Tag Archives: The New York Review of Books

The Hedgehog’s Array: October 2, 2015

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Noteworthy reads from the last week:

“The Amazing Inner Lives of Animals,” Tim Flannery
“Most of us will never see a wild elephant, much less spend the time observing them that is required to understand them as individuals. But there are animals that share our lives, and whose societies, emotional depth, and intelligence are readily accessible.”

“Behind the Draped Mirror,” Colin Dickey
“The period of mourning is always delicate, temporally speaking. The procession from death to the afterlife is represented in many human cultures as a journey, sometimes including a psychopomp like Anubis or Charon, a ferryman to guide us on our way.”

“Unstable Atoms,” Kerry Clare
“Closer to home, the past itself functions as another kind of otherwhere. From Mary-Rose’s perspective, there seems to be an impassable gulf between then and now, even though the characters are the same people.”

“Thinking with Heidegger: On the Theological Implications of an ‘A-theistic’ Philosophy,” Christopher Barnett
“Thus Heidegger’s intellectual formation lies very much in the traditional Catholicism of his hometown. What, then, led him away from this heritage and toward the a-theological character of his later thinking?”

“From Silkworms to Songbirds: Why We No Longer Preach Like Jonathan Edwards,” Ted A. Smith
“Edwards saw these typological connections everywhere. He saw shadows of divine things in the way a snake caught its prey, what it is like to climb a hill, the waves of a stormy sea, flaxen clothing, cornmeal, the stench of a corpse, milk, and the habit of taking off one’s clothes before sleeping.”

“Has Child Protective Services Gone Too Far?,” Michelle Goldberg
“Advocates for families caught up in the child-welfare system hope that the national debate sparked by the free-range parenting movement will draw attention to the threats and intrusions that poor and minority parents endure all the time.”

Hedgehogs abroad:

“How to Tame an Internet Troll,” Frank Pasquale
“The fantasy of using words alone to right a perceived injustice—or trigger a meltdown—has renewed relevance today.”

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The Hedgehog’s Array: August 21, 2015

hedgehog array logo_FLAT_72dpi[3]Noteworthy reads from the last week:

“Selling Out the Newspaper Comic Strip,” Luke Epplin
Calvin and Hobbes, which centered on a headstrong child and a stuffed tiger that comes to life under his gaze, shared many similarities with Peanuts: articulate children, fantasy sequences, episodic storylines, philosophical undercurrents, and an aversion to facile punch lines. But Schulz and Watterson harbored fundamental disagreements about the nature and direction of their medium, and their entrenched beliefs shaped their divergent approaches to comics as both an art and a business.”

“Melancholy,” Carina del Valle Schorske
“Melancholy is a word that has fallen out of favor for describing the condition we now call depression. The fact that our language has changed, without the earlier word disappearing completely, indicates that we are still able to make use of both.”

“The Ashley Madison Hack Should Scare You, Too,” Heather Havrilesky
“At the exact moment when citizens worldwide should be noticing that we’re all living in glass houses, many of us are picking up stones instead.”

“Why Can’t People Just Be Sensible?,” Jenny Diski
“Oh, Doris would say to anyone in any kind of emotional trouble, why can’t people just be sensible? Once or twice I shouted back: because we’re people. The answer carried no weight at all.”

“The Riders of the Waves,” Alice Gregory
“Reputations are made and maintained in the ocean, but they’re premised on more than just talent. Seniority, humility, pain tolerance, and a hundred other factors contribute to a surfer’s local eminence.”

Hedgehogs abroad:

“Gallery Chronicle,” Leann Davis Alspaugh
“El Greco (1541–1614) knew the value of his work and was not afraid to go to court to prove his point.”

