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Basically, Too Big to Fail is the 24 of financial-crisis books. The world is about to blow up, and everybody is Jack Bauer. Interestingly, the only figure to emerge with at least a shred of personality is Dick Fuld. Sorkin has assembled so much material on the Lehman lifer that the reader is able to witness the unraveling of his personality as months of stress and sleepless nights take their toll. After a while, the only person who doesn’t know he’s finished as CEO of Lehman is Fuld himself. –“The Price of Admission: Andrew Ross Sorkin’s debut and the limits of access journalism,” Dean Starkman, Columbia Journalism Review
“We call it the Wow signal,” Paul Davies says. “It was a radio telescope in Ohio, back in the days when they didn’t have the electronic gadgetry to go ‘ping’ if there was something weird. So they looked at a computer print-out some weeks afterwards, and it showed a signal that went on for 72 seconds. Nobody was listening at the time. The researcher wrote ‘Wow’ in the margin. And many times radio telescopes have been turned on that star, but nothing odd has ever happened again.” –“First contact: The man who’ll welcome aliens,” Jon Ronson, The Guardian
When the extraterrestrials arrive, what will they find? Children starving while their parents raise virtual kids;
gamblers betting on songbird deathmatches;
motorists driving while distracted by their bikini lines;
Although Reality Hunger’s structure was initially interesting, I think it is ultimately a failure and one that illuminates a problem in his argument. Much of the book is spent discussing the relevance of collage art and remixing in modern music. I am a great fan of both and agree that appropriating, remixing, and reinventing are vital tools for modern artists. But the entire point of remixing is to blend the disparate elements together so that they both recall and distort their previous meaning. This effect is not realized by simply placing different things next to each other. Pasting Picasso’s famous “Art is theft” line next to several similar quotations does not distort or reinvent his words. A collage artist does not crop a few different images and paste them on separate sheets of paper. A mash-up artist like Girl Talk, who Shields discusses, does not present you with a few seconds of horns followed by a few seconds of a cappella rapping finished off with a guitar solo. The collage artist and DJ blend their various pieces together into something strangely familiar yet startlingly new. In separating and numbering each of his quotations—with little mixing or play—most of Reality Hunger feels closer to Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations than the vital new form the book calls for.” –“Reality Boredom: Why David Shields is Completely Right and Totally Wrong,” Lincoln Michel, The Rumpus
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.”