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Saturday, October 31, 2009

A New York Forkful

Dawn Drzal, New York Times

In 1815, Paris had 3,000 restaurants; New York had none. (In fact, the word itself wouldn’t enter the American lexicon until the middle of the 19th century.) Those forced to eat out could choose between “a slab of beef or mutton with potatoes and gravy” at a boardinghouse or chophouse, reports William Grimes, a New York Times domestic correspondent and formerly the newspaper’s restaurant critic, whose latest book is a chronicle of New York’s transformation from a Dutch village at the edge of the wilderness to what he sees as the most diverse restaurant city in the world. Tweet

What To Write Next

Colson Whitehead, New York Times

I recently published a novel, and now it’s time to get back to work. If you’re anything like me, figuring out what to write next can be a real hassle. A flashy and experimental brain-bender, or a pointillist examination of the dissolution of a typical American family? ­Generation-spanning door-stopper or claustrophobic psychological sketch? Buncha novellas with a minor character in common? To make things easier, I modified my dartboard a few years ago. Now, when I’m overwhelmed by the untold stories out there, I head down to the basement, throw a dart and see where it lands. Try it for yourself! Tweet

Taking The Novel Seriously

Richard Lea, Guardian

The winner of a literary prize is sometimes surprised, often delighted, seldom ever disappointed. But when I finally caught up with the novelist Rana Dasgupta, speaking on a patchy mobile phone as he drove through rural India a couple of weeks after his novel, Solo, had been voted the winner of the Guardian's inaugural Not the Booker prize, he confessed that he found his victory "very depressing". Tweet

What Are Women Fighting About?

Emily Gould, Intelligent Life

Women are often the cruellest critics of other female writers. Where does this anger come from, and at what expense? Tweet

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Living On $500,000 A Year

William J. Quirk, The American Scholar

What F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tax returns reveal about his life and times. Tweet

Movie Director David Lynch On Artist Ed Ruscha

Christopher Goodwin, The Times

To understand Ed Ruscha, ask David Lynch. He explains how the artist’s glorification of the banal became the last word in Californian cool and inspired so many. Tweet

Gumshoes, Sleuths And Cops, Squealed On By Scribblers

Janet Maslin, New York Times

It began as a marketing strategy. Otto Penzler, the renowned proprietor of the Mysterious Bookshop in New York City, wanted to keep his customers happy. And he wanted to keep them out of chain stores. So he began commissioning annual Christmas stories from popular crime writers and giving out free copies of these stories as thank-you gifts to the shop’s customers. Tweet

The First Marriage

Jodi Kantor, New York Times

The centrality of the Obama marriage to the president’s political brand opens a new chapter in the debate that has run through, even helped define, their union. Tweet

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Language of Smiles

Olivia Judson, New York Times

Do some languages contain an intrinsic bias towards pulling happy faces? In other words, do some languages predispose — in a subtle way — their speakers to be merrier than the speakers of other languages? Tweet

The Joys Of Clay Pot Cooking

Paula Wolfert, Los Angeles Times

I don't think I've ever met a clay cooking pot I didn't like . . . or want to own. Tweet

What The Last Meal Taught Him

Kim Severson, New York Times

Thomas Keller cooked his father’s last meal. Tweet

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Thoreau's Beans

David Roderick, Slate Magazine Tweet

The Devil In David Letterman

Robert Kolker, New York Magazine

How the late-night talk-show host handled his extortion crisis says a lot about the peculiar mix of function and dysfunction that got him in, and (for now) out, of the mess. Tweet

Memo To Grammar Cops: Back Off!

Laura Miller, Salon

A new book on the history of "proper" English says you're just stuck up. Tweet

Faith No More

Christopher Hitchens, Slate Magazine

What I've learned from debating religious people around the world. Tweet

Monday, October 26, 2009

Metropolitan Glory

Tunku Varadarajan, Wall Street Journal

From Paris to Timbuktu, the urban places that have played illustrious roles in the world's story. Tweet

My Great-Grandmother’s Bible

Spencer Reece, New Yorker Tweet

Letter To Tsvetaeva

Nina Zivancevic, New Yorker Tweet

While The Women Are Sleeping

Javier Marías, New Yorker Tweet

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Long Day's Journey ... ... Into Knights

