Best of the Moment
Sarah Lyall | New York Times | 21st May 2013
How to attend (if not necessarily enjoy) a British football match. Brits: Cut out and keep for foreign visitors. "It will be noisier than you are used to. Emotions will be higher than they are at home. The food will be awful. People will be drunk. The weather will be bad. Many of the supporters will not appear to be having fun, and will be expressing their feelings in novel combinations of swear words" (Metered paywall)
Jed Perl | New Republic | 23rd May 2013
Perl is so skilled at deriding bad art that I sometimes forget how well he writes of art he loves. As here. "Rarely have life’s sweetness and bitterness been embraced with more evenhanded genius than in the work of Jacques Callot. The seventeenth-century French printmaker finds an ethics of vision—a way of grappling with whatever the world has to offer—in the indomitable force and lucidity of his line"
James Gleick | New York Review Of Books | 22nd May 2013
Review of Time Reborn, by Lee Smolin. "His argument from science and history is as provocative, original, and unsettling as any I’ve read in years. It turns upside-down the now standard view of Wells, Minkowski, and Einstein. It contravenes our intellectual inheritance from Newton and, for that matter, Plato, and it will ring false to many of Smolin’s contemporaries in theoretical physics." Sounds promising, no?
Conal Urquhart | Guardian | 22nd May 2013
Really rather amazing account of London killing from first-aider who happened to be passing on a bus, saw the aftermath, tried to help the victim, engaged the attackers in conversation until police arrived, then got back on her bus. "At first there was no blood by the body but as I talked to the man it began to flow which worried me because blood needs a beating heart to flow. But I didn't want to annoy the man by going back to the body"
Erica Klarreich | Simons Foundation | 19th May 2013
Fundamental problem solved by little-known researcher "whose talents had been so overlooked after he earned his doctorate that he found it difficult to get an academic job, working for several years as an accountant and in a Subway sandwich shop". Yitang Zhang's paper proves that "there is some number N smaller than 70 million such that there are infinitely many pairs of primes that differ by N". Here's how he did it
Robert Lane Greene | Intelligent Life | 21st May 2013
On the nouning and adverbing of adjectives. It's OK. "Advertisers love to push at the edges of taste in language. If this slogan — 'Winston tastes good, like a cigarette should' — from 1954, doesn't bother you, you're like most modern folks. But every educated Anglophone knew, when this came out, that 'like' couldn't be used as a conjunction, and that this should be 'Tastes good, as a cigarette should'"
Thought for the day:
"A doctrine is something that pins you down to a given mode of conduct, which is a great mistake in principle"— George Kennan