A brief gallivant about the marketplace of ideas.

Month: May, 2014

Read — 2014/05/31

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Review: Her Not All Her“, by Ayten Tartici (MAKE Literary Magazine). A review of Damion Searl’s English translation of the play “Her Not All Her: On/With Robert Walser”, by Austrian author and Nobel Laureate Elfriede Jelinek. From the review:
  2. “[A]lready I’m rubbing words against each other like a cricket its wings.” Jelinek reminds us that crickets do not sing; their “song” is the product of friction, of rubbing their wings. So, too, for Jelinek, writing is a struggle to be heard.

  3. U.S. Sway in Asia Is Imperiled as China Challenges Alliances“, by Helene Cooper & Jane Perlez (NY Times). American foreign policy struggles to come to terms with China’s growing influence and assertiveness.
  4. How Book Publishers Can Beat Amazon“, by Bob Kohn (NY Times). An impassioned albeit oversimplified and biased clarion for writers and publishers to unite against Amazon and its market power.
  5. Dissonance in Classical Music“, by Anthony Tommasini & Gabe Johnson (NY Times). A 16-minute video in which Tommasini explains musical dissonance through words and example.
  6. Parting (and Changing Your Facebook Status) Is Such Sweet Sorrow“, by Liz Hohenadel (Vogue). “We were too busy living our relationship in the real world to worry about defining it in the digital one.”
  7. The Flat Abs Workout: Because Crop Top Season Has Arrived“, by Mackenzie Wagoner (Vogue). “In place of extreme dieting and frantic last-ditch sit-ups, [Justin Gelband] believes that being crop-top ready is ‘a way of life’.” I couldn’t agree more — though I confess I have yet to sport the crop-top myself.
  8. Rihanna’s Stylist Mel Ottenberg Picks the Superstar’s 19 Top Looks of All Time“, by Chioma Nnadi (Vogue). Yes, there are only 18 photos in the slide show. I guess the 19th look is so knock-out it has yet to be born.
  9. Easy Elegance: 26 May 2014“, by Chloe Malle (Vogue).
  10. Why a Daily 8-Minute Afternoon Walk Might Change Your Life“, by Katherine Bernard (Vogue). What do Vladmir Nabokov, Steve Jobs, and Stephen Semmes have in common? They are all brilliant thinkers — and big walkers.

Read — 2014/05/30

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. BNP : tout comprendre à la menace américaine d’une amende record“, par Diane Jean, Jonathan Parienté & Maxime Vaudano (Le Monde).
  2. Justice Department Seeks More than $10 Billion Penalty from BNP Paribas“, by Devlin Barrett, David Enrich & Christopher M. Matthews (Wall Street Journal).
  3. SpaceX Reveals Manned Capsule Intended to Serve Space Station“, by Andy Pasztor (Wall Street Journal).
  4. Abbas Seeks a New Government that Would Seal Alliance with Hamas“, by Isabel Kershner (NY Times).
  5. To Young Minds of Today, Harvard Is the Stanford of the East“, by Richard Pérez-Peña (NY Times). I objected to the very first sentence of this article: “In academia, where brand reputation is everything,…” No. Reputation is everything if you’re looking to parlay your education into money for money’s sake. In that case I would contend you are pursuing education for the wrong reason. Mr. Pérez-Peña would do well to remind himself of the motto of the Stanford of the East. More insightful comments in the article include “in particularly contemporary measures, like excellence in computer science, engineering and technology, Harvard could find much to emulate” in Stanford.
  6. That’s where the money is” (The Economist). The article’s tagline: “How to hand over $272 billion a year to criminals”. But hey, it’s America, where anyone, even criminals, can strike it rich if they’re willing to work hard enough! Note that the $272b figure is an upper estimate.
  7. Ancient leaves tattle on insects“, by Laura M. Zahn (Science). Types of leaf damage serve as a valid proxy for insect diversity.
  8. Clues from the resilient“, by Stephen H. Friend & Eric E. Schadt (Science). “The Andromeda Strain“, anyone?
  9. Transcription takes a pause to consider“, by Guy Riddihough (Science).
  10. Science Podcast: 30 May Show” (Science).
  11. The importance of authentic science on screen“, by Dov Greenbaum (Science).

