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Jocelyn Heaney, Los Angeles Review Of Books
On teaching in a community college and
the talk about higher education.
Kay S. Hymowitz, City Journal
To understand the emergence of the new Brooklyn, it’s best to start by recalling its original heyday.
Julia Moskin, New York Times
But this year, the chefs descended to our level instead. Even the global stars Ferran Adrià and Heston Blumenthal, known for adding spheres, foams and frog custard to the European culinary canon, came down to earth.
Janet Maslin, New York Times
He hates the Ten Commandments “in exactly the same way Don McLean hates ‘American Pie.’ ” He adores the most obscure and antiquated Old Testament strictures, “for each outdated relic of an obsolete mode of living is like a child to me.” He identifies himself as “Maker of Little Green Apples; Rester of Merry Gentlemen; and Sole Knower of the Beach Boys.” He inflicted the Potato Famine on Ireland because he was angry at the potatoes. Why? “They know why.”
David Bodanis, The Guardian
Fibonacci means much more to the story of modern mathematics than the number sequence that bears his name.
Anne Trubek, New York Times
As we lurch into the digital age, people are kicking up hoary generalizations about Americans and their reading habits. “No one reads anymore,” “Kids used to read ‘Hamlet,’ not ‘Twilight,’ ” “We used to have more time to read.” But these canards are based upon conjecture, anecdote and idealized views of the past. In fact, we know very little about which books Americans used to page through: the history of reading is largely circumstantial, based upon diary entries or sales figures.
Rowan Pelling, The Guardian
I can only posit a theory, but I tend to blame the higher rate of mortifying sex scenes in novels by men on the nature of their fantasies.
Felisa Rogers, Salon
Since that mythic first Thanksgiving, we've relied on native plants to augment dishes from the old country.
Katie Roiphe, Slate
What his lesson plans teach us about how to live.
Stephen Cave, Financial Times
Economists have more to learn from the natural sciences if they are to claim a realistic model of human behavior.
Chard deNiord, Slate
David Bellos, The Guardian
The Oxford philosopher JL Austin once observed in a lecture that in English a double negative implied a positive meaning, whereas no language had been found in which a double positive implied a negative meaning. Another philosopher who was in the audience that day made a very simple counterclaim just by saying "yeah, yeah".
Kurt Streeter, Los Angeles Times
Tending to the men in a prison hospice helped John Paul Madrona do penance for a terrible deed in his youth. But perhaps the work was not enough.
Charles Taylor, Dissent
My experience tells me that not only was film criticism in better shape in the print era, but good work stood a greater chance of making an impact. Only a fool would say that there’s not good work being done on the Internet. But the nature of the medium, the way it has reshaped journalism and public discourse, makes it harder for that work to matter. In its contribution to the ongoing disposability of our cultural, political, and social life, in encouraging the cultural segregation that currently disfigures democracy, the Internet has to bear a great deal of responsibility for the present derangement of American life.
Adam Nicolson, Photograph By Jim Richardson, National Geographic Magazine
First printed 400 years ago, it molded the English language, buttressed the “powers that be”—one of its famous phrases—and yet enshrined a gospel of individual freedom. No other book has given more to the English-speaking world.
James Camp, The New York Observer
The novelist and master of self-marketing became an icon of the counterculture.
Michael Wines, New York Times
After a hard day’s labor, your average upscale Beijinger likes nothing more than to shuck his dress shoes for a pair of Enduring and Persevering, rev up his Precious Horse and head to the pub for a tall, frosty glass of Happiness Power.
Or, if he’s a teetotaler, a bottle of Tasty Fun.
Jessica Gelt, Los Angeles Times
Like the burger before it, and in tandem with the current German sausage craze, the hot dog has gone gourmet, with restaurants taking it seriously enough to dream up all kinds of wild combinations.
Liel Leibovitz, Tablet
Philip Roth’s legacy of writerly narcissism left a generation of young novelists with the wrong idea of what makes great literature.
James Somers, The Atlantic
"Work ethic" seems like one of those chunks. It elicits a halo of simple images: a man hunched over a desk, staying late, furrowing his brow. The "work" part dominates. One forgets the word "ethic" is in there.
Patrick Phillips, Slate
Dennis Overbye, New York Times
The idea of the space program as a museum show seemed wildly and gloomily appropriate when I first heard about it. We think of museums as being for old dead things, and the space program, at least the American space program, seems ready for its own diorama as the space shuttle shuts down, the Moon landings recede into ancient history, and space science is slowly dismantled by a prairie fire of budget cutting and wild cost overruns in the few programs that are left.
Luckily we don’t have to relive that. The idea of the exhibition is to look forward 50 or 100 years, not back, said Michael Shara, the curator of the show. “We’re at a crossroads,” he said. “We have to decide what to do when we grow up. Where is the vision?”
