Books

Gene Wolfe on Gmail predictive text

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 20/10/2018 - 5:21am in

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Books

From this story, though it was the shortest and the most simple too of all those I have recorded in this book, I feel that I learned several things of some importance. First of all, how much of our speech, which we think freshly minted in our own mouths, consists of set locutions. The Ascian seemed to speak only in sentences he had learned by rote, though until he used each for the first time we had never heard them. Foila seemed to speak as women commonly do, and if I had been asked whether she employed such tags, I would have said that she did not – but how often one might have predicted the ends of her sentences from their beginnings.

Someone Else's Mirror

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 16/10/2018 - 11:20pm in

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Books

What the Fans Think: Torchwood

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 13/10/2018 - 6:30pm in

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Books

Pencil Tip Publishing is taking submissions for their new review book, What the Fans Think: Torchwood.

What the Fans Think is a new series of books where the fans will review and assess their favourite television series. Each volume will concentrate on a specific show and will feature original reviews and analyses of every episode of that particular series. The fans will have their say on what they think are the best, worst, and merely average, episodes of a series.

The first book in the series, What the Fans Think: Torchwood, will concentrate on the 2006-11 Doctor Who spin-off series Torchwood.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each book will be donated to the Vancouver branch of The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Submission guidelines can be found on the Pencil Tip Publishing blog

Doctor Who News

This Bookshop Life

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 07/10/2018 - 1:16am in

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Books, poem, poetry, writing

I’d buy everything from a bookshop if I could.
All my food would come from there.
Atwooden tables I would sit, eating Dahl,
Kipling Tartts or chocolate Baudelaires.
There’d be flat tortillas, focaccia and the rye:
it would be a literary-luncheoned life of pie,
all washed down with a glass of Carver
or a Swift half, if I’d rather.
 
I would make myself an Eco-friendly home:
go Greene and buy recycled tomes.
It Wodehouse a Self-portrait in the attic,
where no-one else could look at it,
and a looking-glass, of course, for the hall,
(amazing how I’ve not changed at all).
My house would Spark delighted looks;
I’d build a coffee table out of coffee table books.
 
I would also buy my clothes from there:
ragged trousers, experimental novel underwear,
dust jackets and striped pyjamas.
Boyd by the comments that I would Garner,
my days would pass quite Harper Lee,
this bookshop life, these books and me.
 

Black Archive #24: The Time Warrior

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 05/10/2018 - 10:50pm in

Black Archive #24: The Time Warrior  (Credit: Obverse Books)Obverse books have released the latest in their series of Black Archive books, looking in detail at the making of the Doctor Who story The Time Warrior

Matthew Kilburn looks at the Third Doctor story, the first of Jon Pertwee's final season and the story that introduced both the character of Sarah Jane Smith and the Sontarans.

Making extensive use of a rarely seen rehearsal script for The Time Warrior, this Black Archive looks at how the US involvement in Vietnam combined with author Robert Holmes’s experience of the Second World War in Burma and consciousness of Britain’s imperial decline to create Doctor Who’s first Sontaran, Linx.

It also explores how the serial’s medievalism invoked a shared cultural memory of Gothic and Romantic literature and cinema to launch not only one of the series’ most enduring alien races but also one of its best-loved heroines, Sarah Jane Smith.

Black Archive #24: The Time Warrior can be ordered from Obverse books as a paperback or an Electronic book.

Doctor Who News

Lethbridge-Stewart: The HAVOC Files: Loose Ends and new short story competition

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 29/09/2018 - 8:59pm in

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Books

 Candy Jar Books)Candy Jar Books has announced a brand-new short story collection, The HAVOC Files: Loose Ends, written by range editor, Andy Frankham-Allen.

Explaining the origin of the anthology, Andy said:
Once it became clear we were bringing our ongoing narrative to a close in the beginning of 2018, Shaun and I discussed what to do with the dangling plot threads, and character arcs that never got fully resolved. And answer some questions the readers don’t even know they have! We decided the best way to address some of the key moments was to release a collection of short stories. And The HAVOC Files: Loose Ends is the result!

