MyAppleMenu Reader: Archives

You are here in the archive: MyAppleMenu Reader > 2011 > October

Monday, October 31, 2011

Twitterology: A New Science?

Ben Zimmer, New York Times

Denizens of the Twitter-verse, please be advised: Whether you are a Libyan celebrating the demise of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, a New Zealand office worker sleepily starting your day or a California teenager trying out the latest slang, your words are being analyzed.

Race Across Time To Stop Assassin And Fall In Love

Janet Maslin, New York Times

On the 849 pages between those covers, Mr. King pulls off a sustained high-wire act of storytelling trickery. He makes alternative history work — but how? It’s at least as interesting to examine Mr. King’s narrative tactics as to discover his opinions about conspiracy theories.

How Cognitive Illusions Blind Us To Reason

Daniel Kahneman, The Guardian

Why do Wall Street traders have such faith in their powers of prediction, when their success is largely down to chance?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Engineering The 10 000-Year Clock

David Kushner, IEEE Spectrum

The Clock of the Long Now moves from thought experiment to actual timepiece.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

As I Walked Out

Esther Morgan, The Guardian

The Short, Unsuccessful Life Of The American Book Awards

Craig Fehrman, New York Times

In 1980, publishing’s awards went Hollywood — with results disastrous enough to ensure it would never happen again.

Friday, October 28, 2011

How The Joy Of Sex Was Illustrated

Cordelia Hebblethwaite, BBC

Forty years ago, a London publisher was working on a groundbreaking sex manual - a "gourmet guide" to sexual pleasure, with copious and detailed illustrations. But how could this be done tastefully and legally?

Tomato Pies, 25 Cents

Grace Cavalieri, Poetry Foundation

Is Mental Time Travel What Makes Us Human?

Barbara J. King, The Times Literary Supplement

Mental time travel and theory of mind, Corballis believes, are two uniquely human ways of thinking that propelled our species to heights above all others, thanks to what is called recursion.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The House Of Silk By Anthony Horowitz – Review

Ian Sansom, The Guardian

But The House of Silk is in a class of its own: Horowitz's novel is the first Sherlock Holmes addition to have been written with the endorsement of the Conan Doyle estate. It is not a pastiche. It is not an update. It is, as its cover proudly declares, "the new Sherlock Holmes novel". Horowitz is the anointed successor. And to whom much is given, of him shall much be required …

Where An Internet Joke Is Not Just A Joke

Brook Larmer, New York Times

No government in the world pours more resources into patrolling the Web than China’s, tracking down unwanted content and supposed miscreants among the online population of 500 million with an army of more than 50,000 censors and vast networks of advanced filtering software. Yet despite these restrictions — or precisely because of them — the Internet is flourishing as the wittiest space in China. “Censorship warps us in many ways, but it is also the mother of creativity,” says Hu Yong, an Internet expert and associate professor at Peking University. “It forces people to invent indirect ways to get their meaning across, and humor works as a natural form of encryption.”

To slip past censors, Chinese bloggers have become masters of comic subterfuge, cloaking their messages in protective layers of irony and satire. This is not a new concept, but it has erupted so powerfully that it now defines the ethos of the Internet in China. Coded language has become part of mainstream culture, with the most contagious memes tapping into widely shared feelings about issues that cannot be openly discussed, from corruption and economic inequality to censorship itself.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Handwriting: An Elegy

Ann Wroe, Intelligent Life

The rot started when keyboards were allowed, then required, in schools, and when they became small and light enough to slip in a pocket, replacing the notebook and even the jotted to-do list—milk, bread, call garage—which remains, for many people, the greatest boon of writing.

Deep Intellect

Sy Montgomery, Orion

Inside the mind of the octopus.

The Living Dinosaur

Jill Jonnes, Harvard Magazine

Peter Del Tredici’s serach for the wild ginkgo.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How The Potato Changed The World

Charles C. Mann, Smithsonian

Today the potato is the fifth most important crop worldwide, after wheat, corn, rice and sugar cane. But in the 18th century the tuber was a startling novelty, frightening to some, bewildering to others—part of a global ecological convulsion set off by Christopher Columbus.

Is This The Future Of Punctuation!?

