Men in Captivity, Ode de Bradbury & Heavy Metal for the Coffee Table | Books for Dudes

I thought my BEA experience was going down as the best ever. From the fabulous gift basket to the backstage jamming with Neil Young and Jimmy Kimmel doing fart jokes, I had a blast.

Then reality hit me. Or rather, I got hit in the face by some hella powerful little dude! It was only after I woke up‚ tied to a wooden chair‚ that the little dude actually hit me, bounding forward and delivering a savage jab to my right jaw. It shattered what little concentration I had left. It also loosened a molar or two. The slats of the chair dug into my spine. I wasn’t sure when the limo ride back to airport had turned into this. Hell, I wasn’t even sure this was New York City anymore‚ it smelled like Jersey. Then little guy hit me again, and I nearly blacked out.

Where were you this afternoon between 3:30 and 5? another dude, a heavyset one, screamed at me from across the room.

Blinking away the sparks of light dancing through my vision, I tried to focus on Heavyset. Wha? Which day? Then I remembered, and like a soft jet of cool, clean water, relief washed over me. I practically sang back at him, I was at BEA! BEA!

What the hell is that? snarled Little. He was putting some sort of glove on his hand. Were these guys cops? Can they do this, I wondered? Hunh? screamed Little. What is BEA?

BookExpo America! I shouted. My voice was distorted, thick with fat lips and swelling bruises. I had to sploop out a glob of what must have been blood and tissue to get the words out. I just hoped it wasn’t part of my tongue.

Bhook Esspo Amewikuh? squeaked Heavyset. His tinny, high-pitched squeak was mimicking my inability to speak. He was leering at me.

Thath ohnley becauth you’ve bheen hitting meh, I splooped. I’m a bhook weviewah. I weviewed aight bookfsh dere.

Heavyset stopped leering, an expression of mistrust spreading over his wide, fleshy lips. Eight books? What books, you little bastard?! Prove it! he demanded. If you can prove it, we’ll let you go.

Since my hands were tied, I gestured with my blood-dribbled chin down at my left breast pocket. In thewre. Ith a wist of the bookfsh wif da reviewth.

Little sprang forward, grabbed the list, and unfolded it. Heavyset leaned in and, lips moving, they began to read. After a minute, Heaveyset glanced at Little. Uh oh, he said. The boss ain’t gonna like this.


Fobbitcover Men in Captivity, Ode de Bradbury & Heavy Metal for the Coffee Table | Books for DudesAbrams, David. Fobbit. Black Cat: Grove. Sept. 2012. 384p. ISBN 9780802120328. pap. $15. F
Fobbit, a pejorative term, is a portmanteau of forward operating base and hobbit and stands for a soldier stationed at an FOB who avoids combat by remaining at base. I have enjoyed Abrams’s writing in Esquire and am happy to report that this darkly comic novel is a slice of awesome. Set during Operation Iraqi Freedom, the plot is awash with soldiers (and hundreds of pissed-off Iraqi citizens) and hones in on three disparate characters: Sgt. Chance Gooding writes press releases in the public affairs office; there’s dust on his gun, and he doesn’t send up flares to communicate, he emails the New York Times. Battalion commander Lt. Col. Vic Duret, prone to migraines, just wants to go home. And then there’s Capt. Abe Shrinkle, who soils himself at the slightest provocation and is quite possibly the worst officer in the United States Army. This ain’t Hogan’s Heroes. Like the best writing of M.A.S.H., it is true dark comedy in that it reinforces how unpleasant life can be for soldiers, and how ridiculous, funny, and stupid life can be. And it reminds us how cheap life is; how cheap American lives are.

