Maria Bustillos: Irony Is Wonderful, Terrific, Fantastic! –
All I can say is that even the idea of an irony-free culture, with adults skipping around going Hullo Trees, Hullo Sky, can only fill the rational mind with dread.
Zadie Smith: Joy –
It might be useful to distinguish between pleasure and joy.
Harvey Whitehouse: On Ritual –
Rituals bind us, in modern societies and prehistoric tribes alike. But can our loyalties stretch to all of humankind?
Matt Haughey: Why I love Twitter and barely tolerate Facebook –
I find the new life history Timeline approach to be a way of constantly dredging up the past, to show others how it shaped this person, and it’s not necessarily the best way to define ourselves.
Sean Howe: The true story of life at Marvel Comics in the glory days of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee –
With the introduction of the Inhumans, it was suddenly apparent that the Marvel Universe was infinite, that there could be whole civilizations in every corner of the entire cosmos: as each issue tumbled into the next, picking up momentum, expanding the cast, the grand space opera absorbed forgotten characters and established the relationships between them all.
Peter Mountford: Steal My Book! –
Holy crap, I thought, my book is going to be published in Russia! Then I remembered that no Russian publisher had acquired the rights, and realized that AlexanderIII must be translating it for some kind of book-pirating outfit.
Robert Capps: Why Things Fail: From Tires to Helicopter Blades, Everything Breaks Eventually –
It’s actually not hard to make a hinge that will last for a really, really long time. All you have to do is make it a tough, heavy hinge. But that creates several problems. First, a burly hinge will be stiffer and less sensitive than a small, thin hinge, so the pedal won’t feel right. Second, and worse, is the excess weight. Slap a big hinge onto the gas pedal and you may add only a couple of ounces and a few cents of overhead to the truck. But multiply that across hundreds of hinges, bolts, handles, door locks, latches, and so on, and suddenly you have a bloated truck that is slow, sluggish, gas-hungry, and expensive. A truck that is, in the parlance of reliability testers, overengineered.
Boris Katchka: Proust Wasn’t a Neuroscientist. Neither was Jonah Lehrer –
In fact, by the time he was caught breaking the rules of journalism, Lehrer was barely beholden to the profession at all. He was scrambling up the slippery slope to the TED-talk elite: authors and scientists for whom the book or the experiment is just part of a multimedia branding strategy. He was on a conveyor belt of blog posts, features, lectures, and inspirational books, serving an entrepreneurial public hungry for futurist fables, easy fixes, and scientific marvels in a world that often feels tangled, stagnant, and frustratingly familiar. He was less interested in wisdom than in seeming convincingly wise.
Venkatesh Rao: Welcome to the Future Nauseous –
My new explanation is this: we live in a continuous state of manufactured normalcy. There are mechanisms that operate — a mix of natural, emergent and designed — that work to prevent us from realizing that the future is actually happening as we speak. To really understand the world and how it is evolving, you need to break through this manufactured normalcy field. Unfortunately, that leads, as we will see, to a kind of existential nausea.
Jonathan Haidt: Reasons Matter (When Intuitions Don’t Object) –
A two-dimensional epistemological space showing the four cognitive states you might be in as you hear and discuss a story about X. The horizontal dimension is intuition: you intuitively “see that” X is bad (in which case you start on the left edge of the figure). The vertical dimension is “reasoning-why”: you search for reasons why X is bad (you try to reason your way downward). There are only two safe, comfortable spots on the table: the lower-left corner, where your intuitions say that X is bad and you have reasons to support your condemnation, and the upper-right corner, where your intuitions say that X is good and you have reasons to support that claim. People in those two corners believe that they have knowledge, or justified true belief. So how does a typical moral argument proceed?
