16 December 2008

Internet Sausage Guts All Over the Place

More burst bangers, particularly at the beginning and end of the list.

  • Political corruption is all relative, and often driven by who one's relatives are (since dynasticism seems to be a major marker for political corruption, or at least distortion). And here I thought that the point of representative democracy was to judge our leaders on their merits... what a fool am I.
  • Is it better to study literature, or just read it? An interesting article in CHE asserts that professors are killing the study of literature. It's not quite the professors themselves — it's what the tenure process does to them. In the humanities these days, one simply cannot get tenure by being a great instructor who advances the study of the field by inspiring students; that isn't even a major consideration. Instead, one gets tenure (and academic promotion) by publishing... and the meme for getting published in the hard-core humanities is, essentially, being outrageous. Nobody in academia wants to read a careful comparative study of differing interpretations of a major (or minor) work by a major (or even unknown) figure, however much synthesis, originality, etc. goes into that comparative study; that, however, is precisely what those who are coming into the field need. That is, there's a mineshaft gap... and it doesn't help literature itself, either. It doesn't help the advancement of literature when faculty politics intervene.
  • I don't think that Burning feeling is, as the article implies, an STD; it's merely an expected consequence of the haggis.
  • The New Yorker, 22 Dec 2008The most recent round of publishing "layoffs" doesn't appear to reach into s&m, but only into product. Or, at least, not nearly as far. Instead, we've got publishers cutting the people who actually put books into the stream of commerce. I'm not saying that everyone in s&m has to go; but if that's where the problem appears to be — and the area's decisionmaking influence has grown to so greatly influence "product" — perhaps that's where the cuts need to be concentrated. Of course, that's not going to happen... because for the last decade or so, the path to executive positions in publishing has been through s&m, not the editorial function. Further, this is an industry in which sales are dropping (or, at least, everyone is whingeing about it) while product price continues to depend almost entirely on packaging, not product. And every single multientendre in this paragraph is purely intentional; calling the problem "irrational" does not go nearly far enough.