Saturday, 31 May, 2014
Rosemary Tonks, The Guardian
Jennifer Howard, Washington Post
We don’t spend time in cubicles because we love them. How did we come up with such an unnatural arrangement?
Twenty-five years after the bloodshed in Beijing, new details keep emerging.
Gretchen McCulloch, Slate
But why is it that each of us thinks we alone embody the highest authority over how language is supposed to be used? Unless, that is, we've had that notion drummed painfully out of us by high school English teachers, in which case why do we think we are the lowest authority, except for all those other slobs?
Rosanna de Lisle, Intelligent Life
Curious to explore this territory, we asked four leading architecture and design practices to create a shop. Specifically, in the age of Amazon and e-books, a bookshop to save bookshops.
Joshua Hammer, New York Times
Zoellner sets off on a series of railway adventures — across America, India, Spain, Russia, Britain, China and the Peruvian Andes — that provide him with ample opportunities to contemplate the railways’ influence on everything from pop culture to dietary habits to national identity.
John Williams, New York Times
The word “spying” now brings to mind boundless digital nets trawling the ether for millions of emails at a time, but Miles Adler-Hart, the young protagonist of Mona Simpson’s sixth novel, practices snooping the old-school way. He plants a walkie-talkie in his parents’ bedroom. He eavesdrops on therapy sessions through a heating vent. He listens to phone conversations by carefully picking up a landline in the next room.
Friday, 30 May, 2014
Sam Sifton, New York Times
French toast is a fine way to start your journey. Crack some eggs into a bowl with a healthy glug of cream; add a dollop of vanilla extract; cut some old bread and get it into the liquid to plump up. Serve with maple syrup or a slash of jam. Pile everything in the sink afterward and boogie. You can clean up later.
Thursday, 29 May, 2014
Dan Klotz, Washington Post
It is the day before my fifth chemotherapy treatment and I am in a quandary. I want to go for a long run, but I’m not sure I have enough time to recover before my drug infusion the next day. I’ve failed to get out early; if I run, it would be at 5 p.m., leaving less than 24 hours before the treatment starts. But it’s sunny and 70 degrees, a beautiful spring day. How can I not go?
Wednesday, 28 May, 2014
Melissa Clark, New York Times
Lately, brunch has become the trend among some of New York City’s most creative chefs, with nary a mimosa or plate of eggs Benedict.
John Gray, New Statesman
At the peak of its popularity, Mao's bible was the most printed book in the world. It attained the status of a sacred, holy text during the Cultural Revolution, and retains its place among western devotees.
Tuesday, 27 May, 2014
Ben Schreckinger, Slate
It’s unnatural. It’s unnecessary. Why the seven-day week has got to go.
Cade Metz, Wired
Before joining Microsoft and becoming one of its most important software engineers, Mark Russinovich was in the business of pissing the company off.
Monday, 26 May, 2014
Ted Trautman, The Paris Review
Doing verbal battle at the O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships.
Sunday, 25 May, 2014
Joanna Robertson, BBC
Neighbours' Day happens every May across France. It is a time for people to make peace with the people next door. But in the apartment blocks of Paris, bitterness and hostility are thriving.
Aidan Lewis, BBC
Every year, hundreds of millions of birds are killed or injured when they fly into windows. Volunteers who document the collisions are now calling for architects and landlords to make their buildings more bird friendly to reduce the number of deaths.
Saturday, 24 May, 2014
Amy Westervelt, The Magazine
Rather than throwing in the towel, Murphy learned her lesson. Not just about diversifying her risk, but also about how farms and farmers work.
Andrew Leonard, Salon
For years, Disney was notoriously heavy-handed in defense of its intellectual property. Then along came "Frozen".
William Deresiewicz, The Atlantic
And how the modern world unmade the novel.
Michelle Wildgen, New York Times
This is not a book about a young man discovering the glories of food (except, briefly, when it is) or of his redemption through cooking (but sometimes, at an angle, it’s that too). Instead, “Chop Chop” is far more concerned with the dysfunctional ways in which people operate as a group, be it a crumbling family or a downtrodden kitchen brigade.
Russell Adams, Wall Street Journal
How one of Hollywood's great second acts keeps making money.
Friday, 23 May, 2014
Kathryn Schulz, Vulture
But here is the great thing about writing: Unlike, say, biomedicine or electrical engineering, it has no intrinsic limits. If you are good enough, you can get away with anything. And Dyer, at his best, is outstanding.
