Here is a thought provoking interview about raising children with more competition in their lives. I’m not sure I agree with the focus on winning and losing, but resisting the urge to shelter and underexpose a child does resonate with me. Awhile ago I mentioned here that I follow the Free Range Kids blog for this reason.
One of the authors being interviewed, Po Bronson, I recognized as the guy who wrote The Nudist on The Late Shift, a collection of essays about culture during the dot com bubble, which I enjoyed.
I’d like to read this new book… Rushkoff sums up some of my own sentiments (produce or be produced?) pretty well.
Some of you may know that I am a founding member of the seminal psychedelic band Cozmik Corkscrew. We rock.
Well it turns out that moving to Alton, New Hampshire some years ago has brought me to one of the corkscrew’s most historic places. William Rockwell Clough moved his corkscrew manufacturing to Factory Street (now Gilman Road) in 1903, and the company proceeded to crank out more than a billion corkscrews about 5 miles from where our home sits now.
In 1904, “Clough married his second wife Nellie Sophia Place, daughter of George Place, an Alton lumber dealer and businessman” according to chapter four of William Rockwell Clough, a book by Ron MacClean. This is all from that book, including the image of the corkscrews to the right. Look closely: yup, those miniature corkscrew samples are from Alton. There’s a lot more Alton stuff at the end of chapter four (scroll down) in MacLean’s book.
In other Alton/corkscrew synchronicity news, you may be familiar with Alton Towers, a huge amusement park in the U.K. In 1980 it added a rollercoaster called The Corkscrew which was the first coaster to invert in Britain.
I work, and once graduated from, the University of New Hampshire, where the Dimond Library played a rather important role in my life. While a student, I had a work study job in the library for awhile, as an assistant to a couple of research librarians (one, then the other). It was there that I was first introduced to making simple web pages, and the use of a digital scanner to put images on the web. Man, that web thing was cool, and I even got to have my own space at pubpages.unh.edu.
This was in 1996. Even then it seemed clear where all this digital stuff was going. The musty old books I still had to truck from one building to another never smelled mustier as I imagined what this web thing was going to do to libraries. Now, more than a decade later, there is pretty clear evidence that the traditional library is slowly being replaced by the internet.
Now that I work at Computing and Information Services (hmmm… even the latter half of our department name is moving in on the library’s territory), I can see more evidence of this shift. One of our initiatives this year is the establishment of the “Dimond Academic Commons” complete with an IT Support Center. The motto for the “DAC” was voted on and turned out to be “Integrating Learning and Technology”. Of course, the word technology is defined as “the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes”, so this motto could just as easily be “Integrating Learning and Doing” or even “Learn To Do Something, Jack”… but I didn’t get to vote. Probably a good thing.
So little by little, silicon will replace wood pulp over at Dimond Library and every other library in the world. Sure, there will be books for years to come, but those interested in preserving a legacy in writing these days will do so in the digital domain. Books can burn, rot, and can’t be copied very easily. They are “bound” (I kill me) to be obsolete sooner or later.
Still, I plan to keep the “Book Learnin’” section here in the Garden of Blog alive and well, even if, in my later years, the word “book” becomes an arcane symbol for the act of reading.
Here are some great Kurt Vonnegut tales from his old writing student, John Irving.
Endearing stories. I thought I could not have liked Vonnegut more, but now I do. He was the man, is the man, always will be the man. Wish I knew him.
This is a very insightful read:
Chris Anderson is one sharp tack. I need to pick up The Long Tail sometime soon, even though I’ve read a book’s equivalent about the topic online.
Robert Anton Wilson, immensely loved and influential in the extended countercultural community, died yesterday. Words cannot describe RAW, but he came closer to describing the indescribable in his own writings than anyone before him.
He was the model of the post-dogmatic Individual. I never knew him, but will miss him greatly.
Our friend Debby Applegate just came out with a book from Doubleday this year, The Most Famous Man In America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher.
Beecher is not so famous these days but most have heard of his sister Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
The book is nothing short of captivating. This tale of the Reverand Beecher’s life, fraught with hardship and scandal, but also marked with the greatest of success, is the best depiction of man’s duality that I have ever read.
