"Brain training games don't actually make you smarter." Looking at recent meta-analyses and replication attempts of studies showing increased cognitive abilities gained from brain-training games, the New Yorker article comes to the conclusion that the results are suspect and these games haven't been shown to improve cognitive abilities broadly. Currently, brain training is a multi-million-dollar business.
STREET OF THE IRON PO(E)T, A Paris Diary by Henri Cole: "Today I visited the cenotaph to Baudelaire..." Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5. Part 6.
The Story of Christoph Niemann's Petting Zoo App, an illustrated article from The New Yorker. "I had this idea of making a simple line drawing that one could naturally manipulate by touching and swiping. How hard could that be?"
"This volume stands alone as the only Sendak picture book—that is, a book he both wrote and illustrated—that isn’t designed for children. Not coincidentally, the Blake-inflected illustrations for a 1996 edition of Melville’s “Pierre,” which is certainly not kiddie stuff, bear a similarity to the look of “My Brother’s Book.” It seems that Sendak had an even more specific audience in mind for this one: Kushner told me that Sendak made this book for those adults who had grown up with his stories." Avi Steinberg on Maurice Sendak's My Brother's Book, in The New Yorker. [more inside]
This year's winner of the Eustace Tilley contest features a Brooklyn hipster. The New Yorker Magazine received hundreds of entries for the contest. A little bit more about Eustace. (Previously.) [more inside]
"Oh, Anne! With your small head and pert nose and oversized, ready smile and glossy pixie cut and squeakily tuneful speaking voice, uttering lines like “It came true!” as you gaze at your newly won Oscar with moistened doe-eyes, wearing a powder-pink Prada gown adorned with diamonds and bows: Why are you so annoying?"
The Turn Against Nabokov [newyorker.com]
"The author, whose novels thrum with ironic recurrences, might have been perversely pleased with this: thirty-six years after his death and twenty-two years after the fall of the Soviet Union with all its khudsovets, Vladimir Nabokov is, once again, controversial."
“We Saw Your Boobs.” The Academy is supposedly a trade group, and yet it devoted its opening number to degrading a good part of its membership. [more inside]
The New Yorker's take on Dr Mehmet Oz.
"The new constitution 'recognizes the role of Christianity in preserving nationhood,' and art that is deemed blasphemous or 'anti-national' is now the target of a full-blown campaign of suppression."
“What I’m about to show you,” he says, “you can’t tell a soul about it. If you did, it would be major trouble. Trouble with a capital ‘T.’ ” He sips his drink and tugs the quilt away.Shirley Temple Three by Thomas Pierce
Mawmaw takes a step back. She’s looking at some kind of elephant. With hair.
“Don’t worry. She’s not dangerous,” Tommy says. “Bread Island Dwarf Mammoth. The last wild one lived about ten thousand years ago. They’re the smallest mammoths that ever existed. Cute, isn’t she?”
The mammoth is waist high, with a pelt of dirty-blond fur that hangs in tangled draggles to the dirt. Its tusks, white and pristine, curve out and up. The forehead is high and knobby and covered in a darker fur. The trunk probes the ground for God-knows-what and then curls back into itself like a jelly roll.
“What’s a goshdern Bread Island Dwarf Whatever doing in my yard?” Mawmaw asks.
I asked whether the behavior of Brooks and others at News Corp. wasn’t a reflection of the corrupted journalistic values that Elisabeth had taken issue with in her lecture. She collected her thoughts, folded her arms, and said, “Yes is the quick answer. But, at the same time, I’m a champion of the plurality of voices and diversity of audience, and I think that doesn’t mean that in certain cases behaviors cannot match one’s values.” The New Yorker on Elisabeth Murdoch, in the wake of her lecture at MacTaggart, which was openly critical of both her brother James and her father's infamous News Corporation.
For the past two years, in a loft apartment in downtown Los Angeles, Craig Thornton has been conducting an experiment in the conventions of high-end American dining. Several nights a week, a group of sixteen strangers gather around his dining-room table to eat delicacies he has handpicked and prepared for them, from a meticulously considered menu over which they have no say.
Building machines with a conscience is a big job, and one that will require the coordinated efforts of philosophers, computer scientists, legislators, and lawyers.