Brent Cox, The Awl
Maybe the broadening of the appeal of the steak dinner away from the exclusive province of sawdust and testosterone has enabled the purveyors of steak dinners to seek a more attractive profit margin. Or maybe this is a trend in restaurants in general. Or in life. But yes, your steak dinner costs more than your parents’ at your age, and more again than for your grandparents before them.
Jay Rayner, The Guardian
They will claim it makes them healthier. But that's absurd.
Eddy Nahmias, New York Times
Once a better notion of free will is in place, the argument can be turned on its head. Instead of showing that free will is an illusion, neuroscience and psychology can actually help us understand how it works.
Jon Ronson, The Guardian
When Rebecca Coriam vanished from the Disney Wonder in March, hers became one of the 171 mysterious cruise ship disappearances in the past decade. So what happened?
Michael Shapiro, Columbia Journalism Review
The San Jose Mercury News, Silicon Valley’s own daily, was poised to ride the digital whirlwind. What happened?
Steve Silberman, Fray
My father survived four more days. This was awkward, though it seems terrible to say so, because we had already scheduled a celebration of his life at his college for the following Monday. But my dad was always a punctual man.
Forrest Wickman, Slate
When did we come up with a word for making mistakes?
Jessa Crispin, The Smart Set
Human histories are noble undertakings, but too often the writer gets in the way.
Janet Maslin, New York Times
It used to be customary, in a book of this magnitude, to explain unanswered questions and tie up loose ends. Mr. Murakami clearly rejects such petty obligations, and he leaves many of the parallels in “1Q84” cryptic and dead-ended. He perceives, and we receive, and the reception isn’t all that clear. But 925 pages go by. And somehow, to quote Mr. Murakami as he quotes Sonny and Cher, for reasons that perhaps only he understands, the beat goes on.
Willy Staley, The Awl
Calling a fast food sandwich an arbitrage strategy is perhaps a bit of a reach—but consider how massive the chain's market influence is, and it becomes a bit more reasonable.
Popular physics has enjoyed a new-found regard. Now comes a brave attempt to inject mathematics into an otherwise fashionable subject.
Tomás Q. Morin, Slate
Rebecca Seal, The Guardian
Ten years ago if you wanted the best possible restaurant meal it was key to know when the A-team were in the kitchen and all the ingredients were fresh. Have things moved on?
Megan McArdle, The Atlantic
I don't care about income inequality. I care about the absolute condition of the poor--whether they are hungry, cold, and sick.
But here is the question: if the pace of technological progress is accelerating faster than ever, as all the evidence indicates it is, why has unemployment remained so stubbornly high—despite the rebound in business profits to record levels?
Joseph L. Flatley, The Verge
A new breed of survivalist is wealthy, educated, and plans to ride out 2012 in style.
William Ian Miller, The Chronicle Of Higher Education
The lament of an aging professor.
Mimi Khalvati, The Guardian
Michael Kimmage, New York Times
“Why Trilling Matters” is not simply the best book yet written on Lionel Trilling. Its subject, an austere man previously tethered to the age of Eisenhower and Kennedy, is the pretext for an invigorating magic trick. With Trilling’s help, Kirsch transforms a backward glance into a forward step.
Wayne Gooderham, The Guardian
Under the cover of fiction however, things are not quite so rosy. Indeed, one gets the distinct impression that scores are being settled and psychological boils are being messily lanced.
Lee Rourke, The Guardian
Above all, though, writing longhand is a secretive pleasure. I can sit in a corner of a café unnoticed and write to my heart's content. I'm less conspicuous than the iBook brigade, cluttering up London coffee houses and pubs with their flashy technologies.
Ellen Cushing, East Bay Express
This is Peet's Coffee & Tea, circa 2011: successful, efficient, and, many say, losing its edge and its ethos as it continues to compete in an increasingly crowded market. Once a small business known for its relaxed vibe and killer beans, Peet's is a now a company where baristas are timed as they make drinks and dinged if they take too long; where secret shoppers watch whether employees are sticking to the corporate sales pitch; where the workforce is increasingly overworked, underpaid, burned out, and plagued by turnover. It is, in other words, a far cry from what it once was: the North Berkeley neighborhood coffee shop that brought craftsmanship and superior beans to the United States.
John Sutherland, The Guardian
Harry Potter's Ron Weasley was almost killed off by JK Rowling, she has revealed. He wouldn't have been the first fictional character to go …
Robert Pinsky, Slate
What we learn by misremembering our favorite lines.
Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
Ms. Didion’s heartbreaking new book, “Blue Nights,” is at once a loving portrait of Quintana and a mother’s conflicted effort to grapple with her grief through words: the medium the author has used throughout her life to try to make sense of the senseless. It is a searing inquiry into loss and a melancholy meditation on mortality and time.
E.J. Wagner, Smithsonian
In 1830, a brutal crime in Massachusetts riveted the nation—and inspired the writings of Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne.