Lord of the Files: How GitHub Tamed Free Software... →
“GitHub has changed the way that people approach development,” says Tom Preston-Werner, the company’s chief technology officer. “They realize that it doesn’t have to be so complex.”
Strange Justice →
It is impossible in this limited space to convey the sheer ineptitude of Rosenthal’s presentation. At one point, Justice Scalia had to warn the hapless district attorney that he was about to answer a trick question. “Don’t fall into that trap,” he scolded. Within minutes, the justices were ignoring Rosenthal’s inane responses and arguing the merits themselves, leading Chief Justice William...
A Portrait of the Artist as a Game Studio →
In videogames, it’s far less common to see a creator’s work evolve in this way. In part, this is because game makers tend to have less longevity than other sorts of artists. In part, it’s because games are more highly industrialized even than film, and aesthetic headway is often curtailed by commercial necessity. And in part, it’s because games are so tightly coupled to...
Why Mainstream Media Ignores Conservative... →
As someone outside movement conservatism who is nevertheless invested in shrinking government, repealing excessive regulations, and preserving liberty, it drives me nuts to see conservatives squandering their credibility by effusively praising this book as if it’s a rigorous work of uncommon insight. As it turns out, the author’s command of facts is not “beyond question,”...
The Mystery of the Millionaire Metaphysician →
The overarching conclusion of “Coming to Understanding” also betrays a touch of egotism, for the argument is stunningly self-important in its implications: The meaning of life is, in effect, to come to understand the message of “Coming to Understanding.”
What's Really Making Us Fat? →
Julie Guthman, a professor of community studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, points out in her new book, Weighing In, that the amount of calories consumed across racial lines and income levels varies little, according to a study by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). This is despite the fact that obesity and overweight do vary across racial lines and income...
You Belong With Me →
Like Parton, Swift writes autobiographical songs, a technique that, in the Internet era, is a clever marketing device. After “Speak Now” was released, last fall, Swift became known for writing about her celebrity boyfriends: the “Twilight” actor Taylor Lautner, the Disney star Joe Jonas, the singer John Mayer. “Dear John” includes the line “Don’t you think I was too young to be messed with?”...
Why Don't Young Americans Buy Cars? →
I just did!
It’s easy to mock the N.B.A. for being narrow-minded. But American business has a habit of rewarding and punishing people because of the way they look. Since the mid-nineties, Daniel Hamermesh, an economist at U.T.-Austin, has done a series of studies on the role that appearance plays in the workplace, and his conclusion is captured by the title of his recent book, “Beauty Pays.” In the U.S., he...
'We Have No Choice': One Woman's Ordeal with... →
[A] molecular flaw had determined that our son’s brain, spine and legs wouldn’t develop correctly. If he were to make it to term—something our doctor couldn’t guarantee—he’d need a lifetime of medical care. From the moment he was born, my doctor told us, our son would suffer greatly. Then, with a warmth that belied the materials in her hand, she took me through the rules. First, she told me...
BuzzFeed, the Ad Model for the Facebook Era? →
Things that work, he says, are beautiful images, happy-looking animals, people reacting stupidly to world events on Twitter, numerical lists, funny auto-corrects, Ryan Gosling, corgis, outlandish Florida articles, and the apocalypse. Things to avoid: celebrity mug shots (stale from overuse), drug stories (too many moms and employers on Facebook), and protest signs. Stopera crafts his posts to be...
Go to Trial: Crash the Justice System →
‘…Can we crash the system just by exercising our rights?’ The answer is yes. The system of mass incarceration depends almost entirely on the cooperation of those it seeks to control. If everyone charged with crimes suddenly exercised his constitutional rights, there would not be enough judges, lawyers or prison cells to deal with the ensuing tsunami of litigation.