Thursday, 22 May, 2014
Quinn Norton, Medium
It’s hard to explain to regular people how much technology barely works, how much the infrastructure of our lives is held together by the IT equivalent of baling wire.
Computers, and computing, are broken.
Julia Ioffe, New Republic
With one 11-story building to its name, the People’s Republic of Donetsk is the smallest country in the world. It must also be the most bureaucratic.
Wednesday, 21 May, 2014
Steven Poole, The Guardian
Why is it satisfying to solve a puzzle but amusing to get a joke?
Tuesday, 20 May, 2014
Jessa Crispin, The Smart Set
Life in the shadows can be challenging, but not all ghostwriters struggle for credit.
Edwin Heathcote, Financial Times
The idea that the creative quarter is the key to the regeneration of any city has become so entrenched that it has become almost a cliché. The orthodoxy is that it is the cultural pioneers who are best able to turn around decaying districts and transform them from neglected and economically stagnant sites into thriving, hipsterish hotspots. Richard Florida’s 2002 book The Rise of the Creative Class became the cornerstone of this notion and one that was adopted by planners, sociologists and politicians as a kind of default position. Creative quarters, what’s not to like?
But, perhaps, now it is time to reassess the results of this almost obsessive drive to attract creatives, to better understand how this process has worked, and whether it is always positive.
Monday, 19 May, 2014
Julie Beck, The Atlantic
A reduced sense of taste in the air makes meals less enjoyable, and innovation is wanting as food has been phased out as an essential part of the airline experience.
Elizabeth Kolbert, New Yorker
How did we get so busy?
Laura Miller, Salon
What happens when a fussy, self-conscious Brit spends two weeks on an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.
Chris Suellentrop, New York Times
“Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle That Defined a Generation,” a new book by Blake J. Harris, focuses on the history of video games as an industry rather than as a creative enterprise. The “war” here is a contest of commerce, a battle for market share between two companies that is not unlike the Coke and Pepsi wars or the Nike and Reebok sneaker wars.
Sunday, 18 May, 2014
Jim Shahin, Washington Post
It is a glorious pre-summer day, windless and warm, and I am out back at the grill getting drunk. Not on beer (although a couple more and I’ll be what my wife calls “cute”). On smoke.
David S. Ludwig and Mark I Friedman, New York Times
But what if we’ve confused cause and effect? What if it’s not overeating that causes us to get fat, but the process of getting fatter that causes us to overeat?
Ron Charles, Washington Post
Garrison Keillor, Lake Wobegon’s favorite son, has just published his first one-volume collection of stories, essays and poems. Some of these pieces are fluffier than a Powdermilk Biscuit. Most are witty and touching. All are above average.
Saturday, 17 May, 2014
Carol Ann Duffy, The Guardian
Michael Skapinker, Financial Times
Pop stars regularly mix up their ‘its’ and ‘it’s’ – and earn far more than those who know where the apostrophe goes.
Friday, 16 May, 2014
Chelsea Wald, Nautilus
A controversial test for self-awareness is dividing the animal kingdom.
Thursday, 15 May, 2014
Scott Sherman, The Nation
How the Internet and slashed budgets have endangered one of higher education’s most important institutions.
David Denby, New Yorker
So he stopped leaving out “things which were either absurd or paradoxical.”
Wednesday, 14 May, 2014
Julia Moskin, New York Times
It turns out that you truly don’t need a grill to cook a great steak: savory, salty, encased in a barklike crust. You don’t need to marinate or dry-rub. You don’t have to know your way around a beef-cut chart — with its bewildering eyes, rounds, chucks and clods — to buy a good one. And at dinner time, laying a few slices of steak next to the whole grains, the roasted vegetables and the leafy greens that (usually) fill most of our plates is an excellent strategy.
Erik Sofge, Popular Science
A front tire blows, and your autonomous SUV swerves. But rather than veering left, into the opposing lane of traffic, the robotic vehicle steers right. Brakes engage, the system tries to correct itself, but there’s too much momentum. Like a cornball stunt in a bad action movie, you are over the cliff, in free fall.
Your robot, the one you paid good money for, has chosen to kill you. Better that, its collision-response algorithms decided, than a high-speed, head-on collision with a smaller, non-robotic compact. There were two people in that car, to your one. The math couldn’t be simpler.