I was struck by truth being stranger than fiction at several points in the book. The timing of Beecher’s big speech in the South with Lincoln’s assassination is uncanny, and Debby structures the telling for maximum drama. The most intriguing behaviour to me was that of Theodore Tilton, one of the men Beecher supposedly cuckholded. You’ve got to read it. The actions of these people are explained by their living in a nearly unimaginable social context, but Debby makes you imagine it.
One thing a parent can’t help but notice is the frequency of child death in 1800s America. The Beechers lost several children. I am humbled by people who have trudged on through loss after loss like that. It is no wonder they thrashed about in search of dignity and joy. It seems few modern people have any such excuse.
At any rate. Thanks, Debby. This book really affected me, not to mention, it’s a huge scholarly achievement that is bound to propel you into being “The Most Famous Historian In America”!
Just finished this book by Philip Roth. No lightweight shit. I hate confusing books, but apparently, not spiritually confusing ones. The main character, Lucy, is about as hateful and judgemental as they come, but in the end, it’s impossible to get a bead on judging these characters myself. Possible spoiler alert if you’re thinking of reading this…
I can’t even figure out “when” she was good. She had “good” moments when her outlook seemed to improve. Her hysterical spiral at the end, disturbing and paranoid, was not discernable as a karmic payback as I thought it might be (Roth forecasts her death early in the novel). It was even easy to feel sorry for her.
I’m amazed at how many people online see her as an unambiguous hero, and ultimately, martyr. Can this really be justified from the text? Or was her angst in moments simply so familiar that it had to be identified with, and strongly? And was she pregnant when she died? And what is the rest of the story behind Julian’s philandering? Was it just something that the family had dealt with and digested on its own, and only an insane Lucy would bring it into the conversation?
Lots of questions and only some answers. Quite a book; Roth is on “the list”.
Only a few chapters into Saul Bellow’s Herzog, but I can already report: it is ridiculously good. My favorite writers are the ones who make me want to write myself. If I could could be a fifth as slick as Bellow, I’d be satisfied.
Herzog’s children in the novel are named June and Marco, coincidentally the names of my paternal grandparents. And the city of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and the Berkshires in general, entertain a part of the story. That is where my maternal grandparents birthed my mother and her two sisters and where I lived until the age of ten.
The suffering character of Herzog. Wow. It is already clear that Bellow will be one of my literary heroes, maybe even in the running for #1. I’ll have to finish this and see to what extent my enthusiasm is tied to some imagined arc of plot and character transformation, and if my expectations are met. They are mostly subconscious anticipations and I could hardly articulate them beyond saying that I don’t care if the character comes to a bad end, as long as it as poetic as the beginning of his crash. Sock it to me, Saul; it’s exquisite torture.
I was just researching ol’ Mickey last week, and found the following quote from him. The best retort to literary elitism I’ve ever heard:
Those big-shot writers could never dig the fact that there are more salted peanuts consumed than caviar.
I remember thinking those few days ago, “Wow. He’s still alive.”
A titan of the riffed-off word. He had a lot in common with bloggers.
Andrew Keen, conservative commentator on Web 2.0, succeeds in making obvious connections– such as that between internet culture and Marxist thought (presumption: this is a bad thing). Check out this article:
I’m listening now to a UC Berkeley podcast in which Keen, as guest speaker for the Introduction to Computers class, makes an interesting contrast between our Web 2.0 present and the hyptothetical future described by George Orwell in 1984. Unlike in 1984, where writing in a journal is an act of defiance and individuality, Keen suggests that the ultimate act of defiance and individuality today is not to pick up pen and paper, or rather, not to blog. Most bloggers, he argues, have nothing to say.
Of course, Keen blogs. And podcasts. Incessantly. Main topic: why other people have nothing to say and ought to stop talking.
Why do stupid things happen to smart people? Poor Keen. The internet exists to serve him, apparently, and his fellow elite. But when it serves others, the whole thing feels too new and “seductive” to him (his book is called The Great Seduction; forgive no link). In some ways, I can find myself in agreeement. New ideas can be hard to digest. Better to go back and review time honored, classical concepts, like (ready, Keen?) hubris.