Rebecca Bengal, Washington Post

Men in tights, women in corsets, plainclothed suburbanites: Encounters at the Maryland Renaissance Festival can be a royal mystery. Tweet

The Mystery of Music

Terry Teachout, Wall Street Journal

What about it has such power over human beings? Tweet

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Slaughterhouse Live

Alex WIlliams, New York Times

For some diners, belonging to a farm co-op or buying groceries from a greenmarket is no longer enough. Taking concepts like nose-to-tail eating a step further, a new generation of carnivores is learning to butcher, and in some cases, slaughter their own animals — think of it as do-it-yourself meat. Tweet

'Dracula: The Un-Dead' By Dacre Stoker And Ian Holt

Leslie S. Klinger, Los Angeles Times

Although billed as a sequel, it's not really. But what it is is a tale that pushes the story in unexpected directions while remaining true to the dark heart of the Transylvanian vampire-king. Tweet

The Poetic Gaze

Tony Harrison, Guardian

Statues are one of the ways I try to test the traditions of European culture against the most modern destructive forces. I often make a point of seeking them out and have used them as mouthpieces in my film poetry, as with Heinrich Heine in The Gaze of the Gorgon. Tweet

Friday, October 23, 2009

Stops: On Those Things My New Novel Forgot To Be About, Maybe

Jonathan Lethem, PowellsBooks

For me, there's a weird, unfathomable gulf — I almost wrote gulp — between the completion of a novel and its publication. Some days this duration feels interminable, as though the book has voyaged out like some spacecraft on a research mission, populated by forgotten losers like the ones in John Carpenter's Dark Star, a craft cut loose by those who launched the thing and now grown irretrievable, bent by space and time into something distorted and not worth guiding home. Then there are other days, where the book might be a pitch that's left your hand too soon, now burning towards home plate, whether to be met by a catcher's mitt or the sweet part of the bat, you can't possibly know. Tweet

Timewarp: How Your Brain Creates The Fourth Dimension

Douglas Fox, New Scientist

When we look back at scary situations, they often seem to have occurred in slow motion. Eagleman wanted to know whether the brain's clock actually accelerates - making external events appear abnormally slow in comparison with the brain's workings - or whether the slo-mo is just an artefact of our memory.

It's just one of many mysteries concerning how we experience time that we are only now beginning to crack. "Time," says Eagleman, "is much weirder than we think it is." Tweet

Two Storytellers, Singing The Blues

Michiko Kakutani, New York Times Tweet

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Misremembering Jack Kerouac

David Barnett, Guardian

Thanks partly to his miserable end 40 years ago, Kerouac has lost some of his lustre as a counterculture icon. But that was never what he wanted to be. Tweet

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Three Tweets For The Web

Tyler Cowen, The Wilson Quarterly

Welcome the new world with open arms—and browsers. Tweet

Matches Welcome Where Smokers Aren’t

Katrina Heron, New York Times

If smoking was their sole raison d’être, restaurant matches should by all rights have disappeared by now. After being overtaken by the disposable lighter, they have run into smoking bans of varying severity. (Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia now have laws prohibiting smoking in restaurants, according to the American Lung Association, and local jurisdictions impose their own smoke-free rules.)

Yet matches appear to be struggling back from the brink to reassert their pre-eminence among the rabble of coasters, business cards, cocktail napkins and swizzle sticks charged with hawking a restaurant’s good name. In an era of instant information access and viral publicity, logo-bearing matches may have the edge as ambassadors that convey distinction in their very physicality. Tweet

That Domineering Creature Called The 'I'

Charles Simic, The New York Review of Books

I had always believed that a good poem can stand on its own, that it made no difference if some creep you’d never want to meet in your life wrote it; but, obviously, that’s not how it is with many readers. Tweet

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Horses

Rachel Richardson, Slate Magazine Tweet

The Demons That Drove John Cheever

Rachel Cooke, Guardian

John Cheever, brilliant chronicler of American suburbia led a tortured double life filled with sexual guilt, alcoholism and self-loathing. Tweet

Rethinking What Leads The Way: Science, Or New Technology?

