First, the rosy past of the pessimists was not, on closer examination, so rosy. The decade the pessimists want to return us to is the 1980s, the last period before society had any significant digital freedoms. Despite frequent genuflection to European novels, we actually spent a lot more time watching “Diff’rent Strokes” than reading Proust, prior to the Internet’s spread. The Net, in fact, restores reading and writing as central activities in our culture.
The present is, as noted, characterized by lots of throwaway cultural artifacts, but the nice thing about throwaway material is that it gets thrown away. This issue isn’t whether there’s lots of dumb stuff online—there is, just as there is lots of dumb stuff in bookstores. The issue is whether there are any ideas so good today that they will survive into the future. Several early uses of our cognitive surplus, like open source software, look like they will pass that test.
Founded in Paris by Harold L. Humes, Peter Matthiessen, and George Plimpton in 1953, The Paris Review began with a simple editorial mission: “Dear reader,” William Styron wrote in a letter in the inaugural issue, “The Paris Review hopes to emphasize creative work—fiction and poetry—not to the exclusion of criticism, but with the aim in mind of merely removing criticism from the dominating place it holds in most literary magazines and putting it pretty much where it belongs, i.e., somewhere near the back of the book. I think The Paris Review should welcome these people into its pages: the good writers and good poets, the non-drumbeaters and non-axe-grinders. So long as they’re good.
Alex Larenty gives Jamu the lion a foot massage at the Lion Park in Johannesburg. Caught on camera in South Africa last week, 250kg Jamu looks like the cat who got the cream as he lies back and lets his keeper massage his gigantic paw. Alex said: “I built up a relationship with Jamu through putting insect repellent onto him, which is necessary here to keep our animals protected from things like parasites. He eventually realised he liked being scratched and tickled and his favourite game is ‘This Little Piggy’. He loves it.”
Picture: MATTHEW TABACCOS / BARCROFT MEDIA (via Pictures of the day: 8 June 2010 - Telegraph)
Sorry Jules, but this guy is the real foot fucking master.
Today in things I love.
In which we begin to understand the problem
Oh dear. I should say something about the forest being a much quieter place if only the birds with the sweetest voices sang, but I’m too defeated.
Howard Kurtz: Your Latest Newsweek Piece, Edited
Howard—saw your latest piece on Newsweek; our edits below. Best, N
While journalists get into the business for various reasons — vicarious thrills, investigative zeal, outsize ego — ultimately they’re at the mercy of the marketplace.[ED-as opposed to who? Bricklayers? Florists? Bond traders? This lede is a pretty obvious cliché, Howard; pls rework] And that marketplace seems [‘Seems’ is pretty squishy. Has the marketplace sent a message or not?] to have sent a very discouraging message to Newsweek.
With Post Co. executives refusing to discuss the process, the other possible bidders remain shrouded in secrecy. They may or may not wind up pursuing a purchase, but for now, the discussion centers only on those who have confirmed their interest, perhaps for the publicity value. [Wait. We’re four grafs in, and already underwhelmed: You go from claiming in the first paragraph that ‘the market seems to have sent a very discouraging message’ re Newsweek to here acknowledging that there may be many other, nondisclosed buyers, and that the ones who have publicized their bids may be doing it primarily for the publicity value. Why is this a story again?]
Based on what has been made public, Michael Parker, managing director of AdMedia Partners, which specializes in media mergers, says: “I’m a little surprised that, shall we say, major players haven’t come into this arena, at the very least to take a closer look. Newsweek has huge brand equity in the marketplace, a wonderful reputation editorially.” But, he says, potential buyers must be asking: “Who’s going to do it better if The Washington Post Company can’t figure this out?” [This is a great quote, but nonsensical—why does it follow that, by virtue of simply having owned Newsweek for a long time, the Washington Post company is the corporate entity best able to make Newsweek profitable? Also, is it logical to assume that your employer, the Washington Post Company, whose flagship newspaper division reported a first quarter loss this year of $13 million, is somehow the smartest business side on the planet?] The company has owned the magazine since 1961.
I think this is the part when we say, “Excuse me, do you like apples?”
President Obama has invited family members of those killed on the Deepwater Horizon to the White House on Thursday, so he can personally offer his condolences, press secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday. Each family has been individually invited by the White House, Gibbs said.
This is less encouraging. More evidence that the oil may end up travelling up the Atlantic coast. Here’s Begley:Using computer models of ocean currents, scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, part of the Commerce Department, conclude that once the oil in the uppermost ocean has been picked up by the Gulf of Mexico’s energetic Loop Current, it is likely to reach Florida’s Atlantic coast within weeks. It can then spread north with the Gulf Stream as far as Cape Hatteras, N.C., and then turn east into the open ocean.
The most terrifying thing I’ve seen all week. And I work at a rapidly disintegrating newsweekly that may very well be bought by Newsmax.
The Village Voice has an excessively long profile this week, “Is This Woman Too Hot to Be a Banker?”, about a woman fired from Citibank last year because her bosses told her they “couldn’t concentrate” around her—she was simply too hot. The woman, Debbie Lorenzana, is—as the Voice so…
You guys totally should have tagged this #boners.