Monday, 29 October 2007
(Here I demonstrate my ignorance of every aspect of this discussion: I have never written fiction, am totally clueless about the process of character creation, and have not read any of the Harry Potter books.)
My annoyances about Rowling’s revelation are (1) that it comes (too) late and (2) seems gratuitous.
I suppose it’s possible that Dumbledore’s gayness was a fundamental part of his character as envisioned by Rowling from the beginning. (It’s possible that he was patterned after someone she knew.) Perhaps Rowling thought she had left clues in the text for those who would find them, and now, with the series finished, she is surprised and disappointed that nobody got the message. Perhaps.
But it’s my impression that she created a plot in which Dumbledore’s sexuality was of no moment. Readers had no reason to care about it one way or the other, and so did not. If Rowling seriously believed that it was that vital to understanding the character or to the development of the story, then she should have found a (better, more explicit) way to work it in.
So why this revelation– after everything is concluded? If his sexuality turned out to be of no concern to the readers, then why make an issue out of it now, except in the spirit of political correctness? It reminds me of all those “revolutionary, groundbreaking” 1970s authors who set out to write stories built around black (or indian native American, or whatever…) characters, stories that so often neglected the backgrounds and cultures inherent in such characters that they turned out to be about white people in appropriate costume.
And by waiting until after the books were sold and the movies were made, she avoided the consequences (whatever they might have been) of revealing Dumbledore's gayness earlier. Which was a smart move commercially, but it leaves me thinking less of Rowling as a person. It’s sort of, “Oh, by the way, now that I’ve got my money, I meant this all along.” Which shows minimal respect for her character, let alone the public.
Crossposted at Daily Pundit, where there's more discussion.
 Reuters, October 20, 2007: J.K. Rowling says wizard Dumbledore is gay
J.K. Rowling has outed one of the main characters of her best-selling Harry Potter series, telling fans in New York that the wizard Albus Dumbledore, head of Hogwarts school, is gay.
Sunday, 28 October 2007
Never thought I'd see anyone call Little Green Footballs "...pro-Muslim, left-wing, politically correct, and basically a front for neoconservative foreign policy..."
Via: Classical Values
Later: Gaaah! Now somebody's.calling Bill Quick a leftist!
Saturday, 27 October 2007
Guidelines on safe alcohol consumption limits that have shaped health policy in Britain for 20 years were “plucked out of the air” as an “intelligent guess”.A “guess,” huh? How “scientific!”
The Times reveals today that the recommended weekly drinking limits of 21 units of alcohol for men and 14 for women, first introduced in 1987 and still in use today, had no firm scientific basis whatsoever.(sings:)“Feelings! Yo-oh-oh...” Oops, sorry!
The disclosure that the 1987 recommendation was prompted by “a feeling that you had to say something” came from Richard Smith, a member of the Royal College of Physicians working party that produced it.
He told The Times that the committee’s epidemiologist had confessed that “it’s impossible to say what’s safe and what isn’t” because “we don’t really have any data whatsoever”.And what about that data?
Mr Smith, a former Editor of the British Medical Journal, said that members of the working party were so concerned by growing evidence of the chronic damage caused by heavy, long-term drinking that they felt obliged to produce guidelines. “Those limits were really plucked out of the air. They were not based on any firm evidence at all. It was a sort of intelligent guess by a committee,” he said.
...Subsequent studies found evidence which suggested that the safety limits should be raised, but they were ignored by a succession of health ministers.By then it's “policy, right?
One found that men drinking between 21 and 30 units of alcohol a week had the lowest mortality rate in Britain. Another concluded that a man would have to drink 63 units a week, or a bottle of wine a day, to face the same risk of death as a teetotaller.And all this is of interest because...?
Mr Smith’s disclosure casts doubt on the accuracy of a report published this week that blamed middle-class wine drinkers for placing some of Britain’s most affluent towns at the top of the “hazardous drinking” list.erm... “intelligent guesses?”
The study, commissioned by the Government, relied on the 1987 guidelines...
...when it suggested that men drinking more than 21 units a week and women consuming more than 14 units put their health “at significant risk”.And... DRUMROLL!!!!
