books

‘Love is the delusion that one woman differs from another.’ —H. L. Mencken

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More than 400 years after Shakespeare wrote it, we can now say that “Romeo and Juliet” has the wrong name. Perhaps the play should be called “Juliet and Her Nurse,” which isn’t nearly as sexy, or “Romeo and Benvolio,” which has a whole different connotation.

I discovered this by writing a computer program to count how many lines each pair of characters in “Romeo and Juliet” spoke to each other, with the expectation that the lovers in the greatest love story of all time would speak more than any other pair.

{ FiveThirtyEight | Continue reading }

השואה

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{ More art than literature, the new book “And Every Single One Was Someone” consists of the single word “Jew,” in tiny type, printed six million times to signify the number of Jews killed during the Holocaust. | NY Times | Continue reading | via gettingsome }

Too dead to die

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Psychoactive Plants in the Bible

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The holy anointing oil is essentially an anxiolytic-hallucinogen. The transdermal application of it led to its absorption and psychoactive effects, even in extremely low doses. […]

Myrrh is a resin that is used widely in the bible. Myrrh contains the terpenes furanoeudesma-1,3-diene and curzarene which are Mu-opioid agonists. This opioid receptor is the same one that morphine activates. This means that inhaling or absorbing myrrh incense can cause a drug reaction.

{ NeuroBrainstorm | Continue reading }

art { Francis Bacon, Portrait of George Dyer Talking, 1966 }

‘The rest is silence.’ –Shakespeare

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This chapter might have been called “Introduction,” but nobody reads the introduction, and we wanted you to read this. We feel safe admitting this here, in the footnote, because nobody reads footnotes either.

{ via Other Sociologist }

♪ let me downgrade u ♪ so you’re on my level ♪

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Three computer scientists at Stony Brook University in New York think they found some rules through a computer program that might predict which books will be successful. The algorithm had as much as 84 percent accuracy when applied to already published manuscripts.

If so, it comes much too late for the more than 20 book editors who turned down J.K. Rowling’s first manuscript about a boy wizard named Harry Potter.

They said it is the first study to correlate between a book’s stylistic elements and its popularity and critical acclaim.

{ Inside Science | Continue reading }

This is what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps

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A high-ranking FBI agent filed a sensitive internal manual detailing the bureau’s secret interrogation procedures with the Library of Congress, where anyone with a library card can read it. […]

“A document that has not been released does not even need a copyright,” says Steven Aftergood, a government secrecy expert at the Federation of American Scientists. “Who is going to plagiarize from it? Even if you wanted to, you couldn’t violate the copyright because you don’t have the document. It isn’t available.”

{ Mother Jones | Continue reading }

Googling Google… isn’t that like dividing by zero?

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Features of fictional folk are more extreme than in reality; real folks are boring by comparison. Fictional folks are more expressive, and give off clearer signs about their feelings and intentions. Their motives are simpler and clearer, and their actions are better explained by their motives and local visible context. Who they are now is better predicted by their history. […]

In real life, coincidence happens all the time. But in fiction […] Your readers will refuse to believe it.

{ via overcoming bias | Continue reading }

photo { Mick Haggerty, Mickey Mondrian, 1976 }

‘In any situation, the villain is the person who knows the most but cares the least.’ –Chuck Klosterman

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As you mature you find that because your personality is already created, you’re kind of using other characters to understand yourself. The process of maturation makes you naturally more inclined to relate to problematic people. […]

“Hate” and “Love” aren’t opposites. The opposite of “Love” is “Indifferent.” So if you actually hate something, it actually means you have a pretty deep emotional investment with what that expression means.

{ Interview with Chuck Klosterman | Continue reading }

“The drug lords on ‘The Wire’ were criminals, but they had a stricter ethical code than the corrupt police trying to stop them,” Mr. Klosterman wrote in his analysis of the HBO show and its complex characters.

“The most admirable adult in the series was Omar Little, a hyperviolent stickup artist who lived by a street code so austere he wouldn’t even cuss (in 2012, Barack Obama cited Omar as his favorite ‘Wire’ character, thus making Obama the first sitting president to express admiration for a fictional homosexual who killed dozens of people with a shotgun).”

