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by Rachel Manteuffel, Washington Post
I thought we were friends, until his revelation raised uncomfortable questions.
by Alice Rawsthorn, New York Times
If there was a (booby) prize for the most misused design cliché, a firm favorite would be “form follows function,” with “less is more” coming a close second.
by Amanda Hesser, New York Times
Because terrific local ingredients aren’t much use if people are cooking less and less; cooking is to gardening what parenting is to childbirth.
by Sam Jordison, The Guardian
If you measure the health of literature by its impact on language, than there's no genre in better condition than SF.
by Dawn Drzal, New York Times
Despite its pile of data and array of provocative theories, “Watching What We Eat” stops short of resolving the “persistent paradox” it raises: Why are we transfixed by the sight of someone cooking on television when we might not love to do it ourselves — or might not do it at all?
by Jonathan Miles, New York Times
America may have been a younger land back then, as Kurlansky’s title suggests, but with its boundless appetite, it’s far from finished growing.
by Caspar Melville, New Humanist
Globalisation is leading to more belief, not less.
by Brian Raftery, Wired
On a Friday afternoon in mid-March Jimmy Fallon stands on the stage of NBC's Studio 6B fine-tuning tonight's monologue. Twenty or so Rockefeller Center tourists are quietly ushered in to watch the host of Late Night With Jimmy Fallon tell one joke after another, each scrawled on a scrap of paper. If the gag works and the audience laughs, it stays in the pile and makes it on-air; if it stiffs, Fallon drops the paper to the floor, where it's presumably swept up and FedExed to Carson Daly.
by Steven Strogatz, New York Times
Although these examples are whimsical, the equations that arise in them are of the far-reaching kind known as differential equations. They represent the most powerful tool humanity has ever created for making sense of the material world.
by Robert Fulford, National Post
Most episodic shows tell two stories simultaneously. One deals with fictional characters. The other is the narrative's slow evolution under the pressure of desperate producers and harried writers.
by Michelle Slatalla, New York Times
At this point, there aren’t enough photo albums in the world to contain all my photographs. And even if there were, is there enough time remaining, between now and the end of the world, to sort and organize and cull the collection?
by Mara Hvistendahl, The Chronicle Of Higher Education
For a few years following 1989, videos about June Fourth — known in Mandarin simply as liu si, or "6/4" — circulated on the black market. Then the government began a campaign of forgetting, first spinning the event and then erasing it.
by Jane Black, Washington Post
How the charms of true soft-shells subdued my inner crab.
by Sara Rimer, New York Times
Husbands, wives, children and dinner guests who would never be so rude as to talk on a phone at the family table seem to think it’s perfectly fine to text (or e-mail, or Twitter) while eating.
by Farhad Manjoo, Slate
Could a personalized magazine help save print media?
by William Deresiewicz, The Nation
Enter the literary Darwinists, a still-small but militant insurgency dedicated to overthrowing the existing order in favor of a diametrically opposite approach. Their goal is not only to reseat literary studies on a basis of evolutionary thinking but to found a "new humanities," as the title of one book puts it, on scientific principles: empirical, quantitative, systematic, positivist, progressive. Instead of theory giving way to equally fanciful theory and interpretation succeeding equally subjective interpretation, literary studies would henceforth involve the gradual accumulation of objectively verifiable knowledge and thus a "shrinking [of] the space of possible explanation" such as has occurred in the sciences, where all research must either situate itself within the framework of existing theory or challenge it directly. And just as chemistry rests on physics and biology on chemistry, the foundation on which the humanities would rest, following the logic of consilience, would be the new biological theory of the human mind (the thing that produces the humanities in the first place): evolutionary psychology.
by Mark Harris, New York Magazine
Woody Allen and Larry David have just made a new movie together. Take a good look—you won’t see the likes of them again.
by Dwight Garner, New York Times
Apes began to morph into humans, and the species Homo erectus emerged some two million years ago, Mr. Wrangham argues, for one fundamental reason: We learned to tame fire and heat our food.
by James Warren, The Atlantic
Gone was the seemingly tried-and-true system of hitting an up or down button next to an elevator, then awaiting one whose "up" sign (usually white light) or "down" sign (usually red light) above the door strongly suggested your next move.
by Mike Madden, Salon
Unlike all his predecessors since Kennedy, Obama is an engaged city dweller — just like the majority of Americans.
by Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
That, in pouring his life “into words,” he not only preserved “the thing consumed,” but also offered a lasting “toast to the visible world,” which he commemorated with such ardor and precision.
