Wednesday afternoon miscellany

  • Egyptian novelist and Nobel Prize winner Naguib Mahfouz died today in Cairo at age 94.
  • As the city clears out for Labor Day, Taylor Carman, philosophy professor (and brother to Sean), ponders nothingness. “Nothingness is everything to philosophers…. I’m writing a book about Heidegger, which means I’m writing about nothing.”
  • Tom Long talks about his role in the film based on Rupert Thomson’s The Book of Revelation. “I am drawn to anything that scares me — I am scared of being in front of people, yet I act. I am scared of heights, and I parachute…. So I had this natural pull towards it.”
  • I was thrilled to see The Empty Child, the creepiest episode from the new Doctor Who series, win a Hugo Award. As for Harlan Ellison’s infamous groping of Connie Willis at the event, Patrick Nielsen Hayden says it best. (“[T]he basic message … is this: Remember, you may think you have standing, status, and normal, everyday adult dignity, but we can take it back at any time. If you are female, you’ll never be safe…. You can be the most honored female writer in modern science fiction. We can still demean you, if we feel like it, and at random intervals, just to keep you in line, we will.”)
  • Bush looms large in a college’s new recruiting strategy: “Graduating from an Ivy League university doesn’t necessarily mean you’re smart.” (Thanks, GMB.)
  • John Holbo’s five-year-old daughter, Zoë, on hearing the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel: “I used to believe in God, but now that I know he’s crazy, I don’t believe in him any more.”
  • “Penguin is set to release a small army of classics into the Madarin market — the fasting growing readership in the world. How will the Chinese take to Moby Dick? Isn’t the party line already consistent with the idea of us being a bunch fat, white, marauding, vengeance-obsessed, hubristic mammals anyway? And they might find a way to work the whale in there too.”

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