John Markoff, New York Times

The popular view is that technology is the handmaiden of science — less pure, more commercial. But in “The Nature of Technology: What It Is and How It Evolves,” W. Brian Arthur, an economist, reframes the relationship between science and technology as part of an effort to come up with a comprehensive theory of innovation. Tweet

Beauty And The Bento Box

John Maeda, Kenya Hara, Nick Currie, Denis Dutton, New York Times

What does the care devoted to the visual details in a packed lunch suggest about the culture? Why is such value placed on aesthetics in everyday life in Japan? Tweet

Monday, October 19, 2009

Leap Into Light

Robert Huddleston, Boston Review

Perhaps it is because, as Bedient acknowledges, W. B. Yeats discovered a tragic realism in the quarrel of antinomies while “Jack willingly sacrificed much of the outline of the ‘simple Unchangeable’ to the ‘protean Changeable,’” that Yeats the poet was the greater artist. Tweet

Look At The Birdie

Kurt Vonnegut, Los Angeles Times Tweet

Man Of Extremes: The Return Of James Cameron.

Dana Goodyear, New Yorker

Cameron is fifty-five. It has been twelve years since he has made a feature film; “Avatar,” his new movie, comes out on December 18th and will have cost more than two hundred and thirty million dollars by the time it’s done. He started working on it full time four years ago, from a script he wrote in 1994. “Avatar” will be the first big-budget action blockbuster in 3-D; Cameron shot it using camera systems that he developed himself. He is a pioneer of special effects: the undulating water column of “The Abyss” and the liquid-silver man of “Terminator 2” helped to inspire the digital revolution that has transformed moviemaking in the past two decades. The digital elements of “Avatar,” he claims, are so believable that, even when they exist alongside human actors, the audience will lose track of what is real and what is not. “This film integrates my life’s achievements,” he told me. “It’s the most complicated stuff anyone’s ever done.” Another time, he said, “If you set your goals ridiculously high and it’s a failure, you will fail above everyone else’s success.” Tweet

Gardening In Cardoso

Michael Longley, New Yorker Tweet

Au Revoir

Maureen N. McLane, New Yorker Tweet

Procedure In Plain Air

Jonathan Lethem, New Yorker Tweet

Sunday, October 18, 2009

New film Where The Wild Things Are Sends Parents Into A 'Rumpus'

Vanessa Thorpe and Anushka Asthana, Guardian

The spooky palm tree fronds and twisting vines that invade the bedroom of naughty Max in this nursery classic will soon be invading the imaginations of young children anew. Tweet

The Periodic Table: Primo Levi's Elementals Of Life, Suffering And Death

Tim Radford, Guardian

As a survivor of Auschwitz, Levi offers fiction, non-fiction, allegory and reality wrapped in a metaphor of chemistry to brings us a layered vision of his world. Tweet

Let Us Now Praise... The Cliché

James Parker, Boston Globe

It’s concise, time-tested, and instantly familiar. What’s not to love? Tweet

In Praise Of Amy Tan And San Francisco's Literary Life

Bruce Weber, New York Times

The event to honor the novelist Amy Tan at the Herbst Theater here on Wednesday night was supposed to be in the spirit of a roast. But the organizers couldn’t quite call it that — “a braising,” they suggested instead — and the speakers had a hard time saying anything terribly mean, even in jest. The running joke concerned Ms. Tan’s ordinarily placid demeanor, which was attributed to her husband’s sexual prowess. Tweet

The Power Of Treats

Virginia A. Smith, Boston Globe

Defining the rules by bending them a little. Tweet

The Long Shadow Of Willie Horton

Michael Blanding, Boston Globe

More than two decades ago, a governor showed a prisoner leniency, with horrifying results. Our justice system hasn’t been the same since. Tweet

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Timothy Garton Ash, The New York Review Of Books

Unsurprisingly, the twentieth anniversary of 1989 has added to an already groaning shelf of books on the year that ended the short twentieth century. If we extend "1989" to include the unification of Germany and disunification of the Soviet Union in 1990–1991, we should more accurately say the three years that ended the century. Tweet

Coffee, Tea, Then Equality

Amy Bloom, New York Times

Gail Collins’s smart, thorough, often droll and extremely readable account of women’s recent history in America not only answers this question brilliantly, but also poses new ones about the past and the present, as she explicates moments that were widely recorded and illuminates scenes that were barely remarked upon at the time. Tweet

Friday, October 16, 2009

La Negra Blanca

Roxane Gay, The Collagist Tweet

Let's Get Those Phones Ringing!