Read — 2014/05/29

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Google Releases Employee Data, Illustrating Tech’s Diversity Challenge“, by Claire Cain Miller (NY Times).
  2. The Soylent Revolution Will Not Be Pleasurable“, by Farhad Manjoo (NY Times). “Soylent’s creators have forgotten a basic ingredient found in successful tech products, not to mention in most good foods. That ingredient is delight.”
  3. Leader of the French Far Right Hopes to Fix Europe from the Inside“, by Andrew Higgins (NY Times).
  4. Efforts to Curb College Costs Face Resistance“, by Josh Mitchell (Wall Street Journal).
  5. 10 Fashion School Grads Making Waves Now, by Ally Betker (Vogue).
  6. C’est la fin du discours multiculturaliste en France“, by Olivier Roy (Le Monde).

Spotlights on Harvard’s Commencement Week activities:

  1. Sheryl Sandberg Preaches the Value of Honesty” (Harvard Magazine). As noted in the article, a video of Sandberg’s full address can be viewed on YouTube. Among my favorite remarks: “Eventually needs to become immediately” and “Done is better than perfect”.
  2. Harvard Baccalaureate 2014: ‘Face Outward’” (Harvard Magazine). Breaking good versus Breaking Bad: In a bizarre twist worthy of the show, a major figure in higher education remarks, “You [students] called for a moral as well as an intellectual education”.
  3. Salman Khan: ‘Surrender Your Individual Ego’” (Harvard Magazine). Leaders “don’t assume the current reality is a given.” Amen.

Also, an amusing quote from Gerard Baker’s “The 10-Point” (Wall Street Journal):

Mr. Buffet has been no friend of airlines ever since he was disappointed by a US Airways investment in the 1980s and famously declared that if a capitalist had been present at Kitty Hawk, “he would have done his successors a huge favor by shooting Orville down.”

Read — 2014/05/25

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. In This Digital Age, Where Have All the Love Letters Gone?“, by Jami Attenberg (Vogue). Gone to hasty, orthographically challenged SMS, every one; oh when will they ever learn… Perhaps telling that I had to look up the acronym “SWAK”.
  2. How to Tie a Scarfy Like a Parisienne“, by Laird Borrelli-Persson (Vogue).
  3. The ancient roots of the 1%“, by Heather Pringle (Science). “[I]t is the ownership of small, resource-rich areas — and the ease of bestowing them on descendants — that fosters inequality”
  4. Tracking who climbs up — and who falls down — the ladder“, by Jeffrey Mervis (Science).
  5. Inequality in the long run“, by Thomas Piketty & Emmanuel Saez (Science).
  6. Blockbuster claim could collapse in a cloud of dust“, by Adrian Cho (Science). The microwave-polarization pattern detected by BICEP2 and attributed to CMB may arise from cosmic dust within our galaxy.
  7. Lamarck was partially right — and that is good for corals“, by C. Mark Eakin (Science).
  8. Testing gauge/gravity duality on a quantum black hole“, by Juan Maldacena (Science).
  9. Why octopuses don’t get tied in knots“, by NA (Science). How to evade an octopus attack: slather yourself in the attacker’s skin.

Read — 2014/05/23

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Political Leaders in Thailand Submit to Military Takeover“, by Thomas Fuller (NY Times). Most leading Thai political figures, like most Thai people, acquiesce to the military’s seizure of power. Singapore’s government warned its citizens that “[t]he situation is unpredictable and volatile, and may evolve quite rapidly”.
  2. Amazon Escalates Its Battle against Publishers“, by David Streitfeld & Melissa Eddy (NY Times). Flexing its clout in revenue-sharing disputes with publishers, Amazon removes “buy” buttons or entire pages of certain products, or simply takes the “UnPrime” approach (i.e. delaying shipment).
  3. Tasting France through Five Signature Dishes“, by Ann Mah (NY Times). Sounds like fun!
  4. Lindy Hop Is Back, Thanks, in Part, to Sweden“, by James Barron (NY Times). Also fun! Check out the YouTube video from the 1941 film “Hellzapoppin” linked in the article. (Warning: Video may contain suggestive and insanely skilled dancing.)

