Ponderous essays, paraphrased

Because I’ve been sick, I’ve only had the energy to bookmark what I would normally blog about. I am feeling stronger today, but the thought of posting anything lengthy makes my Streptococcus flare up. So here are some links – insert writerly charisma where appropriate:

1) Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris pummeled You Don’t Love Me Yet by Jonathan Lethem in Round Two, Match Two of the 2008 Morning News Tournament of Books. Maud Newton, much like the C.L.A.W. Under the Table Umpire (whose eyes sometimes stray up girls’ skirts), judged this round fairly and squarely. I’m glad that Maud has her blog back after it was hacked by Russian pharmaceutical companies. And I’m glad that today’s bracket winner is a book that I’ve actually read. Although it makes me feel like I should have wagered some money.

2) This wild guy, author of Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War, is attending next weekend’s Virginia Festival of the Book. I can’t wrap my head around Joe Bageant. I know he’s some kind of mad genius. I think we share a few social and political ideals. I stand in awe of the subtitles to his rant-like essays, i.e. “Freedom vs. Authority under the 40-foot pulsating rainbow vagina.” He might be the answer to all of America’s problems. He might also be too fundamentally liberal for me. Did I just say that? Blame the sickness. In any case, it will be fun to watch him drink martinis and start fights with some of the more right-leaning members of the book festival.

3) In an essay called “What Makes Mathematics Hard to Learn?,” Marvin Minsky states that one of the reasons for the difficulty is math’s “linguistic desert.” In other school subjects, students learn thousands of new words each year. In math, the vocabulary is limited when it doesn’t have to be. I think it’s interesting that Minsky cites language as something that can help inspire kids to learn numbers. The math and English geekdoms are not so incompatible after all.

4) Finally the editors of the brand new Scoff Magazine: For the Discerning Philistine updated their site. It’s about time the 1,000-foot-tall Palomino who spell-checks the thing introduced herself.

5) My amazing grandmother Bunny is going to talk in Williamsburg, Virginia next week about her time in the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services) during World War II. This morning I found a WAVES website devoted to telling the stories of veterans. Now I understand why my grandmother feels the need to assert that she did not “bat her eyelashes or bat her tail around” to get ahead in the military. Those WAVES were hot. And they went through boot camp. And they looked even better in uniform than the men. Take that, Hitler.*

I am sleepy now. War is exhausting.

*Why do I always want to say “Take that, Hitler” as if I had anything to do with his downfall? Being born in 1980 makes me feel so ineffectual sometimes. But not as ineffectual as being born a monkey.

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