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Almost two years ago I lost my cat Gattino. He was very young, still a kitten, at seven months barely an adolescent. He is probably dead but I don’t know for certain. For two weeks after he disappeared people claimed to have seen him; I trusted two of the claims because Gattino was blind in one eye, and both people told me that when they’d caught him in their headlights, only one eye shone back. One guy, who said he saw my cat trying to scavenge from a garbage can, said that he’d looked ‘really thin, like the runt of the litter’. The pathetic words struck my heart. But I heard something besides the words, something in the coarse, vibrant tone of the man’s voice that immediately made another emotional picture of the cat: back arched, face afraid but excited, brimming and ready before he jumped and ran, tail defiant, tensile and crooked. Afraid but ready; startled by a large male, that’s how he would’ve been. Even if he was weak with hunger. He had guts, this cat. –“Lost Cat,” Mary Gaitskill, Granta
Today, much as his father once did, Martin Amis occupies a position of unusual fascination in the world of British letters—and for reasons that have increasingly converged with those that saw Kingsley, in his later years, labelled a reactionary and a misogynist. I’ve written about both father and son several times for Prospect, most recently looking forward to Martin Amis’s long-awaited and long-delayed new novel; but this birthday seems as good a time as any to look backward, and to remember that there was never anything inevitable about either Amis’s success, let alone success on the scale each managed to achieve. –“Celebrating Sixty Years of Martin Amis,” Tom Chatfield, Prospect
The cassette “crisis” seems quaint when compared to the rise of the mp3. The first widespread music delivery technology to emanate from outside industry control, mp3s, flowing through peer-to-peer networks and other pathways hidden in plain sight, have performed the radical task of separating music from the music industry for the first time in a century. They have facilitated the rise of an enormous pirate infrastructure; ideologically separate from the established one, but feeding off its products, multiplying and distributing them freely, without following the century-old rules of capitalist exchange. Capitalism hasn’t gone away, of course, but mp3s have severely threatened its habits and rituals within music culture. There is nothing inherent or natural about paying for music, and the circulation of mp3s through unsanctioned networks reaffirms music as a social process driven by passion, not market logic or copyright. Yet at the same time the Internet largely freed music from its packaged-good status and opened a realm of free-exchange, it also rendered those exciting new rituals very trackable. In the same way that Facebook visually represents “having friends,” the mp3s coursing through file-sharing networks quantify the online social life of music by charting its path. The social routines that take place around online music are visible data– which makes them much more susceptible to intellectual property statutes than was the case with cassettes or CDs. –“The Social History of the MP3,” Eric Harvey, Pitchfork
Chances that a deep breath inhaled today will contain a molecule from Julius Caesar’s dying breath:
Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences, by John Allen Paulos, Hill and Wang (N.Y.C.)
The earth once had three moons; the two lost moons may have crashed into the surviving moon, or been sucked into the sun, or flung out of the solar system to drift through deep space.
In Florida, an 87-year-old World War II veteran flying touch-and-go drills in a Cessna collided with an airborne skydiver. “There was a ‘woof’ sound,” said a witness, “like falling on your face into your pillow.”
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“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”