Archive for the ‘NY Times Mag’ tag
Don’t read this story for tips to become a memory champ — it’s that same “memory palace” idea you’ve heard before and ignored — read it for the story, admire the time someone took to style the page, and enjoy the tidbits like this:
True, what I hoped for before I started hadn’t come to pass: these techniques didn’t improve my underlying memory (the “hardware” of “Rhetorica ad Herennium”). I still lost my car keys. And I was hardly a fount of poetry. Even once I was able to squirrel away more than 30 digits a minute in memory palaces, I seldom memorized the phone numbers of people I actually wanted to call. It was easier to punch them into my cellphone. The techniques worked; I just didn’t always use them. Why bother when there’s paper, a computer or a cellphone to remember for you?
Holy cow, there’s actually a company that offers you something akin to what Michael Douglas’s character experienced in The Game. That is: become a protagonist in a story of your choosing.
I really liked this look at the realities of how and where exploratory geology for oil is done, and how it’s changing. Not massively exciting, but it’ll tell you things you didn’t know and might be interested to. Things like this:
According to United States Geological Survey data, the earth, as it was before oil companies started drilling, held between five trillion and six trillion barrels of oil, most of which has been discovered or remains inaccessible. In 2000, the U.S.G.S. estimated that there were around 650 billion barrels on the planet yet to be found, and most analysts say that the estimate is a pretty good one.
Reading Lisa Katayama’s story, I was struck by the similarities to Lars and the Real Girl. It seems likely that otaku and “2-D lovers” inspired the movie, but I managed to miss that idea at the time.
These 2-D lovers, as they are called, are a subset of otaku culture— the obsessive fandom that has surrounded anime, manga and video games in Japan in the last decade. It’s impossible to say exactly what portion of otaku are 2-D lovers, because the distinction between the two can be blurry. Like most otaku, the majority of 2-D lovers go to work, pay rent, hang out with friends (some are even married). Unlike most otaku, though, they have real romantic feelings for their toys.
I thought Jon Gertner’s piece about the decade’s long effort to bring high-speed rail to California was pretty good.
Toward the end, he make reference to the intriguing concept of time-space maps (and how high-speed rail can change them). Through the comments on a Strange Maps post of one made for Britain in the 1980s, I think I found a number of candidates for the one he’s referring to.
The way Lisa Belkin casually dropped these two sentences in her (very good) piece about Jenny Sanford and public infidelity, you’d think they were common knowledge. But for me, something of a gossip prude, they were nearly revelatory:
Gossip is how we establish cultural norms. Talking about others is our way to test the social boundaries — to learn what raises eyebrows, what is met by shrugs — without directly talking about ourselves.
A weeks-old piece from the New York Times Magazine discussing Freeman Dyson’s heterodoxy seems a fitting response to the previous link — and also, perhaps, it’s inspiration.
“I have the sense that when consensus is forming like ice hardening on a lake, Dyson will do his best to chip at the ice.”
(via Ross Douthat, who points to non-climate heresies)
Whenever I read the Lives story from the New York Times Magazine, I enjoy it.
When I found him under the passenger seat, my heart sank. Our happy little fish was dead. I gently placed his corpse into his waterless bowl and sat down on the curb with my wife.
That’s how the E.M.S. medics discovered us when they arrived 10 minutes later — a woman with a bloody lip and a man holding a fish, trying not to cry.
There’s a lot of interesting stuff in this paragraph from Virginia Heffernan:
Does anyone still believe that the forms of movies, television, magazines and newspapers might exist independently of their rapidly changing modes of distribution? The thought has become unsustainable. Take magazine writing. In school or on the job, magazine writers never learn anything so broad as to “tell great stories” or “make arresting images.” You don’t study the ancient art of storytelling. You learn to produce certain numbers and styles and forms of words and images. You learn to be succinct when a publication loses ad pages. You learn to dilate when an “article” is understood mostly as a delivery vehicle for pictures of a sexy celebrity. The words stack up under certain kinds of headlines that also adhere to strict conventions as to size and tone, and eventually they appear alongside certain kinds of photos and illustrations with certain kinds of captions on pages of certain dimensions that are often shared with advertisements. Just as shooting film for a Hollywood movie is never just filming and acting in a TV ad is never just acting, writing for a magazine is never just writing.
Though the whole column’s probably worth a read for anyone interested in the future of media.
(I tried for five minutes to come up with a better title, I couldn’t.) Pamela Paul has an interesting article in tomorrow New York Times Magazine about the difficulty of fighting cancer — which seems to be made more likely by pregnancy — while still protecting the health of the fetus. The basic dilemma:
“She was afraid not to be treated for cancer, but she was afraid to expose her fetus to drugs,” Cardonick recalled when I spoke to her recently. It was perhaps the ultimate maternal conflict: choosing between the biological imperatives for self-preservation and procreation.