RandyBachman Men in Captivity, Ode de Bradbury & Heavy Metal for the Coffee Table | Books for DudesBachman, Randy. Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap Stories. Pintail. Oct. 2012. 248p. ISBN 9780670066599. pap. $16. MUSIC/BIOG
Ahh, the simple pleasures of Bachman-Turner Overdrive (You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet, Takin’ Care of Business), the working man’s band who proved that normal dudes could hit Number One, too. Was your brother in a band? He rocked some BTO. Bachman has been in the music business forever, and this book perfectly captures the conversational tone and relaxed, been-there-done-that vibe of his Sirius radio show, Vinyl Tap. The appeal is that Bachman ain’t no Keith Richards. He’s Randy Freaking Bachman from Winnipeg, Manitoba. He seems down-to-earth, and he knows everybody, pulling out names and anecdotes that are juicy but not crazy. Yes, he knows Neil Young (star of BEA 2012, also from Winnipeg), as well as Eddie Van Halen and Ringo Starr, but it’s the little anecdotes about rockers like Gene Vincent, Steve Cropper, Chet Atkins, and Frank Zappa that are real treats for rock freaks. And thank the Good Lord there’s no overarching theme or deep psychological introspection here, because sometimes you really just want to hear about that time in 1968 that Bachman once gave a weeping, broke Van Morrison a guitar to lip-synch Brown-Eyed Girl on TV in Cleveland.

Gonzales, Laurence. Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience. Norton. Sept. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9780393083187. $26.95. PSYCH
So, your 40-foot yacht is going down, and five of you are stuck in a rubber life raft 300 miles off the coast of North Carolina with NOTHING. Or maybe your husband has shot you, and you’ve bled ten precious pints. This is a book about what happens after you’ve somehow lived through the shark ripping out your armpit, severing arteries and leaving a narrow flap of skin to hold your arm on. The survivor tales of these traumas (as well as large disasters like the torpedoing of the USS Indianapolis) make for freakishly compelling reading, but it’s the in-the-trenches stories of physical recovery, life rebuilding, retooling that really pay off. Gonzales (Everyday Survival, 2008) delves deeply into survival’s aftermath and works hard to pinpoint what resilience looks like for each person. How does one keep living? How does one move forward? How does one find a new normal? Because when you get your hand caught underneath a boulder, and it pins you there for 127 hours, you’re not normal anymore.

Grecian, Alex. The Yard. Putnam. 2012. 432p. ISBN 9780399149542. $26.95. F
At first I thought The Yard was all about lawn care, but it turns out it’s Grecian’s (heir to the Formula 44 fortune) debut, a sprawling, engaging crime novel detailing the hunt for a killer. Mr. G manages to not distract readers with carefully composed, chunky details about its Victorian (1889) London setting (think top hats and capes) but keeps chugging along at a damn good clip. For example, even though a boy is running for his life, we see what he sees. To his right, the black hansom cab sat idle, the horse sniffing the morning air, the coachman hidden in a blanket of shadow. The forensic efforts of those days prove fascinating, the characters are well defined, and the plot is propulsive. There’s even a mysterious, sinister, bald man involved‚ not unlike the one who’s outside waiting for you right now (cue the creepy music). It’s not what I think of as historical fiction; it’s more the Victorian version of Rush Hour (Jackie Chan/Chris Tucker), a buddy comedy with the novice detective teamed with the experienced, older cop showing the kid the ropes and getting’ the bad guy.

HeavyMetal Men in Captivity, Ode de Bradbury & Heavy Metal for the Coffee Table | Books for DudesGrow, Kory. Heavy Metal: From Hard Rock to Extreme Metal. White Star Pub. 2012. 272p. ISBN 9788854406568. $34.95. MUSIC
Finally, the heavy metal coffee-table book that everybody can agree on, just in time for National Fireworks Day! While punk rock is really more a dude’s style, metal has quite a place in our hearts, and I can’t really put my finger on why. Not that I want to put a finger anywhere near the guys in Slayer, Megadeath, or Motörhead. With metal, an audient is one of many, part of a crowd. You can sound your individual barbaric yawp, but, oddly, you have to do it en masse. Dudes will pick up this book, they’ll make fun of the bands, they’ll talk about metal music, and they’ll remember when (e.g., the first time they saw KISS). In fact, this might be the very first Books for Dudes book discussion group title, because we’re sure not going to sit there and talk for an hour about 50 Shades of Gray: and slowly she stuffed her — into his —– before the two –ed their —-s out in the bathroom… Feeling brave? Google Images: Manowar.

