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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Going Dark For The Rest Of 2009

Heng-Cheong Leong, MyAppleMenu

This website will be dark until Jan 2010, as I wind down the year for a short vacation and some down-time.

Have some holiday fun, and see you in the new year.

Secrets Of The Universe: How We Discovered The Cosmos

A.C. Grayling, Barnes And Noble Review

Jeremiah Horrocks and his friend William Crabtree were ecstatic when they observed the transit of Venus on 24 November 1639. Horrocks had predicted the date of the transit by carefully applying Kepler's Rudolphine Tables of planetary motion, published twelve years before. The two amateur astronomers watched the black dot of Venus inch its way across the burning image of the sun projected onto a card in Crabtree's attic. Horrocks described his friend as standing 'rapt in contemplation' for a long time, unable to move, 'scarcely trusting his senses, through excess of joy.' The emotion he and Crabtree felt is one well known to science: the exhilaration of securing empirical proof of theory.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Poem Of The Week: The Autumn Outings By Maurice Rutherford

Carol Rumens, The Guardian

My Half-Baked Bubble

Joshuah Bearman, New York Times

The bigger the bubble, the harder the fall. I was an outsider before, but now I was a pariah. The old snack economy quietly rebuilt itself, and I was back to knocking my sardine can against the monkey bars out in the playground.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Upper Mismanagement

Noam Scheiber, The New Republic

Why can't Americans make things? Two words: business school.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Wonder Years

Stephen Burt, New York Times

Marie Ponsot’s sixth poetry collection is propelled by playful lines and mature perspective.

The Lure Of Illustrated Children's Books

Jenny Uglow, The Guardian

Few things evoke childhood memories as powerfully as picture books.

After A Decade Of Fear, We're Connected To Writing In New Ways

David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times

Our relationship to the written word changes and evolves - but it doesn't go away.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Looking For Life In The Multiverse

Alejandro Jenkins and Gilad Perez, Scientific American

Universes with different physical laws might still be habitable.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Second Thoughts On Rewriting

AL Kennedy, The Guardian

The virtues of reworking, taking apart, breaking down, questioning, exploring, forgetting and losing and finding and remembering and generally testing your prose until it shows you what it needs to be.

The Year In Corrections

Heng-Cheong Leong, MyAppleMenu

This year’s winner is without question amusing — not to mention embarrassing for the news organization the published it — in that it demonstrates a certain amount of cultural/musical ignorance.

The year in corrections, typos, and unintended humor, as collected by Regret the Error.

Are Classics Classy? The Roman View

Mary Beard, The New York Review of Books

What is a “classic”? Is it simply (as Frank Kermode, I think, once put it) an old book that we still read? Or is there something a bit more sinister to the whole idea? An old book you feel you ought to have read? Or is it more casually serendipitous: An old book you have rediscovered and want to share with the world? And what does a “classicist” (in the Greek-and-Latin sense of the word) have to contribute to the debate?

Can Anybody Make A Movie For Women?

Daphne Merkin, New York Times

Nancy Meyers makes movies in which the middle-aged woman always triumphs. Is this what women want?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Exotic Flavour Of Literary Food

Phil Hall, The Guardian

Literature stimulates the taste buds as well as more abstract senses – but it's not always very realistic. Tweet

The Accidental Empire Of Fast Food

Glenn Collins, New York Times

Consider, now, the not-so-fast-food rollout. Of the anti-chain chain.

Indeed, to comprehend the prudent and eccentric global-expansion vision of Shake Shack, Danny Meyer’s mini-chain of burger-and-custard stands, it is useful to consider the essence of contemporary American fast food. Tweet

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Mira Rosenthal, Slate Magazine Tweet

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Is Technology Dumbing Down Japanese?

Emily Parker, New York Times

Now the Japanese language is being transformed by blogs, e-mail and keitai shosetsu, or cellphone novels. Americans may fret over the ways digital communications encourage sloppy grammar and spelling, but in Japan these changes are much more wrenching. Tweet

Saturday, December 12, 2009

John Ashbery, Toying With Words

Helen Vendler, New York Times

The master of sinuous syntax has performed surgery in this collection, often bringing his poems into the wry epigrammatic domain of Dickinson. Tweet

H. W. Fowler, The King Of English

Jim Holt, New York Times

Some care about getting English right; others don’t. For those who do, there is Fowler’s “Dictionary of Modern English Usage.” Tweet

The Infinity Of Lists By Umberto Eco

Mary Beard, The Guardian

Is there still life in the list? Tweet

We're Thru

Tom Vanderbilt, Slate Magazine

Has the American romance with the drive-through gone sour? Tweet

Friday, December 11, 2009

Articles Of Faith

Dahlia Lithwick, Slate Magazine

Why Americans can't talk about religion and the Supreme Court. Tweet

An Insurrection

Jonathan Woods, 3:AM Magazine Tweet

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dead Mother

Henri Cole, Slate Magazine Tweet

The Other Kind Of Classic Novel

Chris Cox, The Guardian

We all know the books we're supposed to be reading – but are they really the most important ones? Tweet