Extreme Makeover →
That’s the punch line: the case that affirmed the right of gay couples to have consensual sex in private spaces seems to have involved two men who were neither a couple nor having sex. In order to appeal to the conservative Justices on the high court, the story of a booze-soaked quarrel was repackaged as a love story. Nobody had to know that the gay-rights case of the century was actually about...
Lanscape Artist →
Glass’s voice, literally and figuratively, is one of the least appealing on “This American Life”; he speaks in a rushing staccato mumble. In an instructional video he made for Current TV, he said that it’s crucial for people who want to be any good on radio or TV to avoid the familiar orotundity that we all think of as the proper way to address an audience, and he plays an old tape of himself...
Why Finish Books? →
There are some novels, and not just genre novels, where plot is indeed up front and very much the reason why one keeps turning the pages. We have to know what happens. These are rarely the most important books for me. Often one skims as heightened engagement with the plot reduces our attention to the writing as such; all the novel’s intelligence is in the story and the writing the merest...
Basketball Players of the NCAA, Unite! →
“Would a strike get the attention of a lot of people? Sure,” Profit says. “Would it scare people? Yeah. But to ask 19-year-old kids whose futures depend on playing well in front of millions of people and future employers who are evaluating them to put themselves on the line is tough.
The Last Line of Defense →
Rehnquist’s argument boiled down to a simple idea: the need for finality in legal proceedings can sometimes trump fairness. Quoting a 1977 Supreme Court decision, he wrote, “‘Due process does not require that every conceivable step be taken, at whatever cost, to eliminate the possibility of convicting an innocent person.’” He continued, “To conclude otherwise would all but paralyze our system...
Tool Time →
Each of these comedies maintains a tricky balance: they puncture their dirtbag’s delusions, but the satire stems from something deeper than contempt.
How Must See TV Lost Its Way →
Perhaps the biggest barrier is their uniqueness. Community, with its meta recasting of B-movie genres, tangled web of self-referential dialogue, and litany of nuanced pop culture references, does not have the same broad appeal of Charlie-Sheen-cum-Ashton-Kutcher telling sex jokes while a boarish teen actor farts in response. The telegraphed punch lines, laugh tracks, and self-contained plots of...
One Town's War on Gay Teens →
Anti-gay backlash was instant. Minnesota Family Council president Tom Prichard blogged that Justin’s suicide could only be blamed upon one thing: his gayness. “Youth who embrace homosexuality are at greater risk [of suicide], because they’ve embraced an unhealthy sexual identity and lifestyle,” Prichard wrote. Anoka-Hennepin conservatives formally organized into the...
Look It Up: The Shelving of Encyclopedia... →
At the end of Vonnegut’s story, the Barnstable library finally gets a new set of encyclopedias. “But so far,” Vonnegut writes, “the school marks of the children and the conversation of the adults have not conspicuously improved.”
Radiolab: An Appreciation by Ira Glass →
For my part, I find it comforting that this level of excellence is so labor intensive that they only can make ten full shows a year (plus, sure, 16 “shorts” that they distribute on the Internet). If they could do an hour of this every week, I think I’d have to quit radio. What would be the point of continuing? How could anyone compete with that?
The Dragon's Egg →
What is it, then, that makes the books enter kids’ consciousness? First, kids experience them as mythologies more than as stories—the narrative sweep is, curiously, the least significant part of their appeal. When kids talk about movies, it’s usually the cool parts that get highlighted. (“So there’s this, like, cool part where the guy—the blue guy?—has to tame, like, a flying dinosaur and...
The Curator's Guide to the Galaxy →
Otherwise known as a link. ᔥ stands for “via” and signifies a direct link of discovery, to be used when you simply repost a piece of content you found elsewhere, with little or no modification or addition.
Buying This Thing Will Make Me Happy →
Another way this thing will make me happy is that it comes with a durable carrying case.