Pierce, Richard. Dead Men. Overlook. Jul. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9781590208687. $25.95. F
Antarctic exploration and Robert Falcon Scott go together like helium blimps named Hindenberg and static sparks. Both, ironically, carry quite a romantic charge. Pierce’s first novel intersperses imagined little episodes of Scott and his fellow explorers with growing-up-into-I-am-going-to-be experiences of a loner, sad sack-esque, computer networky nerdy dude. Adam is besotted on sight with this skinny little chick who turns out to be a famous artist. She’s obsessed with the Antarctic and wants to get to the bottom of the mystery about the doomed Scott expedition‚ they were 11 miles away from a food depot and didn’t make it. Why*? Adam proves steadfast and loyal to a fault to Birdie, who proves inconstant, fickle, variable, and unreliable, a skinny little bitch on wheels. Part of what kept me reading is why? What magic power does she have over him? Is it similar to the power my sweetie has over me? The Antarctic expedition and the romance are alike in that they both depend on the charisma and charm of one person and the blind, dogged loyalty of others to make it happen. Or (ahem) not happen, as was the case with Scott.
*Lots of reasons, some of which are: they were wearing clothing that wouldn’t get 90 percent of you through a New York City winter; they were eating about half of what they should; they were man-hauling sleds (called sledging) for 800 freaking miles, carrying everything they had, including 30 pounds of ROCKS for science.

Ballparking Men in Captivity, Ode de Bradbury & Heavy Metal for the Coffee Table | Books for DudesSantos, Aaron. Ballparking: Practical Math for Impractical Sports Questions. Running Pr. 2012. 220p. ISBN 9780762443451. pap. $15. MATH
What does a sports-loving mathematician do in his free time? If you’re Aaron Santos, you gamely attempt to answer questions like, How many swimmers can fit inside an Olympic-sized pool before it overflows? About 2000. I think young minds will take a special shine to the explanations as Santos presents them because he shows his work (as my math teachers used to say). A few pages of explanation present the hypotheses, explain the basics of calculating the problem (including the math symbols that I don’t understand but enjoy looking at), and arrive at a solution. Thus, we get answers to the titular impractical sports questions such as Assuming the rumor about rat poop in baseball hot dogs is true, what’s the total mass of rat poop consumed in MLB ballparks each season? About 54 tons. An interesting series explores the number of teeth lost by NHL Hockey players in the 90 years since its inception‚ about 27,000! Leading to a total toothpaste savings of $1.8 million! Along the way, Santos admirably explains scientific notation, that all-star running back Emmett Smith really only ran 10.4 career miles, and losing ten pounds of unsightly fat requires climbing 120,000 stairs.

Testerman, Doyce. Hidden Things. HarperVoyager: HarperCollins. Sept. 2012. 336p. ISBN 9780062108111. $14.99. F
I tend to enjoy first novels, and there’s a lot to like about this crime story with magical overtones: it’s pure escapist reading. Our protagonist, Calliope Jenkins, is kind of an asskicker. Independent and sexy (not in a girly way), she’s a private investigator in the VI Warshawsky mold. When her former boyfriend and current business partner is found dead, she’s superdriven to find out why. In doing so, she winds up needing the help of a bizarre dude who looks like a cross between a homeless man and a clown. Reality is like a carpet, he explains. In some places it stays nice and fresh and solid and sometimes [t]he carpet wears down to paper thin. It’s on those thin spots this story depends.