June Thomas, Slate Magazine

The cunning genius of the public radio fundraising drive. Tweet

The Non-Tragedy Of The Commons

John Tierney, New York Times

The 2009 Nobel Prize for economics is a useful reminder of how easy it is for scientists to go wrong, especially when their mistake jibes with popular beliefs or political agendas. Tweet

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Truth About Boys, Girls, Zombies, Vampires And Sex

Charlie Higson, Guardian

Our current preoccupation with zombies and vampires is easy to explain. They're two sides of the same coin, addressing our fascination with sex, death and food. They're both undead, they both feed on us, they both pass on some kind of plague and they can both be killed with specialist techniques – a stake through the heart or a disembraining. But they seem to have become polarised. Vampires are the undead of choice for girls, and zombies for boys. Vampires are cool, aloof, beautiful, brooding creatures of the night. Typical moody teenage boys, basically. Zombies are dumb, brutal, ugly and mindlessly violent. Which makes them also like typical teenage boys, I suppose. Tweet

Ghost Writers

Alexandra Alter, Wall Street Journal

A new wave of posthumous books by iconic authors is stirring debate over how publishers should handle fragmentary literary remains. Tweet

Against Transparency

Lawrence Lessig, The New Republic

How could anyone be against transparency? Its virtues and its utilities seem so crushingly obvious. But I have increasingly come to worry that there is an error at the core of this unquestioned goodness. We are not thinking critically enough about where and when transparency works, and where and when it may lead to confusion, or to worse. And I fear that the inevitable success of this movement--if pursued alone, without any sensitivity to the full complexity of the idea of perfect openness--will inspire not reform, but disgust. Tweet

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wall Street Smarts

Calvin Trillin, New York Times

“If you really want to know why the financial system nearly collapsed in the fall of 2008, I can tell you in one simple sentence.” Tweet

Are We Now Post Sci-Fi?

Damien G Walter, Guardian

With sci-fi filling up every corner of cinema and TV and mainstream literature borrowing its ideas freely, where next for the literary tradition that started the cultural phenomenon? Tweet

So You Think You Know Pasta

Rachel Donadio, New York Times

In its 300-odd pages, the “Encyclopedia of Pasta” ranges from abbotta pezziende, a short pasta that means “feed the beggar” in Abruzzo dialect, to the zumari of Puglia, a long pasta traditionally added to vegetable soups. In between there are the corzetti of Liguria and Piedmont, the little stamped-out coins; pi fasacc of Lombardy, which look like little babies in a papoose; avemarie, which cook for as long as it takes to say a Hail Mary; and several dozen variations on macaroni and ravioli. Tweet

When The Icing On The Cake Spells Disaster

David Hochman, New York Times

Someone who decorates cakes for a living should possess certain skills. Spelling is an important one. For example, success is not quite as sweet when the inscription reads, “Contralulation’s Ronan.” An eye for color helps, too. Piped dark brown swirls are never a good idea on a cake dotted with plastic farm animals. Finally, a few words about customer service: When someone requests that nothing be written on the cake, “NOTHING” should not be written on the cake. Tweet

"Goose Flesh"

Tim Liardet, Slate Magazine Tweet

The Lost Pleasure Of Browsing

Charles Rosen, The New York Review of Books

I realize that mail order shopping has been going on for a long time, but have always thought that this destroys one of the pleasures of civilized life. Tweet

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

You've Got Mail

Lizzie Widdicombe, New Yorker

The thinking goes like this: It’s perfectly legal for Halderman to write, or threaten to write, a screenplay (or an e-mail to TMZ) exposing the fact that David Letterman had flings with “Late Show” employees. It’s also legal for Halderman to ask Letterman for money as part of a business transaction. So why are the two things illegal when you put them together? Tweet

The Collider, The Particle And A Theory About Fate

Dennis Overbye, New York Times

More than a year after an explosion of sparks, soot and frigid helium shut it down, the world’s biggest and most expensive physics experiment, known as the Large Hadron Collider, is poised to start up again. In December, if all goes well, protons will start smashing together in an underground racetrack outside Geneva in a search for forces and particles that reigned during the first trillionth of a second of the Big Bang.