The anthology will feature stories focusing on various regular characters seen through the original sixteen-book run of Lethbridge-Stewart, including such popular characters as Bill Bishop, Harold Chorley, Owain Lethbridge-Stewart, Dylan Lethbridge-Stewart, Rhys Rubery, Samson Ware and, of course, the lead characters Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart and Anne Travers.

The HAVOC Files: Loose Ends will be, initially, only available in limited edition and is up for pre-order now.

Candy Jar is also reprinting a short-run of The HAVOC Files 2, which can be found via their website.
Short Story Competition
Following the success of the first Lethbridge-Stewart Short Story Competition, Candy Jar is having a second round with another competition. As with the first one, it will be open to previously unpublished writers, although this time it will be open to those both in and outside the UK.

Head of Publishing, Shaun Russell, says:
We had a great response when we announced the Short Story Collection and because of its success I am very excited to be doing it all over again. This time we want to give other characters a chance in the spotlight. What about Anne, Bill, or even newly created characters from our Lethbridge-Stewart spin-off, The Lucy Wilson Mysteries? With this collection we are giving fans the chance to really explore, and I can’t wait to see what response we get!
Andy adds:
This time Shaun and I will be running the competition, casting our expert eyes over the entries. And as the stories will exist outside of the canon of our ranges, we encourage all contenders to embrace their creativity and take our characters into entirely unexpected areas. As long as they are true to the characters depicted in our ranges, you can put them into almost any situation. The only true limit is the imagination!

The winning entry will receive a Kindle Fire and Lethbridge-Stewart or The Lucy Wilson Mysteries publishing deal. All shortlisted entries will be published in The Lethbridge-Stewart Short Story Collection Vol 2.

The winner of the first short story competition was announced earlier this year as Sean Alexander from Holyhead, north Wales with his story, Boys Don’t Cry. Following the competition, Sean is now working with Andy Frankham-Allen on a new Lethbridge-Stewart novel for the 2019/2020 range.

With the opportunity to secure a publishing deal through entering the brand-new writing competition, and a much wider scope for creativity, this is an exciting opportunity for any writer or fan of the Lethbridge-Stewart world.

The entry fee is £5. To enter visit the Candy Jar website.

Please include:
Your name, age, email, address and telephone number.

Submissions can be entered until the end of November 2018.

Submission guidelines for the Lethbridge-Stewart South Wales Short Story Competition:

  • Maximum of 3000 words.
  • This competition is open to anybody who has never been published before, whether you’re a fan of Doctor Who and Lethbridge-Stewart or not. We’re looking for stories that utilise any character from the Lethbridge-Stewart and The Lucy Wilson Mysteries range of books (list of Lethbridge-Stewart characters here). It is not necessary to fit within the timeline; these stories are out of the canon of the series, so feel free to let your imagination run wild!
  • A selection of free short stories will be sent to any applicant on request, should you need to see our characters in action.
  • Our license is with the Haisman Literary Estate only, therefore you CAN use any character from the Doctor Who serials The Abominable Snowmen, The Web of Fear and The Dominators, or any original character found Candy Jar Books’ Lethbridge-Stewart and The Lucy Wilson Mysteries series (except characters from Doctor Who that appeared in the ranges under express permission).
  • You can NOT use any other Doctor Who characters or monsters.
  • You can NOT use UNIT or any associated characters.
  • Any entries that feature a Doctor Who character not owned by the Haisman Literary Estate will be instantly disqualified, with no refund.

Doctor Who News

Book Excerpt: Financial Assets Matter, Not Money

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 20/09/2018 - 11:00am in

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Books, money

If we abolish money from economic theory, what replaces it? The answer is: financial assets. Although this might be viewed as a superficial change, there are important implications. In particular, the central bank can manipulate the amount outstanding of some types of financial assets, but it cannot control all of them. We end up with a more realistic view of central bank power. They no longer control “money” and hence all commerce, rather they are reduced to worrying about setting interest rates.

