Posts Tagged ‘Lewis on Twain on Twain


Roundup – Now You’re a He-Man

Line O’ the Day:

I bet you thought I was joking yesterday when I said I was going to continue covering the Abercrombie/Situation Douchegate story like it was the Cuban Missile Crisis. To be honest, I kinda was. Then — THEN — I woke up this morning, fired up the old LOLbox and saw that the Taiwanese animation people had made a video about it. AND. IT. IS. GLORIOUS. For the love of God, it starts with The Situation and some girl emptying a giant salt shaker onto the torso of what appears to be a dead stripper. And near the end, for reasons I don’t understand whatsoever, there’s a hostage situation. It’s got everything.

– Danger Guerrero, I Love You, Taiwanese Animation [Warming Glow]

Best of the Best:

The Terrazzo Jungle [Malcolm Gladwell via The New Yorker (March 15, 2004)]

Fifty years ago, Victor Gruen designed a fully enclosed, introverted, multitiered, double-anchor-tenant shopping complex with a garden court under a skylight—and today virtually every regional shopping center in America is a fully enclosed, introverted, multitiered, double-anchor-tenant complex with a garden court under a skylight. Victor Gruen didn’t design a building; he designed an archetype. For a decade, he gave speeches about it and wrote books and met with one developer after another and waved his hands in the air excitedly, and over the past half century that archetype has been reproduced so faithfully on so many thousands of occasions that today virtually every suburban American goes shopping or wanders around or hangs out in a Southdale facsimile at least once or twice a month. Victor Gruen may well have been the most influential architect of the twentieth century. He invented the mall.

Groupon Therapy [Lauren Etter on Vanity Fair]

In a letter to potential shareholders, Mason vowed that his trademark persona is here to stay. “We are unusual and we like it that way,” he wrote. “We want the time people spend with Groupon to be memorable. Life is too short to be a boring company.” But the pretense that Groupon is a scrappy start-up is wearing thin. Mason takes great pains to emphasize that the company is staying true to its idiosyncratic roots, but it’s hard to maintain that a publicly traded multi-national business being valued at $20 billion will remain a quirky outsider. Rob Solomon recently announced his departure from the company. He and Mason have a good relationship by all accounts, but Solomon prefers the bustle of a start-up atmosphere—something that Groupon no longer has.

See also: Groupon’s Accounting Lingo Gets Scrutiny [Wall Street Journal]

A Good Joke Spoiled: Reviewing An Autobiography of Mark Twain: Volume 1 by Mark Twain [Michael Lewis via The New Republic]

In any case, Twain clearly thought of himself, and enjoyed thinking of himself, as heedless. For a writer of his caliber he had surprisingly little interest in assuming a fully adult role in the world, partly because adulthood struck him as an inferior state. Reflecting on the death of his eldest daughter, Susy, he writes that “Susy died at the right time, the fortunate time of life; the happy age—twenty-four years. At twenty-four, such a girl has seen the best of life—life as a happy dream. After that age the risks begin; responsibility comes, and with it the cares, the sorrows, and the inevitable tragedy. For her mother’s sake I would have brought her back from the grave if I could, but I would not have done it for my own.” When Twain was in his late sixties, after the death of his wife, he found companionship in a series of young girls. He took twelve-year-old girls as his dates to grown-up parties and entertained eleven-year-old girls for the weekend at his home. The Angel-fish, he called these young friends—though he does not have much to say about them in his memoir. And while it sounds completely creepy, it also feels deeply characteristic. There doesn’t seem to have been a hint of sexuality in these relationships, at least from his side. The man just preferred to feel like a boy.

Egyptians Turn Against Liberal Protesters [Wall Street Journal]

Six months after young, liberal activists helped lead the popular movement that ousted President Hosni Mubarak, the hard core of these protesters was forcibly dispersed by the troops. Some Egyptians lined the street to applaud the army. Others ganged up on the activists as they retreated from the square that has come to symbolize the Arab Spring. Squeezed between an assertive military and the country’s resurgent Islamist movement, many Internet-savvy, pro-democracy activists are finding it increasingly hard to remain relevant in a post-revolutionary Egypt that is struggling to overcome an economic crisis and restore law and order…Monday’s turmoil in Tahrir followed a massive Friday demonstration on the same square by hundreds of thousands of Islamists, who called for transforming Egypt into an Islamic state—and railed against the liberal and secular youths who had helped motivate millions to rise up against Mr. Mubarak. The Islamists’ numbers dwarfed those of the activists who have re-occupied Cairo’s central square since July 8, criticizing the slow pace of reforms, calling for police accountability and pressing for speedier trials of Mr. Mubarak and his associates.

Former Intel Chief: Call Off The Drone War (And Maybe the Whole War on Terror) [Noah Shachtman on The Danger Room on Wired]

Ground the U.S. drone war in Pakistan. Rethink the idea of spending billions of dollars to pursue al-Qaida. Forget chasing terrorists in Yemen and Somalia, unless the local governments are willing to join in the hunt. Those aren’t the words of some human rights activist, or some far-left Congressman. They’re from retired admiral and former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair — the man who was, until recently, nominally in charge of the entire American effort to find, track, and take out terrorists. Now, he’s calling for that campaign to be reconsidered, and possibly even junked.

