Culture

Shorts & Briefs | 10 May 2019 | Deconstructing Facebook

The Culprits in 2004 at Harvard. photo credit: Rick Friedman, © New York Times Company.

I want to recommend for your current events reading today this rather long read, a New York Times opinion piece as part of their Privacy Project, intended for the Sunday Review by the co-founder of Facebook, Chris Hughes (so insinuated into the fledgling company, when it hadn’t quite started to fly, that his name appears on the patent for NewsFeed—but […]

Shorts & Briefs | 6 May 2019 | Big Noise

What are we doing to our hearing? “The New Yorker” in the current issue takes a serious look at a serious, and seriously neglected, threat to health, especially in developed nations. There is a great risk, not just of developing impaired hearing, but of far worse diseases and disorders, some irreversible. The worst hearing impairment is a little-known condition called […]

My Café Life: Memoir as Cultural History

Town Hall Coffee, Merion Station PA photo: © Howard Dinin

As a boy, I never liked coffee, or thought I didn’t. Dark, bitter, mysterious, and forbidden. It was for adults somehow, and the last thing I wanted was to be an adult. Some things don’t change. Liking coffee did change for sure. And as it did for so many people in so many different ways, going to college—the mythic “rite […]

Tom Nichols on The Death of Expertise

This essay, printed in “Foreign Affairs,” in their current issue, and extracted from Nichols’s new book, just published is a sobering, yet witty account of a phenomenon long in the making. He adopted an essay that originally appeared in “The Federalist” in 2014 to write the book. So, in a sense the essay is a distillation of a reconstitution of […]

China in Ten Words

Just getting into the book, China in Ten Words, by Yu Hua. Loads of marvelous stuff. Insights not only into China and the culture, but a much broader insight into universal behavior. Some highlights off the top: [the word is “Leader”]: “Historically, emperors have always cut the kind of figure and spoken the kind of language expected of an emperor, […]

Shorts & Briefs | 29 May 2016

100 years, 70 years, 50… Verdun, Hiroshima, Vietnam… it’s a busy time, and a busy week, for reconciling ourselves to one another on the planet, or doing so ceremoniously. We seem to choose nice round numbers—even decades are best. I reckon in 2066, we’ll be joining hands with Syrians and Iraqis, who include Al Qaeda and Daesh descendants who have […]

Shorts & Briefs | 27 May 2016.2

Had I stuck to my original plans for college and med school, I would have nearly been the Doogie Houser of my generation. But it appears this man is of his—turns out he’s 33… I was surprised to see he has an MD (my defective expectations—hence possibly a sign that I am losing my ability to discriminate important social cues), […]

Shorts & Briefs | 23 May 2016

From The New Yorker, May 23, 2016; Talk of the Town, “Lily Tomlin” She asked if her interlocutor had two dollars, for the Zoltar fortune-telling machine outside Gem Spa. “Zoltar’s been around a long time,” she said. She fed in the bills, and the machine spat out a yellow ticket. “Is that it?” Tomlin said, rapping on the glass. “What […]

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