Becker makes it clear that both Obama and his team were deeply conflicted about whether he should announce his support for gay marriage before the 2012 election, to the point where its unresolved, internal debate had resulted in a kind of paralysis. “His political advisers were worried that his endorsement could splinter the coalition needed to win a second term,” Becker writes. In the excerpt, Chad Griffin, the head of a group fighting Prop. 8, recounts a conversation that he had with First Lady Michelle Obama, during the summer of 2011: “Her message, he told his team, was clear: ‘Hang in there with us, and we’ll be with you after the election.’”
Even though Axelrod says that Obama “has never been comfortable” opposing same-sex marriage, it was not until Biden made some unscripted remarks in support of gay marriage on “Meet the Press,” in early May, 2012, that the President decided that he could no longer stay quiet, no longer occupy a permanent middle ground.
Robert Dawson has been photographing public libraries across the country for almost 20 years. And now, just in time for National Library Week, he has published his photos in a new book called The Public Library. It includes reflections on libraries from Dr. Seuss, Amy Tan, E.B. White and others, but the stars of the book are the photographs, from the New York Public Library — which is as splendid as any great European cathedral — to libraries that are housed in shacks and shopping malls.
The Public Library
A Photographic Essay
by Robert Dawson
Hardcover, 191 pages purchase
art & design
NPR reviews, interviews and more
Read an excerpt
Dawson tells NPR’s Scott Simon about getting punched while photographing one library, and why he doesn’t feel he’s documenting a vanishing species.
Today’s selection — from Mary Poppins, She Wrote by Valerie Lawson. Pamela Travers was the highly unconventional and slightly subversive author of the beloved Mary Poppins books first published in 1934. Unlike the saccharine version from Walt Disney, Traver’s fictional Poppins is “as peculiar as she is kind, as threatening as she is comforting, as stern as she is sensual, as elusive as she is matter of fact.” Travers own childhood was filled was tragedy — poverty and rootlessness, a father who died when she was seven, and a mother who attempted suicide:
“Travers said all happy books are based on sadness. She must have had her own in mind. Pamela Travers, too, was full of sorrow. As she knew, ‘the cup of sorrow is always full. For a grown-up it’s a flagon, for the child, it’s a thimble, but it’s never less than full.’
“She thought ‘we are all looking for magic. We all need to feel we are under a spell and one day a wand will be waved and the princes that we truly feel ourselves to be will start forth at last from the tattered shapeless smocks. But indeed we have to wave the wand for ourself. If only we could refrain from endlessly repairing our defenses. To be naked and defenseless. Oh we need it.’
It isn’t that Harriet’s indignation about sexism in the art world is misguided, it’s just that to function successfully as the emotional centre of a novel, she would have needed to possess more common humanity. It’s a stretch for the reader to know how to feel about a woman so fervent she “pushed her art out of her like bloody newborns” and so highbrow she sang her kids “odd, repetitive Philip Glass-like songs”.
In this respect, The Blazing World sets out as it means to go on: without much care for the reader’s capacity to engage. As a whole, the novel takes the shape of a book by IV Hess, a professor of aesthetics who decided to write about Harriet’s work shortly after her death. This conceit sees Hustvedt opening the novel with a desiccated scholarly introduction and then following it with a series of excerpts from Harriet’s notebooks, interspersed with the “written statements”, interviews, transcripts, and less anchored communications of people in Harriet’s circle.
Very interesting book - amazon.com
Today we continue the series of posts featuring the books suggested for the Manual for Civilization with a large list from Long Now Founding Board Member Kevin Kelly. In all we hope to have as many as 3,500 volumes to form a corpus which could sustain or rebuild civilization. To broaden our selection process we’ve asked Long Now members and Interval at Long Now donors to suggest books for the list.
Last week one of our members, Maria Popova, who writes the great blog Brain Pickings, gave us her list of 33 books. We are big fans of her work, and we are honored to include her excellent selections. They join about 1,800 other books suggested so far by Long Now’s members, donors and friends. There is still room for a few thousand more suggestions…
To add your own recommendations of books to include in the Manual for Civilization and vote on which suggested titles should find a place on The Interval’s shelves, just make a donation to support the project. All donors, at any level, can suggest and vote on books. We have raised over $35,000 in the last month, but still need your help to complete this “brickstarter” funding campaign.
Plato takes on Bill O’Reilly! The great philosopher, dead for 2,400 years, argues with Amy Chua! And Daniel Dennett! And Google! This is philosopher-novelist Rebecca Newberger Goldstein’s hook in her audacious new book “Plato at the Googleplex,” a hybrid of a careful overview of Plato and a series of imagined dialogues between Plato and contemporary interlocutors.