Henry Hitchings, Wall Street Journal

The apostrophe is mainly a device for the eye, not the ear. And while I plan to keep handling apostrophes in accordance with the principles I was shown as a child, I am confident that they will either disappear or be reduced to little baubles of orthographic bling.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Shanghai Gets Supersized

David Devoss, Smithsonian

Over the past decade or more, Shanghai has grown like no other city on the planet. Home to 13.3 million residents in 1990, the city now has some 23 million residents (to New York City’s 8.1 million), with half a million newcomers each year. To handle the influx, developers are planning to build, among other developments, seven satellite cities on the fringes of Shanghai’s 2,400 square miles. Shanghai opened its first subway line in 1995; today it has 11; by 2025, there will be 22.

A Man, A Bike And 4,100 Miles

Bruce Weber, New York Times

This was an American journey by a New Yorker who became more American as he went along. By virtue of absorbing almost 4,000 miles of thrilling landscape, inch by inch, I learned more about topography and how it figures in the identities of thousands of localities and millions of Americans than I had ever understood.

Book Review: 'Elizabeth And Hazel'

Lynell George, Los Angeles Times

"Elizabeth and Hazel: Two Women of Little Rock," journalist David Margolick's intricately woven and deeply affecting new book, follows not just Eckford's and Bryan's subsequent life paths but also sets off into the still tricky (and often treacherous) territory of race relations in this country, and how the press — explicating, evading or exacerbating — swirled around it.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sharing Audio On Pods, Pads And Phones

Roy Furchgott, New York Times

While iLuv’s is certainly not the only earphone splitter out there, it adds a nice refinement—a separate volume control for each headset.

Everything Moves To Live

Xeni Jardin, Poetry Foundation

Poetry is, you might say, the command-line prompt of the human operating system, a stream of characters that calls forth action, that elicits response. Lemmy Caution knew this, when he recited Borges to hack Alpha 60 and win the heart of his chosen babe.

A Night In

Liz Lochhead, The Guardian

The Late Word

Curtis White, Laphams Quarterly

With the death of each new generation of booksellers, each failed “business model,” the independent literary writer/poet/publisher wants to say, “Good riddance, they had it coming,” only to be mortified by how much worse the thing is that takes its place.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Death Of The Entrée

Tom Junod, Esquire

So you finish your entrée, because you always do. And then you finish hers, because she never does. And then you order coffee and the candied orange-rind panna cotta with two spoons, because the pastry chef is supposed to be amazing. And then while your girl goes to the ladies', you go out front to smoke a cigarette, and on the way back you ask your waitress — the one with the tattoo of the meat cleaver on her grass-fed bicep — if she wants to go to a steakhouse on her night off.

The Price Of Oranges

Jason Burke, Guernica

On the interconnected nature of food and politics in Pakistan.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Future Of Time

Adam Frank, NPR

What does it mean to be a time-bender? It begins by recognizing that the creation of new human times is a creative act. It means using whatever opportunities our lives afford (limited as they may be) to opt out of the old time-logic and create a new one.

Just Kids

Evan Hughes, New York

Jeffrey Eugenides insists his new novel is not a roman à clef. But it might have been: The writers of his generation had youths tangled enough for ten novels.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

After Hiding, He Becomes A Celebrity

Charles McGrath, New York Times

Brooke, delighted with language and exploring all its possibilities, is a helpless punster. (An artifact becomes an “arty-fact”; the Greenwich Observatory is an “Observe a Tory.”) So is Ms. Smith. Just four pages into “There but for the,” the phrase “to rain blows” turns into “somewhere over the rainblow,” and the whole book is shot through with wordplay — rhymes, puns, literary references, snatches of poetry and pop songs, careful parsings of those four title words — in a way that almost seems tic-like, as if Ms. Smith couldn’t quite help herself.

Yet there is a thematic point to all this showing off, or to most of it, anyway. “There but for the” is ultimately a book about loss and retention: about what we forget and what we remember, about the people who pass through our lives and what bits of them cling to our consciousness.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Alexandra Teague, Slate

The Kids Are Actually Sort Of Alright

Noreen Malone, New York Magazine

My screwed, coddled, self-absorbed, mocked, surprisingly resilient generation.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Notes From A Dragon Mom

Emily Rapp, New York Times

My son, Ronan, looks at me and raises one eyebrow. His eyes are bright and focused. Ronan means “little seal” in Irish and it suits him.