“The Genealogy of Orals,” Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
“When someone from abroad wants to learn about our university system, his first pressing question is: How do your students participate in university life? We answer: By means of the ear — they take part as listeners. The foreigner is amazed and asks: Purely by listening? Purely by listening, we repeat.”
(excerpted from Anti-Education, a volume of Nietzsche’s lectures edited by Chad Wellmon)

“Digital Star Chamber,” Frank Pasquale
“For wines or films, the stakes are not terribly high. But when algorithms start affecting critical opportunities for employment, career advancement, health, credit and education, they deserve more scrutiny.”

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The Hedgehog’s Array: June 12, 2015

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Noteworthy reads from the last week:

“Siberia’s Surprisingly Australian Past,” Helen Andrews
“The Siberians’ reluctance to discuss the matter might indicate not anxiety but a healthy state of having moved on. They had not reckoned with their past in a way that turned up under my questioning, but that hardly proves no reckoning has taken place.”

“Saint Sardine,” Cara Parks
“Today, the sardine is undergoing its own conversion of expendable foods into those given pride of plate. For years, sardines have battled a reputation as relegated only to those who couldn’t afford better—a perception not helped by their ubiquitous presence as a canned good outside of Portugal. Over the last few years, however, sardines have developed something of a food-world following.”

“Nazi Propaganda: Out of the Cage,” Francine Prose
“Nearly everyone who speaks in the film agrees that context is all-important; that the films need to be exhibited as examples of vile propaganda, that the lies they promulgate need to be exposed, and that an audience should be told about the damage that these works helped to inflict.”

“What is Code?,” Paul Ford
“This is real. A Scrum Master in ninja socks has come into your office and said, ‘We’ve got to budget for apps.’ Should it all go pear-shaped, his career will be just fine.”

“The Empty Bath,” Colin Burrow
“In ‘On Translating Homer’ Matthew Arnold described Homer as ‘eminently noble’, ‘eminently rapid’ and ‘eminently plain and direct’ in style and ideas. Homer ‘has, besides, the pure lines of an Ionian horizon, the liquid clearness of an Ionian sky’. These assertions are often quoted. I find that strange because they seem plain crazy to me.”

Hedgehogs abroad:

“No Benedict Without Benedictines,” Jeff Guhin
“Much conservative discussion of the Benedict Option forgets that the ultimate goal for MacIntyre is a community rooted in tradition driven by practices. That’s only possible with a lot of communal interactions and common living.”

“The Enlightenment Index,” Brad Pasanek and Chad Wellmon
“Although much has been written on the subject, ‘print culture’ remains a puzzling hybrid term, difficult to analyze into its cultural and technological components. For both Kant and Reid, print posed a first threat to the process of enlightenment.”

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The Hedgehog’s Array: May 29, 2015

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Noteworthy reads from the last week:

“ A Plea for Culinary Modernism,” Rachel Laudan
“As an historian I cannot accept the account of the past implied by Culinary Luddism, a past sharply divided between good and bad, between the sunny rural days of yore and the gray industrial present.”

“In Europe, Fake Jobs Can Have Real Benefits,” Liz Alderman
“Inside virtual companies, workers rotate through payroll, accounting, advertising and other departments. They also receive virtual salaries to spend within the make-believe economy.”

“What are modern museums really for?,” William Cook
“Dunham Massey’s success shows there’s no need to bore the punters with the whole story. Visitors can find that online. Instead, museums need to find something, anything, no matter how small or incidental, that people can connect with.”

“Corpse Brides and Ghost Grooms: A Guide to Marrying the Dead,” Ella Morton
“So you want to marry a ghost.”

“Training Young Doctors: The Current Crisis,” Lara Goitein
“In the 1890s, Sir William Osler, now regarded as something of a demigod in American medicine, created at the Johns Hopkins Hospital a novel system for training physicians after graduation from medical school. It required young physicians to reside in the hospital full-time without pay, sometimes for years, to learn how to care for patients under the close supervision of senior physicians.”

