Best of the Moment
Margaret Wertheim | Aeon | 3rd June 2013
Is theoretical physics a science, or "another kind of storytelling"? Physics used to aim at giving us a blueprint of the universe. Now it gives us competing accounts of reality in which the claims of relativity contradict those of quantum physics. Nils Bohr said, in the early days of quantum physics, that we might never know what "reality" is. But if so, how can the "truths" of physics differ from those of literature or myth?
Theodore Dalrymple | City Journal | 3rd June 2013
Street artist Banksy is clever and funny. He's no van Eyck, but he can draw. He makes some good points: about inequality, CCTV, police, consumer culture. But he has chosen they way of the philistine. He celebrates society's vandals, hooligans and hypocrites. There is nothing in his work to inspire or improve us. If that is the burden of his art, then "his talent is not an extenuating but an aggravating circumstance"
Ben Downing | Paris Review | 31st May 2013
Simply wonderful. Assuming, that is, you like gossipy stories involving Somerset Maugham, John Huston, Darryl Zanuck, Errol Flynn, Juliette Greco, Robert Byron, Bruce Chatwin, and the Sitwell family ("I was rather thick with Sachie and Georgia at the time, and they were very kind to me"). Interspersed with tales of wartime derring-do and the golden age of film. If none of that appeals, I really don't know what to advise
Timothy Wu | New Republic | 3rd June 2013
A richer and more nuanced piece of writing than the headline suggests. America's court protection of free speech, broadly defined, dates back only half a century. As late as the 1950s local officials were banning distasteful films and locking people up for insulting the sheriff. Business quickly saw the uses of first-amendment protection, and set to work persuading courts that corporations deserved "free speech" too
Elif Batuman | New Yorker | 1st June 2013
Report on increasingly violent protests triggered by Turkish government plans to turn an Istanbul park into a shopping mall. "I tried to strike up conversation with a demonstrator, a young woman in her twenties with a surgical mask around her neck, but I could see I was interrupting her tweeting. In fact, I realized that almost every person there was either typing on a phone or recording the scene on a tablet"
Karen Hitchcock | The Monthly | 1st March 2013
Another piece on obesity? Yes, another piece on obesity. But shame on me for missing it when it came out. You start it, you'll finish it, and you may even act on it. By an Australian doctor working in an obesity clinic: "It is the 300 kg–plus people who come to the attention of a hospital, when their bodies start to die around them". Fine mix of expert knowledge, strong writing, common sense, and a repertoire of anecdotes to make you squirm
Thought for the day:
"Google never did any advertising. They're like dealers; they sell the stuff, but they know better than to use it themselves"— Paul Graham