August 2010 Links: Bookshelves, query letters, and more

* Good advice from Jaron Lanier: how to be on the Internet.

* Exactly the sort of thing that appeals to me: bookshelf porn (note: this link is entirely safe for work, unless you have an office that bans employees from looking at books).

* I want to read this book too, based solely on the query letter.

* The Golden State’s War on Itself: How politicians turned the California Dream into a nightmare.

* Awesome: In German Suburb, Life Goes On Without Cars.

* The inevitable envy among writers.

* Salinger’s toilet up for auction — seriously?. Note that the appendage “seriously?” is from Carolyn Kellogg, although she expresses my sentiments as well.

* I love Slate’s “Bogus Trend Stories of the Week” feature, in which they discuss stories based on questionable or phony numbers, anecdote, moral panic, hysteria, fear mongering, and the like. The best part: cited numbers or statistics often contradict the overall thrust of the stories themselves. Sex often plays a role, as it does in this week’s topic: Child pornography, sextortion, and Chinese hymenoplasties. Samples:

Presented with convincing data, I’m prepared to believe that child porn is growing. But if a Department of Justice report states that the number of offenders is unknown and the quantity of images and videos of child pornography being traded is also unknown, how can anybody say that the distribution of child porn is on the rise?

* Measuring colleges for what they do instead of who they enroll: finally.

* The bizarre place that is Russia:

For the disastrous Russian heat wave has exposed a key failing of Russian society: The flow of information has stopped. There is not a single newspaper that even strives to be national in its coverage. The television is not only controlled by the Kremlin; it is made by the Kremlin for the Kremlin, and it is entirely unsuited to gathering or conveying actual information. Even the Russian blogosphere is bizarrely fragmented: Researchers who “mapped” it discovered that, unlike any other blogosphere in the world, it consists of many non-overlapping circles. People in different walks of life, different professions, and different parts of the country simply do not talk to one another. The same is true of political institutions: Since the Russian government effectively abolished representative democracy, canceling direct elections, there is no reason—and no real mechanism—for Moscow politicians to know what is going on in the vast country. Nor do governors need concern themselves with the lives and the disasters in their regions—they, too, are no longer elected but are appointed by the Kremlin.

Some Americans suffer from information overload; Russians suffer from the opposite.

4 responses

  1. Pingback: Quid plura? | "Because the sun still shines in the summertime..."

  2. Pingback: January 2012 links: Rejection by literary agents, parking trade-offs, Altucher Confidential, the video game hypothesis, MacBook Airs, and more « The Story's Story

  3. Pingback: Links January 2012: Paypal Problems, Inner-City Crime, Proposalese in the Media, Innovation, “Abstinence Education,” and More

  4. Pingback: Links: Rejection by literary agents, parking trade-offs, Altucher Confidential, the video game hypothesis, MacBook Airs « The Story's Story

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