Links: Nicholson Baker, college students drink, college students wear short skirts (a feminist perspective), risk-taking, the “left,” publishing, and more

* I’ll Have What He’s Having: Breaking bread with Nicholson Baker, America’s foremost writer of literary sex novels, by Katie Roiphe, whose book The Morning After: Sex, Fear, and Feminism I admire.

* News flash: college students like drinking because it alleviates social anxiety and enables hooking up. I’m tempted to post the video someone took from a couple weeks ago when my team lost at flip cup.

* Leading off the link from above, Smart Girls Wear Short Skirts, Too: Stop Complaining About College Students.

* Reaping the Rewards 0f Risk-Taking, which includes this bit about how many nations lack “a social environment that encourages diversity, experimentation, risk-taking, and combining skills from many fields into products that he calls “recombinant mash-ups [. . .]” ” This is the kind of stuff I want to do and promote in both the fiction I write and classes I teach.

* College football as seen by a (British?) person acting as an anthropologist.

* Born, and Evolved, to Run.

* Articles like Why won’t America embrace the left? annoy me because they’re dumb. Michael Kazin wrote a book about the left, leading to his interview, in which he says things like, “Americans want capitalism to work well for everybody, which is somewhat of a contradiction in terms since capitalism is about people competing with each other to get ahead, and everyone’s not going to be able to do well at the same time.” That’s not really true: capitalism is about a) finding something you do that you want to do and b) producing goods and services other people want enough to pay or barter for. If you don’t make something users want, you have to make something else. Maybe users should want different things, but that’s a separate argument. He also says things like, “The ideas are that if you work hard you can get ahead and that it’s better to be self-employed than employed by the people.” But think of how many Americans have immigrant parents or grandparents for whom that is exceptionally true. Mine fall into that category. Kazin mostly sounds like someone who’s never actually run a business.

If the left believes people like Kazin, we shouldn’t be surprised that America won’t embrace it. But there are smart people on the left, like Tony Judt, and maybe they aren’t getting enough airtime.

* There’s a fabulous interview with Mark McGurl in which he discusses The Program Era, I book I would’ve liked to write in detail about but got so involved with that the writing in this space went away. But you should still read the book! Especially if you’re a writer or would-be writer.

* By the Time A Self-Published Author Hits it Big, Do They Really Need a Publisher? Answer: probably not. Yet. Keep an eye on this space: you may yet see me wade into the self-publishing pool. And:

For publishers, here’s the nightmare publishing path for authors of the future: Author signs with traditional publisher for first book, author hits it big, author says thankyouverymuch I got this now and self-publishes from then on out.

* Speaking of publishers, “Amazon.com is so well positioned to sell digital files that one glance at their list of Contemporary Fantasy bestsellers shows one unsurprising fact: It’s not dominated by books put out by New York publishers.” That’s from “The rising ebook wave,” which I might be joining in the next six months to one year.

* When To Ignore Criticism (and How to Get People to Take Your Critique Seriously).

* The “overlearning the game” problem.

* The Tyranny of Silly Expense Control Rules; notice the comment from yours truly.

* The Freelance Surge Is the Industrial Revolution of Our Time. A lot of academics in the humanities appear to be completely missing this.

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