06 JAN 2018 by ideonexus

 The Case Against Reading Too Broadly

The real problem with telling young writers to fan out across genres and forms is that it doesn’t help them find a voice. If anything, it’s antivoice. Learning the craft of writing isn’t about hopping texts like hyperlinks. It’s about devotion and obsession. It’s about lingering too long in some beloved book’s language, about steeping yourself in someone else’s style until your consciousness changes colour. It’s Tolkien phases and Plath crushes. It’s going embarrassingly, un...
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22 JUN 2016 by ideonexus

 The Importance of Old, Well-Written Articles

...we overvalue new writing, almost absurdly so, and we undervalue older writing. I feel this market failure keenly each day when I recommend a fine piece of writing that deserves to be read for years to come and yet will have at most two days in the sun. You never hear anybody say, “I’m not going to listen to that record because it was released last year,” or, “I’m not going to watch that film because it came out last month.” Why are we so much less interested in journalism that...
Folksonomies: writing reading pertinence new
Folksonomies: writing reading pertinence new
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If 99% of new content on the Web is worthless, how do we surface the old content for new eyes?

27 MAY 2016 by ideonexus

 Anti-Suburbia Books from the 1950s

Mary and John are the unfortunate (fictional) protagonists of The Crack in the Picture Window, published in 1957 by John Keats, a journalist at the now defunct Washington Daily News. A lacerating (and very funny) indictment of postwar suburbs as "fresh-air slums," Keats’s polemic sold millions of copies in paperback. It revolves around the tragicomic story of the Drones, a nice young couple gulled, first, into buying a box at Rolling Knolls Estates, and then into thinking a larger, more e...
Folksonomies: culture suburbia
Folksonomies: culture suburbia
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30 MAY 2015 by ideonexus

 Are the Humanities Political?

It is very easy to argue that knowledge about Shakespeare or Wordsworth is not political whereas knowledge about contemporary China or the Soviet Union is. My own formal and professional designation is that of "humanist," a title which indicates the humanities as my field and therefore the unlikely eventuality that there might be anything political about what I do in that field. Of course, all these labels and terms are quite unnuanced as I use them here, but the general truth of what I am po...
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30 MAY 2015 by ideonexus

 Pessimism in Predictions and the False Sense of Insecurity

You would think that the disappearance of the gravest threat in the history of humanity would bring a sigh of relief among commentators on world affairs. Contrary to expert predictions, there was no invasion of Western Europe by Soviet tanks, no escalation of a crisis in Cuba or Berlin or the Middle East to a nuclear holocaust.1 The cities of the world were not vaporized; the atmosphere was not poisoned by radioactive fallout or choked with debris that blacked out the sun and sent Homo sapien...
Folksonomies: perspective pessimism
Folksonomies: perspective pessimism
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25 MAY 2015 by ideonexus

 Jay Rosen: Information Overload

Filters in a digital world work not by removing what is filtered out; they simply don't select for it. The unselected material is still there, ready to be let through by someone else's filter. Intelligent filters, which is what we need, come in three kinds: A smart person who takes in a lot and tells you what you need to know. The ancient term for this is "editor." The front page of the New York Times still works this way. An algorithm that sifts through the choices other smart people have...
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28 JAN 2013 by ideonexus

 "Sagan" as a Unit of Measurement

Carl Sagan was an American cosmologist, astronomer, and absolute tireless champion of the sciences in the public sphere. He was the author, co-editor, or editor of almost two dozen science books, and the host the award-winning 1980 television series Cosmos. Sagan was well known for his excitement in talking about science, especially cosmological issues, and would strongly enunciate the M sound in millions and the B sound in billions to emphasize just how big the numbers were and properly diff...
Folksonomies: science geek fun sagan
Folksonomies: science geek fun sagan
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From the trademark "Billions and Billions." "Billions" is plural, meaning greater than two, so billions and billions at minimum equals four.

01 JAN 2012 by ideonexus

 Letters to the Editor About the Pioneer 10 Plaque and Con...

What sexuality there is in the message also drew epistolary fire. The Los Angeles Times published a letter from an irate reader that went: I must say I was shocked by the blatant display of both male and female sex organs on the front page of the Times. Surely this type of sexual exploitation is below the standards our community has come to expect from the Times. Isn't it enough that we must tolerate the bombardment of pornography through the media of film and smut magazines? Isn't it bad en...
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One letter complained about sending pornography into space, a follow up letter made fun of the ignorance. Carl Sagan laments the failure of the plaque designers to make the two figures ethnically ambiguous.

02 JUN 2011 by ideonexus

 Funny Things Scientists Parents Can Say to Their Kids

I don't know how other prospective fathers treat their wives' pregnancies, but I saw it as a science project. It had a protocol, parameters, a timeline, and even the one item that makes funding agencies happy: a deliverable. I found myself poking at my wife's abdomen, asking, "Who's Daddy's little gestating blastocyst? Who's recapitulating phylogeny?" [...] Photo by Dan Koestler Email Article Email Editor Discuss in Forum Related Articles Print this page Free Newsletter Advanced Article S...
Folksonomies: child rearing humor
Folksonomies: child rearing humor
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A good list of quotes, but kids probably won't get them.

21 MAY 2011 by ideonexus

 Animal Instinct and Child Birth

What, then, is the difference between human and other animals? Are their bodies made differently? As a matter of fact they are remarkably similar. Cat and dog bodies are used in premedical anatomy studies due to the similarity of structures with identical name and function. Is it that they just can't experience pain? Following a natural-childbirth newspaper article, an indignant letter to the editor asserted cats can have kittens without pain because they cannot feel pain as human beings do...
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Humans don't have instincts when it comes to childbirth, but they can train for it.