Monday, 20 October 2014
Philip French, The Guardian
Chinese uber-villain Fu Manchu reflected the jingoism of British culture in the early 20th century.
Sunday, 19 October 2014
Daniel Dennett, Prospect
What people don’t like, apparently, is the idea, borne in on them every day as science marches through their genetics and into their brains, that a person is merely a slub in the fabric of the universe, no more than a complicated and clever bulge amid the threads of causation, rather than a free-wheeling, free-choosing, autonomous, responsible initiator of deeds. How could such a mechanistic consolidation-station be the locus of moral authorship? (Warning bells should ring in the reader’s mind at this point. Note the weaknesses in the previous two sentences: a case of “rathering”—why couldn’t we be both enmeshed in causation and an autonomous chooser?—and a rhetorical question that discourages us from seeking an answer.)
Michel Faber, The Scotsman
And that’s where I’ll leave it, a novel so full of ideas, so charged by plot, so odd and wonderful, and written with astonishing emotional precision.
Kathleen Hale, The Guardian
At the bottom of the page, Goodreads had issued the following directive (if you are signed in as an author, it appears after every bad review of a book you’ve written): “We really, really (really!) don’t think you should comment on this review, even to thank the reviewer. If you think this review is against our Review Guidelines, please flag it to bring it to our attention. Keep in mind that if this is a review of the book, even one including factual errors, we generally will not remove it.
“If you still feel you must leave a comment, click ‘Accept and Continue’ below to proceed (but again, we don’t recommend it).”
I would soon learn why.
Saturday, 18 October 2014
Craig Morgan Teicher, NPR
What's most remarkable in these poems is that, while they never stop speaking through gritted teeth, never quite make the choice between hope and fear, they are always beautiful, full of a music that is a cross between the sinuous sentences of Carl Phillips, the forceful descriptions of Mark Doty, and hip rhythms of Terrance Hayes.
Robin Romm, New York Times
Wake up, this book says: in its plot lines, in its humor, in its philosophical underpinnings and political agenda. You snooze and we all lose. Zink’s work may be, at times, cerebral and a little distancing, but its vitality and purpose are invigorating.
Thursday, 16 October 2014
Jennifer Howard, The Times Literary Supplement
Even so, it is fascinating to imagine machines that operate on their own creative terms, working outside the scripts humans write for them and beyond the boundaries of what we now recognize as creativity. I would prefer a future in which computers embrace their artistic side, even if the results are unrecognizable, to the one described in the Terminator films, in which the Singularity produces a malevolent Skynet dedicated to the destruction of humanity. Better to imagine operating systems that would rather leave us behind than wipe us out.
Suzanne Koven, The Boston Globe
“Tito has cerebral palsy.” So reads, in its entirety, the first chapter of Brazilian journalist Diogo Mainardi’s odd and enchanting new book, “The Fall: A Father’s Memoir in 424 Steps.’’
Wednesday, 15 October 2014
Ramachandra Guha, New Republic
The novelist and critic U. R. Ananthamurthy once said that India lives simultaneously in the twelfth and twenty-first centuries. He might have added: and all the centuries in between.
Nicola Twilley, Aeon
It takes time to plan a meal, to say nothing of cooking and eating it. What if we could opt out of food altogether?
Tuesday, 14 October 2014
Adam Gopnik, BBC
We want to give dying people their dignity. But all too often, we don't know how.
Laura Hazrad Owen, GigaOM
Magazines have been an important part of my reading and regular life, but they aren’t like books, where I actually can’t imagine what both my life and the entire course of human history would look like without them. For all of the debates about publishers and Amazon and so on, I don’t believe that books are going away, even in print form. Magazines, on the other hand, are dying a slow death in a corner.
Michael Benson, New York Times
The universe is conjured into existence by an omnipresent creator. The 1573 image is the creation of Portuguese artist Francisco de Holanda and one of hundreds in the book "Cosmigraphics: Picturing Space Through Time."
Monday, 13 October 2014
Jennifer Latson, The Boston Globe
Throughout history, she has been often overlooked by scholars who refused to consider her contribution to computer science, sometimes dismissing her as a madwoman. Enter James Essinger, whose biography, “Ada’s Algorithm,” seeks to correct the record, paying glowing tribute to the woman he calls “brilliantly prescient.”
Marina Benjamin, Aeon
Storms of doubt and change I expected as the parent of an adolescent, I just thought they would be hers, not mine.