Best of the Moment
Keith Houston | New Statesman | 24th October 2013
Irony is easy to convey in speech, hard to convey in writing. Almost since the dawn of moveable type, writers and scholars have been suggesting typographical conventions to signal ironic intent. Erasmus called for an irony mark in 1509, though he didn't say what it should be. Five centuries later, Tom Driberg proposed a font that would slope in the opposite direction from italics, and would be called "ironics"
Duff McDonald | Longreads | 23rd October 2013
Three factors powered the growth of business consulting, pioneered by James McKinsey in the 1920s. Companies got too big for head office to control operations; they needed new organisational structures. Anti-trust law prevented companies colluding directly, so they looked to consultants to spread expertise. Alfred Sloan at General Motors ushered in the era of the professional manager, always looking for an edge
Tom Simonite | MIT Technology Review | 22nd October 2013
Wikipedia's community has built a magnificent resource, but its glory days are gone. The volunteer workforce of the English-language Wikipedia has shrunk by more than a third since 2007, and is still shrinking. The "loose collective" running the site today, 90% male, operates a "crushing bureaucracy" with an "often abrasive atmosphere" that deters newcomers. “It looks like Wikipedia is strangling itself"
Jeff MacGregor | Smithsonian | 23rd October 2013
Hymn to the Pontiac Grand Prix driven by Richard Petty, Nascar's seven-time champion, now in the collection of the American History Museum. "It is coarse and loud and ill-mannered. It is a red, white and blue insult to civility and aerodynamics. It is a 630-horsepower brick through America’s living-room window ... Slow to anger and hard to turn, but capable of straight-line speeds well north of 200 miles per hour"
Matthew Power | GQ | 23rd October 2013
Retired airman Brandon Bryant tells of flying drones over Iraq and Afghanistan, killing adults, children and dogs. Says he and other drone operators suffer from guilt, stress, drink, depression. "To mitigate these effects, researchers have proposed creating a Siri-like user interface, a virtual copilot that anthropomorphizes the drone and lets crews shunt off the blame for whatever happens. Siri, have those people killed"
Mark Oppenheimer | Medium | 24th October 2013
"The father of four has something in common with the childless man: people’s thoughts turn toward his genitals. When you have no children, they wonder if you are capable of having any; when you have four children, they wonder why you can’t keep it in your pants. Those with one, two, or three children don’t have this problem. They are genitally normative. Those who wants lots of children or none are tyrannised by the two-or-three-child norm"
Thought for the day:
"If you are using an adverb you have chosen the wrong verb"— Mark Kelly