--Barbara Demick, The Good CookEnduring hunger became part of one's patriotic duty. Posters went up in the capital, Pyongyang, touting a new slogan, "Let's Eat Two Meals a Day." The North Korean government offered a variety of explanations. People were told that the government was stockpiling food to feed the starving South Korean masses on the blessed day of reunification, or that the United States had instituted a blockade against North Korea. North Korean television ran a documentary about a man whose stomach burst, it was claimed, from eating too much rice....The foreign press began reporting on North Korean's food shortages in the early nineteen-nineties, and in 1992 the country's news service issued an indignant reply: "All people live a happy life without worries about food in our land. The state supplies the people with food at a cheap price next to nothing so that people do not know how much rice costs. This is the reality of the northern half of Korea."
The reality of North Korea was that 10% of the population was dying of starvation. This article reminded me of the class I took on the USSR in which I learned how frighteningly easy it is to exercise control over a population. Constructions of reality, ya know?
02. Seeing UCB perform
03. Hangin' with friends (and UCB) till the wee hours
04. Making cinnamon buns at 3 am
05. Not going to class the next day
06. Ginkgo fights
07. An airing of grievances
09. You've got to be kidding me with this weather, it is too perfect
10. I am a statistics genius
11. Reading outside with Justin and a Dixie cup full of M&Ms
12. A car full of my loved ones, belting out Matchbox 20 songs
13. Everything about last night
--C. S. Lewis, The Magician's NephewYou see, I’m in the middle of a great experiment. I’ve tried it on a guinea-pig and it seemed to work. But then a guinea-pig can’t tell you anything. And you can’t explain to it how to come back.
--Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything is IlluminatedHe awoke each morning with the desire to do right, to be a good and meaningful person, to be, as simple as it sounded and as impossible as it actually was, happy. And during the course of each day his heart would descend from his chest into his stomach. By early afternoon he was overcome by the feeling that nothing was right, or nothing was right for him, and by the desire to be alone. By evening he was fulfilled: alone in the magnitude of his grief, alone in his aimless guilt, alone even in his loneliness. I am not sad, he would repeat to himself over and over, I am not sad...Because his life had unlimited potential for happiness, insofar as it was an empty white room. He would fall asleep with his heart at the foot of his bed, like some domesticated animal that was no part of him at all. And each morning he would wake with it again in the cupboard of his rib cage, having become a little heavier, a little weaker, but still pumping. And by the midafternoon he was again overcome with the desire to be somewhere else, someone else, someone else somewhere else. I am not sad.
When this is all over I will kick my legs and celebrate. In the meantime I will receive upsetting phone calls, I will hate not feeling in control, I will allow myself to be overwhelmed, and then I will pull. Myself. Together.
--Alex Altman, Q&A with Malcolm Gladwell (via Philip)Altman: If you had a single piece of advice to offer young journalists, what would it be?
Gladwell: The issue is not writing. It's what you write about. One of my favorite columnists is Jonathan Weil, who writes for Bloomberg. He broke the Enron story, and he broke it because he's one of the very few mainstream journalists in America who really knows how to read a balance sheet. That means Jonathan Weil will always have a job, and will always be read, and will always have something interesting to say. He's unique. Most accountants don't write articles, and most journalists don't know anything about accounting. Aspiring journalists should stop going to journalism programs and go to some other kind of grad school.
Every goddammed science writer I ever met with (and man oh man I met a lot of science writers in Chicago) told me to go to journalism school out of undergrad. What terrible advice! I told myself and anyone that would listen (lulz, sry Kt, Boyland, Ellis, Timothy, Martin, etc. etc. etc.) that journalism is a skill, one that I could learn at any point in my life, and that it seemed better to know something before you start to write about it. Oh, Malcolm. I always knew I liked you.
--Colin Nissan, It's Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers"It's fall, fuckfaces. You're either ready to reap this freaky-assed harvest or you're not."
This is best experienced as a dramatic reading by Martin, but not all of you are lucky enough to have Martin readily available for such treats.
--Malcolm Gladwell, Offensive Play via Boyland (or Ellis?)He shrugged. “It’s a violent game. I suppose if you want to you could play touch football or flag football. For me, as a Jewish kid from Long Island, I’d be just as happy if we did that. But I don’t know if the fans would be happy with that. So what else do you do?”
Casson is right. There is nothing else to be done, not so long as fans stand and cheer. We are in love with football players, with their courage and grit, and nothing else—neither considerations of science nor those of morality—can compete with the destructive power of that love.
I emailed this article to Jim Tressel, Gordon Gee, and the Vice President of Athletics.
--Terry Gross in an interview with Ruth ReichelI think with a lot of daughters it's impossible to see your mother cry without becoming overwhelmed with sadness yourself or maybe crying yourself. Because even during periods when you're not getting along with your mother, there's this kind of connection, there's this emotional connection I think a lot of us have felt where it's just...if your mother's crying you can't...you are too. It's like, it's impossible not to.
The thing is, we sit in a room on our laptops and come up with these ideas that we think are awesome and wildly hilarious but on Facebook they probably just translate into unfunny and potentially creepy. Not this, though. Diana's status is objectively hilarious and Philip's baby pictures are objectively awesome.
The thing is, the ability to make it different is mine and mine alone. I don't have to answer my phone when I leave work tonight. And maybe I won't.
--Jonathan Safran Foer, Against MeatBut when, at the end of my sophomore year, I became a philosophy major and started doing my first seriously pretentious thinking, I became a vegetarian again. The kind of active forgetting that I was sure meat eating required felt too paradoxical to the intellectual life I was trying to shape. I didn’t know the details of factory farming, but like most everyone, I knew the gist: it is miserable for animals, the environment, farmers, public health, biodiversity, rural communities, global poverty and so on. I thought life could, should and must conform to the mold of reason, period. You can imagine how annoying this made me.
This is such a good piece of writing; I can't wait for his next book.
And uh, for good measure--check out this home. From the creators of this blog, which is a current fave.
Our family Thanksgiving dinner is going to be Redwall-themed. Our study parties devolve into superfluous Facebook activity. We just get so excited! About Narnia, about Redwall, about meadowcream and scones and strawberry fizz. Brady Stag Hare, Martin the Warrior, Justin Vorbeak, Samkim--we make a good team. I am a lucky lady.
--Alexander TherouxThings that seem yellow: maiden aunts, gumdrops, diffidence, the letter H, all women's poems (except Emily Dickenson's), lewd suggestions, debt, the seventies, Nat "King" Cole's song "China Gate," sadness, the Yale English department faculty, the name as well as the country of Brazil, August, the House of Congress, the word "hills," lampshades, physicians, insurance agents, the thin squealing noises of children in playgrounds, political compromise, the state of Nebraska, illness in general, old wagon wheels, whispering, and the vapid name Catherine.
The vapidity of the name Catherine is a result of spelling it with a C, which we all learned from Anne of Avonlea.
Diana: mine is hahahahIDK 830 in the morning MWF
When I talk to Diana, everything feels like the best thing ever. Unflagging enthusiasm! Also, stats study buddy!!
Then a different we cooked dinner with Neil Young* and Paul Simon and it was delicious, warm, and joyful.
Then another we flipped a coin and saw a dance (which was really many dances) by many dancers (but really one) and it was chilly but that was okay.
I have a bed now.
And I haven't been sad in a while.
*Tomorrow night is the harvest moon, celebrate.
--Tao Lin, The Easter Parade by Richard YatesI felt a little good after reading this book because I am pretty sure that when I am almost fifty I will also not understand anything in my life, it's good to know that I am not alone in this.