To be exact, Stieg Larsson died on November 9, 2004, which I can’t help noticing was the anniversary of Kristallnacht. Is it plausible that Sweden’s most public anti-Nazi just chanced to expire from natural causes on such a date?
As Pinker points out, verbs could be grouped for all sorts of meaning, for example, based on whether they describe things that look the same, feel the same, or smell the same. But they are not; what their groupings reveal is a distinctly and universally human fixation on different kinds of motion, how force is applied, how time gets parceled up, and how states change—this is the stuff of thought.
In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country. It is hot and dusty with rolling grasslands and huge herds of animals and tall, thin people who are starving. Or it is hot and steamy with very short people who eat primates. Don’t get bogged down with precise descriptions. Africa is big: fifty-four countries, 900 million people who are too busy starving and dying and warring and emigrating to read your book.
Yes, we are a little less focused, thanks to the electric stimulus of the screen. Yes, we are reading slightly fewer long-form narratives and arguments than we did 50 years ago, though the Kindle and the iPad may well change that. Those are costs, to be sure. But what of the other side of the ledger? We are reading more text, writing far more often, than we were in the heyday of television.
Concussions occur when the head hits something. A hard plastic helmet. Or a knee. Or the ground. They also occur when the head moves quickly and violently even without suffering a direct impact, like during a blind-side hit.
In the nineteenth century, dogfighting was widely accepted by the American public. But we no longer find that kind of transaction morally acceptable in a sport. “I was not aware of dogfighting and the terrible things that happen around dogfighting,” Goodell said, explaining why he responded so sternly in the Vick case. One wonders whether, had he spent as much time talking to Kyle Turley as he did to Michael Vick, he’d start to have similar doubts about his own sport.
A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.
It’s comforting, oddly consoling - at least we’re face to face with the enemies: consumption, population, mindless growth. And we know the solution: cut back, contract, make do with less. “Live simply so that others may simply live.”
There’s just one problem with The Litany, just one slight little wee imperfection: every item in that dim and dreary recitation, each and every last claim, is false. Incorrect. At variance with the truth.
Dock Ellis is probably the only player in history that intentionally tried to injure his opponents during the event usually so full of jocular goodwill, the annual All-Star game. He’s one of the few (the only?) to be pepper sprayed by stadium security upon arrival. How many other major leaguers spent their off-season cruising through the ghettos of Haiti in a borrowed jeep in order to find zombies? These are all amazing, yet typical anecdotes from the life of one of baseball’s great eccentrics.
Friedman is an important American. He is the perfect symbol of our culture of emboldened stupidity. Like George Bush, he’s in the reality-making business. In the new flat world, argument is no longer a two-way street for people like the president and the country’s most important columnist. You no longer have to worry about actually convincing anyone; the process ends when you make the case.
Therefore the privilege of establishing what value the default is set at is an act of power and influence. Defaults are a tool not only for individuals to tame choices, but for systems designers — those who set the presets — to steer the system. The architecture of these choices can profoundly shape the culture of that system’s use.
This is a big goddam needle, I kept thinking. I couldn’t believe I was sticking it into someone’s chest. I concentrated on maintaining a steep angle of entry, but kept spearing his clavicle instead of slipping beneath it.
On balance, technology is letting people link up with more and more people who share a vocational or avocational interest. And it’s at this level, the social level, that the new efficiencies reside. The fact that we don’t feel efficient — that we feel, as Carr puts it, like “chronic scatterbrains” — is in a sense the source of the new efficiencies; the scattering of attention among lots of tasks is what allows us to add value to lots of social endeavors.
In the midst of this political collapse, social hemorrhage, and galloping anomie, the one source of fresh air and hope comes from a very surprising place indeed: art, and, in particular, literature. In Haiti, literature, painting, and “culture” in the largest sense—voodoo, proverbs, tales, oral traditions—weave a coherent fabric from a fractured society from the scraps of a failed polity and ragged remains of broken promises.
“All we have to do is get just a small fraction of North Americans and Europeans to demand shade-grown coffee, and we can push the industry back and save tremendous amounts of habitat,” says Chris Wille, the ECO-O.K. director for the Rainforest Alliance.
It’s difficult for researchers to climb into the mountains of Waziristan and systematically assess whether the villagers welcome operations that loosen the extremists’ grip, or whether the drones are breeding a new generation of men who want to kill Westerners.
There are moments you will always remember, like your first kiss or your first home run or the day you met your wife. For me, the first time I broke an NCAA rule to try to land a client is just as indelible.