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Friday, July 31, 2009

Once Upon A Time, A Real Leading Man

by Mike Hale, New York Times

Grant made more than 50 movies as a leading man, but the only thing that ties them together is that they starred Cary Grant, playing some version of his man-of-the-world persona, or of himself, which seemed to amount to the same thing. Tweet

Out Of The Kitchen, Onto The Couch

by Michael Pollan, New York Times

How is it that we are so eager to watch other people browning beef cubes on screen but so much less eager to brown them ourselves? For the rise of Julia Child as a figure of cultural consequence — along with Alice Waters and Mario Batali and Martha Stewart and Emeril Lagasse and whoever is crowned the next Food Network star — has, paradoxically, coincided with the rise of fast food, home-meal replacements and the decline and fall of everyday home cooking. Tweet

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Divining The Source Of Evil And Human Cruelty

by Fred Bortz, Seattle Times

Two new books, "Cruelty: Human Evil and the Human Brain" and "The Anatomy of Evil," try to explain the methods and motivations at the base of evil and human cruelty. Tweet

An Easy Way To Increase Creativity

by Oren Shapira and Nira Liberman , Scientific American

Why thinking about distant things can make us more creative. Tweet

Film Food, Ready For Its ‘Bon Appetit’

by Kim Severson, New York Times

When the director Nora Ephron began shooting a pivotal scene in her new movie “Julie & Julia,” it quickly became clear that the sole meunière might become her food stylist’s Waterloo. Tweet

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

When Novelists Sober Up

by Tom Shone, More Intelligent Life

It may seem a little impertinent to gauge the literary merits of sobriety—you cannot write books of any discernible quality if you are dead—but clearly, sobering up is one of the more devastating acts of literary criticism an author can face. Tweet

Crap Detection 101

by Howard Rheingold, San Francisco Chronicle

The answer to almost any question is available within seconds, courtesy of the invention that has altered how we discover knowledge - the search engine. Materializing answers from the air turns out to be the easy part - the part a machine can do. The real difficulty kicks in when you click down into your search results. At that point, it's up to you to sort the accurate bits from the misinfo, disinfo, spam, scams, urban legends, and hoaxes. "Crap detection," as Hemingway called it half a century ago, is more important than ever before, now that the automation of crapcasting has generated its own word: "spamming." Tweet

At A Border Crossing, Security Trumps Openness

by Nicolai Ouroussoff, New York Times

It has been nearly eight years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but the fears and anxieties they gave rise to continue to take a toll on the design of public buildings. Even the words “United States,” it seems — when spelled out in the wrong size and color — can be an unacceptable security risk. Tweet

Justify My Love

by Emily Nussbaum, New York

Madonna has returned to New York. This makes a strange kind of sense. Tweet

The Explainer Gets Hit By A Bus

by Juliet Lapidos, Slate

The origins of the catastrophic cliché. Tweet

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Playboy's Guide To Lingering

by Joseph J. Capista, Slate Tweet

Monday, July 27, 2009

Money Talks

by Rae Armantrout, New Yorker Tweet

The Valetudinarian

by Joshua Ferris, New Yorker Tweet


by C. K. Williams, New Yorker

Face powder, gunpowder, talcum of anthrax,
shavings of steel, crematoria ash, chips
of crumbling poetry paper—all these in my lockbox,
and dust, tanks, tempests, temples of dust. Tweet

And That’s Not The Way It Is

by Frank Rich, New York Times

If he was the most trusted man in America, it wasn’t because he was a nice guy with an authoritative voice and a lived-in face. It wasn’t because he “loved a good story” or that he removed his glasses when a president died. It was because at a time of epic corruption in the most powerful precincts in Washington, Cronkite was not at the salons and not in the tank. Tweet

My Heart Messed With My Head

by Michael Winerip, New York Times

The science gets better, but life remains inscrutable. Tweet

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Frank McCourt And The American Memoir

by Jennifer Schussler, New York Times

When Frank McCourt died last weekend at age 78, we were momentarily transported, it seemed, to a more innocent age of the American memoir. Tweet

Dead Presidents, Thespian Dreams, And The Meaning Of Life

by Charles P. Pierce, Boston Globe

A bucket list doesn't have to be epic to give you a fresh perspective. I've got just the proof. Tweet

