Tuesday, January 21, 2014

What I’m reading #110

Unethical soda. New York magazine reports that this is a genuine problem, known to caring people as “blood bubbles”. Quote unquote:
Novelist and Code Pink activist Nancy Kricorian uses similar rationale when confronting friends about their SodaStreams. “The bulk of the profit comes not from the machine but from the refill,” she said. “If you can find an alternative source for the CO2 you can decrease your guilt by about 75 percent.”
Good to know.

A.D. Miller in the Economist asks “Who is a Jew?” Not a simple question; no simple answers. Quote unquote:
The Pew Research Centre recently surveyed American Jews, who account for almost half the global total (see chart). The responses confirm that Jewishness is not thought to consist mostly in belief: 22% of American Jews described themselves as having no religion (swap “Christians” for “Jews” and the statistic becomes nonsensical). Even among the avowedly religious, two-thirds did not think it necessary to believe in God to qualify. To widespread communal alarm, Pew also found that intermarriage has rocketed and now predominates among the young. Excluding the Orthodox (about a tenth of the American total), 72% of Jews who wed since 2000 married “out”.
David Thompson gets the best comments on any blog I read. His replies are good too. Quote unquote:
As a post-imperial guilt fetishist, Ms O’Toole would probably swoon at the word ‘primitive’. One of her Guardian columns bemoaned the colonial propagation of Shakespeare, whose works she denounced as “full of classism, sexism, racism and defunct social mores.” And worse, “a powerful tool of empire, transported to foreign climes along with the doctrine of European cultural superiority.” The possibility that at any given time one set of values might be preferable to another, even objectively better, bothers her quite a bit.
Her article was accompanied by a photograph of New Zealand’s Ngakau Toa theatre company performing Troilus and Cressida in a distinctively Maori style. To me, it looked fun and worth the price of a ticket. But this cross-cultural fusion offended Ms O’Toole, who dismissed notions of the Bard’s universality as “uncomfortably colonial.” She then presumed to take umbrage on behalf of all past colonial subjects, whose own views on Shakespeare and literature she chose not to relate. 
Joanna Harris, author of Chocolat and other novels, argues cogently for copyright. She offers a simple test, eight quick questions. Quote unquote:  
If you answered YES to most of these questions, then you’re either: a hardcore copyright denier, a masochist, a psycho, or a saint.If you answered NO, then – congratulations! You are in favour of copyright and artists’ rights. 
They order this matter differently in Norway, where libraries allow free access to digital files of copyright books and the authors and publishers get paid.

Elsewhere, authors aren’t happy with publishers. Yes, really. Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest surveyed 9000+ US authors and came up with some categories new to me, including “hybrid authors” and a genre called “New Adult”. Quote unquote:
Interestingly, hybrid authors reported being able to negotiate for a slightly higher royalty, possibly due to the publishers’ awareness that these authors have the ability and fan base to self-publish their titles instead.
On the other hand, there is OUP. In the Guardian, Bernard Porter reviews The History of Oxford University Press, Volume III: 1896-1970 edited by Wm Roger Louis. Quote unquote:
It is the only one of my own publishers that hasn’t once changed ownership. One of them, in its new hands, seemed to know nothing about books, and didn't even edit mine. One shudders to think what OUP might have become if it had been similarly “privatised”. Whether this is enough to allow us forgive it for its elitist Oxford ways is a matter of opinion. I’m prepared to.
Yes. OUP was good to me. Some of us even overlook its comma policy.

Fake signs on London’s Underground.

New Yorker Una Ayo Osato confronts climate change with burlesque. Why did no one think of that before? Quote unquote:
At first, it’s funny — a polar bear stripping! And then at the end, “Oh, the polar bears are going to die.”
Finally, Idealog has a lovely photo essay by Tony Nyberg on the joys of letterpress in Te Puke.


Nicholas Reid said...

Every time I sit down to read Shakespeare, I am wracked with guilt for my covert racism, sexism, classism, ableism, speciesism, heterosexism, colonialism and especially for my literacy and ability to understand the ahrd word - in other words, my elitism. I can only cure myself by long sessions of reading "Guardian" opinion pieces and flagellating myself.

Stephen Stratford said...

Covert, you say? Check your privilege.