by Craig Raine, The New Yorker
by Tim Carman, Washington City Paper
Busboys & Poets owner Andy Shallal spent thousands on a contest to find the right chef. So why's the runner-up doing the cooking?
by Roy Blount Jr., New York Times
If language were set in concrete, there would be no call for new books on how to use it. These days, most such books are at pains not to seem prescriptive.
by Adam Kirsch, The New Republic
Inventing Chinese poetry meant not just translating it, but also teaching people how to read it.
by Julian Barnes, The New York Review Of Books
Hearing of John Updike's death in January of this year, I had two immediate, ordinary reactions. The first was a protest—"But I thought we had him for another ten years"; the second, a feeling of disappointment that Stockholm had never given him the nod. The latter was a wish for him, and for American literature, the former a wish for me, for us, for Updikeans around the world.
by Lynn Hirschberg, New York Times
"Afterward, Johnny Carson came over to me and said, 'Good luck to you.' He said, 'Just be yourself — that's the only way it can work.' There's an opportunity to put my stamp on this show. I've got an ego, and I want to do my 'Tonight Show.'"
by Mark Bibbins, The Paris Review
by David Runciman, London Review Of Books
That Wikipedia represents a finely calibrated balance between licence and surveillance, and between anonymity and responsibility, is something often missed by those who want to translate its achievements elsewhere.
by DeNeen L. Brown, Washington Post
You have to be rich to be poor. That's what some people who have never lived below the poverty line don't understand.
Put it another way: The poorer you are, the more things cost. More in money, time, hassle, exhaustion, menace. This is a fact of life that reality television and magazines don't often explain.
by David Lamb, Smithsonian
Born overseas to Vietnamese mothers and U.S. servicemen, Amerasians brought hard-won resilience to their lives in America.
by Robert G. Picard, Christian Science Monitor
Wages are compensation for value creation. And journalists simply aren't creating much value these days.
by Ted Genoways, Mother Jones
The real challenge—the art, even—of recession marketing is perfecting a pitch that doesn't emphasize your hunger for your cash-conscious buyers' cash.
by Sam Anderson, New York Magazine
Twitter, Adderall, lifehacking, mindful jogging, power browsing, Obama’s BlackBerry, and the benefits of overstimulation.
by Elise Partridge, Slate
by Gendy Alimurung, LA Weekly
We are in a time of the walking undead. A time of global economic recession, global pandemic and hand-sanitizer frenzy. A time when hordes of the foreclosed, the fired and the flu-ridden wander among us. A time when forlorn survivors of the downsized are reduced to hungry shells of their former selves as they soldier on in half-empty offices. Zombies, in other words. Zombie banks. Zombie corporations. Zombie housing tracts. Zombies are the “It” monster of our global mass panic.
by Ross Douthat, New York Times
The movie treatment of his novel, “Angels and Demons,” is cleaning up at the box office this week. The sequel to “The DaVinci Code,” due out in November, might bouy the publishing industry through the recession. And if you want to understand the state of American religion, you need to understand why so many people love Dan Brown.
by Robert Gibb, The New Yorker
by Philip Levine, The New Yorker
by Jonathan Lethem, The New Yorker
by Laura Miller, Salon
Why do we often care more about imaginary characters than real people? A new book suggests that fiction is crucial to our survival as a species.
by Joel K. Bourne Jr, National Geographic
It is the simplest, most natural of acts, akin to breathing and walking upright. We sit down at the dinner table, pick up a fork, and take a juicy bite, obliv ious to the double helping of global ramifications on our plate. Our beef comes from Iowa, fed by Nebraska corn. Our grapes come from Chile, our bananas from Honduras, our olive oil from Sicily, our apple juice—not from Washington State but all the way from China. Modern society has relieved us of the burden of growing, harvesting, even preparing our daily bread, in exchange for the burden of simply paying for it. Only when prices rise do we take notice. And the consequences of our inattention are profound.
by Elanie Sciolino, New York Times
Over the years, I have discovered traces of Roman civilization throughout the country, from Arras in the north to Dijon in the center and Fréjus in the south. My hunt for Roman Gaul has turned up treasures in the oddest places, including the middle of wheat fields, the foundations of churches and the basements of dusty provincial museums.
by Motoko Rich, New York Times
It was a chilling sentiment for authors and publishers, who have grown used to an average cover price of $26 for a new hardcover. Now, in the evolving Kindle world, $9.99 is becoming the familiar price. But is that justified just because paper has been removed from the equation?
