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links for 2009-07-03

03 Jul
  • The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time.
  • In the digital age, with its overabundance of information, the modern newsweekly is in a particularly poignant position…it Chaplin-esquely tries to straddle thousands of rapidly fragmenting micro-niches, a mainframe in an iTouch world. The audience it was created to serve—middlebrow; curious, but not too curious; engaged, but only to a point—no longer exists. Newsweeklies were intended to be counterprogramming to newspapers, back when we were drowning in newsprint and needed a digest to redact that vast inflow of dead-tree objectivity. Now, in response to accelerating news cycles, the newspapers have effectively become newsweekly-style digests themselves, resorting to muddy “news analysis” now that the actual news has hit us on multiple platforms before we even open our front door in the morning.
    Given that even these daily digests are faltering, how is it that a notionally similar weekly news digest—The Economist—is not only surviving, but thriving?
  • Is there a formula—some mix of love, work, and psychological adaptation—for a good life? For 72 years, researchers at Harvard have been examining this question, following 268 men who entered college in the late 1930s through war, career, marriage and divorce, parenthood and grandparenthood, and old age. Here, for the first time, a journalist gains access to the archive of one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies in history. Its contents, as much literature as science, offer profound insight into the human condition
  • * Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.
    * If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home.
  • f the best shortest story, we have only tales. According to one of them, Ernest Hemingway was proud of being the author of a story written in merely six words: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." He considered this as his best story…
    there is not a single superfluous word or, even, a letter or punctuation mark; each word, each mark must be there, each is necessary for the story. Hemingway's six words create or initiate a whole story, actually a universe, of sorrow, bereavement, mourning, solitude, silence, untimely death, despair, loss, and tragedy. Thus, each word in this story gets the utmost meaningfulness or significance that a word may have…
    To choose the most common words, to use them with the possible greatest restraint, yet to reveal a huge world by means of them or to create one out of them is the gift of a great artist…
    The closer that words approach silence, the greater the effect that they can convey.
  • That's the worst accusation: that I am not a serious reader. Not guilty! I love books as much as anybody. But I love reading more. It is the sustained and individual encounter with ideas and stories that is so bewitching. If new formats allow us to have more of those, let us welcome and learn from them.
    I spent my graduate-school summers at the Berg Collection of English and American Literature at the New York Public Library, working just a few feet away from Dickens's actual desk. Surely Dickens — the most successful author of his day — would be experimenting now with the form of this novel, seeking ways to expand his impact on readers. Regardless of format, Little Dorrit seized me no less forcefully today in its indictment of society's ability to destroy through greed and crushing self-interest.
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Posted by on July 3, 2009 in Links

 

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