In a further attack on Britain’s drinkers, it was revealed yesterday that a coalition of health organisations is mounting a campaign to force a 10 per cent increase in alcohol taxation.Aha!
The story in The Times:
- Drink Limits 'useless'
- How 'safe drinking' experts let a bottle or two go to their heads
- It's impossible to create a guide that suits all
"No one has refuted the findings that have shown there is a J shaped curve graph that plots alcohol consumption against survival. The teetotallers don’t do as well as the modest drinkers and the heavy drinkers do considerably worse than teetotallers."
- Jane MacQuitty: Cheers! Let killjoys learn the bitter taste of defeat
"For the Prime Minister and the Department of Health to descend to nanny and police state tactics, ostensibly to protect us from ourselves, but to further their own political agenda, is as risible as it is dangerous."
- The Register: Safe drinking guidelines "plucked out of the air"
"But stick it to them anyway, alright?"
 Good summary of subsequent research findings in this article.
Thursday, 25 October 2007
"He'd eat right out of your hand. He loved sunflower seeds," said Mitsch, who has a heating and plumbing business near the intersection. "He was not bothering anybody. He was no different than all the wild geese wondering around the street." -- startribune.com: "Fred ruffled feathers, but leaves behind a crop of good memories"Sharp-eyed buzz.mn reader "Oclarki":
What do wild geese wonder about? Where they can poop next?
"Palladian photoshopped that crazy photograph from the WaPo [actually the Los Angeles Times - o.g.] article I was talking about earlier today." - Ann Althouse
(In the comments, Palladian says, "I would have done the same to any politician photographed in that way, though being able to use Hillary Clinton's old quote made them an especially good target.")
You want to know the topics that are exciting the blogosphere. Your time is limited. Which blogs do you read?
That's the question behind a Carnegie Mellon University student paper "Cost-effective Outbreak Detection in Networks," linked by a number of folks. The authors created lists of blogs using several "budgets" (you can only read 100 blogs, you can only read 500 posts, etc.). Bloggers + Lists of Blogs = Commentary. No exception here. Read on, as they say!
Sunday, 21 October 2007
Sometimes there's advantage in coming late to a story. When you're late, you get to see all the fallout, which is a good way to learn lessons. This story about Angus & Robertson Books is one of those lesson-learning opportunities.
Another of those Weblogs I Don't Read Often Enough is Making Light, home of sci-fi editors/publishers Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden. It's a good place for "inside baseball" stuff about the book business, lots of valuable discussion about the craft of writing, and the occasional dose of pure whimsy. Today's perusal turned up this post (from October 9th, about sock-puppetting in comment threads), which was based on the comments to this one, about how the Australian chain bookseller Angus & Robertson is trying to extract money from small publishers on the pretext that doing business with them isn't "profitable enough." The A&R story is the one that caught my eye.
Saturday, 20 October 2007
4. All great discoveries occur because of a random accident colliding the irrational persistence of a man who didnt know any better than to keep working when everyone else had already given up.
7. The core idea of western civilization is the phrase "none of your business".
8. The core idea of fascist and communist thought is "you have no business".
10. The collapse of civilization begins when your next door neighbor takes an interest in what's on your side of the fence.
Via: Tom McMahon
The Gannett Corporation's newspaper operations are notorious pinchpennys. In pursuit of that ever-important quarterly profit figure, the papers have gained the reputation of laying off experienced (but expensive) staff in favor of tyros, reducing the news hole to nothing, and emphasizing flabby, fluffy stories (cheap) over hard news (expensive). In the process they've created a large body of embittered alumni.
But while business is business, you really start wondering how financially healthy a company is when one of its papers drops sponsorship of a high-profile public service event to save a relatively small amount of cash, in this instance 5 thousand dollars.
You're Doing it Wrong:
Things have gotten very intense at work lately. I'm heading up a major project here, and its eating up all the spare time I have for my side projects. So, rather than let this blarg languish, I'm going to cap it off and say goodbye.McGurk was one of mee.nu's beta testers (I was, too). He always has something interesting to say-- when he has time to say it. He'll be missed.
Message to McGurk: You'd better keep that promise to pop up at Ace's occasionally. And thanks for the acknowledgment!
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