  • Good: The plot moves a little too quickly, like a whirlwind.
  • Good: Readers don’t know where it’s going or where it’s going to wind up.
  • Good: Descriptions, as when she depicts a fat man: His torso was a broad, fat teardrop that extended to his knees; his arms, also quivering, were flat wide sacks that swung ineffectually at his sides.

dadgets Men in Captivity, Ode de Bradbury & Heavy Metal for the Coffee Table | Books for DudesZevin, Dan. Dan Gets a Minivan: Life at the Intersection of Dude and Dad. Scribner. 2012. 240p. ISBN 9781451606461. $24. HUMOR/MEMOIR
Zevin is a humorist with archetypal dude reactions to fatherhood, family life, his parents, and getting a minivan. His book represents the kind of easy, accessible humor that father-dudes immediately understand because they, too, have gone from onetime hipster to some schmoe driving a minivan. Losing your cool isn’t attractive, but it happens to all of us. If it happened to Bill Cosby (who went from playing Alexander Scott to Dr. Cliff Huxtable), it’s going to happen to YOU. Zevin succeeds, though you can really sense the Eau de Weary stench coming off him. One chapter is all about going to court to fight a dog-walking ordinance violation. Conversations revolve around the mundaneness of airline reward miles, sojourns to discount grocery chains, Disney. And that’s life at the intersection of dude and dad. Life gets sad, mundane, and much more tame.

The Endorsement: Ray Bradbury

We all knew it was coming, and sooner rather than later, right? I mean the guy was 91 and had lived a good long life. A perpetually surprising and talented scribbler, RB was a fiction writer of all possible fictions in the truest sense. Sure, some of it was sf, and some of it had fantasy elements, but he was bigger than genre. Bradbury will be remembered and loved for stories about real boys dreaming of going to rocket school, disillusioned astronauts wandering through ghostly alien landscapes, friends battling a wicked magician, and a society closing in around a fireman who has developed a conscience.

MartianChronicles Men in Captivity, Ode de Bradbury & Heavy Metal for the Coffee Table | Books for DudesBradbury, Ray. The Martian Chronicles. HarperCollins. 1997. 288p. ISBN 9780380973835. $18.99. F
Yes, Fahrenheit 451 and Something Wicked This Way Comes are amazing full-length novels. But Bradbury’s best, IMHO, was that most intriguing of all fiction types: the short story cycle. Published in 1950, this relates the colonization of Mars. While at first the Martians succeed in repelling the invaders, Earth’s fourth expedition succeeds, helped along by a plague that has decimated the natives. The trickle of early settlers turns into a river, and soon Mars is very much a copy of the Earth everyone was so intent to leave: rotten. In The Off Season, most of the population returns to Earth only to die in a nuclear war. Bradbury’s eternal hopefulness shines through in the few who have stayed behind become the new Martians. Lyrical, compelling, and with a strong anticapitalistic streak.

Bradbury, Ray. Dandelion Wine. HarperVoyager: HarperCollins. 1999. 319p. ISBN 9780380977260. pap. $13. F
Another story cycle originally published in 1957, DW centers on the boyhood adventures of awesomely named preteen Douglas in 1920s Illinois. It’s hard not to be enthusiastic about these celebrations and dirges about youth, growth, and innocence wherein Bradbury’s seemingly limitless imagination turns the humdrum (soda fountains, lawnmowers) into explorations of subjects like human time machines, and witchcraft.

DeathIs Men in Captivity, Ode de Bradbury & Heavy Metal for the Coffee Table | Books for DudesDeath Is a Lonely Business. HarperPerennial: HarperCollins. 2003. 232p. ISBN 9780380789658. pap. $12.99. F
This noir mystery is set in decrepit 1949 Venice, CA, and stars an unnamed writer acting as a gumshoe who must solve a series of murders with the help of detective Elmo Crumley. Written in the style of Hammett or Chandler, it succeeds as an authentic celebration of style and is about the last thing one would expect from a SF Grand Master. And that just speaks to RB’s ability and range. There are even sequels, A Graveyard for Lunatics (1990) and Let’s All Kill Constance (2003).

