May 15, 2010


“A low moan of agreement escaped Ellis’s mouth.” –Bret Easton Ellis

Once again, it’s too nice out to sit in front of a computer screen, so we’re going with assorted links today… A few interesting stories, including an article on the future of digital journalism. *UPDATED on 5/16 with even more recommended reading.



  • I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I’ve never read any Roberto Bolaño, but I’d never seen a picture of him before—is it just me, or does he look a lot like Keith Haring? (GQ)
  • Alastair Harper on “George Orwell, Patron Saint of Hacks” (Prospect)
  • Rebecca Newberger Goldstein’s “Theory, Literature, Hoax” after Borges. (NYT)
  • Claudia Roth Pierpont on Duke Ellington (New Yorker)
  • Nick Carr on the new New York license plate (below) (Huffpo)

Also worth reading, if you’re so inclined:

  • The current state of NBA point guards (GQ)
  • Kareem sounds off (ESPN)
  • The China Model (Economist)
  • How the Web Is Changing the Way We Eat (Salon)


  • Interview with Rick Owens (above) (Artinfo via Slam×Hype; images here)
  • Interview with Damien Hirst & Michael Joo (WWD via Slam×Hype; images here—the log piece reminds me of Ai Weiwei…)
  • Interview with Bret Easton Ellis (Vice)
  • Interview with Gorillaz (Wired)
  • Gus Van Sant catches up with Madonna (Interview)
  • Adam Kimmel raps with David Blaine (Interview)


  • Greg Miller on Karim’s Nader’s theory of mutable memory (Smithsonian)
  • Ryan Bradley on “Sex, Lies and Nature Documentaries” (GOOD)
  • Malcolm Gladwell on WWII espionage (New Yorker)
  • Gary Wolf on the Data-Driven Life (NYT)
  • Richard Lewontin on Jerry Fodor & Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini’s What Darwin Got Wrong. (The New York Review of Books)—I’d heard a lot of the arguments before until I came to this bit:

Individual organisms are surrounded by a moving layer of warm moist air. Even trees are surrounded by such a layer. It is produced by the metabolism of the individual tree, creating heat and water, and this production is a feature of all living creatures. In humans the layer is constantly moving upward over the body and off the top of the head. Thus, organisms do not live directly in the general atmosphere but in a shell produced by their own life activity. It is, for example, the explanation of wind-chill factor. The wind is not colder than the still air, but it blows away the metabolically produced layer around our bodies, exposing us to the real world out there.

Plus, a short, sweet video for good measure:

Stick Monster Lab for Nike Sportswear (High Snobiety via Notcot)

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January 4, 2010

Beset by the Best

It’s that time again: just about every authority (i.e. anyone with more than one reader, so not me) and/or crowdsource across the Internet has distilled the past year into what could very well be an endless tide of best-of lists. I’ve already mentioned Pitchfork’s Top 50 Albums, the Auteurs’ movie posters of the decade and SmartShanghai’s Worst Flyers of 2009, but that was only a tease: this is Assorted Links, List Edition. (Personally, I’m ambivalent about the purported rationale/rationality of lists in any category, but I do think they have their time and place. Which would be now and here.)


In addition to annual listings, many sources have seen fit to evaluate the past decade in everything from Top 10 Gadgets to Top 10 New Species.

Best-of lists will likely continue to surface for at least a couple more weeks, and the Internet has spawned a growing body of literature regarding lists and their value, including lists of lists. Short of a best of the best of the best list, here are some list-related finds and favorites from this temporal junction. It’s a lot of information, but even a cursory examination is a good way to discover things you might have missed (not to mention new blogs).


Read the rest of this entry »

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December 7, 2009

Vandeweghe or the Highway

So as of this weekend, the New Jersey Nets are no longer winless: they lost just enough games (18) to set the NBA record for most losses to start a season and have since improved to 1-19 (going 1-1 against the Bobcats and Knicks over the weekend).

via The Situationist

via The Situationist

I bet they would have won yesterday’s game if Yi had come back as planned.

All of which is a long way of saying that I’ve finally caught up with the American drama series known as the National Basketball Association. CCTV5, the sports network here, airs several games a week and it’s nice to watch games in full, with the added appeal of trying to decipher Chinese basketball terminology and slang (The Sixers are called “76 People”! Hilarious!). Unfortunately, the live broadcasts typically take place between 8AM and noon, perhaps the one time of day when it’s tough to justify cracking a beer… even if it is the official beer of the NBA in China.


Of course, I do not aspire to in-depth analysis or hard-hitting investigative reporting—my level of expertise is unapologetically vacuous and derivative. If you want something more substantial, I will refer you to Bill Simmons’ recently published magnum opus. I have yet to see it here in China, much less read it, but its one of several books I hope to acquire with my holiday windfall, as I’m sure I will receive a bookstore giftcards from unimaginative relatives. I’m excited for the footnotes, all 1,032 of them.

Also, is it just me, or does Kiki Vandeweghe sound like some bizarro version of George from Seinfeld; cf. Koko Vandelay. [EDIT: Holy shit there is a Coco Vandeweghe. Due diligence as always.]

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November 17, 2009

All's Well that Reads Well

My composite is kind of freaky, right? I can't stop staring at it though...

My composite is kind of freaky, right? I can't stop staring at it though...

My boy Steven Pinker (if a contemporary cognitive psychologist whom I’ve read at some length might be called “my boy”) has a bone to pick with writer/brand Malcolm Gladwell. Pinker alleges that Gladwell often misleads his readers with a subtle but all-important lack of rigor, which stems from his methodology of ‘borrowed expertise’. In other words, Gladwell’s rigorous approach to his own craft—compelling social science journalism at best; storytelling at worst—comes only at the expense of the scientific method he purportedly adheres to.

To be fair, this is merely an occupational hazard for rogue economists (ones that hope to be successful, at least) and I doubt that Pinker’s ambivalent review of Gladwell’s new collection of essays, What the Dog Saw, will cause more than a minor ripple, much less hurt sales. (Similarly, I don’t think mentioning it here will have an effect either way.) It doesn’t take a decorated Harvard professor to point out that Gladwell’s work is, more often than not, a well-spun yarn as opposed to scientifically sound research.

Also, (two links away on the New York Times homepage] self-proclaimed media prostitute Megan Fox has finally attracted the classiest customer of them all: the Times itself.

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