Sad questions; indigestible answers

I’ve read a few sad stories recently — sad for different reasons.

Should I add fake comments to my blog?, asks a Problogger reader. Well, I’m aware of some skullduggery and deception that go on in the blogosphere, but the idea of fake comments is somewhat breathtaking.  Reminds me a bit of those agony aunts who make up the problems.

Here is a genuinely sad story: the admirable and worthy librarian and queen of the wikis Meredith Farkas asks Is my book out? Good question. She’s having a raw deal, made more poignant if you’ve been following the gestation and progress of her book via her blog over the past year or more.

Indigestible reading for libraries. Yes, Tim Coates is at it again, telling tales out of school and making everyone sad or cross (or both). There seems to be no way out of this one, a sort of mass paralysis on all sides.

That’s it from me for tonight, I will return with some happier content…..sometime.

Father’s day is coming up

Father’s day in the UK is this Sunday, causing some consternation at Petrona towers as the father here has three daughters, rather too many acquired present-years to allow much room for ingenuity, and a birthday pretty smartly afterwards. But relief is at hand.

What does it mean to be male?, asks Lyn Gardner in the Guardian blog. This Father’s Day, a startling piece of site-specific theatre will attempt to answer the question. A few tickets to Boychild, a "mixture of performance, sound installation, sculpture, video and bakery" is obviously the thing. Lyn’s vivid description indicates the play (?) is right up the MP’s street:

"It has been a year in the making, bringing together men of all ages (from seven to over 70) and all backgrounds, including fathers to be, those serving time in Portland’s Young Offenders Institute and health service staff. It takes the audience on a journey around the building and a journey through life from foetus through sprouting puberty to old age. Along the way, it aims to shatter the myths and stereotypes that exist around masculinity. Storor asks, "Why is it that men’s hearts often give out before women’s?" He is not just asking a medical question, but a metaphysical one too. Boychild may not supply the answers but it should provoke debate."

And as if that isn’t enough, here is the ultimate gift (via Going Underground blog),  a Metropolitan Line table made from "reclaimed enamel, a snip at £1250 plus VAT". I must drop a hint to a passing daughter.

Maybe, on second thoughts, the usual giant Toblerone bar and latest Sharpe novel will do the trick after all for one most comfortable in the groves of academe. (It is OK, the MP is only aware of this blog in theory, so the "surprise" will not be compromised.)

Wellcome collection opens on 21 June

The Wellcome collection Medicine Life + Art opens on 21 June in London. The venue is open every day, with galleries open from Tuesdays to Sundays. Exhibitions and events are free. There is also a library, conference centre and club, as well as a cafe and the inevitable shop.
The exhibitions present a rich picture of the cultural and social implications of medicine past and present, through three galleries including exhibits and artworks from Henry Wellcome’s original collection, as well as current medical topics such as obesity, genetics and malaria through the eyes of scientists, artists and patients. The opening programme includes exhibitions about the heart as well as sleeping and dreaming, examining each subject from a scientific, cultural and social perspective.
For more information and details of how to get there, see the Wellcome collection website.

(Cross-posted at Nautilus.)

‘Cult of the Amateur’ reviewed

Over at the blog Social Media, the post Putting the lie to ‘Cult of the Amateur’ links to reviews by two people who really, really did not like Andrew Keen’s book.

Terry Heaton’s post The terrified world view of Andrew Keen sum’s up the book’s position:  "the personal media revolution will destroy Hollywood, the professional press and the advertising industry, thus collapsing our economy." In his interesting analysis of the book and its arguments, Heaton concludes that “  ‘The cult of the amateur’ is nothing more than a can of neatly stacked red herrings, and that doesn’t make for a debate at all."

The other review is Amateurish cult of the amateur by Dan Gillmor of the Center for Citizen Media blog. This review is less interesting because its theme is not only to analyse the book but also to defend the reviewer’s own book and writings on the topic. Nevertheless, one can get a vivid snapshot of some of the issues from it, for example a case of mainstream journalists and bloggers coming up against the libel laws.

At risk of stating the self-evident, Andrew Keen must be crying all the way to the bank. Terry Heaton’s quote at the top of his blog sums it up pretty well: "Postmodernism is a change-or-be-changed world. The word is out: Reinvent yourself for the 21st century or die! Some would rather die than change." Leonard Sweet, cultural historian.