Phyllis Rose, Medium
How libraries decide which books to keep—and which don’t stand the test of time.
Tuesday, 13 May, 2014
James Wood, New Yorker
While “In the Light of What We Know” is full of knowledge, it is never merely knowing. It wears its knowledge heavily, as a burden, a crisis, an injury. This is because Rahman is interested in the possession of knowledge, and in the politics of that possession.
Robert Coover, New Yorker
Larry McMurtry, New York Times
I was only in this Elysium for two days in 1965, but I was drawn back many, many times since and still go back, though now I feel as if I am visiting a city of ghosts.
Erika Hall, Medium
That moment has stayed with me my whole life—that cool, controlled response to a threat, the absolute refusal to play the victim. In both my grandmother’s stand against city hall and my mother’s calm dispatch of a home invader, I witnessed the assertion of one’s basic right to live life without being fucked with. And I saw the power of that assertion.
Neither my grandmother nor my mother would have ever described themselves as feminists. Far from it.
But I sure do.
Alan Levinovitz, Wired
Computers match or surpass top humans in chess, Othello, Scrabble, backgammon, poker, even Jeopardy. But not Go.
Sunday, 11 May, 2014
Mary Beard, BBC
I can't help thinking here that some of the modern medical profession have made much the same mistake as the goddess Dawn. Why on earth, when so many doctors themselves wish for a quick death from a massive heart attack, do they expend such efforts (and money) in preventing their patients from having exactly that, consigning us to the expensive and nightmare world of the very old and the very decrepit?
Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, Wall Street Journal
It starts with a basic understanding of game theory and incentives.
Julia M. Klein, The Boston Globe
Not surprisingly, a desperate longing for family and dreams of a lost past figure prominently in Appelfeld’s work. They recur in his latest novel in English translation, “Suddenly, Love,” whose portrait of an aging writer suggests a more frustrated, less successful version of Appelfeld himself.
Saturday, 10 May, 2014
David Freeland, Wall Street Journal
Jazz Age Manhattan was an electric vessel into which the hopes and desires of a nation were distilled.
Mat Flegenheimer, New York Times
The last of Metro-North’s old car fleet, introduced in the 1970s, has aged out of the system; the 7:34 p.m. train on Friday from Grand Central Terminal to New Haven was the bar car’s final ride before its retirement at the hands of a new, barless model.
Also: A Requiem for the Commuter Train Bar Car (Troy Patterson, Slate)
Stephane Kirkland, Washington Post
Each facet of Paris’s long and varied history is captivating in a different way. Two new, richly researched books explore aspects of the city’s path in pursuit of the elusive question of just what gives Paris its inimitable character.
Friday, 9 May, 2014
Kathayoon Khalil, Slate
The truth is zoos are much more than anything you see in a typical visit. Kutai’s experience reflects zoos’ metamorphosis and their changing role in society.
Mat Seidel, The Millions
There are times when a scathing review is simply not sufficient to combat a book’s supreme awfulness. In such cases, a critic must stand between a reader and the work of so-called literature, channeling his inner Gandalf to exclaim, “You Shall Not Pass!” And thus, while professional duty compels me to deliver judgment on the work at hand, I cannot in good conscience reveal the title, author, or any identifying details about its plot for fear that some perverse soul might be tempted to go out and buy it.
Brian Awehali, East Bay Express
The renewed interest in typewriters isn't just a hipster trend. It's also about slowing down, developing focus, and maintaining a measure of digital detachment.
Thursday, 8 May, 2014
Peter B. Bach, New York Magazine
A cancer doctor on losing his wife to cancer.
Lisa Hix, Collectors Weekly
“Today, we shop as if we know about everything that we’re shopping for, but in the mid-century, you trusted your department store.”
Steve Donoghue, Washington Post
This is a twisted, fun house version of a Jeeves and Wooster novel, but crammed to the rafters with lines you wouldn’t dare repeat to Aunt Agatha.
Wednesday, 7 May, 2014
Frank Swain, Mosaic
Imagine it: you have been rushed into the emergency room and you are dying. Your injuries are too severe for the surgeons to repair in time. Your blood haemorrhages unseen from ruptured vessels. The loss of that blood is starving your organs of vital nutrients and oxygen. You are entering cardiac arrest.
