Friday, September 30

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On the Google conundrum:

It’s clearly wrong for all the information in all the world’s books to be in the sole possession of a single company. It’s clearly not ideal that only one company in the world can, with increasing accuracy, translate text between 506 different pairs of languages. On the other hand, if Google doesn’t do these things, who will?

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When your family is murdered, and the home you had made together is destroyed, and you yourself are beaten and left for dead — as happened to Bill Petit on the morning of July 23, 2007 — it may as well be the end of the world. It is hard to see how a man survives the end of the world. The basics of life — waking up, walking, talking — become alien tasks, and almost impossibly heavy, as you are more dead than alive. Just how does a man go about surviving such a thing? How does a man go on?

Thursday, September 29

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From Vallejo to San Jose, a tour of local government despair:

The relationship between the people and their money in California is such that you can pluck almost any city at random and enter a crisis.
More Lewis: the complete financial disaster tourism series to date.

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On Jews:

The Jews are happy in the United States. There are now two hundred congregations of them here, half of whom have arrived within the last twelve years. They are good citizens, firmly attached to those liberal principles to which they owe their deliverance from degrading and oppressive laws, and are rising in the esteem of the people among whom they dwell. Their attachment to the system of universal education is hereditary; it dates back three thousand years; and though their religious feelings are wounded by the opening exercises of many public schools, they would not for that reason destroy them.
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Three primary reasons: A desire for vengeance, the sanitization of executions and, ironically, the reliability of DNA evidence.

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What makes Rick Perry run?

Wednesday, September 28

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"Serial systems and their permutations function as a narrative that has to be understood. People still see things as visual objects without understanding what they are. They don’t understand that the visual part may be boring but it’s the narrative that’s interesting. It can be read as a story, just as music can be heard as form in time. The narrative of serial art works more like music than like literature."
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On Jeff Bezos, Amazon, and the genesis of the Kindle.

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In 16 months, he has broken into more than a thousand homes up and down the San Fernando Valley. According to the police, his haul is worth anywhere from $16 million to $40 million. And yet because he has cultivated so many aliases, law-enforcement officials have been hard-pressed to learn his real name—Ignacio Peña Del Río—much less comprehend his unlikely background.
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A profile of Bob Fishman, the impresario of CBS’s NFL production crew.

Tuesday, September 27

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On the then new phenomenon of dead downtowns:

It is not only for amenity but for economics that choice is so vital. Without a mixture on the streets, our downtowns would be superficially standardized, and functionally standardized as well. New construction is necessary, but it is not an unmixed blessing: its inexorable economy is fatal to hundreds of enterprises able to make out successfully in old buildings. Notice that when a new building goes up, the kind of ground-floor tenants it gets are usually the chain store and the chain restaurant. Lack of variety in age and overhead is an unavoidable defect in large new shopping centers and is one reason why even the most successful cannot incubate the unusual--a point overlooked by planners of downtown shopping-center projects.