{ Pittsburgh News | Continue reading }

photo { Olivia Locher }

This is why new medicines are tested in double-blind randomised trials

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Within a week of Random House and Penguin merging to become the world’s largest books publisher with an estimated revenue of $4 billion, the aftershocks have started. The new entity, eager to cut cost and streamline operations, has asked author Vikram Seth to return his $1.7 million advance, a part of which was paid to him for A Suitable Girl, the ‘jumpsequel’ to his best-selling novel, A Suitable Boy.

Seth, one of the world’s bestloved writers, was scheduled to submit his manuscript this June but has been unable to do so, leading to the publishers’ demarche. […]

“It’s possible that Vikram Seth has not started on the book or that it’s nowhere close to completion, which explains the move.”

{ Mumbai Mirror | Continue reading }

Golden shower (disambiguation)

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Last August, a book titled “Leapfrogging” hit The Wall Street Journal’s list of best-selling business titles upon its debut. The following week, sales of the book, written by first-time author Soren Kaplan, plunged 99% and it fell off the list.

Something similar happened when the hardcover edition of “Networking is Dead,” was published in mid-December. A week after selling enough copies to make it onto the Journal’s business best-seller list, more hardcover copies of the book were returned than sold, says book-sales tracker Nielsen BookScan.

It isn’t uncommon for a business book to land on best-seller lists only to quickly drop off. But even a brief appearance adds permanent luster to an author’s reputation, greasing the skids for speaking and consulting engagements.

Mr. Kaplan says the best-seller status of “Leapfrogging” has “become part of my position as a speaker and consultant.”

But the short moment of glory doesn’t always occur by luck alone. In the cases mentioned above, the authors hired a marketing firm that purchased books ahead of publication date, creating a spike in sales that landed titles on the lists. The marketing firm, San Diego-based ResultSource, charges thousands of dollars for its services in addition to the cost of the books, according to authors interviewed.

{ WSJ | Continue reading | via Forbes }

installation { Tom Sachs }

Uncovers himself but, seeing them, frowns, then smiles, preoccupied

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In school they tell you time is an illusion, but the profs over-complicate it if you ask me. There’s no such thing as before and after, just a big mash of now. “Time” is something our brains make up to help us get from point A to point B. Like the long path up to Stacy Adams’ house. Someone put it there so you wouldn’t walk around the woods in circles, not getting anywhere. Soon as scientists figured that out, they knew you could make time your bitch. You can stretch it and squash it and reshape it. You just need the right drugs and hardware.

Someday we’ll tell our kids about the night we saw our first Quantum Condenser, that’s what my Lou says on the path up to Stacy Adams’ house. Lou’s into the steevy new gear. I tend to wait for the third or fourth gen when shit actually gets good. But I have to admit I’m excited to see a real life QC. Stacy’s family was the first in the boro to get one. Her dad works at Bubble Labs, where they invented the thing.

You think she’ll let us use it? Lou asks.

I shrug. Then I tickle him because he’s obviously so excited. He shoves me away and then pulls me in and we go arms-around-waists, bumping against each other up the path. Me and my Lou.

Up the hill we go Hi Ho, up to Stacy’s big glass house at the top of the town like Mount Olympus (we just did that mod in Ancient History), and when we ring the bell Stacy’s there in her green double-breasted party suit.

Boys, she goes. Party’s in the back. Come on in.

{ John M. Cusick | Continue reading }

photos { Lorenzo Sala | Inez Van Lamsweerde & Vinoodh Matadin }

I can’t wait to get home tonight and rip off my girlfriend’s panties. They’ve been giving me a wedgie all day.

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Darwinian literary analysis is a way to examine texts and arrive at conclusions about evolved human behaviors, motivations, and emotions. That is, by analyzing texts, it is possible to indirectly analyze human nature. Recently, scholars have examined the works of Jane Austen, Harlequin romance novels, and folktales for this purpose. Although this prior work has been informative, it has only included heterosexual relationships.

Symons noted that lesbian and gay populations are a vital group to gain insight into evolutionary sex differences, as their relationships involve only same sex individuals, thus highlighting dominant female and male mating behaviors. Therefore, in this paper, our primary goal is to analyze lesbian pulp fiction to better comprehend women’s evolved mating strategies. We also consider the era that these books were most popular and explore the cultural climate in relation to the characters in the novels. In general, the way the characters are described and their relationship dynamics are consistent gender stereotypes concerning masculine versus feminine women.

{ Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology | PDF }