[Henry] Hook has come to be known as the Marquis de Sade of the puzzle world: a brilliant and oddly beloved misanthrope, administering exquisite torture through dozens of puzzle books and syndicated crosswords.
I will tell you it cost $42 million just to print Newsweek. Before you’ve even engaged one writer, or one copy editor, or one picture editor. Forty-two million dollars.
Long, wide-ranging interview of Tina Brown by Michael Kinsley.
Long, wide-ranging interview of Tina Brown by Michael Kinsley.
At the request of Tavi (wiki) and his wife Anaheed, This American Life host and MetaFilter favorite Ira Glass has contributed an Ask A Grown Man segment (NSFW audio) (AAGM previously) to Rookie. As an added bonus, he instructs viewers on how to make balloon animals, based on a pamphlet he used as a young man entertaining at parties. When not dispensing balloon advice in this clip, he discusses Buffy & Angel's age discrepancy and blow jobs. (via)>
An angry crow mocked me this morning. I couldn’t finish my croissant, and fled the café in despair.— and other excerpts from Le Blog de Jean-Paul Sartre
"The Wenzhou crash killed forty people and injured a hundred and ninety-two. For reasons both practical and symbolic, the [Chinese] government was desperate to get trains running again, and within twenty-four hours it declared the line back in business. The Department of Propaganda ordered editors to give the crash as little attention as possible. “Do not question, do not elaborate,” it warned, on an internal notice. When newspapers came out the next morning, China’s first high-speed train wreck was not on the front page." [How a high-speed rail disaster exposed China's corruption]
You can accurately judge a person just by looking at their shoes, psychologists say. "Researchers at the University of Kansas found that people were able to correctly judge a stranger's age, gender, income, political affiliation, emotional and other important personality traits just by looking at the person's shoes." Virginia Postrel responded: "The study made a solid contribution to research on first impressions, but it was hardly earthshaking. By getting so much attention, however, it demonstrated a sociological truth: People love to talk about shoes. Even those who dismissed the research as silly often felt compelled to call radio stations or comment on websites, providing details about their own choices. Why this fascination with footwear? " [more inside]
A Short History Of Book Reviewing's Long Decline: 'By the time of the first quote “book-review,” criticism had been in circulation for centuries—long enough for writers to know how it can sting. Understandably, then, the critic’s skepticism of an artist's genius has invariably existed alongside the artist's doubt over the critic's judgment.' [more inside]
A Conservative History of the United States - Jack Hitt for New Yorker's Shouts & Murmurs, pieces together America's storied history from quotes by Rick Perry, Dick Armey, Mike Huckabee, Dan Quayle and more.
Andy agreed. “ ‘Cloud Atlas’ is our getting back to the spectacle of the sixties and seventies, the touchstone movies,” he said, rubbing his bald dome like a magic lantern. The model for their vision, they explained, was Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” which the Wachowskis had first seen when Lana, then Larry, was ten and Andy seven. (Previously and Previously)
Marathon Man: A Michigan dentist’s improbable transformation.
Time, CNN Suspend Zakaria After He Admits "Terrible Mistake" [slate.com] "The columnist was caught passing off large chunks of a New Yorker essay as his own."
Last week, the New Yorker published a (previously rejected) F. Scott Fitzgerald short story, "Thank You for the Light", written in 1936. The magazine has also made available "A Short Autobiography," in which Fitzgerald gave a chronology of his life in terms of alcoholic beverages imbibed. [more inside]
Jonah Lehrer resigns from New Yorker after making up Dylan quotes for his book. Tablet report is cached. (Previously.)
'You actually have to really build a collaborative relationship with the people on the ground if you want to have any hope of understanding what’s going on.'
"Let’s Map Who Owes The Local Warlord Money": Meet An Urban Planner For Cities That Don't Yet Exist (via Small Wars Journal). [more inside]
I born in factory. They put me in wrapper. They seal me in box. Three of us in box. In early days, they move us around. From factory to warehouse. From warehouse to truck. From truck to store. One day in store, boy human sees us on shelf. He grabs us, hides us under shirt. He rushes outside. [more inside]
Jennifer Egan's short story Safari can be read at NewYorker.com (~6600 words), or can be read to you in a wonderful performance by Hope Davis (59:00). Jennifer Egan previously.