Two favorite short stories:

  • Uncle Einar, in which a winged man looks back on his life. An accident robs him of his gift of flight, and he winds up married to a sweet farmgirl. It’s enjoyable in its own right. What man doesn’t think of himself as special, bucking and rearing in captivity (read: marriage), no matter how awesome the woman? Could have been called Uncle Einar Gets a Minivan.
  • Interval in Sunlight, with not one sf iota, is a quietly harrowing story of a husband and wife traveling through Mexico. She is unhappy, but it’s the kind of unhappy where she doesn’t fully realize how bad it is, or how hard it’s going to be to break away. When I read this aloud to someone long ago, they were shocked that a male sf writer (gasp!) could have such a strong grasp of a female character.
Share
Douglas Lord About Douglas Lord

Douglas Lord has been reviewing books and audio for Library Journal since the earth was a molten mass. He is an Ironman athlete blessed with a family that sometimes finds him funny and puts up with him constantly reading aloud from advanced review copies. Books for Dudes focuses on books for curious, fun, time-crunched men.

Comments

  1. teetop says:

    I guess Randy Bachman was never in any other bands worth mentioning.

  2. Kristoffer says:

    Well, given that Scott and company are buried many feet below the snow by now, looking for them (at least going by the Telegraph’s review) was an exercise in futility. I’ve seen enough of Richard Pierce to know that he’s a Solomon sheeple. If Birdie and Richard Pierce had done their research, they would have found that:

    -Captain Scott and Lt. Bowers exaggerated the severity of the temperatures. http://arxiv.org/abs/1011.1272 A useful new look at the records, unlike Susan Solomon’s classic case of poisoned science, cherry-picking, and misrepresented data (misrepresented Scott’s daily midday temperatures as daily minimums, and ignored the First Relief Party’s weather record when it contradicted her pro-Scott bias). A search on climateaudit.org will show that Solomon is currently in hot water with the U.S. government for thinking U.S. law did not apply to her because she was submitting work to an international group-among other questionable behavior.

    -That the nine day blizzard did not happen: http://arxiv.org/abs/1109.5355

    -A quick review of Scott’s diary shows that it has no entries from the 23rd to the 29th, and despite allegedly having five days in which to write various letters (his first were written to Sir Edgar Speyer, and to his wife in stages), wrote nothing to his mentor Sir Clements Markham, and flat out wrote to his wife that “I haven’t time to write to Sir Clements.” It definitely doesn’t seem like Scott lasted that long, and it looks to me at least that Scott falsified the date of the March 29 entry to avoid the impression of a panicked rush to write last letters.

    -The 30 pounds of rocks would have dragged the party down seriously in their deteriorating state. From Tryggve Gran’s account, and a letter from Lt. Evans, the sledge was also loaded down with 150 pounds of useless material, among which were a load of empty food bags and worn out clothing. These could have been jettisoned to lighten the load: why weren’t they? The rocks themselves offer even harder questions:

    Why didn’t the party leave the rocks at Shambles Camp and carry a note with them detailing their location for the search parties that would come?
    Why did Scott seriously risk his team’s lives by carrying the fossil, when he could assume (as he did many other things, such as his return date) that his carrying them could prevent them from reaching a depot?
    With this in mind, what made Scott think he had the right to sacrifice human life for scientific knowledge? When one looks at these questions and realizes that Huntford didn’t ask any of them (he got too focused on deriding their being dragged along to stop and think), methinks Huntford missed some golden opportunities (from his point of view).

    By the way, the Hindenburg was designed for hydrogen and helium, but was carrying hydrogen when it went down.

    • Hi Kristoffer,

      Thanks for reading ,and for setting the record for longest BFD comment yet!

      Good catch on the heilum thing. I just enjoy it for the funny voices.

