“A Book Is a Machine to Think With”

There’s much ado these days about new reading technologies. In particular, the ebook, but there are more recent innovations in digital reading, too: Spritz is one, and social e-readers are another. The way digital reading is discussed, you’d think people who like reading plain old paper books are Luddites.

But what if I told you that physical books are technological marvels themselves?

I encountered a provocative discussion of how we use this far-out dead-tree technology in–where else?–a book, dead-tree version, by one of my favorite writers, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang. After reading this, I’ll never look at a book the same way again.

Read more "“A Book Is a Machine to Think With”"

How to Become an Artist in 0 Minutes

Maybe you wrote short stories in college, or you took poetry classes, or you learned how to fire clay, or blow glass, or make beaded bracelets or collages, or you got way into Cubism.

But for most of us, it didn’t work. We got rejected one too many times, or someone told us to get a “real” degree, or we made the sensible choice to start a career that could actually pay off those obscene student loans.

Read more "How to Become an Artist in 0 Minutes"

The greatest startup of the 20th century

If Norris and Gettler were the Jobs and Wozniak of their time, then the New York City medical examiner’s office was one of the greatest startups of all-time. It helped pioneer a whole field, forensic toxicology, despite nobody believing in it or understanding it, and it did so on a shoestring budget. It also created the political and cultural atmosphere that led to the eradication of poisons from daily-use products, the banishment of lethal intoxicants like lead and radium from American factories, and the granting of real power to the FDA.

Read more "The greatest startup of the 20th century"