Then it will be time to test one of the most bizarre and revolutionary theories in science. I’m not talking about extra dimensions of space-time, dark matter or even black holes that eat the Earth. No, I’m talking about the notion that the troubled collider is being sabotaged by its own future. A pair of otherwise distinguished physicists have suggested that the hypothesized Higgs boson, which physicists hope to produce with the collider, might be so abhorrent to nature that its creation would ripple backward through time and stop the collider before it could make one, like a time traveler who goes back in time to kill his grandfather. Tweet

Monday, October 12, 2009

The First Book Of Electronics

Robert W. Lucky, IEEE Spectrum

Can a 95-year-old book still inspire new generations of engineers? Tweet

Pillars Of The Next American Century

James Kurth, The American Interest

The United States can still be the most prominent—although not dominant—of the great powers, and it can still offer the most attractive way of life. But to do this, America will have to become more American than it has been in recent years. This means it will have to renovate or reinvent certain pillars that raised the United States to the heights of global power and prosperity in the second half of the 20th century. These pillars remain the only solid and enduring supports for a prominent American role in the 21st century, so we need to be clear about what they are. Tweet

From Weymouth

Will Eaves, New Yorker Tweet


Julian Barnes, New Yorker

When I was a hiccupping boy, my mother would fetch the back-door key, pull my collar away from my neck, and slip the cold metal down my back. At the time, I took this to be a normal medical—or maternal—procedure. Only later did I wonder if the cure worked merely by creating a diversion, or whether, perhaps, there was some more clinical explanation, whether one sense could directly affect another. Tweet

A History Of Origami

Bill Hicok, New Yorker Tweet

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Offensive Play

Malcolm Gladwell, New Yorker

How different are dogfighting and football? Tweet

Modernism And The Little Magazines

Stefan Collini, The Times

The literary journal is dead. Long live the literary journal. Tweet

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Evolution All Around

Nicholas Wade, New York Times

To biologists and others, it is a source of amazement and embarrassment that many Americans repudiate Darwin’s theory and that some even espouse counter theories like creationism or intelligent design. How can such willful ignorance thrive in today’s seas of knowledge? In the hope of diminishing such obscurantism, the prolific English biology writer Richard Dawkins has devoted his latest book to demonstrating the explanatory power of evolutionary ideas while hammering the creationists at every turn. Tweet

Where The Wild Things Weren’t

Bruce Handy, New York Times

Obviously, many millions of children have loved “Where the Wild Things Are” — there are more than 19 million copies in print around the world — but I was struck, while conducting an extremely informal survey of a couple of dozen friends and a few professionals in the field of children’s literature, by how many said Sendak’s work had eluded their younger selves and/or their own offspring. Which kids’ books, I had wanted to know, are appreciated more in theory, or by adults, than by actual kids? Tweet

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Colbert Report

David A. Bell, The New Republic

While the extreme availability of information today should presumably have highlighted its relative paucity in earlier periods, historians--most notably Ann Blair--have in fact extended the concept of "information overload" all the way back to the sixteenth century, arguing that while we now associate the phenomenon with the internet, the printing press had a comparable effect. Tweet

30 Courses And Lots Of Leftovers

David Nakamura, The Atlantic

"Please arrive super-hungry," Tomoko's email advised. "The dinner will include about 30 dishes. It's a lot of food (all of it amazing)..."

How does one prepare for a 30-course meal? Tweet

Putting America’s Diet On A Diet

Alex Witchel, New York Times

Last year, an Associated Press article designated the Huntington-Ashland metropolitan area as the unhealthiest in America, based on its analysis of data collected in 2006 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly half the adults in these five counties (two in West Virginia, two in Kentucky and one in Ohio) were obese, and the area led the nation in the incidence of heart disease and diabetes. The poverty rate was 19 percent, much higher than the national average. It also had the highest percentage of people 65 and older who had lost their teeth — nearly 50 percent.

All of which makes Huntington the perfect setting for the next Jamie Oliver Challenge. While he understands the allure of Home Wreckers and Big Macs alike, this British celebrity chef has made it his mission in recent years to break people’s dependence on fast food, believing that if they can learn to cook just a handful of dishes, they’ll get hooked on eating healthfully. The joy of a home-cooked meal, rudimentary as it sounds, has been at the core of his career from the start, and as he has matured, it has turned into a platform. Tweet

Rules To Eat By

Michael Pollan, New York Times

If we can’t rely on the marketers or the government or even the nutritionists to guide us through the supermarket woods, then who can we rely on? Well, ask yourself another question: How did humans manage to choose foods and stay healthy before there were nutrition experts and food pyramids or breakfast cereals promising to improve your child’s focus or restaurant portions bigger than your head? Tweet

