Randomness: the week that's over, links, blerghhhhhh

It’s Friday night. I’m enjoying a rum and Pepsi Joy.  We’ve ingested our homemade pizza, a tradition in our house* (*for the past three weeks).  Rather than focusing on my horrible taste in drinks, let’s move on to the week (or weeks) that was (or were…freshness not being my strong suit on the linkage):

Hypocrites of the week:

1. PIPA co-sponsor Senator Roy Blunt, using a copyrighted image without permission for his Twitter background (via a PHI 230 Ethics student)

2. Newt Gingrich, with the NY Daily News providing humorous commentary:

Gingrich treats Romney like some kind of felon, but nobody is supposed to care that while he originally led the charge against Bill Clinton on Monica Lewinsky he was conducting his own affair with a congressional aide, now Callista Gingrich.

Coward of the week:

Captain Schettino (via Gawker)

We happened to be doing Aristotle this week in ethics class, and what a great way to illustrate his concept of cowardice!

Literary Links:


Morality in Fantasy: 2012 Edition by Cora Buhlert (via @victoriajanssen)


Via The Advocate, the best new erotica and romance for lesbian, gay, bi, and trans audiences.


Wickedly Funny: the Humor of Anne Stuart’s Heroes, by Victoria Janssen at Heroes and Heartbreakers.


The Trouble With Productivity, from the TLSBlog.

Can you be productive by not being productive? Are there artistic possibilities in exhaustion, failure and laziness?

Do I need to explain the appeal of this article?


How To Read more: A Lover’s Guide (via @sallyheroes ) I really need to take some of this advice more to heart, especially:

8. Give up on a book if it’s boring. Reading isn’t something you do because it’s good for you — it’s not like taking your vitamins. You’re reading because it’s fun. So if a book isn’t fun, dump it. Give it a try for at least a chapter, but if you still don’t love it, move on.


A remembrance of the late Penny Jordan, by Jay Dixon at Teach Me Tonight:

She wrote well in many genres, yet remained unassuming, diffident about her own talent, but always keen to help new writers.


More authors talking about bad reviews:

Harlequin M&B author Wendy S. Marcus on Reader Reviews and What Not To Do. Loads of wrongness in the 71 comments, but the post author concludes with:

The most important lesson of bad reviews: Do not engage the reviewer. (At least I remembered that!!!)

Everyone is entitled to their opinion.


And YA Author Maggie Stiefvater, in a post about negative reviews that does what I hate more than anything else on the inerwebs, pretending to be the cool, educated, rational one, when everything about the post screams I’m hot, bothered, ignorant, and irrational!!!! Also commits my second most hated internet error, backpeddling in the comments section, while claiming that the readers just didn’t “get” your point. Oh, and my third: referring to oneself as an “academic” when one has a bachelor’s degree. Ms. Stiefvater, I will never, ever read one of your books.


Good responses from Jane at Dear Author and Azteclady at Karen Knows Best.

In case you missed it, the comment thread of this Strange Horizons review of Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan is worth a look, on the question of “review” versus “something authors don’t much like” (via @booksmugglers).

Liz, do everyone a favour and head down to Temple Bar, have a pint and seriously consider what it is you feel like putting out there for all to see. Because THIS is NOT a review. This is the ranting blog post of a post-pubescent bully without the forethought or the tact to do a PROPER review. Trinity College could do without folk like you on their student roll sheet. I’m not joking, I hope one of your professors reads this.


Via @meredithduran, How to become a romance novelist, an old (1996) article in the Boston Phoenix. Interesting reading. Sample:

You revile it. The bosomy “clinch” cover is the bête noir of choice for successful romance writers. The heroine’s cleavage suggests lactation; the hero clutches her from an angle that could bring little pleasure to either party; they are coupling frantically on a bed of rhododendrons. When you get together with other successful romance writers, your complaints about the clinch mount into a communal frenzy. You suspect conspiracy.

“In my darker moments, I regard them as a form of sexual harassment,” Chekani says. “It’s the distributors who want the sexy covers on the books. These are guys. And these are the people who put the books on the shelves.”


I love these T-shirts: philosophers, literary luminaries, film directors, astronauts, and others, from Caitlin Hinshelwood. My fave:

Borges by Caitlin Hinshelwood


The cure for thinking is work, at Prof Hacker:


thinking is the hobgoblin of big minds. Thinking, according to Stallybrass, is:

Hard,  painful
Boring, repetitious
Indolent (1583)

On the other hand, working is:

Exciting, a process of discovery
Challenging (1583)


Is this gossip, news, or am I in the midst of some terrible Pepsi Joy/Rum nightmare? Paul Rudd is set to play Wesley in the Princess Bride remake. (via @Milerama)



My week in ethics:

The bad:

1. Not knowing, for a minute, what to say to a student who claimed that it’s a moral duty for a US military to execute a child of a suspected Taliban member, in order to prevent him from growing up to become a terrorist.

2. Waiting, and waiting for my students in feminist philosophy to figure out what is wrong with Kate Millett’s formulation, “blacks and women” in Sexual Politics.

3. Driving through a snowstorm to get to my 9:00 am contemporary moral problems class this morning after a 7:30 am hospital meeting, only to find that someone has written on the board, “PHI is cancelled today” and most of the students have left.

