Newspaper of Record

Rebecca Rosen reports at the Atlantic on a century-long error on the front page of the New York Times. The issue number for the February 6, 1898 edition was 14,499; the next day, the issue number was 15,000. Nobody noticed until 1999.At the beginning of 2000, the newspaper announced that Aaron . . . . Continue Reading »

Writing Competitively

Tim Parks’s piece asking why published authors are shown so much respect begins with the career of Salman Rushdie. An easy mark. But Parks’s larger point still stands:“No one is treated with more patronizing condescension than the unpublished author or, in general, the would-be . . . . Continue Reading »

Fake Meat

When Wang bought some meat at a Wal-Mart in China, it didn’t taste right. He knows what donkey tastes like , and this definitely wasn’t donkey. He thinks it tasted a lot like fox. Donkey is popular in China: “As rising disposable incomes have boosted demand, prices for popular . . . . Continue Reading »

Asian Christmas

Department stores in Thailand put up Christmas trees, snowmen, advertise Christmas specials. In November, 800+ school children formed a record-breaking human Christmas tree at a mall in Bangkok. In India, you can buy Christmas meals at restaurants, carolers sing in the malls, and cities are . . . . Continue Reading »

Game flow

What’s the appeal of first-person shooter games? I ask that question because I find no appeal in them. I’m a sitting duck, a target, canon fodder, the guy everyone sneaks up to get an easy kill. Some apparently find it appealing, and Maria Konnikova has an explanation : flow. Taking her . . . . Continue Reading »

Writing Big Books

Reviewing Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch in the New York Times Book Review , Stephen King - who knows about big books - reflects on the challenges of writing big novels: “Such a prodigious investment of time and talent indicates an equally prodigious amount of ambition, but surely there . . . . Continue Reading »

Of the making of books

Augustine knew of the contingencies of writing and readership. Some people, he says at the beginning of The Trinity (1.1.5) will not be able to understand what he writes, but there are others who could understand but will never encounter his book. That’s “why it is useful to have . . . . Continue Reading »

Learning Math with Bart

A few weeks back, the Guardian explained the appeal of The Simpsons to highly intelligent people. It’s full of arcane math jokes. Author Simon Singh recalls his favorite moment: “In ‘The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace’ (1998) . . . Homer tries to become an inventor. In one . . . . Continue Reading »

Old People are Awesome

So writes Laura Helmuth at Slate . And she accepts the consequence: Young people are less so. “Things go horribly wrong in societies composed largely of young people. The Lord of the Flies is fiction, but the Lord’s Resistance Army is all too horrifyingly real. One of the worst . . . . Continue Reading »

Nostalgia for Madonna

Not surprisingly, Miley Cyrus’s erotic performance at the MTV awards left Camille Paglia thinking whistfully about the young Madonna. Cyrus’s antics are “symptomatic of the still heavy influence of Madonna.” But these kids, they’re nothing like the old master: . . . . Continue Reading »