URLs du Jour

2009-01-20

  • I should point to something about the Inauguration. Hmmm… well, here's David Horowitz: "How Conservatives Should Celebrate the Inauguration". He's very uncynical, and if you're like me, you can use all the de-cynicizing you can stand.

    Only problem is, if you're like me (and Jonah Goldberg), you keep getting creeped out.

    [Update: Iowahawk has a transcript.]

  • The "Intellectual Affairs" blog at Inside Higher Ed reacts to rumors that the Washington Post may be shutting down "Book World", a Sunday book-review section. I got a chuckle out of this petulant foot-stomping:
    Members of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) and the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) ought to contact [WaPo executive editor] Brauchli to let him know that this is not acceptable.
    Sure, just what a journalist needs: a bunch of university types telling him what's "acceptable" in his efforts to make his paper profitable.

    The author, Scott McLemee, identifies himself elsewhere as "a member of the National Book Critics Circle". So add a little naked self-interest to the mix.

  • Jacob Sullum's article from the current issue of Reason is online, detailing the law-enforcement crusade against pot-smoking paraphernalia. There's a local angle: the legal hassles of Dover NH's "Smoke Signals Pipe & Tobacco Shop" store (which I've never actually entered, but often drive by on my way home from work) are described.

  • From the Red Hat Errata site:
    The words dictionary contained two misspelled words: "architecure" and "flourescent". This updated package removes both mis-spellings. (Please note: the correct spellings of each word -- "architecture" and "fluorescent" -- were extant in the dictionary. This update simply removes the misspellings.)
    If your freshly-baked bread glows in the dark, it's flourescent.

  • As Jamie Zawinski points out: Soviet Nuclear Lighthouse Dead Zones would be a pretty good name for a rock band.


Last Modified 2009-01-20 7:00 PM EST

Obedience

[Amazon Link]

I thought I was going to like this more: a critically-acclaimed mystery novel set at a fictional university. Unfortunately…

The new semester at Winchester U has started, and Professor Williams is teaching "Logic and Reasoning 204". But it's unusual, since the whole course revolves around the (allegedly fictional) abduction of 18-year-old "Polly"; Williams states that if the students don't "find" where Polly's being held during the six-week run of the course, she'll be murdered.

Prof Williams devotes his lectures to presenting facts and timelines about the case and discussions of suspects, motives, and opportunity. The book focuses on three students, Mary, Brian, and Dennis, as they work through the evidence and puzzles. But they've all got their own problems; for example, Dennis is Mary's ex-boyfriend, and he's getting hit on by Elizabeth, the young hot-to-trot wife of an old dean.

The course just keeps getting weirder and weirder, though, intruding on students' personal lives. Worse, it becomes obvious to them that there's some link between the case Williams is presenting and an unsolved abduction 20 years ago.

Without giving too much away: the whole plot is extremely implausible. Worse (remainder of paragraph contains information which may spoil the book, so I've put it in white; select to view if you dare and/or care): the plot's resolution depends on you not knowing that the human-subject research portrayed in the book is very, very, illegal and would never be allowed in an actual university.

But you might like it anyway. The author, Will Lavender, does a good job of evoking an increasing sense of paranoia, dread, and academic seaminess.


Last Modified 2012-10-08 8:36 PM EDT