Weekend marginalia

Some items that caught my attention as I continue to procrastinate on at least two book reviews I’ve been planning to write for probably two weeks now:

  • Oh no. Dog obesity is on the rise. (I particularly love the headline for the second item.)
  • Richard Powers, whose book The Echo Maker won the 2006 National Book Award for fiction, has an essay in this weekend’s NYT Book Review about how he uses speech recognition software to “write” his books. He discussed this on NPR’s Fresh Air a couple weeks ago and while I wasn’t as impressed with The Echo Maker as some critics, he has some interesting and potentially valid arguments using such software.
  • While working on the post about The Big Read, I came across the South Dakota Humanities Council’s link to the South Dakota Literary Map. The front of the map locates 55 authors and one or two titles of significant works near the region they wrote about. The back of the map contains biographical data and a partial annotated listing of titles for more than 150 authors. I don’t recall having ever seen one but may have to seek one out.
  • I’m not sure how this South Dakota author keeps doing all he does. Former Sen. George McGovern is 84 and is now going to write a biography of Abraham Lincoln. By the way, if you have not seen the documentary on McGovern’s presidential campaign, One Bright Shining Moment, it is well worth watching.
  • The finalists for the 2006 Philip K. Dick Award have been announced. Given the limited amount SF I read last year and the fact the award is for SF “published in paperback original form” in the US, I haven’t read any of the finalists, although I’ve almost picked up Chris Moriarity’s book a couple times. The winner will be announced on April 6 at a major SF convention in Seattle. (Via Big Dumb Object.)
  • Speaking of Philip K. Dick, a fan site has placed online a 1986 comic by R. Crumb (yes, that R. Crumb), called The Religious Experience of Philip K. Dick. For those unfamiliar with Dick, he experienced what he claimed was a series of religious visions in early 1974. The comic is a “graphic interpretation” of that experience, which many considered symptoms of schizophrenia.  It is certain, however, that they dramatically affected and in fact became essential to his writing until his death in 1982. (Via Science Fiction Observer.)

If we started prosecuting people for sin, we’d all be in jail.

George McGovern, Larry King Live, Aug. 12, 1998

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