Oddly, the same does not apply when markets are falling: then, journalists’ language becomes less homogenous. The authors have no real explanation for this.

Jurgen Klinsmann: America’s Newest Soccer Jesus [Luke O’Brien on Deadspin]

How incongruous. A savior who intends to try to do what we need him to do, not just what we dream he’ll do. For now, Klinsmann is saying all the right things. His first order of business, however, will be to name a team for the Aug. 10 friendly against Mexico, a rematch of the traumatic June 25 Gold Cup final that precipitated Bradley’s exit. It’s a symbolic assignment but a fitting one, given the contrast between youth development in Mexico and the United States (a battle Mexico has, for the time being, won). If Klinsmann gets past El Tri, we’ll congratulate him. If he achieves World Cup success, we’ll praise him. If he molds an American style of play that strikes fear into the hearts of enemy teams, we’ll canonize him. But let’s not get our hopes up, eh? Ah, screw it. Let’s.

See also: Klinsmann and the Meaning of Soccer [Matthew Futterman on The Wall Street Journal]

If Albert DeSalvo Wasn’t The Boston Strangler, Who Was? Bill James Investigates [Excerpted from the book Popular Crime: Reflections on the Celebration of Violence by Bill James via Deadspin]

In serial murder cases, if you plot the crime scenes on a map and connect the dots, very often they will form a sort of circle, and very often the murderer will live near the center of that circle. This is well known now, although it wasn’t recognized until about 1980. If you draw a circle on a map which is a one-mile radius from Coolidge Corner, it doesn’t include any of the murder scenes. But if you draw a circle which is a three-mile radius around Coolidge Corner, it includes virtually all of the murder scenes in Boston and Cambridge—all but one—and there are murder scenes at all points of the compass.

Daniel Ek’s Spotify: Music’s Last Best Hope [Brendan Greeley on Bloomberg Businessweek]

Without Spotify, labels know only when an album is sold. If a CD is ripped for a friend or borrowed for a party, they know nothing. Spotify gives them a record, by location, age, and gender, of every single time a track is played. Jay-Z used to think he was big in London, based on U.K. album sales; it turns out he’s big in Manchester. Spotify has discovered that radio plays—on real, terrestrial, electromagnetic spectrum—still drive interest in artists, as do Sweden’s summer talk shows. Sundin has a Spotify chart tracking Rihanna and Lady Gaga over seven weeks. Both show a bump on Friday and a spike on Saturday. They are weekend artists. Spotify knows when your party plays Gaga. “We know now,” says Sundin, “that the ROI on TV commercials doesn’t work.” Outreach to 15- to 30-year-old female bloggers does. Hits and stars are still important, he says. For albums—both CDs and MP3s—revenue spikes with the release, then trails off, then disappears. On Spotify, whenever an artist appears on a talk show or releases a new single, plays of her entire catalog increase on Spotify, then plateau at a higher level. Albums follow a bell curve. Spotify is a ratchet, a step function. “LOP,” Sundin says, “life of product, it used to be six months. Now it’s 10 years.”

An Interracial Fix for Black Marriage: Black women could find more partners across the race line—and it might just spur more black couples to wed [Ralph Richard Banks, the Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor of Law at Stanford Law School via The Wall Street Journal]

Some black women resist interracial marriage for a more primal reason. Long before Cecelia began her ill-fated relationship with her now ex-husband, she dated a white law-school classmate. They broke up because she couldn’t imagine having children with him. “I wanted chocolate babies,” she explained to me. Given her milk-chocolate complexion, green eyes and curly hair, Cecelia worried that a biracial baby might come out looking white. Cecelia wanted chocolate babies not just so they would stay connected to black culture, but for another reason as well: So that no one would ever question whether they were hers. With biracial children, she feared that she might be mistaken for the nanny. Many black women share her anxiety about having a biracial child.

Mistakes in Scientific Studies Surge [Gautum Naik on The Wall Street Journal]

It was the kind of study that made doctors around the world sit up and take notice: Two popular high-blood-pressure drugs were found to be much better in combination than either alone. “There was a ‘wow’ reaction,” recalls Franz Messerli, a New York doctor who, like many others, changed his prescription habits after the 2003 report. Unfortunately, it wasn’t true. Six and a half years later, the prestigious medical journal the Lancet retracted the paper, citing “serious concerns” about the findings. The damage was done. Doctors by then had given the drug combination to well over 100,000 patients. Instead of protecting them from kidney problems, as the study said the drug combo could do, it left them more vulnerable to potentially life-threatening side effects, later studies showed. Today, “tens of thousands” of patients are still on the dual therapy, according to research firm SDI.

The Mysterious Imagery of The Dollar Bill [Colin Dorbin on Credit Sesame]

The fact is, numerous symbols adorn our currency and there has been intense debate over the decades of their meaning. Conspiracy theorists believe the imagery is rooted in Freemansonry and tied to the Illuminati (if you’ve read The Da Vinci Code or seen the movie, you know who they are). Others contend the imagery is strictly American and represents the foundations of our nation. In this infographic, we explain each symbol from both perspectives.

Curiously Strong Remains:








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