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Crossing: Swimming The Chesapeake Bay

by Meghan Gibbons, Washington Post

On land, I can brag about my athletic prowess. In the water, I have to prove it. Tweet

Titles Within A Tale

by Ed Park, New York Times

Novelists have long tucked made-up fictions inside their real ones. Tweet

Booting Up Baghdad: Tech Execs Take A Tour In Iraq

by Steven Levy, Wired

As the CEO of MeetUp, Scott Heiferman usually spends his days meeting with staff and brainstorming product strategy. But today the 37-year-old New Yorker, wearing a combat helmet and armored vest over a black business suit, is crammed into a battered C-130 transport plane headed for Iraq. Military and diplomatic personnel aboard are warily eyeing him and the others in his party, all similarly attired, as the C-130 begins its steep, corkscrew descent into the Baghdad airport. And Heiferman is thinking, "What am I doing here?" Tweet

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Van Gogh Of The Gross-Out

by Holland Cotter, New York Times

If you were a preteenager in the 1950s and had precocious friends or a with-it dad, it’s a good bet you knew the cartoons of Basil Wolverton, the Michelangelo of Mad magazine, even if you didn’t know his name. Tweet

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Evolutionary Origins Of Your Right And Left Brain

by Peter F. MacNeilage, Lesley J. Rogers and Giorgio Vallortigara, Scientific American

The division of labor by the two cerebral hemispheres—once thought to be uniquely human—predates us by half a billion years. Speech, right-handedness, facial recognition and the processing of spatial relations can be traced to brain asymmetries in early vertebrates. Tweet

Clambakes Move To The Back Yard

by David Hagedorn, The Washington Post

Take the lid off the Weber, throw some briquettes in the chimney starter and light them up. It's time for a . . . clambake? Tweet

Death Of A Nihilist Or Obituary For A Nobody

by Ewan Morrison,

It was once the case that to have your death celebrated by the media you had to have been a person who lived and died for their beliefs, or at least perished with those beliefs intact: a shining example to us all on the importance of steadfast convictions. One thinks of Ghandi, Jean-Paul Sartre, JFK, Martin Luther King or even Ayatollah Khomieni. In the last few years — due to the media’s requirement for such spectacles even when the substance is lacking — the death of lesser figures who stumbled blindly through life lacking all conviction has created comparable hysteria. In fact, it may even be that these figures-of-no-qualities have eclipsed the great believers in terms of attention. All of this was predicted a decade before by my old friend, the bedsit philosopher, it was a process he termed ‘the levelling of society to the lowest order.’ He saw in it ‘the ironic revenge of the plebs, the rise of the nobodies.’ Tweet

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Most Careless Girl In The Class Had The Most Exquisite Body

by Erica Ehrenberg, Slate Magazine Tweet

Eating in Mumbai After The Attacks

by Jarrett Wrisley, The Atlantic

As we picked apart our chicken, wrapping it in bubbled sections of bread and dipping those in cool yogurt, the restaurant brimmed with finger-licking customers. Noisy drinkers and wandering tourists spilled out onto Colaba's narrow streets, from the Gokul Bar and Café Mondegar.

And the sailors all agreed that their curry tasted just the same. Tweet

My Life As A "Guiding Light" Extra

by Raul A. Reyes, Salon

I'm not an orderly, but I play one on TV. Until September, that is, when daytime's first soap goes off the air. Tweet

Monday, July 20, 2009

Don't Be So Square

by Tom Vanderbilt, Slate Magazine

Why American drivers should learn to love the roundabout. Tweet

At Lake Scugog

by Troy Jollimore, New Yorker Tweet

The Five Wounds

by Kirstin Valdez Quade, New Yorker

This year Amadeo Padilla is Jesus. The hermanos have been practicing in the dirt yard behind the morada, which used to be a filling station. People are saying that Amadeo is the best Jesus they’ve had in years, maybe the best since Manuel García. Tweet

Monja Blanca

by Clive James, New Yorker Tweet

Banks, Battles, And The Psychology Of Overconfidence.

by Malcolm Gladwell, New Yorker

Banks, battles, and the psychology of overconfidence. Tweet

Why We Say Yes To Drugs

by Laura Miller, Salon

Resistance to mind-altering substances is futile, according to a new "Secret History of Getting High in America" Tweet

