Monday, 28 July, 2014
Ed Cumming, The Guardian
Prescience can be tedious for science-fiction writers. Being proven right about a piece of technology or a trend distracts from the main aim of the work: to show us how we live now. William Gibson knows this as well as anyone. Since the late 70s, the American-born novelist has been pulling at the loose threads of our culture to imagine what will come out. He has been right about a great deal, but mainly about the shape of the internet and how it filters down to the lowest strata of society.
Sadie Stein, The Paris Review
Perhaps that is the point, after all. Maybe I can re-animate those adventures. Maybe, sometimes, “Wish You Were Here” is actually enough.
Zadie Smith, The Paris Review
Stephen Cave, Aeon
It seems to me quite reasonable to think that the death of the fly is entirely insignificant and that it is at the same time a kind of catastrophe. To entertain such contradictions is always uncomfortable, but in this case the dissonance echoes far and wide, bouncing off countless other decisions about what to buy, what to eat – what to kill; highlighting the inconsistencies in our philosophies, our attempts to make sense of our place in the world and our relations to our co‑inhabitants on Earth. The reality is that we do not know what to think about death: not that of a fly, or of a dog or a pig, or of ourselves.
Sunday, 27 July, 2014
Denis betzholz, Spiegel
During Ramadan, Muslims fast until the sun goes down. But what if you live in a place where there is no sunset? The believers in Tromsø, Norway spent years searching for a solution to that conundrum. Now that they have found one, new problems have arisen.
Philip Ball, The Guardian
In a single sentence Plato tells us what many subsequent stories of invisibility would reiterate at length about the desires that the dream of invisibility feeds: they are about sex, wealth and death.
Elizabeth Green, New York Times
The Americans might have invented the world’s best methods for teaching math to children, but it was difficult to find anyone actually using them.
Nicola Twilley, New York Times
Of all the shifts in lifestyle that threaten the planet right now, perhaps not one is as important as the changing way that Chinese people eat.
Saturday, 26 July, 2014
John Branch, New York Times
Every year, as steady as the tides, lifeless bodies are pulled from the cold, restless water along the rugged coastline north of San Francisco.
Most of the victims are middle-aged men. They wear black wet suits, usually hooded. They are often found in small coves framed by crescents of jagged rocks. An abandoned float tube sometimes bobs about nearby. Almost without exception, the victims are found wearing weighted belts that help them sink.
The bodies are those of abalone divers.
Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic
A journey into the mysterious origins of the pre-arranged table.
Friday, 25 July, 2014
Devin Leonard, Bloomberg Businessweek
These days, however, Burger King is behaving more like a startup than a typical burger chain.
Thursday, 24 July, 2014
Julie Scelfo, New York Times
There are many good reasons why restaurants cast off their classics: Chefs tire of making the same things over and over. Costs rise. Banh mi (or crudo or kale) go in, then out of fashion. But diners like me, left with nothing but memories and longing, often have a hard time letting go.
Jenny Diski, London Review Of Books
The subtitle of Nikil Saval’s book is curiously inapt. Cubed is not a ‘secret history of the workplace’, but the not (entirely) secret history of a very particular kind of workplace. The main title is intended to pull that particular workplace into focus, I suppose, to narrow the vast number of possible workplaces down to a single square box (or latterly a three-walled lidless box) that will inevitably bring to mind the environment of the white-collar pen-pusher, although it has been a very long time since office workers reliably wore white collars or pushed pens to fulfil their duties. But even if we allow ‘the workplace’ to stand for ‘the office’, ‘the history of a secret workplace’ would have been a more accurate subtitle. What happens there? People can be said to ‘work in an office’ and no further explanation is required, but there’s no real clue to what they do, unlike people who work in other places, who make things in a factory, mine in a mine, teach in a school, sell things in a shop. What are the millions of children who since the late 19th century have increasingly been told that one (or both) of their parents is ‘at the office’ to understand by that? At least that nothing is made, mined, taught or sold.
Wednesday, 23 July, 2014
Robin Sloan, Medium
And its challenge to the rest of us.
Tuesday, 22 July, 2014
Matthew Francis, Aeon
Albert Einstein was a genius, but he wasn’t the only one – why has his name come to mean something superhuman?
Jesse Barron, The New Inquiry
The suicidal veteran, who volunteered to inflict damage abroad and wound up fatally damaging himself, doesn’t usually write his own story. He leaves a note, which leaves the storytelling to others. The narratives start almost instantly.