But this is not the end. A decision is made: tubes are connected, machines whir into life, pumps shuffle back and forth. Ice-cold fluid flows through your veins, chilling them. Eventually, your heart stops beating, your lungs no longer draw breath. Your frigid body remains there, balanced on the knife-edge of life and death, neither fully one nor the other, as if frozen in time.
The surgeons continue their work, clamping, suturing, repairing. Then the pumps stir into life, coursing warm blood back into your body. You will be resuscitated. And, if all goes well, you will live.
Tuesday, 6 May, 2014
Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic
We're going to rewire your brain. Are you ready?
Jill Lepore, New Yorker
Reading “Cubed” is like visiting a museum holding an exhibit called “The Office Through the Ages”; each gallery is a period room as fussily appointed as the sets on “Mad Men,” down to the last gooseneck lamp and matte-beige telephone.
Monday, 5 May, 2014
Michael Caines, Wall Street Journal
Flora Thompson's trilogy, "Lark Rise to Candleford," is one of the happiest books about the English countryside, yet it was written in a time of war.
David G. Schwartz, Vegas Seven
25 years ago, Steve Wynn was busily creating a new kind of resort. This is the tale of the alchemy–and the crazy risk–that changed the Strip forever.
Lizzie Widdicombe, New Yorker
Has a tech entrepreneur come up with a product to replace our meals?
Sunday, 4 May, 2014
Neil Swidey, The Boston Globe
Nearly 35 years ago, the MIT physicist figured out what made the Big Bang bang. Finally, there’s evidence.
John Freeman, The Boston Globe
In page after page, he allows simple details to say much. “Most of the time Werner rides backward,” he writes about the boy, now grown into a soldier riding in the back of a truck, “looking at land they are leaving.” He allows the human gaze its original purpose — not acquisition, but pattern-recognition, appreciation, orientation.
Michael North, The Independent
The fourth novel by the poet, dramatist and Edinburgh Makar (the city’s poet laureate) Ron Butlin has a dramatic urgency that pulls the reader along, eager to know the fate of its compelling central character, Maggie. It left me with the same sick feeling about the injustices of a warped society that were inspired by the film Philomena, another tale of tortured mother love. Ghost Moon, however, has a more positive ending.
Rebecca Skane, Seacoast Online
Hotel Pastis is a story about a man who thought the grass was greener on the other side. But when he got to the other side, well – you’ll just have to see for yourself.
George Szirtes, The Guardian
That seems an unnatural place for language, but a second language always retains its brilliant, opiate character, especially if you are a poet whose every perception and process is articulated through it: voluptuousness, thick glass, poppies, opiates.
Saturday, 3 May, 2014
Tim Hayward, Financial Times
The food world has developed its own absurd language. Like jargon used in the art world, it risks alienating the real audience.
Paul Ford, Medium
Is it possible to propose a software canon? To enumerate great works of software that are deeply influential—that changed the nature of the code that followed?
Adam Kirsch, New Republic
The false promise of the digital humanities.
Shelby Vittek, The Smart Set
I spent a month learning the Japanese tea ceremony, only to find it was about everything but tea.
Friday, 2 May, 2014
Luke O'Brien, Politico
Three years later, Brown will have tumbled completely out of journalism, Diller will have lost north of $100 million ($70 million alone of it as a result of the Newsweek merger, he recently told me), and Harman will be dead. The NewsBeast experiment will be ruled a historic failure, perhaps the last great magazine flameout. This is the after-action report.
Janet Maslin, New York Times
The premise of Howard Norman’s new novel is eerie enough to make the skin crawl. “Next Life Might Be Kinder” is narrated by a blocked, troubled writer named Sam Lattimore, who delivers an opening sentence worthy of the Noir Hall of Fame.
“After my wife, Elizabeth Church, was murdered by the bellman Alfonse Padgett in the Essex Hotel, she did not leave me,” Sam begins. It is 1973, and Elizabeth has been “dead” for more than a year, but Sam goes on to say he has just seen her. He sees her most nights, doing exactly the same thing. She arranges books on a beach in Port Medway, Nova Scotia.
Rich Smith, The Stranger
It's impossible to keep up with the English language -- but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try!
Finlo Rohrer, BBC
"There is something about the pace of walking and the pace of thinking that goes together. Walking requires a certain amount of attention but it leaves great parts of the time open to thinking. I do believe once you get the blood flowing through the brain it does start working more creatively," says Geoff Nicholson, author of The Lost Art of Walking.
Thursday, 1 May, 2014