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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

High tech

For someone who learned to type on a Royal manual standard typewriter that weighed about as much as I did at the time, computers are a wonderful thing.

To be sure, I can't quite get over the feeling that a computer is *work*. Spending my evenings downloading music files, or "surfing the Net" (a phrase that is now years old and so might as well date from ancient Greece), holds little appeal. The usefulness of computers for the business of writing, though, is undeniable. Researching anything is much easier with the Internet than it ever was before. There is no excuse for not knowing an editor's name when the publisher has a Web site.

And, of course, there's the unprecedented and amazing possibility that someone I've never heard of--or have, and admire--or someone who wouldn't write me a letter if you tied a pen to his or her hand--will see a blurb or a post and e-mail: Hey, how interesting, what else have you got?

Reading: Mark

Monday, February 19, 2007

Ash Wednesday

"Surely, if there is sin, it must be that--to throw life away as if it were nothing."
--Tomorrow's Promise

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Statistic

Here is the real statistic to watch:

According to a March 2006 poll by the Pew Research Center, 51 percent of Americans oppose same-sex marriage, down from 63 percent in February 2004.

Fifty-one percent is a bare majority. Canada was there in the last 10 years.

Twelve percentage point drop in two years is amazing.

Reading: Tyrannic Love, or The Royal Martyr by John Dryden

Monday, February 5, 2007

Left Behind

I haven't read more than a few pages of the LaHaye/Jenkins series (just shelved many, many copies at a public library). And it is probably my literary (as opposed to theological) bias, but I don't find the popularity of this series quite as alarming as many commentators, particularly in Britain, seem to. It looks to me like a parallel to the phenomenal success of other "Christian/inspirational" genre publishing, such as romances.

Genres like thrillers and romances are enormously popular as entertainment, but there is a large market of folks who are uncomfortable with certain conventions, like the context of sex in a traditional romance. So they buy these other series. I think readers buy these apocalyptic books because they want to read thrillers, but regular thrillers make them uncomfortable, so they substitute Satan and God for the bad/good guys in, say, Tom Clancy.

Certainly, if large numbers of individuals actually want to provoke Armageddon in the Middle East then that is alarming, but even most of those "true believers" are not active participants in the destruction. After all, like non-Zionist Jews before 1948, they hold that this is all in the hands of G-d and we have nothing to say about it at all.

I don't think that most readers are buying fiction because they want to enact it in their actual lives. They buy it because they are bored.

Reading: Paradise Lost by John Milton
Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose