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What happens to our star-crossed lovers? How does their love ebb and flow over time? That’s where the math comes in. By writing equations that summarize how Romeo and Juliet respond to each other’s affections and then solving those equations with calculus, we can predict the course of their affair. The resulting forecast for this couple is, tragically, a never-ending cycle of love and hate. At least they manage to achieve simultaneous love a quarter of the time. The model can be made more realistic in various ways. For instance, Romeo might react to his own feelings as well as to Juliet’s. He might be the type of guy who is so worried about throwing himself at her that he slows himself down as his love for her grows. Or he might be the other type, one who loves feeling in love so much that he loves her all the more for it. — “Guest Column: Loves Me, Loves Me Not (Do the Math),” Steven Strogatz, The New York Times
New Haruki Murakami novel is out in Japan; third child (first boy) born on London Underground; book sales down; “DRM is so rage-inducing, even to ordinary, legal users of content, that it can even drive the blind to download illegal electronic Bibles”; Mine is a personalized magazine from Time; Time matches photo, caption
Hand-drawn and photocopied maps of Saltillo and Zacatecas feature in the archive as part of McCarthy’s research for All the Pretty Horses, while correspondence between McCarthy and a doctor is included with The Crossing. “From a literary standpoint, there is no doubt that the scene well depicts the adversity Boyd faces in the character of the Mexican physician who intervenes. However, from a purely medical view, it doesn’t tie together,” the author is told about a scene depicting Boyd’s surgery in Mexico. He is later provided with advice about “how a competent, rural physician might handle a gunshot wound.” “I wanted you to know these things for the small percentage of readers who are medically sophisticated… I’d get a kick out of having them wonder how in the hell did you know these things,” writes the doctor, who also provided information about the period appropriateness for some of the medical instruments used in the novel, part of McCarthy’s acclaimed Border Trilogy. — “Cormac McCarthy archive goes on display in Texas,” Alison Flood, The Guardian
The Great Seal is, in fact, a graphic representation of “the idea of America,” from its birth. It should be exhumed from the depths of the psyche and displayed on the walls of every classroom. It should certainly appear in the background of all of the Kim Il-Sung-style worship of that savage murderer and torturer Ronald Reagan, who blissfully described himself as the leader of a “shining city on the hill,” while orchestrating some of the more ghastly crimes of his years in office, notoriously in Central America but elsewhere as well. — “The Torture Memos and Historical Amnesia ,” by Noam Chomsky, The Nation
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”