I am starting to hate the New Yorker. I am weeks behind. They pile up, mercilessly mocking my inability to read them. Do I need this pressure in my life? And people ask me whether I read this or that. I will soon, I say. All
Cretans Pakistanis are liars.
- All that to draw your attention to one of the best things I have read in a long while. Jim Holt’s Time Bandit which appeared a few weeks ago in the New Yorker. It is about the friendship between Einstein and GÀÜdel. “Time, like God, is either necessary or nothing; if it disappears in one possible universe, it is undermined in every possible universe, including our own.” That alone was enough to give me dreams for days. In my previous life, I was an incredible physics geek. It was good to revisit that past. Also, maybe Ralph can tell us what GÀÜdel was referring to as the “‘inconsistency’ in the Constitution, one that could allow a dictatorship to arise”. I have had the morbid thought that Bushites will try to repeal the 22nd Amendment.
- In the Guardian, is an extract from Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul. I am assuming y’all read the Pamuk piece, The Pamuk Apartments in the New Yorker?
- Also in the Guardian is a review of Nicholas Ostler’s Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World by Jane Stevenson. The book asks why languages survive and dominate while others die. It appears that bureaucracy is good for something after all. Will English continue to dominate forever? Ha! Try Spanglish. Singlish. Chinglish. Engrish. And of course, 1337. Paging Sam Huntington.
- Someone who did appreciate bureaucracy was Franz Kafka. I find it Kafkaesque that in recent historiography he seems to be making the move from a person to a place. TLSrenders the problems for some recent biographies.
- The Independent has a profile of Nuruddin Farah and his upcoming trilogy of novels on Mogadishu. I have not read anything by Farah but I will rectify that soon enough.
- From Mogadishu to America. And the Re-branding of said nation profiled in the Boston Globe.
- Finally Clifford Geertz takes on two recent doomsday books in the NY Review of Books. To Geertz, both Jared Diamond and Richard Posner’s view of human behavior is “sociologically thin and … lacking in psychological depth”. This should be read in conjunction with Adam Gopnik’s excellent piece, yes…in the New Yorker, on Voltaire.