Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A few links of interest

--Ursula K. Le Guin applauds the existence of the Jean-Paul Sartre Prize for Refusal, which she informs us is made to writers who've turned down awards. (I haven't been able to find any information on this prize on the internet; Ursula's source is the Nov. 23, 2012 issue of The Times Literary Supplement.) Interestingly, she talks about her refusal of the Nebula Award for her novelette "The Diary of the Rose" because of her anger at SFWA for having ejected Stanislaus Lem
It was in the coldest, insanest days of the Cold War, when even the little planet Esseff was politically divided against itself. My novelette “The Diary of the Rose” was awarded the Nebula Prize by the Science Fiction Writers of America. At about the same time, the same organization deprived the Polish novelist Stanislaw Lem of his honorary membership. There was a sizeable contingent of Cold Warrior members who felt that a man who lived behind the Iron Curtain and was rude about American science fiction must be a Commie rat who had no business in the SFWA. They invoked a technicality to deprive him of his membership and insisted on applying it. Lem was a difficult, arrogant, sometimes insufferable man, but a courageous one and a first-rate author, writing with more independence of mind than would seem possible in Poland under the Soviet regime. I was very angry at the injustice of the crass and petty insult offered him by the SFWA. I dropped my membership, and feeling it would be shameless to accept an award for a story about political intolerance from a group that had just displayed political intolerance, took my entry out of Nebula competition shortly before the winners were to be announced. The SFWA called me to plead with me not to withdraw it, since it had, in fact, won. I couldn’t do that. So — with the perfect irony that awaits anybody who strikes a noble pose on high moral ground — my award went to the runner-up: Isaac Asimov, the old chieftain of the Cold Warriors.
What relates my small refusal to Sartre’s big one is the sense that to accept an award from an institution is to be co-opted by, embodied as, the institution. Sartre refused this on general principle, while I acted in specific protest. But I do have sympathy for his distrust of allowing himself to be identified as something other than himself. He felt that the huge label “Success” that the Nobel sticks on an author’s forehead would, as it were, hide his face. His becoming a “Nobelist” would adulterate his authority as Sartre.
Do go and read her reflections on awards generally.

--Nin Andrews interviews me for the Best American Poetry blog. The interview concludes with Liz Henry's "Mother Frankenstein."

--I read today that
The numbers are in: 2012, the year of a surreal March heat wave, a severe drought in the corn belt and a massive storm that caused broad devastation in the mid-Atlantic states, turns out to have been the hottest year recorded in the contiguous United States.

How hot was it? The temperature differences between years are usually measured in fractions of a degree, but last year’s 55.3 degrees blew away the previous record, set in 1998, by a full degree Fahrenheit.

If that does not sound sufficiently impressive, consider that 34,008 daily high records were set at U.S. weather stations, compared with only 6,664 record lows, according to a count maintained by Weather Channel meteorologist Guy Walton, using federal temperature records.

That ratio, which was roughly in balance as recently as the 1970s, has been out of whack for decades as the country has warmed, but never by as much as it was last year.

“The heat was remarkable,” said Jake Crouch, a scientist with the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., which released the official climate compilation Tuesday. “It was prolonged. That we beat the record by one degree is quite a big deal.”
While in Australia, which is suffering record heat and fierce wild fires, "meteorologists have had to add a new color to their temperature maps to reflect an "uparalleled setting of new heat extremes."
Wild fires continue to rage across Australia Tuesday and temperatures have become so hot the country's Bureau of Meteorology was forced to add a new color—deep purple—to show areas that have exceeded all-time heat records.

Previously the Bureau's heat index was capped at 48°C (118.4°F), but now recorded temperatures of over 50°C (122°F) have pushed the limit of the scale to an unheard of 54°C, which is equivalent to 129°F.

"The scale has just been increased today and I would anticipate it is because the forecast coming from the bureau's model is showing temperatures in excess of 50 degrees," David Jones, head of the bureau's climate monitoring and prediction unit, told reporters.

Indicating that the worst may yet to come, Jones added that, "The air mass over the inland is still heating up - it hasn't peaked."

Climate scientists in Australia—with Jones among them—say the fires and the heat are unprecedented in scale and intensity, but that Australians should understand the destructive temperatures and ensuing fires across Tasmania and southern sections of the country are the new normal of runaway climate change.
The reports keep coming in-- about the arctic antarctic melting at much faster rates that previously thought, about how levels of carbon in the atmosphere have passed the point of no return, about extreme weather, and so on. That these reports keep coming in ever thicker and faster curiously enough doesn't mean that the "issue" is getting the attention it needs-- here in the US, anyway. The public sphere (i.e., the US's elites) are still not paying attention. Why do you suppose that is?


Ethan Robinson said...

Just a head's up--the Le Guin link's mangled.

Timmi Duchamp said...

Thanks, Ethan-- I had no idea. It's now fixed!