by Gene Weingarten, Washington Post
I am the author of 56 books. Unfortunately, I've only been paid for three of them.
by Joseph O'Neill, The Atlantic
The real spiritual drama in Flannery O’Connor’s fiction was even darker than the one she acknowledged.
by Peter Dizikes, New York Times
How many other first editions of “On the Origin of Species” are still tucked away in bookcases, boxes or attics? Could anyone else stumble across Darwin’s master piece by accident?
by Verlyn Klinkenborg, New York Times
Our idea of reading is incomplete, impoverished, unless we are also taking the time to read aloud.
by Ezra Levant, Reason
How I beat Canada's 'human rights' censors.
by Tom Vanderbilt, Slate
Are trains slower now than they were in the 1920s?
by Bryant Terry, The Root
Why soul food is actually good for you.
by Amanda Hess, Washington City Paper
How can a university that can barely even acknowledge sex enforce a sex policy?
By policing everything but.
by David Foster Wallace, Esquire
by Barry Yourgrau, Salon
Cellphone novels, the rage in Japan, now have competition in America: Twitter fiction.
by Brian Lowry, Variety
"You're kidding, right?"
by Joel Kotkin, The American
The rise of neighborhoods like Ditmas Park suggests that cities can still nurture and accommodate a middle class. Yet sadly this trend continues to fight an uphill battle against a host of forces from high taxes and regulation to poor schools, highly bifurcated labor markets, and the scourge of crime.
by Jennifer Drapkin and Sarah Zielinski, Smithsonian
In painter Edvard Munch's Girls on the Pier, three women lean against a railing facing a body of water in which houses are reflected. A peach-colored orb appears in the sky, but, curiously, casts no reflection in the water. Is it the Moon? The Sun? Is it imaginary? Does it matter?
To Donald Olson, an astrophysicist at Texas State University, the answer to the last question is an emphatic yes. Olson solves puzzles in literature, history and art using the tools of astronomy: charts, almanacs, painstaking calculations and computer programs that map ancient skies. He is perhaps the leading practitioner of what he calls "forensic astronomy."
by Frank Bruni, New York Times
In the end it’s not the Malaysian flavors or Manhattan tropes — both present here in the extreme — that will dictate your response to the new Fatty Crab, an upsize Upper West Side spinoff of the scruffy, scrappy downtown favorite.
It’s your sense of play, your appetite for a certain kind of giddy, sloppy abandon. It’s your eagerness to eat with your fingers and to make slurping noises as you mouth-wrestle with slippery noodles and to feel a flush in your cheeks as chilies light up your tongue.
by Stephen Marche, Esquire
The days of Sex and the City's influence are long gone. From Tina Fey's fake prude to Sarah Palin's real power play, here's why strong women just aren't that into having sex with you anymore.
by Joshua Wolf Shenk, The Atlantic
Is there a formula—some mix of love, work, and psychological adaptation—for a good life? For 72 years, researchers at Harvard have been examining this question, following 268 men who entered college in the late 1930s through war, career, marriage and divorce, parenthood and grandparenthood, and old age.
by Jennifer Senior, New York Magazine
No money changes everything, from murder rates to museum attendance, from career choices to what you eat for dinner. And not all of it for the worse.
by Jeffrey Skinner, Slate
by Sarah Hepola, Salon
In this slumped economy, fast food restaurants are beckoning with their impossibly thrifty value menus. I tried them so you don't have to.
by Jonah Lehrer, The New Yorker
The secret of self-control.
by Ian Frazier, The New Yorker
by Dean Young, The New Yorker
by Dave Winer, Scripting News
Today's journalists are already an anachronism, and I think they know it, and that's why there's so much anger.
by Rob Walker, New York Times
We think of ourselves as sophisticated creatures, and the many brilliant minds of the consumer-industrial complex often think of us that way, too. But sometimes what we want seems pretty simple. Sometimes, we just want something big.
by Tess Callahan, New York Times
During the final week of my pregnancy, one watch and then another stopped dead on my wrist. One twin lay so low in the chute I thought he might fly out when I sneezed. When I walked down Main Street, I struck fear in the hearts of loitering teenagers whose averted eyes said, Don’t have it here. A truck driver yelled from his window, “I hope it’s today.” I waved back. The watches didn’t concern me. Everything about me said imminence.
by Frank Rich, New York Times
By all means let’s mock the old mainstream media as they preen and party on in a Washington ballroom. Let’s deplore the tabloid journalism that, like the cockroach, will always be with us. But if a comprehensive array of real news is to be part of the picture as well, the time will soon arrive for us to put up or shut up. Whatever shape journalism ultimately takes in America, make no mistake that in the end we will get what we pay for.
