MyAppleMenu | Tomorrow | Reader | Singapore | SushiReader
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.
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.
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?
David Kushner, IEEE Spectrum
The Clock of the Long Now moves from thought experiment to actual timepiece.
Esther Morgan, The Guardian
Craig Fehrman, New York Times
In 1980, publishing’s awards went Hollywood — with results disastrous enough to ensure it would never happen again.
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?
Grace Cavalieri, Poetry Foundation
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.
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 …
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.
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.
Sy Montgomery, Orion
Inside the mind of the octopus.
Jill Jonnes, Harvard Magazine
Peter Del Tredici’s serach for the wild ginkgo.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Liz Lochhead, The Guardian
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.
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.
Jason Burke, Guernica
On the interconnected nature of food and politics in Pakistan.
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.
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.
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.
Alexandra Teague, Slate
Noreen Malone, New York Magazine
My screwed, coddled, self-absorbed, mocked, surprisingly resilient generation.
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.
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?
Roger Friedland, Freq.uenci.es
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…..”
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.
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.
Andrew Greig, The Guardian
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.
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.”
Kate Bolick, The Atlantic
More American women are single than ever before. Here's why, and what it means for sex and the family.
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.
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.
Tom Vanderbilt, Slate
Why highways move more swiftly when you force cars to crawl along at 55 mph.
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.
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.
Joanie Mackowski, Slate
W.d. Ehrhart, Poetry Foundation
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.
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?
Fleur Darkin, The Guardian
To be an everyday dancer takes maturity of mind and a true understanding of the difference between seeing and being.
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.
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.
Alexandra Horowitz, New York Times
The e-book hasn’t killed the book; instead, it’s killing the “page.”
Thomas Hayden, Wired
What we’re trying to do is take our chicken, modify it, and make a chickensaurus.
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.
Tomas Tranströmer, The Guardian
Tomas Tranströmer, The Guardian
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Ben Wilkinson, The Guardian