point of most liberal (as opposed to leftist) interventions in poverty is that “merit” broadly defined is structured (a little) by genetic lottery and (a lot) by class position, which means that strategies for equality that are filtered through education and achievement will always just wind up replicating existing structures of power and existing privileges rather than disrupting them. I don’t see any answer for this problem beyond deliberate redistribution of wealth.
* The Nation reviews The Years of Living Dangerously.
In the moments that follow, both the Doctor and his companion ask River why she didn’t just say her wrist was broken, and she explains – in this horrible, horrible moment – that the Doctor must be protected from knowing how much it hurts people to be around him; that humans must hide their weakness from him so that he will not feel upset.
* Monsters walk among us: People who think they’re attractive tend to be more comfortable with economic inequality.
* They have come to the conclusion that God, / Requiring a heaven and a hell, didn’t need to / Plan two establishments: ‘X-Men’ Director Bryan Singer Accused of Sexually Assaulting Underage Boy. More details on the case at Boing Boing.
* I can’t remember where I heard this, but someone once said that defending a position by citing free speech is sort of the ultimate concession; you’re saying that the most compelling thing you can say for your position is that it’s not literally illegal to express.
* The arc of history is long, but it bends towards grandfather clauses that allow obscenities to continue for decades after they are banned.
* The New York Times profiles the great Tatiana Maslany of Orphan Black.
* Today at Marquette: Today (Tuesday the 8th) from 5-6 PM in Lalumiere 208 we’ll be having our last Pop Culture Lunch Dinner of the semester, on music’s British Invasions. There will be pizza! Come out!
* Tomorrow at Marquette: Tomorrow (Wednesday the 9th) is Marquette English’s annual celebration of Shakespeare’s birthday, which this year takes the form of a “Sonnet Slam.”
* This Weekend in Milwaukee: All weekend the Center for 21st Century Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee is hosting a very exciting conference on “Anthropocene Feminism.”
* 4/22 in Cleveland: On April 22 I’ll be giving a talk at my beloved alma mater, Case Western, titled “Science Fiction and/as Philosophy.” More details to come!
* 4/26 at Marquette: The weekend of April 26th Marquette graduate students are hosting a conference on “Representing the Natural,” which also promises to be excellent.
* 5/2 in Chicago: I’ll also be giving a brief talk and participating in a roundtable at the Joss Whedon celebration at DePaul, reprising my role as snake-in-the-garden perfected at last year’s Doctor Who celebration.
* And, finally, 5/23 in Madison: I’ll be giving a paper at SFRA/WisCon on the great stuff I found in the Octavia Butler archives, especially the various unfinished drafts of Parable of the Trickster.
See you at all of these!