Archive for the ‘New Yorker’ tag

#  The Origins of “Privilege” →

May 28th, 2014 at 12:01 // In Worth Knowing 

I’m not generally a fan of text interviews — you lose all brevity of well-composed prose and gain only portability of text — but I love this topic and found the conversational tone effective. Joshua Rathman interviews the woman who coined the term “privilege,” Peggy McIntosh, in the sociological context:

I came to this dawning realization: niceness has nothing to do with it. These are nice men. But they’re very good students of what they’ve been taught, which is that men make knowledge. And I realized this is why we were oppressive to work with—because, in parallel fashion, Ihad been taught that whites make knowledge.

This is when you came up with the forty-six examples of white privilege?

I asked myself, On a daily basis, what do I have that I didn’t earn? It was like a prayer. The first one I thought of was: I can, if I wish, arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.

#  The Promise of Soylent →

May 12th, 2014 at 17:18 // In Worth Reading 

I’ve always, and still do, harbor a vague distaste for the New Yorker — I feel it smells a bit of middle class indulgence in both its topics and writing style. But I enjoyed this bit about a new food-alternative liquid diet whose marketing has made it far more interesting and curious than existing alternatives.

There are a number of interesting quotes, but this was the only one that made me laugh out loud (like a five year old):

I asked the Skurves if there had been any social repercussions from their use of Soylent. They looked at one another. Erin said, “So the first week can be pretty bad, because you fart pretty bad.”

“It’s a big issue,” JohnO, a computer-science major, said.

Eugene added, “There was, like, a week when I stopped going to class.”

#  The Powerlessness of Positive Thinking →

March 26th, 2014 at 14:33 // In Worth Knowing 

Rhonda Byrne is a good columnist “whipping boy” — I’ve penned an attack myself — but this piece from Adam Alter rises above by actually offering scientific results in support of its attack. This I’d never heard of:

Mayer asked eighty-three German students to rate the extent to which they “experienced positive thoughts, images, or fantasies on the subject of transition into work life, graduating from university, looking for and finding a job.” Two years later, they approached the same students and asked about their post-college job experiences. Those who harbored positive fantasies put in fewer job applications, received fewer job offers, and ultimately earned lower salaries. The same was true in other contexts, too. Students who fantasized were less likely to ask their romantic crushes on a date and more likely to struggle academically.

#  Good Meeting →

March 18th, 2014 at 16:28 // In Worth Distraction 

Hate business lingo? Or meetings? A bit of fiction for you:

AMY: Okay. Well, in terms of feedback, my main concern would be making sure that all of our objectives are actionable from a budgetary standpoint. I really dread seeing each of you every day.

#  The Man Who Built Catan →

February 20th, 2014 at 16:01 // In Worth Knowing 

The Settlers of Catan is one of the few board games that most people — people who almost never play board games, and the hardest core of board game geeks — seem to like equally. Adrienne Rachel has a short profile of its rise and creator:

The company originally sourced all of the materials for the game from Europe, but, when demand began to take off, the manufacturers didn’t have enough wood to keep up. Mayfair expanded to American companies for more resources. Today, every box of Catan that Mayfair produces is an international affair: the dice are tooled in Denmark; the more intricate wooden pieces are done in Germany; other wood parts are made in Ohio; the cards are from Dallas; the boxes, Illinois; the cardboard, Indiana; the plastic components, Wisconsin; finally, everything gets put together on an assembly line in Illinois.

#  The six things that make stories go viral will amaze, and maybe infuriate, you →

January 29th, 2014 at 10:35 // In Worth Reading 

Maria Konnikova pens a nice think-piece about virality on the internet. And while it’s fitting that the New Yorker would name a piece like it would be easy to digest and then not deliver, it is honestly annoying me a little bit that not only does the piece lack a list, but it even lacks something approximating it within the structure. But this is intersting:

First, he told me, you need to create social currency—something that makes people feel that they’re not only smart but in the know. “Memes like LOLcats, I think, are a perfect example of social currency, an insider culture or handshake,” Berger told me. “Your ability to pass it on and riff on it shows that you understand. It’s the ultimate, subtle insider signal: I know without yelling that I know. When your mom sees an LOLcat, she has no idea what it is.”

via NextDraft

#  Civil Forfeiture and its Perils →

August 16th, 2013 at 17:55 // In Worth Knowing 

Really strong (and long, because it’s the New Yorker) essay about how the way some civil forfeiture laws are written make them prone to reckless abuse, and how that abuse actually happens. It’ll probably make you at least a little angry, but knowledge of the practice is probably one of its most powerful antidotes.

They could face felony charges for “money laundering” and “child endangerment,” in which case they would go to jail and their children would be handed over to foster care. Or they could sign over their cash to the city of Tenaha, and get back on the road. “No criminal charges shall be filed,” a waiver she drafted read, “and our children shall not be turned over to CPS,” or Child Protective Services.

“Where are we?” Boatright remembers thinking. “Is this some kind of foreign country, where they’re selling people’s kids off?” Holding her sixteen-month-old on her hip, she broke down in tears.

#  How to Change Cultures →

July 24th, 2013 at 15:46 // In Worth Reading 

The always-worth-reading Atul Gawande has a new piece in the New Yorker about his role in working to improve practices around childbirth world wide and what it (and some more historical anecdotes) have to tell us about how you really change the world. The whole piece is good, but this part felt most notable to me:

Besides, neither penalties nor incentives achieve what we’re really after: a system and a culture where X is what people do, day in and day out, even when no one is watching. “You must” rewards mere compliance. Getting to “X is what we do” means establishing X as the norm. And that’s what we want: for skin-to-skin warming, hand washing, and all the other lifesaving practices of childbirth to be, quite simply, the norm.

(via The Browser)

#  The Nature of Fantasy →

December 1st, 2011 at 10:54 // In Worth Reading 

There are many great parts of Adam Gopnik’s essay about Lord of the Rings, Eragon, and Twilight, but this is the one that struck me the most:

The tedious normalcy of the “Twilight” books is what gives them their shiver; this is not so much the life that a teen-age girl would wish to have but the one that she already has, rearranged with heightened symbols. Your life could be like this; seen properly, from inside, it is like this.

(via The Browser)

#  Living with Technology →

February 24th, 2011 at 3:49 // In Worth Reading 

Adam Gopnik does a laudatory job cataloging and categorizing the works of those who aim to explain our current relationship to technology. Offering blows against both the unbridled pessimism of Nick Carr (a “better-never” in Gopnik’s words), and the unbridled optimism  of Clay Shirky (a “never-better”), he gives the critical distance all great literary reviews should. The third group Gopnik names, the “ever-wasers”, are the most interesting and least discussed. Consider this point:

Everything that is said about the Internet’s destruction of “interiority” was said for decades about television, and just as loudly.

(via Austin Kleon)