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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.
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.
Carol Rumens, The Guardian
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.
Noam Scheiber, The New Republic
Why can't Americans make things? Two words: business school.
Stephen Burt, New York Times
Marie Ponsot’s sixth poetry collection is propelled by playful lines and mature perspective.
Jenny Uglow, The Guardian
Few things evoke childhood memories as powerfully as picture books.
David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times
Our relationship to the written word changes and evolves - but it doesn't go away.
Alejandro Jenkins and Gilad Perez, Scientific American
Universes with different physical laws might still be habitable.
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.
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.
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?
Daphne Merkin, New York Times
Nancy Meyers makes movies in which the middle-aged woman always triumphs. Is this what women want?
Phil Hall, The Guardian
Literature stimulates the taste buds as well as more abstract senses – but it's not always very realistic. Tweet
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
Mira Rosenthal, Slate Magazine Tweet
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
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
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
Mary Beard, The Guardian
Is there still life in the list? Tweet
Tom Vanderbilt, Slate Magazine
Has the American romance with the drive-through gone sour? Tweet
Dahlia Lithwick, Slate Magazine
Why Americans can't talk about religion and the Supreme Court. Tweet
Jonathan Woods, 3:AM Magazine Tweet
Henri Cole, Slate Magazine Tweet
Chris Cox, The Guardian
We all know the books we're supposed to be reading – but are they really the most important ones? Tweet
Carol Rumens, The Guardian Tweet
Franz Wright, New Yorker Tweet
Simon Armitage, New Yorker Tweet
Michael Dickman, New Yorker Tweet
David Foster Wallace, New Yorker Tweet
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
John Dorsey, 3:AM Magazine Tweet
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
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
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
Peter Forbes, The Times
A new generation of arts-inclined amateurs are helping the science writing genre to make a textbook comeback. Tweet
Witold Rybczynski, Slate Magazine
An architectural theorist who has inspired smart-growth advocates, counterculture DIY-ers, and computer programmers. Tweet
Grady Hendrix, Slate
Giving someone a TV series on DVD is like giving them a life sentence. Tweet
Sam Jones, The Guardian
In the age of the PC, a surprising number of authors remain wedded to rather older technology. Tweet
Jane Black, Washington Post
As street food rolls in new ways, jurisdictions are hard-pressed to keep up with trends and demands. Tweet
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
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
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
Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon
Why emoticons need to die :-( Tweet
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
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
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
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
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