The educational:

1. Getting annoyed at an email from an administrative assistant saying that some unnamed doctor has asked me to come to their hospital — 2.5 hours from my home —  to give a CME talk in bioethics at 8:00am, unpaid.

2. Talking to a surgeon this morning who will miss next week’s meeting because he is driving 2.5 hours to give a volunteer CME talk on breast cancer at a rural hospital 2.5 hours away. *gulp*

The good:

1. Meeting a new Hospice “friend” today, a WWII veteran, marveling again that someone has allowed me into their home, wondering how on earth I could help these amazing people.

2. Falling into inexcusable and immature paroxysms of laughter when the NP asks my boys whether they have experienced “constipation or diarrhea” at their well-child check-ups today. Nobody makes me laugh like those two:


Hope your weekend is groovy. See you tomorrow, I hope, with another review.

13 responses

  1. Do you hear similar comments from students often or was this a particular standout?
    How did you handle it? I would have been so stunned. Loved the tee shirts and the happy pic of your boys.


  2. This shocks me,

    1. Not knowing, for a minute, what to say to a student who claimed that it’s a moral duty for a US military to execute a child of a suspected Taliban member, in order to prevent him from growing up to become a terrorist.

    I can’t think of a military family who would think this. Then again, some military families speak second languages, such as French, and travel outside the US, even to France. I guess none of them can run for public office because of their French Connection.

    Sometimes I’m glad I feel isolated in Hawaii where diversity is celebrated.


  3. some military families speak second languages, such as French, and travel outside the US, even to France.

    I wonder if I’m missing a US-specific reference here. Given that France is a member of NATO, what would be so unusual about travelling there?


  4. @Merrian: Thanks Merrian. I was stunned. Other students pointed out that this violates military law pretty much across the globe, which had no effect. I wasn’t as specific in my post as I could have been, so let me add now that his point was that IF an American service person kills a Taliban fighter in front of that person’s child, the child must be killed. This is premised upon the idea that the child will inevitably grow up to become a terrorist. There are so many things wrong with this I don’t know where to begin, but they range from empirical problems to normative claims. He stayed after class and we talked for 20 minutes. I would like to say I don’t know where such a view comes from, but we have conservative pundits on the most watched cable news network saying things like, “We know who the homicidal maniacs are. They are the ones cheering and dancing right now. We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.” and “Not all Muslims may be terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims — at least all terrorists capable of assembling a murderous plot against America that leaves 7,000 people dead in under two hours. How are we to distinguish the peaceful Muslims from the fanatical, homicidal Muslims about to murder thousands of our fellow citizens? ” (both Ann Coulter).

    @Kim in Hawaii: We have so little diversity here (second whitest state). While diverse settings have their own challenges (segregation etc) I really do think this environment makes it easier to make certain kinds of statements about the “Other”.

    @Laura Vivanco:

    1. is the kind of thinking that would be used to “justify” a holocaust


    @Laura Vivanco:

    2. intersectionality, or to quote Sojourner Truth, “ain’t I a woman?”

    Bingo. We’re going to be reading bell hooks next week, and I always have them read that bit form Sojourner Truth as well.


  5. Thanks for the mention! (Even though that post didn’t show me in my best light…) I meant it to be a ‘don’t do what I did’ type of lesson. I appreciate you focusing in on the last two sentences, which were, by far, the most important!


  6. Jessica, thank you for the linkage.

    Giving up on a book: it took me decades to accept the wisdom of letting go. Sometimes it’s a temporary thing, sometimes it’s the only possible thing to do with a particular book. But I’m only one, with very limited free time and a short lifespan, and there are many stories out there for me to focus on the one that’s draaaaaaaaaaaaaagging.

    I am amazed to say I can count with one hand the Penny Jordan’s in my house–even though I clearly remember a few of her books, in a couple of cases decades after I read them. I am now reading one of her earlier stories for Wendy’s TBR (yes, I’m late on the very first month, but oh well, life gets in the way of my life :razz: )

    Ms Marcus, I have no words (plus, it’s Jessica’s blog)

    I have even fewer words when it comes to responding to your student. I wish we could say that such dehumanization of ‘the other’ is a rare and dying thing, but we all know better.

    And lastly, you have great kids.


  7. Nice post. I’ve had a different sort of “Blerrggggh!” week. I always enjoy the way you put stories and links and words together. So thank you for entertaining me!

    About authors commenting on reviews…I still do it, so I totally understand the impulse. I know it makes some readers uncomfortable. Others appreciate author comments (especially thank yous) and don’t mind being engaged respectfully. Also–when an author comments on a negative review without losing her cool, she’s praised up and down for it. I mean, I never have been, haha, but I’ve seen it happen many times. It’s difficult to know what to do. I guess I try to strike for a happy medium between never commenting on anything, anywhere and being annoyingly present.


  8. The student’s statement – just, wow.

    I’ve recently started to not finish books, because I’m old enough to have a fair idea of how many years of cognitive reading I have left: the sluffing off of brain cells curbs my reading of dull books.

    Also, thanks for the boys’ photo. It’s a perfect counterbalance to disagreeable things in the world.


  9. Pingback: Stumbling Over Chaos :: Leave it to linkity

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