by David Hajdu, New York Times
The original series was never really about the 23rd century or outer space; and to think of it only in those terms is to misunderstand the show and ignore its real legacy.
by Lori Gottlieb, New York Times
It’s not that I’d set out to write about my mother. It’s just that it’s virtually impossible to write about your childhood without writing about your mother, and people who grow up to be writers generally have some less than flattering observations to share. So I wasn’t surprised when my mother got back to Los Angeles and had some less than flattering things to say about my book. Ever since, she’s pretended it doesn’t exist.
by Susan Dominus, New York Times
Writing about motherhood is a little bit like writing about sex — in both cases, the author confronts the challenge of finding something new to say about a subject so powerful that all but the most inspired language sounds either trite or overblown.
by Dick Covett, New York Times
I love my own coincidences and love to hear other peoples’ stories. Or let’s say I love most of mine.
by Richard C. Lewontin, New York Review Of Books
It would be wrong to say that biography is the sole, or even principal, present pathway into an understanding of the history of science. Certainly since Robert Merton's founding of modern studies of the sociology of science in his 1938 work on seventeenth-century English science, the social milieu in which the problems of science arise and the institutional structure of scientific investigation have been central to our understanding of the history of scientific work. There are, however, occasions on which there are orgies of idolatrous celebrations of the lives of famous men, when the Suetonian ideal of history as biography overwhelms us. For Darwinians, 2009 is such a year.
by Arika Okrent, Slate
A history of the gruff but surprisingly sophisticated invented language and the people who speak it.
by Ruth Rosen, Slate
How to return Mother's Day to its original meaning.
by Roger Dobson, The Independent
All too often, creativity goes hand in hand with mental illness. Now we're starting to understand why.
by Jodi Rudoren, New York Times
Mr. Weiss, 33, operations manager for a software company, is the founder and de facto leader of the Burger of the Month Club, or BOTM (which he and his friends pronounce “bottom”). One Monday a month for the last four years, they have sampled a burger — bacon-cheddar whenever available — at a different New York restaurant.
by Tim Wu, Slate
The magnetic appeal of the poles.
by Katherine Ozment, Salon
One minute I'm cleaning up Legos with my 3-year-old daughter. The next minute I'm conducting an impromptu anatomy lesson and desperately hoping not to flub it.
by Geoff Nicholson, New York Times
From “Moby-Dick” to “Naked Lunch” to “Gravity’s Rainbow,” bad eating makes for good reading.
by Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker
When underdogs break the rules.
by Steven Levy, Wired
The most celebrated inscription at the Central Intelligence Agency's headquarters in Langley, Virginia, used to be the biblical phrase chiseled into marble in the main lobby: "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." But in recent years, another text has been the subject of intense scrutiny inside the Company and out: 865 characters of seeming gibberish, punched out of half-inch-thick copper in a courtyard.
by Heather McHugh, The New Yorker
by J. G. Ballard, The New Yorker
by Richard Wilbur, The New Yorker
by Stuart Jeffries, The Guardian
Exclamation marks used to be frowned upon. Now look what's happened! We use them all the time! Hurrah!!! But what is it about the age of email that gets people so over-excited?
by Frank Rich, New York Times
President Obama’s high marks by the public and the press are all ludicrously provisional. It’s too early to judge the results of any policy.
by Rob Walker, New York Times
As more of us live more of our lives in digital contexts, it seems plausible that immaterialism will become more common. Consuming things made of bits might sound weird, but actually it offers a lot of the same attractions that make people consume things made of atoms.
by Laura Miller, Wall Street Journal
The economic downturn and a newfound appreciation for the thriftiness of home cooking no doubt account for some of this growth. Yet today's cookbook success stories are in no way confined to penny-pinching titles. Some recent hits include costly and highly impractical cookbooks by adulated chefs like Thomas Keller and Grant Achatz.
by Steve Daly, Newsweek
'Star Trek' is way cool. How'd that happen? Because the geeks have inherited the earth, and the White House.
by Leo Panitch, Foreign Policy
Lights. Camera. Action. Das Kapital. Now.
by Paul La Farge, The Believer
Short of participating in a genocide, how can you know what it's like to be thoughtless on the level of Adolt Eichmann? Jonathan Littell's The Kindly Ones makes the attempt by immersing its reader in a dense, intensely readable marsh of information.