She plays o' the viol-de-gamboys, speaks three or four languages word for word without book, hath all the good gifts of nature, knows a hawk from a handsaw, and can see a church by daylight. The rest is subject to fancy.

The Anosognosic?s Dilemma: Something?s Wrong but You?ll Never Know What It Is

About how Dunning-Kroeger began as a theory
Part 1 By Errol Morris
Web June 20, 2010

As Dunning read through the article, a thought washed over him, an epiphany. If Wheeler was too stupid to be a bank robber, perhaps he was also too stupid to know that he was too stupid to be a bank robber — that is, his stupidity protected him from an awareness of his own stupidity.

Dunning wondered whether it was possible to measure one’s self-assessed level of competence against something a little more objective — say, actual competence. Within weeks, he and his graduate student, Justin Kruger, had organized a program of research. Their paper, “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties of Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-assessments,” was published in 1999.[3] …

Dunning and Kruger argued in their paper, “When people are incompetent in the strategies they adopt to achieve success and satisfaction, they suffer a dual burden: Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it. Instead, like Mr. Wheeler, they are left with the erroneous impression they are doing just fine.”

It became known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect — our incompetence masks our ability to recognize our incompetence.

Series of articles on related ideas:

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

NYRSF Editorial Blooming (on negative reviewing as performance)…

[I now] suggest some hard-won guidelines for responsible reviewing. For instance: First, as in Hippocrates, do no harm. Second, never stoop to score a point or bite an ankle. Third, always understand that in this symbiosis, you are the parasite. Fourth, look with an open heart and mind at every different kind of book with every change of emotional weather because we are reading for our lives and that could be love gone out the window or a horseman on the roof. Fifth, use theory only as a periscope or a trampoline, never a panopticon, a crib sheet, or a license to kill. Sixth, let a hundred Harolds Bloom.

(John Leonard The New York Times. 18 July 2004).

Civil Disobedience, Bibliophile Style

As unemployment rises, municipal tax bases and city budgets fall. That’s meant scores of libraries closing all over the world. In 2009, Philadelphia announced that they were closing all branches of the Philadelphia Free Library. The news of the closing spread, largely via Twitter, Facebook and blogs, and the decision was rescinded. Other libraries haven’t been so lucky; there have been reductions in hours and services, staff, and book collections, all over.
This week in Stony Stratford, near Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, library patrons responded to the announcement that the library would close as a cost-saving, patrons responded by borrowing the maximum number of books allowed, until all 16,000 volumes of the circulating collection were checked out.

The idea was initially suggested in jest by a patron as a civil protest. Emily Malleson from Friends of Stony Stratford Library (FOSSL) said that after consideration, she decided to put the idea on the FOSSL Facebook page.

It’s a novel method of civil protest, worth remembering. You can read more here.

War for the Oaks — Emma Bull

Bull, Emma.
War for the Oaks.
Orb Books, 2001.
ISBN: 978-0765300348

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bull_war_for_the_oaks“Urban fantasy” is relatively new as a fantasy sub-genre. Certainly my first exposure to urban fantasy was via the deserved popularity of the Borderlands shared universe. Borderlands
created a new genre space for heroic fantasy in an urban setting. Bull’s work is often cited as an example of “urban fantasy,” but in War for the Oaks she makes Minneapolis as full of wonder as Tír nan Og. War for the Oaks is about an otherworld intruder, a pooka who shape-shifts into a large black dog, and Eddi McCandry, a mortal musician who becomes an unwilling pawn in a fairy civil war.

Bull draws on fairy folklore throughout her novel, and uses it to create fully realized characters rather then mere types. Bull begins with a solid foundation of traditional fairy folklore and makes it new, in large part because she has interestingly real characters. Eddi McCandry isn’t another calque on Janet from the ballad of Tam Lin; she’s Eddi McCandry. And the Pooka isn’t exactly like anything or anyone else either. Bull has also captured the essence of Fey game-playing and ethics here, and all of it in fabulous dialog. This is a book that you really should read if you have any interest in contemporary fantasy at all, since it has very much helped shape the genre. Plus, it’s really really good.

Emma Bull and Will Shetterly have co-written War for the Oaks: The Screenplay. I keep hoping someday Bull will record all the songs.