The Origin of Life

by James Trefil, Harold Morowitz, Eric Smith, American Scientist

As we see it, the early steps on the way to life are an inevitable, incremental result of the operation of the laws of chemistry and physics operating under the conditions that existed on the early Earth, a result that can be understood in terms of known (or at least knowable) laws of nature. As such, the early stages in the emergence of life are no more surprising, no more accidental, than water flowing downhill. Tweet

Foie Gras Palates, Hot Dog Pocketbooks

by Frank Bruni, New York Times

This elevation of what was once considered junk food to the subject of vigorous aesthetic analysis represents the convergence of two trend lines. The first is many Americans’ growing sophistication about, and fascination with, what’s for dinner (or breakfast or lunch): the variety of it; the vocabulary for it; where to buy the best this; how to cook the best that. More and more people seem to insist on deliciousness, and more and more seem to have readily articulated opinions to go along with that demand.

But they’re bumping up against a troubled economy and budgets with stricter limits. For food lovers and for the periodicals, newscasts and blogs that serve them (and are themselves cash-strapped), what’s the solution? Tweet

Friday, July 17, 2009

Hands or Paws or Anything They Got

by Daniel Engber, Slate

Masturbation in the animal kingdom. Tweet

I Was A Baby Bulimic

by Frank Bruni, New York Times

Maybe not baby — toddler bulimic is more like it, though I didn’t so much toddle as wobble, given the roundness of my expanding form. I was a plump infant and was on my way to becoming an even plumper child, a ravenous machine determined to devour anything in its sights. My parents would later tell me, my friends and anyone else willing to listen that they’d never seen a kid eat the way I ate or react the way I reacted whenever I was denied more food. What I did in those circumstances was throw up. Tweet

Autism As Academic Paradigm

by Tyler Cowen, The Chronicle Of Higher Education

It turns out that the American university is an environment especially conducive to autistics. Tweet

Beat America

by Aram Saroyan, Poetry Foundation

What did we learn from Ted Berrigan, Jack Kerouac, and Allen Ginsberg? Tweet

Thursday, July 16, 2009

How To Read Infinite Jest

by Jason Kottke

If you opt not to destroy your copy of IJ, you should use the three bookmark method. Tweet

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What a Phony

by Juliet Lapidos, Slate Magazine

I read the banned Catcher in the Rye "sequel" so you don't have to. Tweet

It's Hot! It's Sexy! It's ... Marriage!

by Aaron Traister, Salon

Am I the only person who actually enjoys being hitched these days? Tweet

The Gyro’s History Unfolds

by David Segal, New York Times

Kronos is the perfect place to pose a couple of questions that seem as if they should have been answered many hurried lunches ago: What are gyros anyway, and who made them a ubiquitous feature of Greek menus across the United States? Tweet

Bless Me Father, For I Have Sinned

by Roger Ebert's Journal

I have no way of knowing Robert McNamara's thoughts in his final days. He might have reflected on his agreement to speak openly to Errol Morris in the extraordinary documentary "The Fog of War." His reflections are almost without precedent among modern statesmen and those involved in waging war. Remembered as the architect of the war in Vietnam, he doesn't quite apologize for not having done more to end that war--although he clearly wishes he had. His purpose in the film is to speak of his philosophy of life, to add depth to history's one-dimensional portrait. Don't we all want to do that? Tweet

The Grass Is Greener

by Tom Perrotta , Weekly Standard

Wimbledon's lawns are once again tennis's premier surface. Tweet

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


by Sophie Cabot Black, Slate Magazine

Once he lies down, he says, he is afraid
There is no getting back up. Maybe
It will be that nothing ever Tweet

40 Years On, Reflections In A Sliver Of The Moon

by Dennis Overbye, New York Times

If we learned anything at all from Apollo, it was just how hard and expensive and dangerous it would be to cross space in rockets. We didn’t conquer space that July day 40 years ago. We only thought we did. Tweet

David Foster Wallace Lives On For An "Infinite Summer"

by Joe Coscarelli, Salon

One giant book, 92 days, thousands of readers -- and the world's most ambitious reading group. Tweet

