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There and back again

That was a busy week! Two cross-half-the-country trips, both overnight, and I somehow managed to avoid the worst snarls of weather-related travel drama. But I’m very glad to be back in Austin, where it’s supposed to hit 70 this weekend. Texas, sometimes I love you a lot.

I keep tagging things to post here and didn’t even have the time to start a post until Wednesday — when I once again had to get the site taken down to address another security issue. Sigh. And once again, all is now fixed and fine. But I do wish whatever opportunistic bot has grown fond of my site would leave it alone.

Here are some of the things I’ve been wanting to link:

  • Anne Sexton reading her poetry and being precisely as magnetic and dramatic as you’d imagine.
  • On the topic of women writers, VIDA’s incredibly disheartening charts comparing the presence of women writers in popular print outlets to their presence as reviewers, etc.
  • Contact your members of Congress and urge them to support the National Endowment for the Humanities (and NPR, and Planned Parenthood, while you’re at it).
  • The text of Much Ado About Nothing, because something made me think of it while I was writing Killingly the other day. (The scene with Beatrice refusing Count Pedro, specifically.)
  • Rice will be hosting THATCamp Texas in April.
  • Are you female and anemic, and have you been told that you’re anemic because you’re female? Here’s an instructive study in how gendering health problems isn’t always a great idea.
  • Francis Ford Coppola talks about being a director, creativity, and confidence.
  • The Stanford Literary Lab publishes a report on studying computer analysis of genre; unsurprisingly, it’s complicated: “You take David Copperfield, run it through a program without any human input – ‘unsupervised’, as the expression goes – and … can the program figure out whether it’s a gothic novel or a Bildungsroman? The answer is, fundamentally, Yes: but a Yes with so many complications that it is necessary to look at the entire process of our study. These are new methods we are using, and with new methods the process is almost as important as the results.”

The other thing that’s been holding my attention this week while I should be working on more diss revisions is the uprising in Egypt. I’ve been to Egypt once, in the summer of 2000, just after my first year of college. The tourism industry there was still reeling from the attacks on tourists in the 1990s, and of course it would grow even worse after 2001. My experience of the country was entirely a tourist’s experience and fraught with all the troubling dynamics that accompany American tourism, plus a few extra twists to those dynamics introduced by the fact that I was blonde, barely eighteen, not a speaker of Arabic, and traveling with my parents. And it was also amazing, for all the reasons you’d expect given my history geekiness — the river, the temples, the star-painted ceilings, the Hellenistic-era graffiti, the little round bellies on the relief sculptures. The National Museum, which people on the street linked arms to protect after looting during the protests this week, just as they did the Library of Alexandria.

I remember our female Coptic Christian guide in Cairo — every time violence against the Copts is in the news I think about her — and the young man who guided our group on the Nile. I’ve been hoping that they’re safe. Now I also hope that they’re exhilarated. I’m so glad Mubarak has finally stepped down and has ceded power to the military, who seem, at least, to be more open to the people’s demands than he ever was. And I wish every bit of good luck in the universe to the Egyptians and their hard-won democracy.

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