July 2011/Third Week

¶ Jonah Lehrer looks into the Google-makes-you-stupid claim, and finds that it wasn’t being claimed at all. Which we could have told him… At the end, Jonah cites Nicholas Carr’s “contrarian” take. Carr writes, “When we form, or “consolidate,” a personal memory, we also form associations between that memory and other memories that are unique to ourselves and also indispensable to the development of deep, conceptual knowledge.” The associations that we build facts and memories are indeed unique to the human mind and will not be uploadable anytime soon. We believe that Carr’s associations are indeed the jewels of the mind, but they are memories themselves. In other words, if you associate a fact that you’ve off-loaded with one in your mind, the association is itself in your mind. It’s not really an association anymore, but a new fact. So we don’t see any “contrarian.” (The Frontal Cortex)

¶ Felix Salmon appraises the “smart and charming” Larry Summers and finds that his skepticism recedes somewhat. It’s frustrating, though, to see that both Felix and Summers are complacent about the nature of any jobs program: it’s got to be public-sector stimulus. We believe that breaking up large corporations into much smaller units (think franchises) would generate not only a robust jobs market but a greener environment. ¶ All right, it wasn’t the death by a thousand cuts. Maybe just five or six, writes Annie Lowrey at Slate. It’s pretty clear from her analysis that Borders did almost nothing (effectively) to harness the Internet. (Slate)

¶ The reissue of Patricia Highsmith’s The Cry of the Owl gets an irresistible review from Richard Rayner (LA Times; via 3 Quarks Daily) ¶ Pointers for translators by Humphrey Davies and Jonathan Wright. Mr Davies counsels against consulting native speakers who aren’t readers and translating anything before the contract is signed. (Arabic Literature (In English); via Conversational Reading) 

¶ Scientists enlisted volunteers from the Royal Armories in London to hop on a treadmill kitted out in Fifteenth-Century armor. Guess what? It’s exhausting! But it’s probably unlikely that the wearers of these ceremonial outfits exerted themselves very much while so attired; it was the horses carrying them that bore the burden. That’s just our guess, though. (Discoblog)

Have a Look: ¶ Fabulously fabulous advice from humiliation expert Wayne Koestenbaum @ The Awl. ¶ Julie Kim’s bus-stop coffee table. (via GOOD) ¶ Jim Meskimen “interprets” Clarence’s Dream, from Richard III, in a host of (adroitly chosen) impressions, ranging from Richard Burton to Jack Nicholson and closing with the best match of all. (via MetaFilter)

Noted: ¶ Alex Steinweiss, graphics pioneer, 1917-2011. (The Atlantic; via Arts Journal)