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.
How the Internet Is Making States Poor →
The Caging of America →
Epidemics seldom end with miracle cures. Most of the time in the history of medicine, the best way to end disease was to build a better sewer and get people to wash their hands
Cormac McCarthy on the Santa Fe Institute’s Brainy... →
I asked whether something analogous happened in fiction: was a beautiful sentence more likely to be true in some way? McCarthy laughed. “That’s tough. It’s hard to define beauty, though there’ve been some strange attempts. We know it involves harmony, repetition, symmetry. These things speak to us and have for a long time.”
How thick is your bubble? →
A quiz by Charles Murray from his book Coming Apart to show how in-tune you are with most of America.
Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond? →
“Nobody took into account that diamonds, like any other commodity, can drop in value,” Mark Mosevics, chairman of First International Bank of Israel, explained to The New York Times. According to industry estimates, the average one-carat flawless diamond had fallen in value by 50 percent since January of 1980. In March of 1980, for example, the benchmark value for such a diamond was...
E-books Can’t Burn →
Certainly there were those who lamented the loss of calligraphy when the printing press made type impersonal. There were some who believed that serious readers would always prefer serious books to be copied by hand.
The Possibilian →
One of the seats of emotion and memory in the brain is the amygdala, he explained. When something threatens your life, this area seems to kick into overdrive, recording every last detail of the experience. The more detailed the memory, the longer the moment seems to last. “This explains why we think that time speeds up when we grow older,” Eagleman said—why childhood summers seem to go on...
Muscle Beach and the Dawn of Huge →
Muscle, in all its meanings, is such a deeply American trope that it feels like part of our national narrative.
The Business of Bookmarking →
An interesting and refreshingly honest look into a “small business owner” on the web.
Right versus pragmatic →
In The Big Lebowski, the Dude says, “You’re not wrong, Walter, you’re just an asshole.” There’s a pretty good lesson to be learned from that. Sometimes you’re right, and insisting that you’re right never makes you wrong, but it doesn’t solve the problem.
Teller Reveals His Secrets →
Mind vs. Machine →
The apparent implication is that—because technological evolution seems to occur so much faster than biological evolution (measured in years rather than millennia)—once the Homo sapiens species is overtaken, it won’t be able to catch up. Simply put: the Turing Test, once passed, is passed forever. I don’t buy it.
Envisioning a Post-Campus America →
6. Young job-seekers will need new ways to signal diligence. I’d expect to see a lot of free labor in the early years, something like what aspiring writers and visual artists already do with their blogs. There will be more freelancing, more try-out employment, and more unpaid internships.
In Defense of Liz Lemon →
That was why the show worked: it rarely made Liz an empowering role model, although many women certainly identified with her. The show let her be the George Costanza, not the Mary Richards. And, refreshingly, this appeal had little to do with sex or relationships: a lot of it was about her job.
The Great Illusion of Gettysburg →
The cyclorama re-created the Battle of Gettysburg in stunning realism, with impeccable attention to the smallest minutiae. Yet it offered not a single clue as to why the battle had been fought. No matter how hard they looked, or how long they stared, no visitor would find in the painting any trace of the cause of the war. There was carnage. There was valor. But there was no purpose.
Misfortune Teller →
What, precisely, did Buck’s lawyers say the expert did wrong? He testified that blacks are more likely to commit violence.
Locked in the Ivory Tower: Why JSTOR Imprisons... →
Step back and think about this picture. Universities that created this academic content for free must pay to read it. Step back even further. The public — which has indirectly funded this research with federal and state taxes that support our higher education system — has virtually no access to this material, since neighborhood libraries cannot afford to pay those subscription...