      I do have a couple questions for you: perhaps I’m misreading, but what’s a Solomon sheeple? It relates to your comments at the Smithsonian site I’m sure, but does it just mean a sheep-type person easily led by Susan Solomon?

      Didn’t know about the extra 150 pounds of useless stuff. And I agree about the whole, ‘Man, Captain Scott, I’m awful tired do you think and hungry do you think we could drop these rocks off someplace and kind of get a move on to the nearest 7-11?

  3. Like Brave Belt?

    Teetop, are you really Randy Bachman? And did I hurt your feelings? Awwww…….

    Well, it’s a book review. Not a review of RB’s career.

  4. teetop says:

    No, I actually meant the Guess Who. I think that’s the most significant and best known band he was in, and if I were writing about him I would’ve lead with that. No worries, my feelings aren’t hurt; but I do think you lack credibility and professionalism.

  5. Yes, I do (thanks for noticing) whereas you lack a name, a face, and any basis of being anything except a comments troll. Don’t worry, there’s a special level in hell for you.

  6. teetop says:

    What is your problem? My original comment was meant to be ironic and mildly snarky. Your response was defensive and hostile, and now you are damning my immortal soul. Wow. Before either of us ships off to our respective circles of Hell, perhaps you ought to look into anger management.

    • Dear Guess Who – I never liked the GW, but I did like BTO, so that’s why I mentioned them. When you have a book review column instead of a comments field, you can mention who you like. And *I* didn’t damn you to hell, that’s purely a decision of the arbitration board of the American American Association of Anger Management Providers (AAAMP), though I admit to letting my membership lapse. Oddly, their theme song is ‘No Time’ by The Guess Who.

  7. teetop says:

    As long as they are taking care of business and working over time, work out.

  8. lol Dude – you’ve made the perfect comment! Next time around, maybe I’ll be there to shake your hand.

  9. Kristoffer says:

    Yes Douglas, that is what it means, a sheeple who happens to believe what Solomon says. A sheeple is someone who naively believes what someone tells them. By this definition, I am not a Huntford sheeple, as I think he should have gotten a lot more evidence for his claims regarding Sir Clements Markham and Kathleen Scott. Though in my view his interpretation of Scott’s leadership in the Terra Nova expedition was fairly accurate, he was also slipshod. If he was so interested in attacking Scott’s character, he had the ideal opportunity when Scott first said in his letter to Sir Edgar Speyer on March 16 that no one was to blame, then turned on his dead companions in his Message to the Public. Given that in an interview back in October 2011 (I forget where) he compared Scott’s last letters to one long suicide note, odds are his loathing of Scott was so severe that he missed opportunities and facts.

    The meteorologist for Scott’s expedition, George Simpson, himself noted that variations in temperatures are fairly similar over large areas. When the First Relief Party arrived at One Ton Depot on March 3, they were only 111.5 miles away from Scott. Huntford failed to take the First Relief Party’s meteorological record, these observations, and put two and two together. Since Simpson included said meteorological record in his work, while trying to argue that 1912 was an abnormal year, it’s safe to say that Simpson was trying to cover up the unpleasant reality while slipping in the record and hoping no one noticed.

    He wasn’t the only one covering up. Cherry-Garrard’s own account of the First Relief Party is extremely suspicious: check Cherry-Garrard’s account of 4 days of blizzard against Scott’s record, and Cherry-Garrard’s blizzards don’t check out, (Scott can be trusted for blizzard events here as blizzards would have directly stopped his party and affected its progress) and the timing of the blizzards, along with Dimitri Gerof, the dog driver, conveniently faking illness for 2 additional days, (which he never did before and did not do again) thus extending the delay for Cherry-Garrard to 6 days, almost the limit of his endurance before he would have to turn back (assuming he didn’t kill the weaker dogs for food).which occur just when he could have reached Scott from his position in under 5 days (with 14 days food left for men and 17 left for the dogs, after starting out with 21 for men and 24 for the dogs, as per The Worst Journey in the World) suggests that he knew the distance between himself and Scott. In other words, it smacks of a cover-up by Cherry-Garrard after Scott’s body was found and he had the chance to read Scott’s diary.

