Reading

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Avatar smackdown!

I rarely take direct exception to anything my friend Jonah Lehrer writes, and I fully recognize he’s just quick-riffing on a Hollywood movie. But if I understand his Avatar post correctly, my good man Jonah is arguing, at least in a minddump-at-the-bar sort of way, that James Cameron’s latest movie is a pretty full neuro-aesthetico-art-critico…

Until the digital age, content was scarce. It wasn’t scarce because people didn’t create it; it was scarce because it required an investment to distribute it. That’s no longer true. Anybody with an Internet connection can make anything they write (or snap or video or sing) available to anybody else with an Internet connection. For just…

If you need a neurohook, think language acquisition, attention, mirror neurons, make your pick. No need. This one wins on entertainment value alone. via the twitter feed of the fine writer P.D. Smith. When you’re done, tune into RadioLab’s stunning piece on Hamlet’s last utterings.

I’m happy to announce that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, publisher of many a fine book over the decades, will be publishing “The Orchid and the Dandelion” (working title), in which I’ll explore further the emerging “orchid-dandelion hypothesis” I wrote about in my recent Atlantic story. (In brief, that hypothesis — a simple but deeply transformative amendment…

On the reading table lately

Been a while, so these cover a span of reading. I’m in the midst of my friend Adrienne Mayor’s The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome’s Deadliest Enemy, and can report that Mr. M is quite a poisonous but complicated handful — a dark and deadly echo of his hero and model,…

In the intro to his self-published (on Lulu.com) collection of blog posts, The Wreck of the Henry Clay, New Yorker contributor Caleb Crain sums up nicely the anxieties shared by at least one other writer-with-blogging-addon about blogging, and, by extension, about self-publishing books. Which I may just do myself soon — a collection — because…

photo: U.S. Forest Service Notables of the day: John Hawks ponders the (bad) art of citing papers you’ve never read. Clive Thompson ponders the new literacy spawned of engagement with many keyboards. A poll on public education shows how much opinion depends on framing, context — and who else thinks an idea is good. In…

What’s been distracting me lately from the big story I really really need to finish writing … A splendid, rich fracas over Chris Anderson’s Free, set off particularly by a pan from Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker. The net fairly exploded — search, and ye shall find — with many noting that a pot…

Forgive my recent blogopause. i was fishing, and then traveling, and then writing rather head-down intensely — all activities I have trouble mixing with blogging and social media such as Twitter, which I’ve also left idle these last days. So what gives with all that? I often find it awkward to switch between blogging or…

Emotional Cartography

Leave it to Vaughn Bell to find this stuff: emotional maps of different cities. Got to get a hold of this — and as Vaughn explains, you and I can, with free download. (But leave the author some $. It’s the right thing to do.) Nold came up with the idea of fusing a GSR…