Thursday, October 8, 2009

New Translation Freshens Up A Sprawling Modern Classic

Michael Dirda, Washington Post

This year marks the 50th anniversary of "The Tin Drum," the first and best-known novel of Nobel Prize-winning author Günter Grass. While its narrator, the 3-foot-tall Oskar Matzerath, may be small in stature, his story is epic in scale -- nothing less than the history of Germany during the first half of the 20th century, told through the experiences of one family. Tweet

Gourmet To All That

Christopher Kimball, New York Times

Is American magazine publishing on the verge of being devoured by the democratic economics of the Internet? Has the media industry fully become an everyman’s playing field, without the need for credentials or paid membership? Or, to ask the questions that every media executive is really whispering, “Will I have a job next year?” Tweet

In Search Of Chinese Science

John Derbyshire, The New Atlantis

It would be interesting to know what Joseph Needham would have made of the new China, with its heroic materialism, its teeming commercialism, its bumptious militarism, and its sinister, vengeful race-nationalism. Probably he would have deplored much of it, while reminding us that at least Chinese scientists no longer have to work in caves and derelict pagodas. Tweet

Gourmet Was For The Young And Scrappy, Too

Alex Van Buren, Salon

Media coverage has tarred Ruth Reichl's magazine as elite and stuffy. But it was so much richer than that. Tweet

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Jeanne Koskela, LOST Magazine Tweet

These Foolish Things

Michael Dirda, In Character

There are three kinds of fools: Real Fools, Professional Fools, and Unsuspecting Fools. The professional, a staple of Shakespeare’s plays, is, in reality, nobody’s fool. Tweet

Anyone Out There?

Giovanni Bignami, New York Times

50 years ago last month, a letter to the magazine Nature ended the passive, look-up-and-ponder attitude by proposing a scientific, experimental approach. We don’t have an answer yet (or you and I would know), but in the process we have come up with quite a tale to tell. Tweet

Fried Chicken: A Migratory Bird

Julia Moskin, New York Times

While adherents may argue about buttermilk or brine, batter or dredge and shallow fry or deep fry, dissenters say there’s a more fundamental question — is Southern fried chicken ever that inspiring? Tweet

Closing The Book On Gourmet

Kim Severson, New York Times

Although it was easy to paint Gourmet as the food magazine for the elite, it was a chronicler of a nation’s food history, from its early fascination with the French culinary canon to its discovery of Mediterranean and Asian flavors to its recent focus on the source of food and the politics surrounding it. Tweet

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Do Readers Really Want Video-book Hybrids?

Laura Miller, Salon

When it comes to fiction, the medium is not the message: injecting a bit of video into a mediocre story is not going to suddenly make it compelling. Books that really work succeed by doing what novels do best: immersing readers in a world blended of equal parts of the author's imagination and their own. Tweet

In Nomine Patris et Felis

Robert Pinsky, Slate Magazine

Christopher Smart's extremely spiritual poem about his cat. Tweet

Charles And The Women: Darwinian Psychology Meets The Female Body

Paul Griffiths, Australian Review of Public Affairs

Women have often been in the front line of the struggle between evolutionary psychologists and their critics. Tweet

How Condé Nast Is Like General Motors.

Jack Shafer, Slate Magazine

Although the privately held Condé Nast isn't as financially distressed as the bankrupt General Motors, and although the magazine business couldn't be more unlike the car business, the two distraught companies share woes. Tweet

Gourmet's Legacy

Laura Shapiro, Slate Magazine

The magazine is closing, but we'll always have the Gourmet cookbook. Tweet

The Main Reason To Eat Local

Helene York, The Atlantic

There's a reason we require chefs to source a minimum of 20 percent of their food stuffs locally: it tastes better. Tweet

Monday, October 5, 2009

Poem Of The Week: John Donne's The Sun Rising

Carol Rumens, Guardian

Not for Donne a sad parting at dawn: here he places himself and his lover at the centre of the universe, with the sun as their servant. It's one of the most joyous love poems ever written. Tweet

