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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Parlance Of Pilots, by Mark Vanhoenacker, Aeon

I like that it’s universal, nothing less than we’d expect from a realm of human endeavour that’s been such a symbol and a catalyst of this age of globalisation. I like that the language of the sky is so hidden, and yet it’s always being spoken. When I fly as a passenger, that language is what’s going on at the front – at the pointy end – of the same plane in which I’m doing the crossword or devouring reruns of 30 Rock. And when I’m sitting in the backyard with a cup of coffee and a book, it’s bouncing all around the cloudless blue above me, as it is at all hours in the skies above Honolulu and Cairo and Ulaanbaatar, above everywhere.

I like how different the language of the sky is from everyday English – indeed, we might give it its own name, Aeroese (though it’s also sometimes, and less aspirationally, called Aviation English). Above all, I love how Aeroese can somehow manage, in its technical, obscuring precision, to capture the high romance of flight – an aspect of my job, no matter how much I love it, that in the cockpit we rarely have reason to consider directly.

I Don’t Like Roller Coasters, But The View From Earth Is Fine, by Justin Sablich, New York Times

But as a recent trip to Hersheypark to reclaim some lost childhood joy confirmed, amusement parks, and theme parks in particular, can still be fulfilling, especially if you can shed the shame that often accompanies those of us who prefer both feet on the ground.

Mixing Memory & Desire, by Dominic Green, New Criterion

teinbeck admitted that he did not deserve it, but accepted anyway. Sartre assumed that he did deserve it, but refused on principle. Pinter plainly did not deserve it, but accepted, also on principle. Tolstoy was glad to miss out, because he would have had to dispose of the money. Joyce, who could have done with the money, was never nominated.

The follies attending the selection process of the Nobel Prize for Literature constitute one of the only two interesting things about the prize. The other interesting thing about the Nobel is not the acceptance speeches, though Pinter’s speech, a note-perfect send-up of anti-American paranoia, suggested that the old ham could still turn on the absurdist humor of his early plays. No, the other interesting thing is the subsequent trajectory of the winner’s reputation.

What It Is Like To Like, by Louis Menand, New Yorker

Art and taste in the age of the Internet.