(This is an excerpt from my book Abolish Money (From Economics)! (affiliate link), which I do not think has been previously published. In case it is not obvious, I have been tied up up with non-writing tasks in recent months. Luckily, there is a light at the end of the tunnel of distractions.)
The Role of Financial Assets in Economic ModelsA properly defined macroeconomic model consists of three things:

  1. the sectors of the economy that define the model,
  2. the accounting relationships amongst those sectors, and
  3. the behavioural rules the sectors follow.

There is no doubt that the behavioural rules are important, as they define the operating characteristics of a model. However, we also need to make sure we properly track the accounting relationships between the sectors.

One somewhat silly example I used on my website illustrates the importance of accounting (link). I took a standard extremely simple stock flow consistent (SFC) model, and then modified the behaviour of the business sector. (Stock flow consistent models are a standard form of models used by post-Keynesians.)

In the standard version of the model, the business sector had a 0% profit margin; it hired enough workers so that the wage bill equalled the business sector revenue. I modified this behaviour to the following: the business sector always ensured that it had a 10% profit margin.

Although it sounds like an innocuous change, the model behaviour was greatly modified. Since I had not specified what the business sector was doing with its profits, it ended up accumulating an increasing stock of financial assets. In turn, this forced the government to run perpetual deficits, as it was the sole supplier of financial assets. (In the base case model, the government moved towards a balanced budget, as the stock of financial assets converged to a fixed amount.)

The model was unrealistic, but it illustrated a key point: we need to look at the entire macroeconomic system, and the linkages between sectors, in order to predict the effect of behavioural changes. There is a widespread belief that the government determines the level of the fiscal deficit. However, In this case, the perpetual deficits were the result of a change in business sector behaviour.
Financial Assets as the Glue in ModelsMainstream economic theorists want to focus on real variables: the number of widgets produced, the number of people working, etc. Financial assets are just supposed to be a “veil” over the underlying real transactions. This belief is an underlying reason why mainstream models are uniformly terrible in describing the real world.

More realistic models account for the fact that the world is uncertain; we do not know exactly how much we will earn or spend over the coming year. When outcomes deviate from plans, we need to use financial assets to buffer the uncertainty. For example, if we spend more than we expected during the month, we either have to run down our financial assets (or borrow, which is issuing a financial asset to the lender).

Within a model, the change in financial assets for a sector is equal to the sum of all of the transactions that sector has with the other sectors. Meanwhile, the breakdown of which financial assets are held depends on the model’s assumptions for portfolio weighting behaviour. For example, the household sector might allocate between zero-interest cash and interest-bearing bonds and bills based on the (real) interest rate.

Historically, economists said that money acted as the buffer stock for uncertainty. However, that is not true, other than for very short time horizons (which we cannot hope to model). Households, firms, and governments do not just adjust their money holdings in response to surprises; they adjust their entire balance sheet of financial assets and liabilities. Although the instruments in the various measures of the money supply are convenient for settlement, the big movements in balance sheets may be in long-term financial assets.

The following essay, “Money in SFC Models,” gives a more detailed analysis. (That essay was published in draft form here.)
Concluding RemarksReplacing “money” with “financial assets” may appear innocuous, but it delivers us from the delusion that central banks have arbitrary power to steer the economy.

(c) Brian Romanchuk 2017-2018

My last word on Nancy MacLean

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 19/09/2018 - 2:09am in

Attention conservation notice: This is a lengthy post looking to demonstrate, should demonstration be needed, that I am not a tool of the “Koch donor network.” Also: if you are interested in l’Affaire MacLean, your time is probably better spent reading this dissection of the book by Jennifer Burns in the new issue of History of Political Economy.

I don’t particularly want to get dragged back into the Nancy MacLean imbroglio, but I see, via my co-author Steve Teles, that she’s commented on Corey’s Facebook feed, suggesting both that Steve’s (and by implication, my) criticisms of her book are not those of an honest critic, and that Steve (and, by implication, me) didn’t show any signs of reading her book beyond skimming the intro. I note that I don’t have a Facebook account, so haven’t seen the context in which she made this claim. Nor have I asked Corey about this, since he may very understandably not want to be dragged into this brouhaha.

