Sun, May 19, 2013
William Flesch, Los Angeles Review Of Books
To put the question simply, if God exists, how could “He” know that we existed? How could He know that we weren’t merely animated matter, zombies, or biological machines, like the pedagogical mannequin, a Turing machine affectlessly oppressing the seekers after truth in the dream world of Giulio Tononi’s Phi: A Voyage from the Brain to the Soul? How could God know that we were living souls, and not just perfect simulations?
Michael Pollan, New York Times
Medicine used to be obsessed with eradicating the tiny bugs that live within us. Now we’re beginning to understand all the ways they keep us healthy.
Noah Gallagher Shannon, New York Times
I woke to a nudge. “The pilot’s going to make an announcement,” the flight attendant said. I palmed at my eyes, nodded and looked around, feeling my hangover creep back in. The girl next to me was flicking at her nails while she paged through a fashion magazine. I slumped back against the window after the flight attendant passed. White clouds blanketed the sky floor.I sat up suddenly. Wait — since when do they wake you up for a pilot talk?
Sat, May 18, 2013
Ellen Ullman, New York Times
How can you resist a book whose first chapter begins: “Have you ever peeked inside a friend’s trash can? I have.” Trash is like “one’s sex life,” the book continues, “the less said about it, the better.”Yet the Internet can convert this private affair into an object of public surveillance, and Evgeny Morozov tells you how.
John Schwartz, New York Times
If you spend a lot of time with audiobooks, you start paying close attention to the people who read them.
Fri, May 17, 2013
Bill Wasik, Wired
In our houses, cars, and factories, we’re surrounded by tiny, intelligent devices that capture data about how we live and what we do. Now they are beginning to talk to one another. Soon we’ll be able to choreograph them to respond to our needs, solve our problems, even save our lives.
Mat Honan, Wired
“I think as technologists we should have some safe places where we can try out some new things and figure out,” he had said. “What is the effect on society? What’s the effect on people? Without having to deploy it into the normal world.”I realized I was the only one aboard, and the boat was driving itself.
Damien Walter, The Guardian
We live more and more of our life through the screens of laptops and smartphones, but how do we represent this on the page?
Thu, May 16, 2013
Ruth Graham, Poetry Foundation
How did poetry become an essential part of American wedding ceremonies—and why is it so hard to choose a poem of one’s own?
Wayne Curtis, The Smart Set
Pedestrians and cars have had a complex relationship for more than a century. It’s not exactly a predator and prey thing, but there’s an interesting and complex dynamic at work.
Wed, May 15, 2013
Michael Saler, The Times Literary Supplement
The child may be father to the man, but how did a girl become mother to the monster? We continue to ask that of Mary Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus (1818) before she turned twenty. It is a startling work from someone so young, combining profound philosophic disquisitions with melodramatic blood and thunder.
Julia Moskin, New York Times
These are the people who believe a golden-brown crust and juicy meat can never be achieved at the same time. Who think frying chicken requires special equipment and hazmat suits. Who think fried chicken is in a special circle of dietary hell.Who are wrong.
Tue, May 14, 2013
Sara Morrison, Columbia Journalism Review
Meet Jessica Lum, a terminally ill 25-year-old who chose to spend what little time she had practicing journalism.
Olivia Cronk, Spolia
Mon, May 13, 2013
Leon Neyfakh, New Republic
It is very easy to sound like a cheeseball when talking about social media. This is especially true if you’re talking about how it’s changing the world, or how it’s making all of us more creative, or how it’s opening up previously unimaginable ways of relating to others. There are lots of people who talk this way, and for the most part, they are cheeseballs.Margaret Atwood, 73, the Booker Prize-winning author of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” is not one of these people. But she walks a much finer line than you’d expect, especially since she is known primarily for her work as a conjurer of dark, dystopian fiction about the future.
Ben Marcus, New Yorker
Nathan Heller, New Yorker
Has the future of college moved online?
Ted Heller, The Weeklings
I’m sure that publishers (and book cover designers) loathe the advent of the Kindle and Nook if only because, well, there goes a tremendous free source of advertising (the book on the lap, the book basking in the sun on the beach towel, the book bulging suggestively out of the handbag). That form of advertising, though, never worked for me.
Lisa Levy, Los Angeles Review Of Books
Is the very idea of an intelligent self-help book a paradox? It is certainly trying to serve two demanding masters: philosophical speculation and practical action. After all, readers don’t pick up self-help books just to ruminate on life’s dilemmas, but to be guided to solutions. The new series of self-help books published by the London-based School of Life, co-founded by the Swiss-born popular philosopher Alain de Botton, echoes the school’s lofty approach to problems, claiming to be “intelligent, rigorous, well-written new guides to everyday living.” Yet to peruse the School of Life’s calendar of classes is to fall into a vortex of jargon pitched somewhere between the banal banter of daytime talk shows and the schedule for a nightmarish New Age retreat.