How to review stuff

Tim Carmody at Snarkmarket wrote a thoughtful essay on reviewing books, movies, and other works in the new-media environment. In a nutshell, he points out how swarms of reviews posted at Amazon (for example) can have competing objectives, centering on what he labels immanence versus transcendence.1 immanence n. The “thingy-ness” of an artwork, its physical […]

teh kidz r alright

I was recently directed to yet another complaint about the decline of literacy, the corrosive intellect-leaching power of digital technology, and our collective guilt for letting Western civilization subside into a mire of tweets, blogs, and gaming. iPhones Have Consequences, by Sally Thomas, is a witty, engaging essay on the subject, supported by memorable anecdotes. […]

Why we call it waterboarding

I recently found some supporting evidence for my theory (in this post, one of my most read) that the term waterboarding is intended to make nonsense of a victim’s suffering by comparing his torture to an extreme sport. (Think of snowboarding, etc.) Well, a while ago Isabel Macdonald searched newspaper archives to learn about the […]

Socialism is gonna get your momma

So today the real Americans turned out en masse to protest “socialism,” government spending, middle-class tax cuts, taxes (period), and the election of a Kenyan Muslim as president of the United States. Not that we’re racist or anything. Just patriotic. You can tell by our “Don’t Tread On Me” flags and our use of Boston […]

‘New media’ circumvent gag order on ‘old media’

Over in Britain they’re having bailout issues as well. The Guardian newspaper just published a series of leaked memos showing how Barclays Bank conspired to evade taxes — while receiving huge sums of public money to avoid bankruptcy. A whistleblower at the bank leaked seven memos describing the tax avoidance schemes. The Guardian posted them […]

Small talk

Given any new technology for transmitting information, we seem bound to use it for great quantities of small talk. That was biologist and essayist Lewis Thomas in The Lives of a Cell, published in 1974. Still a good book.

Collecting debts from the dead

I have an elderly neighbor who is certain to die in crushing credit card debt. So this NYT article on a “new frontier” in debt collection grabbed my attention. (Edge of the West linked to it here.) It’s a profile of DCM Services, specialists in getting the bereaved to assume responsibility for the unsecured debts […]