Wired To Wonder

Todd Kashdan, Greater Good Magazine

Cutting-edge research from neuroscience suggests that while we may be natural born worriers, we're also wired for worry's neglected, underappreciated neural twin: curiosity. This research suggests that our curiosity and threat-detection systems have evolved over millennia, working together to ensure that we make optimal decisions in an unpredictable, uncertain world. As a result, we find intense, lasting fulfillment in seeking new knowledge, new experiences, and in embracing uncertainty. Choosing to explore the unknown rather than avoid it is key to a rich, meaningful life. Tweet

Thought Problem

Vijay Seshadri, New Yorker Tweet

The Godchildren

Tessa Hadley, New Yorker Tweet

The Paw Of A Cat

Kay Ryan, New Yorker Tweet

Lost Sonnet

John Ashbery, New Yorker Tweet

Hard Work, No Pay

Jennifer Williams, New York Times

The worst thing was the feeling of uselessness — the fear that I was simply unskilled and unable to compete. Where had I miscalculated when I was planning out my life?

An unlikely solution finally pulled me out of my metaphorical shoebox wallpapered with résumés. Tweet

Can The Muppets Make Friends In Ramallah?

Samantha M. Shapiro, New York Times

The Palestinian territories have been a tough place to strike a balance between promoting “Sesame Street” values while portraying a realistic version of local life. Tweet

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The First Counter-revolutionary

Corey Robin, The Nation

It's no accident that Hobbes fled his enemies and then his friends, for he was fashioning a political theory that shredded longstanding alliances. Tweet

Friday, October 2, 2009

Apple TV Still A Dud After Price Cut

Dan Frommer, Business Insider

Lower pricing hasn't made the Apple TV set-top box a smash hit. Tweet

Joking About Science

Peter Dear, Project Syndicate

Even though potential usefulness is the reason why governments devote so much money to scientific research, people really expect more from science than that. On this view, science also has a quite different, higher aim: understanding the natural world. Tweet

Cooking With Dexter: Happy-Meal Me

Pete Wells, New York Times

At 5, Dexter has reached the age when schoolyard friends tell him things his parents have kept from him.

“Luke says there’s a restaurant called McDonald’s,” he reported one day. Tweet

The Last Days Of The Polymath

Edward Carr, Intelligent Life

People who know a lot about a lot have long been an exclusive club, but now they are an endangered species. Tweet

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Can a Woman Prong a Man?

Jesse Sheidlower, Slate Magazine

Why it's so hard to put sex in the dictionary. Tweet

In Pursuit Of The Wild Cohiba

Ginger Strand and James Wallenstein, The Believer

Two semi-intrepid travelers meditate (with the help of a great deal fo puffing) on the Cuban communist roots of an American Capitalist icon. Tweet

Tracing The Many Lives Of Anne Frank And Her Still-Vivid Wartime Diary

Janet Maslin, New York Times

In a book full of keen observations and fascinating disputes (the craziest of which involves Meyer Levin, who had no qualms about both reviewing the book in The New York Times Book Review and trying to act as its agent), Ms. Prose looks in all directions to find noteworthy material. And when she writes of how Anne’s diary, which according to a 1996 survey was at one point required reading for 50 percent of the schoolchildren in the United States, keeps on finding its way “onto the desks of teachers who discover that the book most certainly does not, as they say, teach itself,” she underscores the importance of keen analysis. This is a Grade A example of what a smart, precise and impassioned teacher can do. Tweet

Can You Tell Me How To Get ...

Tom Scocca, Slate Magazine

... how to get diapers without Sesame Street characters on them? Tweet

Understanding The Anxious Mind

Robin Marantz Henig, New York Times

The tenuousness of modern life can make anyone feel overwrought. And in societal moments like the one we are in — thousands losing jobs and homes, our futures threatened by everything from diminishing retirement funds to global warming — it often feels as if ours is the Age of Anxiety. But some people, no matter how robust their stock portfolios or how healthy their children, are always mentally preparing for doom. They are just born worriers, their brains forever anticipating the dropping of some dreaded other shoe. For the past 20 years, Kagan and his colleagues have been following hundreds of such people, beginning in infancy, to see what happens to those who start out primed to fret. Now that these infants are young adults, the studies are yielding new information about the anxious brain. Tweet

The Importance Of Being Unimportant

Shane McAdams, The Brooklyn Rail

As we enter an acid-test of a season in the art world, I thought it important to mention that a little tough, critical love is the best medicine for an ailing commercial sector. Tweet

By Heng-Cheong Leong