With the election of Pena Nieto to the presidency, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) ends a twelve-year absence from the seat. [more inside]
Why Smart People Are Stupid (The New Yorker.) A new study suggests that the smarter people are, the more susceptible they are to cognitive bias.
Malcolm Gladwell says that he got into journalism by accident, that his real dream was to work for an ad agency. “I decided I wanted to be in advertising. I applied to eighteen advertising agencies in the city of Toronto and received eighteen rejection letters, which I taped in a row on my wall,” he wrote in his What the Dog Saw. If true, then Gladwell didn’t fail at all. Rather, he has achieved his dream of becoming an ad man beyond all expectation.The hidden histories of Malcolm Gladwell. [Previously.]
"Not since Saturday Night Live’s Emily Litella thundered against conserving natural racehorses and protecting endangered feces has a polemicist been so incensed by her own misunderstandings." - Harvard Psychology Professor Steven Pinker responds to Joan Acocella's New Yorker piece, The English Wars [more inside]
"This is the final victory of the censor: When people, even people who know they are routinely lied to, cease to be able to imagine what is really the case." Salman Rushdie, On Censorship.
Blown Covers is a blog by New Yorker art editor Françoise Mouly and her daughter Nadja Spiegelman, who is an editor and comics creator herself. The blog focuses on The New Yorker but today has been Maurice Sendak themed with a short comic by Art Spiegelman and Sendak about a conversation they had, a Sendak New Yorker cover, a short Sendak comic called Cereal Baby Keller and an even shorter Sendak comic.
Long before he became a staff writer for The New Yorker and the bestselling author of The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell began his career writing for a politically conservative monthly magazine. Some of his early work for The American Spectator is now available online.
Evening the Odds: Is there a politics of inequality? (Nicholas Lemann in New Yorker)
Hand On The Shoulder, a short story by Ian McEwan. My name is Serena Frome (rhymes with "plume"), and forty years ago, in my final year at Cambridge, I was recruited by the British security service.
How Childbirth Became Industrial by Atul Gawande
The files of the God of Gamblers case can be read as a string of accidents, good and bad: Siu’s run at the baccarat table; Wong’s luck to be assigned an assassin with a conscience; Adelson’s misfortune that reporters noticed an obscure murder plot involving his casino. But the tale, viewed another way, depends as little on luck as a casino does. It is, rather, about the fierce collision of self-interests. If Las Vegas is a burlesque of America—the “ethos of our time run amok,” as Hal Rothman, the historian, put it—then Macau is a caricature of China’s boom, its opportunities and rackets, its erratic sorting of winners and losers.Evan Osnos on a real-life "God of Gamblers" and the rise of Macau, The New Yorker
Does Football have a Future?: Football players are anywhere from five to nineteen times more likely than a member of the general population to suffer from a dementia-like illness. This is likely a result of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (picture), neurodegeneration caused by receiving multiple concussions or even subconcussions that are not detectable around time of impact. CTE has been linked to other mood and behavior changes, including suicidal depression (a great review of the medical literature generally), and has been found in football players as young as 21. And, of course, there is the sometimes debilitating physical disability (either acutely or later in life) from playing a hard-contact sport. The NFL has a long history of adjusting safety standards in bits and pieces (e.g., legalization of the forward pass) to meet public concern over potential injury and disability from playing the sport, though still to some degree publicly denies a connection between football and brain damage. New Yorker writer Ben McGrath talks to football players (past and present), their families (often left behind by untimely death or dementia-twilight), franchise heads, and doctors to explore this history, the crushing legacy of sports injuries, and the question of whether it is possible to reform the rules to minimize the risk of concussion and thus the risk of CTE (if any such risk is acceptable). Would it still be football if such changes were to tone down the violence? (Yes, No [from iconoclast Buzz Bissinger]) And, uncomfortably: is the sport of football unethical for its players, even if entered into on their own volition? (previously in the New Yorker; previously on MetaFilter 1, 2, 3) [more inside]
Barack Obama, Post-Partisan, Meets Washington Gridlock. The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza reviews major domestic policy decisions from the first two years of the Obama administration, based on internal White House memos. Some key decisions: [more inside]