This follows on from a Jacobin podcast a couple of months ago, in which she said (suggesting, as best as I understand her, that there was something suspicious about this) that Steve and I “were very quick out the gate” and furthermore that it was “clear from the piece that we hadn’t read [the book],” that “their effort is a rather pathetic quest to deflect public attention from the crucial part of my book, which is how these ideas have been weaponized by the Koch donor network to achieve what it cannot achieve if it is honest,” and (perhaps conflating her claims about us with claims about others – it is not clear from context), “These guys just go after these silly things in the book and misrepresent them in order to create smog so that people will not encounter the important argument of the work.”

So, at this point, since she appears to have repeatedly misrepresented in public what we wrote and why we wrote it, it’s probably a good idea to clear up the background to the piece. I should also make it clear that I don’t believe that Nancy MacLean is wicked or dishonest. I do believe that she is unfortunately sometimes prone to a combination of conspiratorial thinking and sloppy treatment of evidence, which she uses to reinforce rather than to interrogate her preconceptions. This was the problem with her book. It is also the problem with the way that she is dealing with my and Steve’s criticisms of her. Steve notes various factual blunders in the above-linked response. I want to supplement this by describing how the piece came into being.

I first became aware of the book’s existence when I read this tweet by Jamelle Bouie on June 14, 2017. I thought that the book sounded really interesting, and purchased it on Kindle right after seeing the tweet (if anyone really cares, I am happy to provide a PDF of the Amazon order record), and began reading immediately. I’ve long thought that there was some highly problematic ideas about democracy and race associated with prominent people in public choice: I presumed that this was going to be a good and serious historical take on these problems. I didn’t mind whether it was neutral (and would have been perfectly happy with a blistering but fact-based polemic), but I did want it to be solid. Unfortunately, it was not. As I read it, it became clear that it was sloppy on argument and facts. I started to check the endnotes, and Google the references that were publicly available, and became more and more concerned.

As it happened, I had a previously arranged coffee with Steve for the following day, June 15. Steve and I had gotten to know each other better when I organized the Crooked Timber seminar on his book on the conservative legal movement. In our conversation, I mentioned the book, and that I really thought that it was very problematic, and suggested to him that he should read it, and, if he agreed, think of writing a response. He hadn’t heard of the book, but was interested in finding out more. When he read it, he agreed, and we started to talk about writing something together during the second half of June, which eventually turned into the Vox piece. I also tweeted about the problems I saw in the book during the same period. In the process of writing the article, I read the book through at least three times, noting important sections, and doing background research on publicly available secondary sources. Most of this work, as is common for essays like this, didn’t make it directly into the final product, but it did provide a secure intellectual framework what we did argue. While I haven’t consulted with Steve in writing this piece, I am sure he did similar amounts of work.

This is all doubtless extremely boring to anyone who is not involved in the controversy. I provide it to make it clear that the accusations that MacLean has made are horseshit. First – the initiative for this piece did not come from Steve (who hadn’t even heard about the book before I mentioned it to him). It came from me – the lefty in the partnership. It’s notable that MacLean mentions Steve in her Facebook post but not me – I suspect that this is because she doesn’t have even a superficially plausible public story about how I have been corrupted by the Koch conspiracy (although I wouldn’t be surprised if she harbors some private beliefs).

Second, I can aver that the Koch brothers were not involved, nor any of their enterprises in rewarding me or Steve for this. I expected that the only real reward I would get would be to piss off a lot of people whose politics I share. This was not a financially lucrative endeavor (we did get paid $350 between us by Vox – but for a piece that took several days work). It was, we believed, an unpleasant but necessary exercise in garbage pick-up.

Third, the reasons we were fast were not in any way evidence of some sinister pre-meditated program. We had read the book shortly after it came out. We wrote the first draft of the essay over the couple of weeks there after. Notably, we arrived at our initial reactions to the book before and entirely independent of the general outpouring of criticisms from libertarians and public choice people. We referenced those criticisms in our essay, but they were not the foundation of our unhappiness with the book.

