Saturday, September 22, 2007

Stuff to Check Out

Niall Harrison has a long conversation with Kimberly Todd Wade’s Making Love in Madrid.

“The characterisation there is fine, subject to my criticisms below, but if you enjoy this story, it won’t be for the characters, it will be for the affect. If I’d got around to reading the copy of Ice by Anna Kavan that I’ve had sitting in my TBR pile for the past couple of months, I suspect I’d be making a comparison with Wade’s novella; as it is, the writer I’ve read most recently whose work was called to mind by Making Love in Madrid is Zoran Zivkovic, most particularly in the sense that the uncertain landscape and strange events described have some meaning just beyond my grasp.”

Jeff VanderMeer has a conversation with Rachel Swirsky:
“I’m currently studying with Johnathan Ames, who is an interesting writer. One thing he said this week that resonated me was that writers need to hang out. That’s how we refill our creative energy. Very often, the solution to writers block probably isn’t to sit at the computer and try harder. It’s to find new people and new situations that ignite one’s desire to write.”

On Thursday, that fount of awesome authority and intelligence, the President of the United States, claimed that Saddam Hussein killed Nelson Mandela. This must come as a bit of a shock to the man who survived years in apartheid South Africa’s worst prison.

In a new experimental study, Princeton psychologists Jessica Salvatore and J. Nicole Shelton show that people subject to subtle (as opposed to overt) forms of racism suffer a particular sort of cognitive damage:

“As reported in the September issue of Psychological Science, black volunteers who had witnessed unfair but ambiguous hiring decisions did much less well on the Stroop test, suggesting that they were using all their mental resources to make sense of the unfairness. Interestingly, white volunteers were more impaired by overt racism than by the more ambiguous discrimination. Salvatore and Shelton figure this is because whites rarely experience any racism; they do not even notice the subtle forms of racism, and are thrown off balance when they are hit over the head by overt acts. Many blacks, by contrast, have developed coping strategies for the most hateful kinds of racism; it’s the constant, vague, just-below-the-surface acts of racism that impair performance, day in and day out.

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