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The Hedgehog’s Array: March 13, 2015

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Noteworthy reads from the last week:

“Democratic Romanticism and Its Critics,” Mark Schmitt
“The idea that American democracy should be more transparent and more inclusive, that it should put the broad public interest ahead of partisanship or local or private interests, is so benign that it’s hard to find a coherent argument against those aspirations. Who speaks for partisanship, patronage, corruption, or secrecy?”

“Do Fanboys Dream of Electric Cars?,” Navneet Alang
“If the smartwatch becomes truly popular, who knows what the world might look like after eagerly adopting newest invention?”

“In Defense of Doing Wrong,” Ben Wizner
“One of my ACLU colleagues, who’s a very fierce privacy advocate … emailed me the other day and said she was sick of talking about surveillance and democracy and liberty. She thought it was time for us to talk more about drugs and porn and adultery and gossip.”

“Confessing and Confiding,” Emily Fox Gordon
“The trauma narrative mode had long been in the ascendant, of course, both in the literary world and in the culture, long enough to have weathered decades of satirical assaults and earnest opinion pieces calling into question the narcissism at its core.”

“Death to Death Row,” Lucy Hughes-Hallett
“Lehrfreund and Jabbar are the executive directors of the Death Penalty Project (DPP), a charity that provides free legal representation to those condemned to death. Personally, both would like to see capital punishment abolished everywhere, but they don’t march in the streets waving banners. They don’t harangue politicians. They don’t barge in where they’re not wanted. They use the law to change the law.”

“Bot or Not?,” James Gleick
“Because the Twitterverse is made of text, rather than rocks and trees and bones and blood, it’s suddenly quite easy to make bots. Now there are millions, by Twitter’s own estimates—most of them short-lived and invisible nuisances. All they need to do is read text and write text. For example, there is a Twitter creature going by the name of @ComposedOf, whose life is composed of nothing more than searching for tweets containing the phrase ‘comprised of.'”

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The Hedgehog’s Array: January 30, 2015

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Noteworthy reads from the last week:

“Thomas Struth: Style Without Style,” Jana Prikryl
“Perhaps what’s missing from Struth’s image is a traditional point of view, quite literally. The cathedral’s façade is seen from an almost unrealistically frontal perspective, every detail appearing to be equidistant from the camera’s lens, as if its eye were everywhere at once.”

“I Would Do This for You: The Narrative Possibilities of Leaked Emails,” Lydia Kiesling
“The joy of reading other people’s mail is a well-known, well-documented phenomenon. Anyone who has spent time in an archive has found themselves wandering through the hedge maze of correspondence, which can lead either to fruitful new projects or simply leave the reader floundering in some voyeur’s backwater, pointlessly obsessing over the sheer novelty of the way that people communicate with one another.”

“Wolflandia,” Elliott D. Woods
“As often as I see bumper stickers in Northern Rockies towns that say things like Save an Elk, Shoot a Wolf and Smoke a Pack a Day, I was surprised to learn that wolf reintroduction actually had significant public support across the region.”

“How SkyMall Captured a Moment of Technological and American History,” Bess Lovejoy
“As the diversity of these products points out, no matter where your plane was heading, perusing SkyMall often seemed like a journey inside the American mind—with its productivity obsession, its meat infatuations, its ultimate quest to be perfectly in shape without expending any effort whatsoever (hello, slimming shirts!).”

“The New Gin Craze,” Oliver Bullough
“If you’d asked me to word associate for gin, I’d have started with the Queen Mother, moved through retired colonels in the days of the Raj, and ended with Mother’s Ruin, a common British term for gin dating back to the 18th century, when it occupied the cultural niche later filled by crack cocaine.”

“Ask Not For Whom The Bell Trolls; It Trolls for Thee,” Lindy West (This American Life transcript)
“If I could get through to one troll, the meanest one I ever had, couldn’t I feasibly get through to any of them, all of them?” (Audio.)