The Big Reveal →
Pagels may also underestimate the audience appeal of pure action: it’s possible for a popular narrative to be susceptible to an allegorical reading and still be engaging mostly for its spectacle. Some patient academic of the future will, on seeing “Transformers 2,” doubtless find patterns of local topical meaning—portents of the Arab Spring in the fight over the pyramids, evidence of the debate...
Torturer’s Apprentice →
The Inquisition, with its stipulation that torture and interrogation not jeopardize life or cause irreparable harm, actually set a more rigorous standard than some proponents of torture insist on now. The 21st century’s Ad extirpanda is the so-called Bybee memo, issued by the Justice Department in 2002 (and later revised). In it, the Bush administration put forth a very narrow definition,...
Keith Sawyer, a psychologist at Washington University, has summarized the science: “Decades of research have consistently shown that brainstorming groups think of far fewer ideas than the same number of people who work alone and later pool their ideas.” And yet Osborn was right about one thing: like it or not, human creativity has increasingly become a group process.
The Making Of "Homer At The Bat," The Episode That... →
It’s hard to fathom now, two decades later, with the show ensconced in a family-hour time slot, but The Simpsons was once dangerous.
The End of Men →
We’ve all heard about the collegiate gender gap. But the implications of that gap have not yet been fully digested. Women now earn 60 percent of master’s degrees, about half of all law and medical degrees, and 42 percent of all M.B.A.s. Most important, women earn almost 60 percent of all bachelor’s degrees—the minimum requirement, in most cases, for an affluent life. In a stark reversal since...
Making It in America →
Throughout much of the 20th century, simultaneous technological improvements in both agriculture and industry happened to create conditions that were favorable for people with less skill. The development of mass production allowed low-skilled farmers to move to the city, get a job in a factory, and produce remarkably high output. Typically, these workers made more money than they ever had on the...
Crush Point →
In this respect, we are at our most primitive in crowds. We have never evolved a collective intelligence to function in large crowds—we have no way of getting beyond the purely local rules of interaction, as ants can.
The Plagiarist's Tale →
Rowan has offered a number of self diagnoses. In an e-mail to Duns, he confessed to a weakness for “people pleasing.” He told me that “the driving pressure was this perception that I have to constantly impress people … to make them like me.”
Shattered Glass →
If there was one aspect of Glass’s personality that seemed indisputably genuine, it was this nonstop yearning to please. He had a near-masochistic inability to say no to anyone in authority.
Why the Clean Tech Boom Went Bust →
Anyone who has heard the name Solyndra knows how this all panned out. Due to a confluence of factors—including fluctuating silicon prices, newly cheap natural gas, the 2008 financial crisis, China’s ascendant solar industry, and certain technological realities—the clean-tech bubble has burst, leaving us with a traditional energy infrastructure still overwhelmingly reliant on fossil fuels.
The Brain on Trial →
It is problematic to imagine yourself in the shoes of someone breaking the law and conclude, “Well, I wouldn’t have done that”—because if you weren’t exposed to in utero cocaine, lead poisoning, and physical abuse, and he was, then you and he are not directly comparable. You cannot walk a mile in his shoes.
Saving Zelda →
Zelda has struggled with lucid, integrated gameplay since transitioning to 3D. Ocarina is lauded for taking Zelda into the third dimension, but I remain unconvinced. Modern Zeldas are translations of their 2D forbearers; they’ve never been fundamentally reconceived in 3D from the ground up. In choosing what elements made Zelda fundamentally Zelda, Nintendo chose poorly. They took the puzzles...
The Autumn of Joan Didion →
Ultimately Joan Didion’s crime—artistic and personal—is the one of which all of us will eventually be convicted: she got old. Her writing got old, her perspective got old, her bag of tricks didn’t work anymore.
Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1% →
Alexis de Tocqueville once described what he saw as a chief part of the peculiar genius of American society—something he called “self-interest properly understood.” It was a mark of American pragmatism. Those canny Americans understood a basic fact: looking out for the other guy isn’t just good for the soul—it’s good for business.