Canon Fodder

by Ian Crouch, The New York Review Of Ideas

Sean Shesgreen fires a shot at the Norton Anthology of English Literature. Tweet

Monday, July 13, 2009

Rat Beach

by William Styron, New Yorker Tweet

My Aunts

by Meghan O’Rourke, New Yorker Tweet


by Donald Hall, New Yorker Tweet

Enter Laughing

by John Colapinto, New Yorker

Senator Franken’s long journey. Tweet

20,000 Nations Above the Sea

by Brian Doherty, Reason

Is floating the last, best hope for liberty? Tweet

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Crab Houses Of Maryland’s Eastern Shore

by Jordan Hruska, New York Times

Guttural charges from powerboats headed in our direction suggested that more of the hungry were en route from the Chesapeake Bay, where the calm, wobbling eddies were flashing with the day’s last rays of sun just beyond where I sat. Several larger groups of diners grabbed bottles of cheap beer from aluminum buckets and fried seafood from red plastic baskets. Nearby, in what looked like a modified gazebo, a rock band began its sound check. Tweet

Where Am I?

by Jonah Lehrer, New York Times

While modern life is full of tools that keep us from straying off course, from Google maps to the iPhone, Ellard sees the need for such contrivances as a sign that we’ve already lost our way. We’ve become hopelessly disconnected from our setting, burdened with a brain that needs a GPS satellite just to get across town. Tweet

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Tiny Book of Instructions

by Kim Gek Lin Short, Drunken Boat Tweet

Fore and Aft

by Bonnie Wai-Lee Kwong, Drunken Boat Tweet

Surfing A River When The Wave Doesn’t Move

by Jesse Huffman, New York Times

To the uninitiated, the scene on a recent morning along the St. Lawrence River in Montreal might have inspired confusion. Behind the striking modular apartment complex known as Habitat 67, a crowd of surfers slipped into wet suits and waxed up their boards, 500 miles from the nearest ocean beach. Tweet

What’s In A Word?

by Sharon Begley, Newsweek

When the Viaduct de Millau opened in the south of France in 2004, this tallest bridge in the world won worldwide accolades. German newspapers described how it "floated above the clouds" with "elegance and lightness" and "breathtaking" beauty. In France, papers praised the "immense" "concrete giant." Was it mere coincidence that the Germans saw beauty where the French saw heft and power? Lera Boroditsky thinks not. Tweet

In Search Of Dignity

by David Brooks, New York Times

Americans still admire dignity. But the word has become unmoored from any larger set of rules or ethical system. Tweet

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Books Of The Times: When Poets Were Scientists And Nature Their Mysterious Muse

by Janet Maslin, New York Times

William Herschel, the German-born, star-gazing musician who effectively doubled the size of the solar system with a single discovery in 1781, was not regarded as a scientist. That word had not been coined during most of the era that will now be known, thanks to Richard Holmes’s amazingly ambitious, buoyant new fusion of history, art, science, philosophy and biography, as “The Age of Wonder.” And Mr. Holmes’s excitement at fusing long-familiar events and personages into something startlingly new is not unlike the exuberance of the age that animates his groundbreaking book. Tweet

Mars For The Rest Of Us

by Joshua Romero, IEEE Spectrum

We’re now on the cusp of another revolution in Mars exploration, where public outreach and scientific investigation will go hand in hand. Increasingly sophisticated imaging systems will allow robots to transmit not just individual photos but also enough data to create huge panoramas and virtual environments for anyone to explore. The sheer amount of information will require and reward more human scrutiny than professionals alone can provide. NASA is also learning, if a bit haphazardly, how to leverage Web 2.0 technologies to make missions interactive. Directly connecting with constituents in this way will be no easy task, but it’s NASA’s best opportunity to create a sustainable future for the space program. Tweet

Surgery Frees Athlete To Run Far, At Cost Of Remembering Little

by John Branch, New York Times

A lobectomy cured ultra-runner Diane Van Deren’s epileptic seizures, but left her with an inability to remember exactly where she is going or how to get back. Tweet

Does God Hate Women?

by Ophelia Benson and Jeremy Stangroom, New Statesman

After all the arguments for subordinating women have been shown to be self-serving lies, what are misogynists left with? They have only one feeble argument that is still deferred to and shown undeserving respect across the world, even by people who should know better: “God told me to. I have to treat women as lesser beings, because it is inscribed in my Holy Book.” Tweet

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Morality: Stephen King's All-New Story Of Recession

by Stephen King, Esquire Tweet

Our Lady Of The Kitchen

by Laura Jacobs, Vanity Fair

The making of the cultural phenomenon that was Julia Child had three key ingredients: a man, a meal, and a TV camera. Tweet

