Until last week I had been out of touch with tournament Scrabble for well over a year and a half, having taken a hiatus from playing at any events. In the meantime the organizational politics in North America have drastically transformed: Hasbro decided to redirect the National Scrabble Association toward developing the game in schools and ceased to support the tournament scene, which spun off into a non-profit licensed to use the Scrabble name and a rebel organization that isn’t. The best thing to have come out of competitive Scrabble going unofficial, though, is The Last Word, a model community newsletter that improves on the NSA’s old snail-mail Scrabble News in most respects (although it noticeably lacks annotations of high-level games). If you are inclined to read about Scrabble squabbles, Ted Gest has written in the latest issue about the NASPA/WGPO split.
And now for something completely different:
- Start with Michael Weingrad’s piece in The Jewish Review of Books about why there is no Jewish Narnia. Then proceed to Israeli sci-fi reviewer Abigail Nussbaum’s response and her survey of the conversation.
- My friend Stephen McCarthy, who is coaching Korean schoolchildren in the art of debate, writes about his cultural collision with corporal punishment.
- Anthony Gottlieb digests a survey of what philosophers believe. The data set covers English-speaking academia and skews heavily analytic, but I’m not one to complain.
- Not exactly “reading” per se, but it’s election time, and I can’t stop playing with The Guardian‘s lovely polling widget.
- Wikileaks is in the news again after releasing footage of American troops firing upon a Reuters photographer in Iraq. The BBC profiles who they are.
- John McWhorter parses Sarah Palin. Typically the way the print media scrubs audio quotations into coherent, well-formed sentences (or doesn’t) is a good indicator of media bias, but the thing about Palin is that it can’t be done.
- Julie Just asks where the parents have gone in fiction for young adults.
- What are marching bands playing these days? Shostakovich, that’s what.
- Dale Dougherty writes about the iPad and misses HyperCard. He’s not the only one.
- Cartoonist James Sturm leaves the Internet. I should do that too.