I want to stop here, before the dreadful hitch: my son is 18 months old and will likely die before his third birthday. Ronan was born with Tay-Sachs, a rare genetic disorder. He is slowly regressing into a vegetative state. He’ll become paralyzed, experience seizures, lose all of his senses before he dies. There is no treatment and no cure.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

What Went Wrong At One Madison Park

Katrina Brooker, New York Times

It was one of those New York “it” buildings with a superprime, recession-proof location. So how did it end up nearly empty?

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Roger Friedland,

In the avant-garde literature of those days, pubic hair was everywhere. In a hallucinatory scene in William Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, finally published here in 1962, Johnny has just doused himself and Mary with gasoline. “He is a boy sleeping against the mosque wall, ejaculate wet dreaming into a thousand cunts pink and smooth as sea shells. Feeling the delight of prickly pubic hairs slide up his cock…..”

Not today.

Praying Perpetually To Save Society

Mitchell Landsberg, Los Angeles Times

At the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Mo., the worshiping never stops. The 24-hour effort is part of a movement to save business, media and government from evil.

The Architecture Of The Comic Book City

Samuel Medina, Architizer

To younger audiences not native to New York City, the images may appear as a fanciful construct, an amalgam of familiar park elements, bridge-like infrastructure, and urban scenarios, held together by considerable amounts of imagination. This is an introduction to architecture, not only to its more palpable aspects of scale and material, but, more importantly, to its narrative and theatrical capacities. These scenes unfold on the psychological terrain of collective urban experience, manifested by dark, empty public squares, brooding towers, schizophrenic glass office blocks, and derelict religious structures. In the case of Daredevil, and all others, the superhero maintains an asymmetric relationship with the built environment, on which his existence rests. Simply put, the city doesn’t need its superheroes as much as they need it.

A Long Shot

Andrew Greig, The Guardian

Is The Brain Good At What It Does?

Christopher Chabris, New York Times

The “your brain, warts and more warts” genre is well represented by the new book “Brain Bugs: How the Brain’s Flaws Shape Our Lives,” by Dean Buonomano, a neuroscientist at U.C.L.A. He takes readers on a lively tour of systematic biases and errors in human thinking, citing examples that are staples of psychology courses and other popular books. What is new, however, is Buonomano’s focus on the mechanisms of memory, especially its “associative architecture,” as the main causes of the brain’s bugs.

I Was An Under-Age Semiotician

Steven Johnson, New York Times

But writing those sentences — and there are thousands like them still tracing their vagabond utterances on my hard drive — turned out to be a critical part of my education. I was, you see, a semiotics major at Brown University, during a remarkable spell in the 1980s when semiotics was allegedly the third-most-popular major in the humanities there, despite being a field (and a word) that drew nothing but blank stares at family cocktail parties and job interviews. “Ah, semiotics,” a distant relative once said to me during winter break. “The study of how plants grow in light. Very important field.”

Friday, October 14, 2011

All The Single Ladies

Kate Bolick, The Atlantic

More American women are single than ever before. Here's why, and what it means for sex and the family.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Man Who Sailed His House

Michael Paterniti, GQ

Two days after the Japanese tsunami, after the waves had left their destruction, as rescue workers searched the ruins, news came of an almost surreal survival: Miles out at sea, a man was found, alone, riding on nothing but the roof of his house.

The Symphony And The Novel – A Harmonious Couple?

Will Self, The Guardian

The high arts of literature and music stand in a curious relationship to one another, at once securely comfortable and deeply uneasy – rather like a long-term marriage.

Go Slow To Go Fast

Tom Vanderbilt, Slate

Why highways move more swiftly when you force cars to crawl along at 55 mph.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Many Lives Of Hazel Bryan

David Margolick, Slate

In the most famous photo of the Civil Rights era, she was the face of white bigotry. You’ll never believe what she did with the rest of her life.

The Wired Travel Optimizer

Walter Kirn, Wired

Time over money. Money over time. The curving graph lines rise and fall, forever in motion, and you move with them, guiding them.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Baby

Joanie Mackowski, Slate

The Farmer

W.d. Ehrhart, Poetry Foundation

Monday, October 10, 2011

Grilled Chicken, That Temperamental Star

David Segal, New York Times

If you watch television, you’ve seen his work, and the work of the five or six other major players in this micro-niche of advertising. These men — yes, they’re all men — make glossy vignettes that star butter-soaked scallops and glistening burgers. Their cameras swirl around fried chicken, tunnel through devil’s food cake and gape as soft-serve cones levitate and spin.