Adrian Chen: Unmasking Reddit’s Violentacrez, The Biggest Troll on the Web –
Judging from his internet footprint, Brutsch, 49, has a lot to sweat over. If you are capable of being offended, Brutsch has almost certainly done something that would offend you, then did his best to rub your face in it. His speciality is distributing images of scantily-clad underage girls, but as Violentacrez he also issued an unending fountain of racism, porn, gore, misogyny, incest, and exotic abominations yet unnamed, all on the sprawling online community Reddit. At the time I called Brutsch, his latest project was moderating a new section of Reddit where users posted covert photos they had taken of women in public, usually close-ups of their asses or breasts, for a voyeuristic sexual thrill. It was called ”Creepshots.” Now Brutsch was the one feeling exposed and it didn’t suit him very well.
Jason Tanz: How a Videogame God Inspired a Twitter Doppelgänger — and Resurrected His Career –
At first Molyneux found the feed annoying; @PeterMolydeux was a pathetic character. His shtick was to spout overheated, ridiculous game ideas that could never get made. One tweet described a Kinect game that required players to cry before they could pass through a gate. Another posited a racing game in which you controlled the road instead of the cars. But over time Molyneux found himself drawn to his online impersonator. The ideas were silly, yes, but they were also oddly compelling.
Craig Mod: Subcompact Publishing –
Not quite website, not quite magazine, not quite book. Whatever they may be, we’re poised to see more like them — soon.
Marah Eakin: Steve Albini integrates the history of music fads into his hate for Cher’s “Believe” –
Those things are kind of grating if you’re aware of the area behind the curtain in Oz, and you see this happen. Whoever has that done to their record, you just know that they are marking that record for obsolescence. They’re gluing the record’s feet to the floor of a certain era and making it so it will eventually be considered stupid.
Maria Margaronis: Fear and loathing in Athens: the rise of Golden Dawn and the far right –
Standing among the citizens of Megara as Michaloliakos addresses them, I feel as if I’ve slipped into a parallel universe. As a Greek, I’ve known these people all my life: middle-aged women with coiffed hair and well-upholstered bosoms, men in clean white shirts and neatly belted trousers. They’re the people who run the cafes and corner shops; who work hard every day, often at two or three jobs; who pinch children’s cheeks and won’t let you pay for your coffee; who were always cynical about politicians’ promises. I never thought they could fall prey to fascist oratory. Yet here they are, applauding Michaloliakos as he barks and roars, floodlit against a low white building next to the petrol station. We could almost be back in the 1940s, between the Axis occupation and the civil war, when former collaborators whipped up hatred of the left resistance.
David Wallace-Wells: A Brain With a Heart –
In 1962, he took a residency at UCLA, where he became a regular at Muscle Beach and set a California state weightlifting record with a 600-pound power lift: “I was known as Dr. Squat,” he says, “which rather pleased me.” And he continued to motorbike, riding solo and loaded with amphetamines as far as the Grand Canyon, stopping only for gas. One day, a patient paralyzed from the neck down and blind from neuromyelitis optica heard Sacks was a biker, and asked to come along for a ride; with the help of weightlifting friends, he abducted her from the hospital, strapped her against his own torso, and rode up and down Topanga Canyon.
Ron Rosenbaum: Lewis Lapham’s Antidote to the Age of BuzzFeed –
Each issue is a feast, so well curated—around 100 excerpts and many small squibs in issues devoted to such relevant subjects as money, war, the family and the future—that reading it is like choosing among bonbons for the brain. It’s a kind of hip-hop mash-up of human wisdom. Half the fun is figuring out the rationale of the order the Laphamites have given to the excerpts, which jump back and forth between millennia and genres: From Euripides, there’s Medea’s climactic heart-rending lament for her children in the “Family” issue. Isaac Bashevis Singer on magic in ’70s New York City. Juvenal’s filthy satire on adulterers in the “Eros” issue. In the new “Politics” issue we go from Solon in ancient Athens to the heroic murdered dissident journalist Anna Politkovskaya in 21st-century Moscow. The issue on money ranges from Karl Marx back to Aristophanes, forward to Lord Byron and Vladimir Nabokov, back to Hammurabi in 1780 B.C.