    BTW, about the extra stuff: Gran’s diary is from Huntford’s The Last Place On Earth, and the letter from Lt. Evans is from Huntford’s Race to the South Pole: The Expedition Diaries of Scott and Amundsen. Odds are you’ve read the former; I recommend the latter, as it illustrates the parts of Scott’s diary that got edited to preserve a perfect image for Scott. It’s not perfect: Scott’s temperatures are a mixture of falsified 1st edition, correct 2nd edition, and a few he appears he made up himself.

  10. I think you just broke your own record on ‘longest comment yet.’ Thanks for the info, it is fascinating to me.

  11. Kristoffer says:

    In order to forestall anyone saying that Solomon’s paper was peer reviewed:

    Solomon’s paper is not unassailable because it was peer reviewed. Peer review is riddled with problems. I mentioned positive outcome bias in my Smithsonian comments, and I wish to add that peer review is not designed to detect fraud: http://www.nature.com/nature/peerreview/debate/nature05007.html

    As of currently, peer reviewers do a poor job of detecting fraud: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9737492

    With regard to Sienicki’s work not being peer reviewed, consider that Darwin’s Origin of the Species wasn’t peer reviewed before publication, and neither was Einstein’s original paper on relativity: http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/02/intelligent_des056221.html The same link also goes on to describe how peer reviewed journals accept flawed papers, how dogmatists (yes, you Ben from the Smithsonian comments) use the peer review card to silence opposition, and that the US Supreme Court has recognized that peer review does not automatically mean good science. Yes, the site is promoting intelligent design and say what you will about that, but the points it is making here remain valid.

  12. Oooh, and I was *just* going to point out that Solomon’s column was peer reviewed. I honestly thought peer review was supposed to be better than editorial review. Odd. btw, this comment was peer reviewed by a couple of dudes in my office, so there’s your quality control right there.

  13. Kristoffer says:

    It may be better than editorial review, but it’s not a guarantee of good science. At least the peer review here works. By the way, the “peer reviewed journal” (PNAS) that Solomon sent her article to is a laughing stock. Under their “contributed submissions” Track I system (which was in effect when Solomon sent her article in), you could select the reviewers yourself, and if you could get at least two yes men to give your article good reviews, you gave your chances of publication a good boost.

    http://occamstypewriter.org/stevecaplan/2011/10/23/peer-review-and-the-ole-boys-network/ A through description of the submission issue PNAS had, and a description of how PNAS’ review process has gotten even WORSE.
    http://www.openmarket.org/2009/09/23/pnas-peer-review-or-old-boy-network/ As stated here, an article in Science flat out admits this selection of reviewers to increase chances of publication happened.
    http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/09/14/pnas Most idiotic article in recent years makes it into publication at PNAS thanks to “contributed submission”. The article also links to an PNAS editorial admitting that these snuck-through articles comprised the majority of PNAS material for YEARS. (Sorry for the all caps, don’t know if HTML is enabled here)

    Of course, Solomon’s article was submitted by the normal peer review method (Track II, unless she submitted via Track I and deceptively marked it as submitted via Track II), but it doesn’t make its bad science any more valid. Since she reviewed Simpson’s work so exhaustively, you would think that she would take his observation about weather conditions on the Barrier being the same over a general area and the First Relief Party’s temperature records (when it arrived at One Ton Depot on March 3, it was 111.5 miles from Scott, and the distance dropped until it left on March 10), and put two and two together. Of course, that would disprove her pro-Scott point by showing that Scott was exaggerating the severity of his temperatures, so she deliberately ignored the First Relief Party’s temperatures.