What Is Madness? By Darian Leader – Review

Alexander Linklater, The Guardian

Can there be a professional realm, short of politics, as divided and factionalised as that which deals with the problems of the mind?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Everyday Dancer By Deborah Bull – Review

Fleur Darkin, The Guardian

To be an everyday dancer takes maturity of mind and a true understanding of the difference between seeing and being.

The Weird Sex Life Of Orchids

Michael Pollan, The Guardian

So let us celebrate some other pinnacles of evolution, the kind that would get a lot more press if natural history were written by plants rather than animals. I'm thinking specifically of one of the largest, most diverse families of flowering plants: the 25,000 species of orchids that, over the past 80 million years, have managed to colonise six continents and almost every conceivable terrestrial habitat, from remote Mediterranean mountaintops to living rooms the world over. The secret of their success? In a word, sex. But not exactly normal sex. Really weird sex, in fact.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Dream Repairman: Adventures In Film Editing By Jim Clark – Review

Andrew Pulver, The Guardian

No one would pretend his memoir is a polished literary endeavour, but his journey from rewind boy on an Ealing comedy (The Titfield Thunderbolt) to hobnobbing in the cutting room with Mike Leigh takes him – and us – on a trip through the vagaries of a working life in British cinema, with all its ups and downs.

Will The E-Book Kill The Footnote?

Alexandra Horowitz, New York Times

The e-book hasn’t killed the book; instead, it’s killing the “page.”

Friday, October 7, 2011

How To Hatch A Dinosaur

Thomas Hayden, Wired

What we’re trying to do is take our chicken, modify it, and make a chickensaurus.

Open Mike, Insert Verse

David Orr, New York Times

When you imagine a poetry reading, the scene that comes to mind probably doesn’t involve battalions of underwear-slinging admirers.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Tomas Tranströmer, The Guardian


Tomas Tranströmer, The Guardian

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Empire: What Ruling The World Did To The British By Jeremy Paxman – Review

Bernard Porter, The Guardian

Jeremy Paxman thinks we're neglecting the history of the British empire. "Perhaps in the dark recesses of a golf-club bar some harrumphing voice mutters about how much better the world seemed to turn when a great-uncle in baggy shorts ran a patch of Africa the size of Lancashire. But, by and large, no one has much to say about empire." That will come as a surprise to the authors of the dozen fat books about it that have appeared over the last few years. If Paxman thinks his Empire is filling a gap, he's mistaken.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Inside The Russian Short Wave Radio Enigma

Peter Savodnik, Wired

From a lonely rusted tower in a forest north of Moscow, a mysterious shortwave radio station transmitted day and night. For at least the decade leading up to 1992, it broadcast almost nothing but beeps; after that, it switched to buzzes, generally between 21 and 34 per minute, each lasting roughly a second—a nasally foghorn blaring through a crackly ether. The signal was said to emanate from the grounds of a voyenni gorodok (mini military city) near the village of Povarovo, and very rarely, perhaps once every few weeks, the monotony was broken by a male voice reciting brief sequences of numbers and words, often strings of Russian names: “Anna, Nikolai, Ivan, Tatyana, Roman.” But the balance of the airtime was filled by a steady, almost maddening, series of inexplicable tones.

Farmer’s Almanac More ‘Weed-dating’ Than Game-changing

Robert Fulford, The National Post

The Almanac places some of its information on a website but its fundamental identity rests, as always, on old-fashioned type and old-fashioned illustrations printed on cheap but serviceable paper.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Tweet Science

Joe Hagan, New York Magazine

Twitter is building a machine to convert 140 characters on Barack Obama, Ashton Kutcher, narcissism, the struggle for human freedom, and Starbucks into cash—and quick, before its moment passes. Is this asking too much of even the world’s best technologists?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

On Extinction: How We Became Estranged From Nature By Melanie Challenger – Review

Olivia Laing, The Guardian

From the horrors of the whaling industry to the melting icecaps of the Arctic, greed and the desire to be independent of nature seem to have outweighed any sense of the wisdom of conserving non-renewable resources, in itself a disturbingly neutral phrase for the lovely diversity of creatures that have disappeared on our watch. Nor is it just other species that are the victims of our rapacious knack for living. As she travels the globe, Challenger charts lost languages, skills and tribes, a melancholy litany of squandered diversity.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

First Glance

Ben Wilkinson, The Guardian

By Heng-Cheong Leong