Monday, December 7, 2009

Poem Of The Week: Living By Harold Monro

Carol Rumens, The Guardian Tweet

I Dreamed I Met William Burroughs

Franz Wright, New Yorker Tweet

Last Day On Planet Earth

Simon Armitage, New Yorker Tweet

From The Lives Of My Friends

Michael Dickman, New Yorker Tweet

All That

David Foster Wallace, New Yorker Tweet

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Questions Odd And Profound

Mary Jo Murphy, New York Times

Newton, electricity, Einstein, laughing gas. For 350 years, Britain’s Royal Society has tried to make sense of the world. Tweet

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Four Poems

John Dorsey, 3:AM Magazine Tweet

Holiday Books: The City

Joseph Berger, New York Times

For lovers of New York City as well as amateur archaeologists, this book provides a matchless trove that tells us how New York grew into the city it now is, with practically the same cosmo politan and clamorous DNA that was there at the beginning. Tweet

When Bad Covers Happen To Good Books

Joe Queenan, New York Times

I realized that what all the unread books on my shelves had in common is that they were ugly. Really ugly. Tweet

Dancing In The Dark: A Cultural History Of The Great Depression By Morris Dickstein

Andrew Dickson, The Guardian

Scrabble your way up San Francisco's Telegraph Hill and you find yourself at Coit Tower, a gleaming Art Deco spire built in 1933 after an eccentric heiress decided the city needed a spot of smartening up. It is a strange sight – a cross between firehose and missile silo, overlooking the sweep of the Bay Bridge – but the series of frescos you find inside are stranger still. At first glance they look like benign snapshots of sun-kissed California: in one mural, farmhands calmly harvest flowers and oranges; in another, shoppers stream out of a toy store. But peer closely and you notice some intriguing political messages – a poor family desperately panning for gold while a rich family looks on; a gaunt crowd of unemployed workers; a man reaching down a copy of Das Kapital in the city library. Tweet

A Reader’s Guide To The Art Of Science

Peter Forbes, The Times

A new generation of arts-inclined amateurs are helping the science writing genre to make a textbook comeback. Tweet

Friday, December 4, 2009

Do You See A Pattern?

Witold Rybczynski, Slate Magazine

An architectural theorist who has inspired smart-growth advocates, counterculture DIY-ers, and computer programmers. Tweet

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Boxed In

Grady Hendrix, Slate

Giving someone a TV series on DVD is like giving them a life sentence. Tweet

Do Typewriters Hold The Keys To Fine Writing?

Sam Jones, The Guardian

In the age of the PC, a surprising number of authors remain wedded to rather older technology. Tweet

At The Corner Of Hip And Red Tape

Jane Black, Washington Post

As street food rolls in new ways, jurisdictions are hard-pressed to keep up with trends and demands. Tweet

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Fascinating Story, But Who Wrote It?

Joanne Kaufman, Wall Street Journal

Midwives, collaborators, co-authors, co-writers, writers-for-hire, book doctors, ghosts—call them what you will—give aid and adjectives to athletes, politicians, movie stars, moguls, miscreants and the briefly famous who are asked to tell their stories and don't know how. Tweet

Heard Any Good Books Lately?

Neil Gaiman, NPR

An audiobook is its own thing, a unique medium that goes in through the ear, sometimes leaving you sitting in the driveway to find out how the story is going to end. Tweet

Why They’re Really Scared Of Heidegger

Tim Black, Spiked

The philosopher still makes some academics feel itchily uncomfortable, not because they truly believe his Nazism will leap from the pages of his works, but because his deeply anti-humanist arguments sound a little too familiar. Tweet

Death To Smiley

Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon

Why emoticons need to die :-( Tweet

Mind: Story? Unforgettable. The Audience? Often Not.

Benedict Carey, New York Times

Researchers think they may understand why people are better at remembering what they have learned than whom they have shared it with. Tweet

One Sister’s ‘Mmm’ Is Another’s ‘Um, No Thanks’

Alex Witchel, New York Times

Two sisters’ tastes diverge over dairy-free banana-chocolate chip cookies from the new cookbook “Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.” Tweet

Bewitched By Bach, Bewildered By His Masterpiece

Janet Maslin, New York Times

There is a good reason Johann Sebastian Bach’s six cello suites strike Eric Siblin as irresistibly exotic. Mr. Siblin is not a seasoned Bach aficionado. He spent years as a pop music critic before suddenly becoming bewitched by the Cello Suites, their mysterious provenance and the manner in which Pablo Casals famously rediscovered, recorded and popularized this long-forgotten music. Thus mesmerized, Mr. Siblin has written about the Cello Suites from a wide-eyed newbie’s point of view. Tweet

'Last Words' By George Carlin

Steve Appleford, Los Angeles Times

A former comic who first met Carlin back at the old Café Au Go Go in Manhattan, Hendra assembled the book as "Last Words," and it's a fascinating closing statement from the influential comedian openly revered by the likes of Bill Maher and Jerry Seinfeld. This is not a collection of setups and punch lines, but a candid, fearless accounting of his life and art. As much as anything Carlin created, the book should become a central text for any serious student of comedy and pop culture of the 20th century. Tweet

Why I Never Became A Poet

Jonathan Jones, The Guardian

As a Welshman, poetry was in my soul - until the editor of a poetry magazine poured cold water on my efforts. Tweet

By Heng-Cheong Leong