  14. Kristoffer says:

    Smoking gun for how Solomon’s article got into PNAS: http://occamstypewriter.org/stevecaplan/2011/10/23/peer-review-and-the-ole-boys-network/

    “Consider this, though. There is another track‚Äìa relatively new track‚Äìthat PNAS allows, that in my view is even worse than the NAS contributor mode: It’s called Direct Submission. What does this mean? It means that the authors have secured in advance apre-arranged editor? Oh‚Äìthat smacks of a Soviet era style ole boys network. Find an editor in advance‚Äìa friend, colleague, mentor, brother, sister‚Äìsomeone who will agree in advance to get the paper published. Have a look at this, again from the PNAS submission site:

    Prior to submission to PNAS, an author may ask an NAS member to oversee the review process of a Direct Submission. Prearranged editors should only be used when an article falls into an area without broad representation in the Academy, or for research that may be considered counter to a prevailing view or too far ahead of its time to receive a fair hearing, and in which the member is expert. If the NAS member agrees, the author should coordinate submission to ensure that the member is available, and should alert the member that he or she will be contacted by the PNAS Office within 48 hours of submission to confirm his or her willingness to serve as a prearranged editor and to comment on the importance of the work.

    Now this actually manages to get around not one, but two levels of review. After all, for the ordinary-person’s peer review track, the editorial board/editor generally rejects 75% of the incoming papers without their even reaching peer review. The pre-arranged editor trick circumnavigates the need to go through this initial triage selection process, and shunts the paper directly into press.

    Pretty amazing, eh? All you have to say is that there isn’t enough general expertise on the board, or that the paper is‚Äìhow do they put it? Here it is: Counter to a prevailing view or too far ahead of its time to receive a fair hearing. So if your paper is contrary to current views or ahead of its time (what the hell is that supposed to mean‚Äìand who decides this anyway?)‚Äìget a free pass. But the catch? You need to have a buddy on the editorial board. Otherwise, who will do this for you. You need to be part of the ole boys network.

    Doesn’t everyone have a disclaimer these days? After all, you don’t want to be sued. There is a statement in the submission site that says the following:

    Papers with a prearranged editor are published with a footnote to that effect.

    Well, why not be more explicit? These papers are not peer reviewed and should be treated as such.”

    http://www.pnas.org/content/96/23/13012.full.pdf There’s Solomon’s article. Look just above the preface, and you’ll find this: “Edited by James E. Hansen, Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, NY, and approved August 27, 1999 (received for review June 21, 1999)” Smoking gun for how Solomon got her poisoned science article in: she arranged for an editor to shoo it into publication in PNAS.

  15. Dear Kristoffer and dear Douglas,

    I’ve only just come across these comments, which are very interesting.

    I’m certainly not a Solomon sheeple, nor a sheeple of any kind. Although Scott et al are buried under about 30 metres of snow and ice, it is not beyond the ability of GPR and drilling equipment to locate them.

    I agree with some of Huntford’s criticisms of Scott, though it annoys me intensely that he does not spend more than a page on Amundsen’s ill-fated start to the Pole in Sept 1911 when he had to turn back because of extremely low temperatures, an event which led to the splintering of the Polar Party, and directly caused Johansen’s suicide in Norway a year later.

    As I am keen to point out to parts of the Polar community in the UK, too, my research is as complete as it can be, and, most importantly of all, this is a novel, a piece of fiction, based on the events of the race for the South Pole, and one which tries to work out people’s attraction to exploration in the first place, and which guesses at the real reason for the men dying out there, a reason different from the very mundane dehydration and starvation.

    R

  16. Kendall says:

    Hiya, I’m really glad I’ve found this info. Today bloggers publish just about gossips and net and this is actually irritating.
    A good blog with interesting content, that’s what I need. Thanks for keeping this web-site, I’ll be visiting it.
    Do you do newsletters? Can’t find it.

Featuring YD Feedwordpress Content Filter Plugin