Twilight, by Dr. Seuss
Jake likes a girl. Her name is Bella.
Bella likes a different fella.
See this vamp? This is Ed.
Ed is pale. Ed is dead.
Ed saved Bella from a van.
Ed must be a special man.
Ed won't kill boys. He won't kill girls.
Ed gets fed on deer and squirrels.
This is James. He's a tracker.
He's a sort of vamp attacker.
James hunts Bella for a thrill.
Will Ed kill him? Yes, he will.
But James gave her a little bite.
Will she be a vamp? She might!
Edward fixes Bella's cut.
She won't be a vampire.
She becomes one. Read some more.
She's a vampire in book 4.
We’ve juiced up the entirely artificial copyright laws of the world to the point that if libraries weren’t already a centuries-old cultural institution, there’s no chance they’d ever be able to come into existence today.
But there may be hope for the humble globe. Bound atlases have stood up to digital encroachment much better than encyclopedias, because no screen can yet duplicate the tactile, immersive experience of exploring the Earth via paper maps. Globes have the same advantage, only in three dimensions.
I’ve been typing these last few paragraphs amid constant interruptions from my 4-year-old daughter, who can’t keep her hands off the globe at my side. “Are these mountains?” she wants to know, rubbing her fingers over the relief of the Andes. “Why does this red line stay in the same place when I spin the world?” she asks about the equator.
Some people recite history from above, recording the grand deeds of great men. Others tell history from below, arguing that one person's life is just as much a part of mankind's story as another's. If people do make history, as this democratic view suggests, then two people make twice as much history as one. Since there are almost 7 billion people alive today, it follows that they are making seven times as much history as the 1 billion alive in 1811.The chart below shows a population-weighted history of the past two millennia. By this reckoning, over 28% of all the history made since the birth of Christ was made in the 20th century. Measured in years lived, the present century, which is only ten years old, is already "longer" than the whole of the 17th century. This century has made an even bigger contribution to economic history. Over 23% of all the goods and services made since 1AD were produced from 2001 to 2010, according to an updated version of Angus Maddison's figures.
Consider this question: What percent of our ancestors were women?
It’s not a trick question, and it’s not 50%. True, about half the people who ever lived were women, but that’s not the question. We’re asking about all the people who ever lived who have a descendant living today. Or, put another way, yes, every baby has both a mother and a father, but some of those parents had multiple children.
Recent research using DNA analysis answered this question about two years ago. Today’s human population is descended from twice as many women as men.
I think this difference is the single most underappreciated fact about gender. To get that kind of difference, you had to have something like, throughout the entire history of the human race, maybe 80% of women but only 40% of men reproduced.
I think I've shared this before, but it's interesting the second time through too.
The danger as cooking becomes glamorized--producing rock-star chefs and glitzy television series--is that, just as with restaurant meals, cooking will be turned into another form of theatrical entertainment. Contemporary food television sets a different goal from its forebears. The earlier generation of cooking programs was instructional, attempting to teach viewers the skill, Willoughby says. Furthermore, "Julia Child is very unintimidating. She drops things, forgets things, she makes mistakes, and tells you it will all come out OK. But today, most of food television is not instructional. Viewers are just watching a talented chef cook, and getting a vicarious experience of cooking. It's like a celebrity reality show. These are professional chefs doing things in the kitchen that you cannot do--and that's not what home cooking is about."
Spectacularly entertaining gourmet shows can thus become an enemy of home cooking by implicitly suggesting that "everything has to be perfect," Willoughby declares. "Then people start feeling that they are unable to cook well--so they're not going to cook at all. People have become very intimidated by cooking, and they shouldn't be. If you publish a recipe with a mistake in it, you very rarely get letters saying, 'You screwed up this recipe.' What you get are letters saying, 'I made a mistake somehow when I made this--can you tell me what I did wrong?' Today there's a supposition on most people's part that they don't know how to cook, and therefore it's their mistake."
Transformers holds the distinction of being the first movie this year I'm actually ashamed of. In it, I recognize every failing of we the people, paraded before us as though they were virtues.
It's too easy to say that Transformers is the worst film of the year, because it is more dangerous than bad. The world is full of bad movies, after all, to the brim. ... But the lasting legacy of this film will be that it redefined the uselessness of the MPAA ratings system; begged the question of how much hatefulness is permissible in our popular entertainment before someone says something; and caused too few people to scratch their heads in helpless dismay before this wholesale disrespecting of an entire country and its people.
Are Germans ruder than the British? Are Britons more dishonest than Germans? Fortunately, we don't have to rely on blind prejudice for answers. Serious academic research has been done on both sides of the North Sea.
There are Britons in Berlin who get taken aback by the directness of Germans. And there are Germans who get really annoyed when Britons (and Americans), in an effort to appear friendly, say things they don't really mean. Some Germans call this "lying".
So, what do the experts say on the matter?
(Apparently I'm part German.)
Americans are prone to cycles of belief in decline. The Founding Fathers worried about comparisons to the decline of the Roman republic. Moreover, cultural pessimism is very American, extending back to the country's Puritan roots. As Charles Dickens observed a century and a half ago, "if its individual citizens, to a man, are to be believed, [America] always is depressed, and always is stagnated, and always is in an alarming crisis, and never was otherwise.