Archive | Books

Mapping the Odyssey Isn’t Easy

from kottke We’ve looked before at maps of Odysseus’s travels in The Odyssey (as Jason wrote in 2018, “that dude was LOST”). But it turns out — and maybe this shouldn’t be surprising — that it’s not easy to figure out exactly where Odysseus was in the Mediterranean Sea for all that time. Scholars have […]

Continue Reading 6

Ignoring Cable Industry Protest, FCC Says It Will “Unlock the Set-top Box”

from ars technica Pay-TV providers would have to make video programming available to the makers of third-party devices and software under a proposal by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler. The FCC is planning for a software-based, cardless replacement for CableCard. Without needing a physical card that plugs into a third-party set-top box, consumers would be […]

Continue Reading 6

How African-American Writers Have Revived And Reshaped “Black Panther”

from co.CREATE When Marvel Comics announced this week that red-hot cultural commentator Ta-Nehisi Coates would be writing its new Black Pantherseries, comics fans and people who are invested in progressive views on social justice both had serious freakouts. Coates is one of the most perceptive and thoughtful writers working today, and he’s also a lifelong comic book fan—a […]

Continue Reading 11

Steven Pinker’s ‘The Sense of Style’

from NYTs Steven Pinker, the Harvard linguist and psychologist, is one of that new breed of top-flight scientists and teachers, like the physicist Brian Greene and the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, who also write uncommonly well. To those of us who try to write for a living and couldn’t pass a science course, let alone […]

Continue Reading 1

The Endangered Bookstores of New York

from The New Yorker Recently, I was browsing for books at Powerhouse Arena, in Dumbo, and noticed a sign asking people not to snap photos of the books on display. What a thing to have to ask! Here was a bookstore providing shelter, a bit of calm in the city, and tables with chosen, colorful, physical copies […]

Continue Reading 53

The Greatest Books of All Time, As Voted by 125 Famous Authors

from brain pickings “Reading is the nourishment that lets you do interesting work,” Jennifer Egan once said. This intersection of reading and writing is both a necessary bi-directional life skill for us mere mortals and a secret of iconic writers’ success, as bespoken by their personal libraries. The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books asks 125 of modernity’s greatest British […]

Continue Reading 17

Eu Court Rules Libraries Can Digitize Books Without Permission

from Endgadget The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled that libraries have the right to digitize books and distribute them to dedicated reading terminals without first obtaining the publisher’s permission. The decision rests on exceptions built into the EU Copyright Directive for reproducing and communicating intellectual property. Specifically it says that publicly […]

Continue Reading 5

The Future Could Work, if We Let It

from NYTimes One persistent criticism of the tech industry is that it no longer works on big ideas. For all of Silicon Valley’s talk of changing the world, critics say, Google and Facebook mainly hire armies of coders to figure out how to serve you more relevant ads, while Apple and Amazon just want to keep […]

Continue Reading 6

*Flash Boys*, The New Michael Lewis Book

from Marginal Revolution For all the criticism the book has received, I liked and enjoyed it.  It illuminates a poorly understand segment of the financial world, namely high-frequency trading, and outlines some of the zero- and negative-sum games in that world.  The stories and the writing are very good, as you might expect. It is a mistake […]

Continue Reading 3

Siding With Google, Judge Says Book Search Does Not Infringe Copyright

from NYTs Google’s idea to scan millions of books and make them searchable online seemed audacious when it was announced in 2004. But fast-forward to today, when people expect to find almost anything they want online, and the plan seems like an unsurprising and unavoidable part of today’s Internet. So when a judge on Thursday […]

Continue Reading 27

The Novel That Norman Mailer Didn’t Write

from The New Yorker Norman Mailer was one of the most original and powerful writers of the twentieth century, but he never wrote a truly great novel. Despite the great success of his first book, “The Naked and the Dead,” which he wrote at twenty-three, and despite the merits of his second and third novels, […]

Continue Reading 9

Vive La Bookstore!

from The New Yorker Everywhere in the world may look more and more like everywhere else, but there are still a few proudly Gallic institutions that you can count on spotting in any city or town in France: cafés that thrive in spite of Starbucks, bakeries with their total indifference to things gluten-free, tabacs that keep hanging […]

Continue Reading 67

*David and Goliath*

from Marginal Revolution Quite possibly it is Gladwell’s best book.  His writing is better yet and also more consistently philosophical.  For all the talk of “cherry picking,” the main thesis is that many qualities which usually appear positive are in fact non-monotonic in value and can sometimes turn negative.  If you consider Gladwell’s specific citations […]

Continue Reading 6