Read — 2014/05/22

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Thai Army Declares Coup, Citing a Need to ‘Reform’ Nation“, by Thomas Fuller (NY Times). Two days after declaring martial law and insisting “this is not a coup”, the Thai military declares a coup.
  2. The path to the throne” (The Economist).
  3. Fashion and Beauty at Cannes” (NY Times). Among my favorite looks:

Read — 2014/05/21

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. After Fed, Bernanke Offers His Wisdom, for a Big Fee“, by Alexandra Stevenson (NY Times). Dr. Bernanke earned about $200,000 a year as Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Now he earns about $200,000 an afternoon, when that afternoon involves a speaking engagement. Says David Rosenberg, chief economist and strategist at Gluskin Sheff, “You can spend $250,000 for Bernanke’s time at a private dinner, or you could just sit down and read what people like Janet Yellen and Mark Carney have to say…You can actually do [the latter] for free and draw pretty much the same conclusions.”
  2. Summer’s Winners: 20 Wines for $20“, by Eric Asimov (NY Times).
  3. The people’s toll“, by Rose Lincoln (Harvard Gazette). If you’re around Harvard Yard on a lazy Sunday afternoon, join the Russian Bell Ringers at Lowell House.
  4. The house that math built“, by Katie Daubs (Toronto Star).
  5. Mary Ellen and Walter Rudin Residence“, by Peter Beers. Photographs of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Walter Rudin House.

Read — 2014/05/20

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. General Declares Martial Law across Thailand amid Paralyzing Protests“, by Thomas Fuller (NY Times). Said Thailand’s General Prayuth Chan-ocha, “The army intends to bring peace to the beloved country of all Thais as soon as possible…We urge people not to panic…The imposition of martial law is not a coup d’état.”
  2. 5 in China Army Face U.S. Charges of Cyberattacks“, by Michael S. Schmidt & David E. Sanger (NY Times). The U.S. Justice Department traces the hacking of Westinghouse Electric and the United States Steel Corp to a Shanghai-based cyberunit of China’s People’s Liberation Army; the Justice Department formally charged five. “The move by the Justice Department was almost certainly symbolic since there is virtually no chance that the Chinese would turn over the five People’s Liberation Army members named in the indictment.”
  3. Remembering, as an Extreme Sport“, by Benedict Carey (NY Times). The Extreme Memory Tournament, held in San Diego, offers suspense to spectators and data to scientists. According to lead researcher Dr. Henry L. Roediger III, “We found that one of the biggest differences between memory athletes and the rest of us…is in a cognitive ability that’s not a direct measure of memory at all but of attention.” It was no surprise that nearly all contestants used the millenia-old memory technique known as the method of loci, or memory palaces. Researchers highlighted memory athletes’ high scores on tests of working memory (a mental sketchpad, sort of like human RAM) and attentional control (focus and selective forgetting).
  4. Creation, in the Eye of the Beholder“, by George Johnson (NY Times). Criticizing the anthropic principle latent in creationist arguments, Johson writes “our image of God the machinist is a reflection of ourselves”.
  5. Boozing it up“, by J.S. & L.P (The Economist). It would be interesting to correlate the percentage of drinkers in a country with the frequency of alcohol abuse.
  6. In Performance: Jeremy Denk“, by Erik Braund & Ashley Maas (NY Times). Pianist Jeremy Denk plays Mozart’s Rondo in F, K. 494.

Read — 2014/05/19

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Mapping Our Interiors“, by Quentin Hardy (NY Times). Fun fact for the day: Steel used in construction distorts the Earth’s magnetic field and gives each building a magnetic fingerprint. (Question: Would two houses built from identical house plans have different fingerprints due to random variations in the steel concentration and distribution in the concrete?) After scanning a building, the company IndoorAtlas can provide floor-plan navigation to individuals via smartphone. Says Simon Thompson, geospatial analyst (word of the day), “The world is going to be incredibly optimized”.
  2. Student Debt Grows Faster at Universities with Highest-Paid Leaders, Study Finds“, by Tamar Lewin (NY Times). Says co-author Marjorie Wood, “universities that have top-heavy executive spending also hav[e] more adjuncts, more tuition increases and more administrative spending”.
  3. Times Minute“, by Carrie Halperin (NY Times). Video overview of American immigration law, polluted waters at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil, and standouts at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.

Read — 2014/05/16

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Hollywood vs. Cannes“, by Alessandra Codinha (Vogue).
  2. 7 Women Share What Motivates Their Workouts“, by Mackenzie Wagoner (Vogue). The sampler of motivational phrases includes “I actually enjoy working out”, “No half-assing if I want a good ass”, and “Bikinis equals motivation”
  3. The 10 Commandments of Typography“, by Evan Brown (DesignMantic). Thanks to KL for the reference.
  4. Raw Wood Sings“, by Laura Levis (Harvard Magazine). Spotlight on Bob Childs, violinmaker. “They say there are two things in the world that have completed their evolution — one of them is the redwood tree, and the other is the violin.”
  5. Backing the Big Bang“, by Alvin Powell (Harvard Gazette). A vintage article on the polarization pattern in the cosmic microwave background detected by BICEP2 and reported in March 2014.