Wednesday, 20 August, 2014
Tom de Castella, BBC
Why do ashes go unclaimed? It may sometimes be as prosaic as forgetting or not caring about the deceased, but it may be something more emotionally stark.
Ron Charles, Washington Post
Beware Richard Flanagan’s new novel, “The Narrow Road to the Deep North.” His story about a group of Australian POWs during World War II will cast a shadow over your summer and draw you away from friends and family into dark contemplation the way only the most extraordinary books can.
DS Bigham, Slate
How many vowels does English have? Five, right? A, E, I, O, U. Oh, and sometimes Y. So, six? Actually, English has at least 14 different vowel sounds and, depending on the speaker and dialect, maybe more than 20.
Eric Jaffe, Co.Design
And how to break the habit.
Tuesday, 19 August, 2014
Alexander Nazaryan, Newsweek
Yet in her second novel, Dear Committee Members, Julie Schumacher somehow manages to pull off a smart-as-hell, fun-as-heck novel composed entirely of recommendation letters written by a college English professor. Yes, this novel’s bedrock is flecked with gimmickry, but having Leopold Bloom wander around Dublin while hewing to The Odyssey is a gimmick. So is having a bunch of pilgrims on their way to Canterbury Cathedral declaim their tales while taking a breather at the Tabard Inn. I don’t care if the author is working with a gimmick, I just want the gimmick to work.
Charlotte Higgins, The Guardian
Ninety years ago, Arthur Burrows asked: “What surprises may be in store on the other side of silence? How far will our present knowledge of music prepare us for an appreciation of nature’s eternal harmonies – the seasonal cadences of the rising and falling sap, the music of the growing grass and the lovesongs of butterflies?”
Kenneth Chang, New York Times
What he looks for is hard to see. Indeed, he and his companions often stare intently at one another, searching for distortions passing among them, slightly more visible against the dark color of a wet suit. And then they carefully catch them and place them in glass jars.
“You’d be surrounded with all these animals,” said Dr. Johnsen, a professor of biology at Duke. “But you could barely see them, because they were transparent.”
Monday, 18 August, 2014
Mark Vanhoenacker, Slate
On this fabled portion of I-90 lurks something of a mystery: The sign above, located in Becket, Massachusetts, states that in a westbound direction on I-90, the “next highest elevation” doesn’t come until Oacoma, South Dakota.
David Rosenberg, Slate
The series consists of 26 people the duo photographed and interviewed while they were ill and near death. They then photographed them a second time, immediately after the subjects passed away.
Steve Lohr, New York Times
Technology revolutions come in measured, sometimes foot-dragging steps. The lab science and marketing enthusiasm tend to underestimate the bottlenecks to progress that must be overcome with hard work and practical engineering.
Sunday, 17 August, 2014
Carolyn Caldicott and Chris Caldicott, The Guardian
Every weekday without fail something rather extraordinary is to be seen around midday on the chaotic streets of Bombay (or Mumbai). This is the sight of hundreds of stainless steel tiered tiffin boxes or dhabbas piled high on handcarts and bicycles being pushed through the streets by dhoti-wearing, white-capped tiffin wallahs.
Anjan Sundaram, The Guardian
The western news media are in crisis and turning their backs on the world, but we hardly ever notice. Where correspondents were once assigned to a place for months or years, reporters now handle often 20 countries. Bureaux are in hub cities, far from many of the countries they cover. And journalists are often lodged in expensive houses or five-star hotels. As the news has receded, so have our minds.
Natasha Singer, New York Times
In the sharing economy, workers find both freedom and uncertainty.
David Rosen and David Rosen, Salon
Sexting nation, 78 million strong! How the scolds and moralists lost, and sexting became an all-American pastime.
Saturday, 16 August, 2014
Wendy Smith, Washington Post
Will Chancellor’s first novel, “A Brave Man Seven Stories Tall,” is not always quite as clever as the author intends, but it has plenty of energy to atone for its predictable satiric targets and some real emotional heft to counter the whiffs of pretentiousness.
Steven Poole, The Guardian
The title of Alan Warner's funny and lovingly 1980s-set novel is taken from the book of Proverbs in the King James Version: "Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them. For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief." The reader is thus put on notice that at least one of the novel's central characters might be described as "evil". By the end, it seems, maybe both are.
Laura Lippman, New York Times
Jules Feiffer’s graphic novel is a tribute to film noir and detective fiction. The mere idea of anyone doing anything for the first time in his 80s, let alone demonstrating a breezy mastery of it, makes me want to join the exuberant jitterbug on the first page of this propulsive story.
Lisa Zeldner, Washington Post
But Gutenberg’s revolution was “a slow blooming era that took centuries before it was fully unpacked.” Our technological revolution has burgeoned with astonishing speed. And Harris notes that we are the last generation that will have known life both before and after the digital revolution, with its promise of instant connection with anyone and everything, anywhere. This gives us a singular vantage point to consider what we’ve gained — and at what cost.
Rebecca Mead, New Yorker
This linking of pleasure and guilt is intended as an enticement, not as an admonition: reading for guilty pleasure is like letting one’s diet slide for a day—naughty but relatively harmless. The distinction partakes of a debased cultural Puritanism, which insists that the only fun to be had with a book is the frivolous kind, or that it’s necessarily a pleasure to read something accessible and easy.
Friday, 15 August, 2014
Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic
The gentle, dependable workhorse that everyone relies on and nobody owns.
Thomas Ricker, The Verge
An ode to the loss of serendipity.
Andy Martin, Prospect
We need a decent philosophy of failure to save everyone from thinking what failures they are.
Thursday, 14 August, 2014
Bonnie S. Benwick, Washington Post
Recent news reports have chronicled your rise — or fall? — citing sustainability, affordability and sheer bounty. In Maine alone, marine biologists are happy to report that your numbers have grown “unbelievably” over the past 25 years. Will that diminish your white-tablecloth profile?
Paul Smith, Medium
Is there a better way for startups to engage with investors?
Mark Bittman, New York Times
Here’s the thing: In my professional life of finding, replicating, sometimes even “creating” recipes, my palate is up for anything. But when the work hat comes off, I fall into old and completely beloved habits.