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The Hedgehog’s Array: January 16, 2015

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Noteworthy reads from the last week:

“A window on Chaucer’s cramped, scary, smelly world,” Sam Leith
“Chaucer had been skeptical of fame and authorial peacocking; and concomitantly of written transmission: his poems had been read for pleasure and amusement to a small group of friends in London. With his exile in Kent, he lost an audience; and so he channelled the companionable orality of his verse into a polyphonic anthology of stories whose audience — the pilgrims — he invented for himself. Lonely, in other words, Chaucer put the audience for his poem into the poem itself.”

“The Rhetoric of Cowardice,” Kyle Williams
“Cowardice once had something to do with the obligations of community. We used the word when courage faltered and duties were left undone. But now we rarely use or hear it outside of the politics of national security.”

“James Thurber Lost Most of His Eyesight to a Tragic Childhood Accident,” Danny Heitman
“Because of his poor eyesight, Thurber was sometimes unsure of what he was seeing in his later years, and this fuzziness of perception underscored his sense that the line between fantasy and reality could be tenuous—a feeling that rests at the heart of his stories and cartoons.”

“When I Grow Up,” Rebecca Mead
“At first glance, the experience offered by KidZania appears to draw on aspects both of symbolic play—the ‘let’s pretend’ aspect of dressing up as a fireman—and of rule-based play, with its enactment of conformity to civic regulation. But by some definitions the activities at KidZania, however entertaining, barely qualify as play at all.”

“To the Office, With Love,” Jennifer Senior
“Say what you want about the future of work, but this much is clear: The traditional compact between employers and employees is slowly fading away, and with it, a way of thinking, a way of living, a way of relating to others and regarding oneself that generally comes with a reasonably predictable professional life.”

“Hollywood Calling,” Christopher Grobe
“Tinseltown’s First Law of Telephone Scenes is about to be put to the ultimate test. There are two films eligible for an Oscar this year that are made entirely of telephone calls: Locke (2013) and The Phone Call (2013). These are obvious star vehicles for Tom Hardy and Sally Hawkins, respectively, and if either is nominated and wins, you can bet Luise’s ghost will be haunting that podium.”

“On Edgar Allan Poe,” Marilynne Robinson
“Poe’s great tales turn on guilt concealed or denied, then abruptly and shockingly exposed. He has always been reviled or celebrated for the absence of moral content in his work, despite the fact that these tales are all straightforward moral parables.”

“Imperfect Tenderness,” Tim Hodler
“Satire is an unusual art form, in that it is designed to be misunderstood.”

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The Hedgehog’s Array: November 14, 2014

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Noteworthy reads from last week:

“Why Read New Books?” Tim Parks
“Hasn’t it all been done before? Perhaps better than anyone today could ever do it? If so, why read contemporary novels, especially when so many of the classics are available at knockdown prices and for the most part absolutely free as e-books?”

“Reason and the Republic of Opinion,” Leon Wieseltier
“We need not be a nation of intellectuals, but we must not be a nation of idiots. The task is not to intellectualize humanity. It is to humanize intellectuality. To this end, the cultural reputation of reason needs to be revised.”

“Big Bang Berlin,” Nick Paumgarten
“The division of the city, a function of a global struggle over territory and ideas, had a host of not only unintended but also widely unobserved local repercussions.”

“China, America and Our Warming Planet,” John Kerry
“Our Historic Agreement With China on Climate Change”

“The Challenge of Teaching Science in Rural America,” Alexandra Ossola
“With fewer students per school and limited funding to match, rural school districts have been behind in STEM education.”

“Why Students Have No Idea What College Actually Costs,” Danielle Paquette
“Confusion between a college’s sticker price—the advertised price for fees, board and tuition—and the net price—what students pay after receiving aid—can separate the country’s brightest students from better futures.”

“Can Mesh Networks and Offline Wireless Move from Protest Tools to News?” Susan E. McGregor
“Perhaps one day soon it will be possible to stop by a newsstand to pick up localized digital edition of a newspaper or magazine, and know that even in a crisis, a lack of Internet doesn’t mean total isolation.”

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