“Plato at the 92nd Street Y” pits him against the Chua-ish “Warrior Mother” Sophie Zee, discussing “The Republic’s” hypothetical “city of pigs” and testing out in the Myers-Briggs typology as an INTJ (introversion, intuition, thinking, judgment); “Plato on Cable News” has him exchanging blows with a bloviating O’Reilly clone named Roy McCoy. And yes, here is “Plato at the Googleplex,” debating an engineer over the possibility of crowdsourcing ethics, as well as wryly comparing its communal environment to the training of young philosopher-kings in “The Republic.”
By alternating between these new “Platonic dialogues” and a serious chronicle of Plato’s life and philosophy, Goldstein makes a plea for the continuing importance of philosophy as Plato (427-347 B.C.) conceived it, and for the enduring relevance of Plato’s contributions. And she retells what clearly was a formative event in Plato’s life: how Plato’s mentor Socrates, through speech alone, came to be seen as so dangerous to Athenian society that he was put to death.
The atheist writer S. T. Joshi, 55, born in India, raised in Indiana and now living in Seattle, has written or edited more than 200 books, including a novel of detective fiction, a bibliography of writings about Gore Vidal and numerous works about H. L. Mencken.
He edits four periodicals, including Lovecraft Annual, the major review of scholarship about the horror writer H. P. Lovecraft; The American Rationalist, a journal for unbelievers; and The Weird Fiction Review, which is what it sounds like. He once spent years scanning into his computer — and typing what could not be scanned — every word ever written by Ambrose Bierce, about six million total.
And this month Mr. Joshi got a call from a friend who works for Barnes & Noble, asking if he could edit a new edition of “The King in Yellow,” the 1895 collection of supernatural stories by Robert W. Chambers. It seems that the book was a major inspiration for “True Detective,” the popular HBO series. “I am one of maybe three people in the world who knows anything about Robert W. Chambers,” Mr. Joshi said, by way of explanation. His new edition will be out in April.
He said he’d hoped to have something that read like Hemingway. ‘When people have been put in prison who might never have had time to write, the thing they write can be galvanising and amazing. I wouldn’t say this publicly, but Hitler wrote Mein Kampf in prison.’ He admitted it wasn’t a great book but it wouldn’t have been written if Hitler had not been put away. He said that Tim Geithner, the US secretary of the Treasury, had been asked to look into ways to hinder companies that would profit from subversive organisations. That meant Knopf would come under fire for publishing the book.
His relationship with the New York Times was every bit as toxic. He believed its editor, Bill Keller, was determined to treat him as a ‘source’ rather than a collaborator - which was true - and that Keller wanted to hang him out to dry, which was not true. Keller wrote a long piece in his own paper saying Julian was dirty, paranoid, controlling, unreliable and slightly off his head, which naturally made Julian feel his former collaborator was out to get him. But both newspapers, in concert with others, had given over vast numbers of pages to the leaks and given WikiLeaks top billing in bringing the material. I always felt the involvement of the New York Times would save Julian from prison, and I still believe that. Even the US authorities see that it would be impossible for them to convict Assange without also convicting Keller and Rusbridger. But instead of seeing that, Julian could only see the men in personal terms as dissemblers or something worse.
read more @ London Review of Books
So, a love-bomb I set up more than 6 years ago finally detonated.
Back in the day, while I was writing the Zorcerer of Zo RPG, I used Older Niece as a character-generation example and used some photomanipulations of her in the book. My family has known this for a long, long time.
The other day, I’m over my mom’s house where she’s babysitting Younger Niece. I mention getting my softcover copy of Tales of Zo in the mail. Following conversation ensues:
YN: What’s that?
ME: It’s a book of my fairy tales, based on a game I wrote a couple years ago.
MOM: It’s the one with ON in it.
YN: Which one?
MOM: The purple one up on the shelf in Grandpap’s office.
YN: (scampers up to office and retrieves ZoZ; comes back down) This one?
YN: (climbs onto me and we flip through the book looking for the pics of ON) She’s little!
ME: Yup. I wrote this a long time ago.
ME: (slyly) You know, you’re in it. But not a picture.
YN: (flabbergasted) What what what?
ME: Yeah, right here. (flips to page 54, “Example of Play”) These pages are all about the adventures of Princess [YN].
YN: No way! YAAAAAAY!!! (laboriously starts reading aloud, then stops) Where’s *my* picture?!?
ME: There isn’t one.
YN: Why not?
ME: Well, how old are you?
YN: Seven and a half.
ME: See, I wrote this book seven years ago. When you were still a six-month old baby. So, we didn’t have a good fairy-tale picture of you like we did for ON.
YN: Oh. Okay. (thinks about it) Well, you’ll just have to fix that.
ME: Fix what?
YN: Put a picture of me in there now.
ME: That’s… not how it works. It’s out, done.
YN: (wrinkles brow) Well, my picture in the next one, then.