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

"The Symbol"

by Billy Collins, Slate Magazine Tweet

Fear Of Floating

by Dan Vergano, Air & Space

Diagnosis: Collective Panic Attack. Cause: Count von Zeppelin. Tweet

The Chicken And The Egg: Slouching Toward Washington

by Kate Munning, Bookslut

When did people start replacing Campbell's soup with organic chicken stock and supermarket iceberg lettuce with locally grown arugula? Everyone cares about their food all of a sudden. It's partly a fad, sure, but many expected it to burn out when our nation's recession became official and the typical upper-middle-class locavore found herself with a lot less pocket money than she was used to in those carefree, pre-bailout heydays. And yet the trend persists, fueled in part by tainted spinach, peanut butter, beef, and our government's inability to trace and control these outbreaks. Food safety is certainly part of the equation, but it doesn't entirely explain why we still bum rush Whole Foods on the weekends. Tweet

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Chinese Movies That Chinese People Actually Watch.

by Grady Hendrix, Slate

Chinese people watch good movies in which people shoot one another with crossbows, not the miserable art-house fare that gets exported. Tweet

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Non-Places And The End Of Travel

by Frank Bures, World Hum

There may be no more easy discoveries. There may be no more cheap epiphanies. But that doesn’t mean that discoveries and epiphanies are no longer possible, if you’re willing to look a little deeper. Tweet

Saturday, July 4, 2009


by Gene Weingarten, Washington Post

I'm not against things that are useless. Hell, I'm useless. I'm against things that are worse than useless. Tweet

No Rest For The Wealthy

by Daniel Gross, New York Times

In the interest of understanding our suddenly imperiled passion for private jets and $5,000 handbags, I recently dusted off — literally — one of those classics, Thorstein Veblen’s “Theory of the Leisure Class,” published in 1899. Tweet

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Roaring Twenties

by Joseph Ridgwell, 3:AM Magazine Tweet

Creating Another Einstein

by Sheilla Jones, Literary Review of Canada

What would it take to produce another Einstein? That is a question that returns with cyclical regularity in the physics community. But there is no need for the world to wait for someone of Albert Einstein’s remarkable vision and achievement to just happen along, not when we have got an Einstein factory right here in Canada. Tweet

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The String Theory

by David Foster Wallace, Esquire

What happens when all of a man’s intelligence and athleticism is focused on placing a fuzzy yellow ball where his opponent is not? An obsessive inquiry (with footnotes), into the physics and metaphysics of tennis. Tweet

Get Smarter

by Jamais Cascio, The Atlantic

Pandemics. Global warming. Food shortages. No more fossil fuels. What are humans to do? The same thing the species has done before: evolve to meet the challenge. But this time we don’t have to rely on natural evolution to make us smart enough to survive. We can do it ourselves, right now, by harnessing technology and pharmacology to boost our intelligence. Is Google actually making us smarter? Tweet

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Dancing About Architecture

by Arthur Phillips, The Believer

A meditation on possibly futile artistic pursuits. Tweet

Demon Brother: 6 Thoughts on Heart in Fiction

by Blake Butler, HTMLGIANT

I’ve heard / been asked a lot about the concept of ‘heart’ lately, and last night I couldn’t sleep. Tweet

The Reluctant Poet Laureate

by Louisa Thomas, New York Times

Kay Ryan has lived in the same small house on a hill in Marin County, Calif., for 30 years. She shingled the exterior walls and covered the steps and walkways in bright tile scraps herself. The house suits her—filled with artwork by friends and with books, surrounded by mountain-biking trails, sheltered by plants. She likes being in this out-of-the-way place, keeping her distance. As she settles into a faded pink director's chair, chatting amiably, her hazel eyes are warm but a little guarded. This is what she had dreaded when she agreed to become the poet laureate of the United States—that a reporter would show up at her door and ask her to hold forth on the State of American Poetry for the Masses. But Ryan is a kind and generous person, and so she has sliced lime for this interloper's sparkling water, offered her cut cantaloupe, and invited her onto the tiny deck lined with low-hanging strawberries, a geranium, lemon verbena, cacti. The pots were planted by Carol Adair, Ryan's spouse and longtime partner, who died of cancer in January. Ryan is doing her best to keep the plants alive, to halt the geranium's browning. Tweet

By Heng-Cheong Leong