Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Selected Thoughts on The New Yorker, Aug 3

Selected thoughts on the 3 August 2009 edition of The New Yorker:

Talk of the Town: Math-Hattan (by Nick Paumgarten)
I would happily go to a math museum and take a math-themed tour of Manhatten.

A New Page (by Nicholson Baker)
Baker reviews his experiences with the new Kindle book reader. Reading this after the Kindle/Orwell incident was rather strange. I was more interested in ownership of digital media than in the aesthetics of the Kindle 2. Baker describes similar issues, but focuses more on the quirks of his own preferences for how to read.

Itsy-Bitys Teeny-Weeny (by Patricia Marx)
I had no idea bathing suits were so expensive.

Travels in Siberia part 1 (by Ian Frazier)
This is the first part of travelogue recounting Frazier's experiences driving across Siberia. I found myself unexpectedly enthralled by the description of the geography and history of the land. I don't particularly like travelling (at least not just for traveling's sake) but, for an instant, I was tempted to strike out on a journey of my own. I look forward to the second part.

Party of One (by Kelefa Sanneh)
It is impossible not to compare Sanneh's profile of talk-radio host Michael Savage with David Foster Wallace's 2005 profile of John Ziegler (see here for my thoughts on that). Sanneh largely focuses on Savage the man. Is their any fact, truth, or wisdom in Savage's thoughts on herbal medicine, homeopathy, politics, or history? Such pesky things are now that this article is about. Savage is humanized by Sanneh, which I guess is an acompshment given the views of the average New Yorker reader.

Betrayal (by Joan Acocella)
Acocella delivers an engaging discussion of the evolving way in which Judas Iscariot has been viewed throughout history. The article is motivated by new translations of the Codex Tchacos. I agree that the way the story of Judas is told tells more about ourselves than about the Gnostics. I'm fascinated by how different history may have been if a different sect had won out. This article serves as a great introduction to the some of the more recent work on the competeing theology of early Christian sects.

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