May 1, 2014 / From the Editor, Uncategorized
Each Friday we compile a list of interesting links and articles our editors find from …
March 21, 2014
Each Friday we compile a list of interesting links and articles our editors find from across the web. Here’s what’s catching our eye this week.
When Zadie Smith writes something, it gets linked. This time on climate change:
There is the scientific and ideological language for what is happening to the weather, but there are hardly any intimate words. Is that surprising? People in mourning tend to use euphemism; likewise the guilty and ashamed. The most melancholy of all the euphemisms: “The new normal.” “It’s the new normal,” I think, as a beloved pear tree, half-drowned, loses its grip on the earth and falls over. The train line to Cornwall washes away—the new normal. We can’t even say the word “abnormal” to each other out loud: it reminds us of what came before. Better to forget what once was normal, the way season followed season, with a temperate charm only the poets appreciated.
MLB starts this weekend. ESPN has a great long read on a new coach who spent 33 years coaching in the minors:
He is still getting used to the seeming illusions of his new life, the not-so-subtle differences in meal money and the width of seats. A few weeks ago, he went to Macy’s to buy the first three road-swing suits he’s owned; he saw that the Royals will be opening their season in Detroit and bought his first overcoat too. Billy Butler, the $8 million designated hitter, recently asked if he wanted to enter a Daytona 500 pool. It was $100 a throw. Jirschele informed Butler, using slightly different language, that $100 still means quite a lot to him and he would have to decline. A little later, Butler stopped by. “Jirsch, you’re in the pool,” he said.
Casey Cep on kindness:
Years ago, when I was not yet a teenager, my father nearly died. He had a series of heart attacks, but then a triple bypass saved his life. There is so much to say about the weeks he spent in the hospital and the months he spent in recovery, as well as the miracles of medicine and the mysteries of the human body, but I want to say something about when his failing heart first shot pains through his left arm. It was early in the morning, but he knew exactly what was happening in his chest and woke my mother to ask her to call an ambulance. Our telephone was in the living room, but before she could leave their bedroom to use it, he asked for something else. My father asked that the ambulance not use its siren.
Pictures emerge from the David Foster Wallace biopic set to debut. They will most likely made you sad:
How much comfort you take in this probably comes down to whether you mostly think of David Foster Wallace as a witty, verbose writer who publicly wrestled with his own self-consciousness in print while trying to capture all the complications and possibilities of life in his time or a lumbering dude in a do-rag. There is no actual entry for “Do-rags, worn by” in the index to the excellent biography of Wallace that the new movie is not based on.
Vice magazine considers the end of Philly cheesesteak:
The cheesesteak is now pervasive enough outside of Philadelphia that any Subway sandwich chain will serve you some monstrosity of a “Philly.” I tracked down one of these sandwiches in its natural environment: a standing-room only convenience store swarmed with high school kids pounding energy drinks. Shockingly, it wasn’t as bad as I expected. The generous sandwich artist garnished it with a mountain of whacky toppings that brought it closer to a salad than a cheesesteak. No traditional Philadelphia steak shop is going to put raw green peppers, black olives, crushed Fritos, or any number of utterly fucking ridiculous absurdities on its sandwiches. That is happening here.
Ted Gioia questions the state of music criticism:
When Harry Connick, Jr. recently used the word “pentatonic” on American Idol, his fellow judge Jennifer Lopez turned it into a joke. And, indeed, what could be more humorous than a musician of Connick’s stature trying to talk about musical scales on a TV reality show? Yet football announcers not only talk about “stunts” or the “triple option” but are expected to explain these technical aspects of the game to the unenlightened. The hosts on business cable channels refer to PE ratios and swap spreads, and no one laughs at them. So why can’t a judge in a TV singing contest employ some basic music terminology? The pentatonic scale is a simple concept—just five notes (do, re, mi, so, la) we all learned as children. Yet even that tiny dose of musical knowledge is apparently too much for modern-day media.
George R.R. Martin worries the TV show “Game of Thrones” might catch up to the books, plus other insights from this interview:
There’s always this tension between fiction and life. Fiction has more structure than life does. But we have to hide the structure. We have to hide the writer, I think, and make a story seem like it was true. Too many stories are too structured and too familiar. The way we read, the way we watch television, the way we go to movies, all give us certain expectations of how a story is going to go. Even for reasons that are totally unconnected with the actual story itself. You go to a movie, who’s the big star? O.K., if Tom Cruise is the star, Tom Cruise is not going to die in the first scene, you know? ‘Cause he’s the star! He’s got to go through. Or you’re watching a TV show and its name is Castle. You know that the character Castle is pretty safe. He’s gonna be there next week, too, and the week after.
Theologian Paul Griffiths offers a wonderful review of Darling a new memoir from Richard Rodriguez:
It’s in this essay, more clearly than anywhere else in the book, that the texture of Rodriguez’s attitude to the Church is displayed. She, like his fleshly darling, is the beloved, his darling. She is, Rodriguez writes, “a feminine act, intuition, and pronoun: The Christian Church is the sentimental branch of Christian theology. (I mean that as praise.)” But she can be tempted by despair and fear to damage herself, to try to deny herself by cleansing herself of what she takes to be impurities. She might do this by shrouding her beauty (old jeans and baggy sweaters rather than red Chanel), and when this begins to happen, love withers.
Nate Silver introduces his new data based reporting site, part of the ESPN Network:
Journalism is far from the whole problem. Science, government, academia and the private sector also have struggled to find the signal in the noise. But journalism is our chosen profession. There is both a need for more data journalism and an opportunity to build a business out of it. That opportunity has required us to think deeply about the strengths and weaknesses of conventional approaches to journalism. One of our first attempts came in the form of a two-dimensional chart, which I shared several weeks ago with Jack Dickey of Time magazine. The chart posits a distinction between quantitative versus qualitative approaches on the one hand and rigorous versus anecdotal approaches on the other.
Please email the Briefing to all your friends, then this essay on our friends turning into spammers can be about you:
I should be clear: My point is not that everyone in my contacts list is a time-wasting jackass; one of the hardest realizations here was that I am personally guilty of sending a large share of category 1 messages to my colleagues every single day and it doesn’t feel like time-wasting jackassery when I’m doing it. In fact, the 1 emails may not even be intrinsically bad emails. They’re fine. If you looked at one of them, you’d probably think, Oh, that seems like a reasonable email that a human being might send.
David A. Garner