Fourth, contrary to her claim, we read her book, and read it carefully and repeatedly (even if, in my case, I would dearly love to have those days of my life back again). The substance of our piece (and its follow up) engaged systematically and specifically with specific claims MacLean made over the course of the book – making criticisms that she has notably declined to respond to in any detail.

Finally – if the ‘argument’ of her book that people like me are trying to “create smog” to hide, is that libertarians, including a very important current of public choice, have a systematic distrust of democracy, or that libertarianism, including ‘respectable’ libertarianism, has been and currently is often associated with racism, I don’t have any problems with it, for the simple reason that I believe it to be true. A significant amount of my current work aims to refute stupid anti-democratic arguments made by libertarians (more on which, when it is fit for human consumption). If the argument is, as it actually appears to be, that James Buchanan was the sinister Svengali who created public choice specifically in order to defend the Southern way of life, gave Pinochet his bad constitutional ideas, and then provided the critical intellectual technologies that gave life to the Koch engine, then I don’t believe that I and Steve are creating smog – but we are pointing out that the evidence she provides does not even begin to support the sweeping conclusions that she draws.

Again, I do not believe MacLean to be a malicious person. Nor do I want to embrace all of the criticisms that have been made of her, some of which were personally vicious, some of which came from people whom I wouldn’t trust to tell me if it was raining outside the front door, and some of which look to me to be trivial, arguable, or specious (these are heavily overlapping sets). However, I believe that there is a substantial body of evidence that has mounted up, which demonstrates that her book is profoundly flawed, and furthermore suspect that her inability to process serious criticisms of the book suffers from the same problems as led her to write such a problematic book in the first place.

MacLean has been able to avoid dealing with the substantive criticisms of her book by claiming or intimating that her critics are Koch stooges (rhetorically circumnavigating the problem that some critics, like I and Sam Haselby and Elizabeth Popp Berman are clearly on the left). Which brings this post around to her final problem – that I don’t think that she’ll be able to do that for very much longer.

Jennifer Burns has just reviewed the book in an academic journal, providing a detailed (and in my view excellent) account of many of the problems in the book. If MacLean wants to go on defending herself, she really can’t just keep claiming that her critics are all the catspaws of a broader political campaign to discredit her, since this obviously isn’t true. Instead, she’s going to have to engage with the particular criticisms that have been made of what appear to be very many gross misinterpretations, unsubstantiated claims, and problematic readings. Perhaps, she will have good counter-arguments and substantive replies. I don’t think that she has them – but it would be great if I were wrong, and she did have a comprehensive and convincing reply (I do note that Geoffrey Brennan suggests in passing that Buchanan had some personal racial bias in his otherwise critical (and unfortunately paywalled) response to her – but while that potentially undermines some of the libertarian defenses of Buchanan, it doesn’t provide much positive evidence for her broader case). In any event, it would be far better to have an argument based on evidence than spurious accusations that Steve (and, by implication me) and other serious critics, are mere sub-pistons in the Koch smog-generating engine.

Help Crowdfund a Book on Women Philosophers by Women Philosophers

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 19/09/2018 - 1:05am in

The Philosopher Queens is book in progress that features over 20 chapters on women philosophers written by women philosophers.

The book’s intended audience includes “newcomers to philosophy, as well as all those professors who know that they could still learn a thing or two.”

Edited by Rebecca Buxton (Oxford) and Lisa Whiting (Durham), the book sets out to respond to “those many people who have told us that there are no great women philosophers,” as they explain in the following video:

Production of the book is being crowdfunded at Unbound.  Check out this page to see the ways you can support the project, along with the various benefits you can get for doing so, as well the list of contributors and subjects.


Lisa Whiting and Rebecca Buxton

The post Help Crowdfund a Book on Women Philosophers by Women Philosophers appeared first on Daily Nous.

#1424; In which the Stacks hold Facts

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 14/09/2018 - 3:00pm in

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comic, Books, school

'The Scarlet Herring' seemed like it was gonna be pretty good, but then it never really went anywhere.


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