Why is it that, in America, we have maintained the feeling that lunch needs to be a quick meal in the middle of the day? We still are working a lot—we’re working more hours in the United States than any other industrialized nation. Lunch is the original quick meal; it accommodated changing work schedules. And dinner has taken on the ideological weight of the meal. Dinner has been the time when... we celebrate family, and when we concentrate on having a nice, hot meal, ideally. Because dinner fulfilled that need, there was less of a need for the other meals to. Lunch doesn’t have a lot of cultural work to do; it just has to get us by. But, if you think about it, it’s not just lunch—it’s breakfast too. We can just pour milk over cereal, or pop some toast in the toaster and walk out the door without even needing a plate or utensils. Breakfast accommodates work. It’s not the meal that shapes work, it’s the work that shapes the meal.
“Nowadays the opportunities are better in smaller markets because there is more statistical dispersal and perhaps because smart people don’t bother playing, and the back-end technology they need to get access to the market’s data does not exist.” The biggest impact of technology is also not what you might think. “Technology can certainly help you place bets more accurately and rapidly, build... more models, think about opportunities in new ways, and tap into research from around the world.” But Walsh says the “most important change has been the increase in pool sizes”. EXPANDING MARKETS “Technology has allowed betting venues to provide more sophisticated services more often and thus the market size has grown faster than its organic rate, which we benefited from.” Asked what gaming risks get most frequently mispriced, Walsh says there are “hundreds”. Much to his surprise he finds people underestimate the utility of a good jockey. “I would have thought they would overestimate a jockey’s capacity.” Walsh also believes punters place too much emphasis on the “weight a horse is carrying”.
If sometimes there seems to be a sort of sameness of sound in The New Yorker, it probably can be traced to the magazine’s copy desk, which is a marvelous fortress of grammatical exactitude and stylish convention. Commas in The New Yorker fall with the precision of knives in a circus act, outlining the victim. This may sometimes have a slight tendency to make one writer sound a bit like another.... But on the whole, New Yorker writers are jealous of their own way of doing things and they are never chivied against their will into doing it some other way.
A romcom in which two characters find love because they are both interesting, clever, funny, accomplished, kind, confident, attractive—insert your favorite adjective here—and play equal parts in winning of the affection of the other would not only fail to scratch this itch, it would be depressing. We don’t go to movies to watch people more interesting, clever, funny etc etc than ourselves achieve... love and happiness in a context very much like that of our real lives—that’s what we are watching in our real lives. We go to movies to be reassured that we can have those things without being transformed ourselves. The viewer-identification characters here, then, need to seem basically good and genial—we’re not going to project ourselves onto someone actively unlikable—but also bland and passive enough that they don’t leave us feeling like true love is for people with desirable characteristics we conspicuously lack.
Faced with what for most writers would be a disastrous lack of material, Wallace looses his uncanny observational powers on the tennis complex, drawing partly on his knowledge of the game but mainly on his sheer ability to consider a situation, to revolve it in his mental fingers like a jewel whose integrity he doubts. In the mostly empty stadium he studies the players between matches. "They all... have the unhappy self-enclosed look of people who spend huge amounts of time on planes and waiting around in hotel lobbies," he writes, "the look of people who have to create an envelope of privacy around them with just their expressions." He hears the "authoritative pang" of tour-tight racket strings and sees ball boys "reconfigure complexly." He hits the practice courts and watches players warm up, their bodies "moving with the compact nonchalance I've since come to recognize in pros when they're working out: the suggestion is one of a very powerful engine in low gear."
A trick is a lie — that’s totally true — but a great trick is a beautiful lie. The best tricks stoke a battle between your brain and your heart. You’re watching it, you know it’s not magic, you know in your head that no one is a real magician, but you see something so beautiful that moves you in your chest. For the best magic tricks — there’s a real collision between those two things — where what... you see is impossible, you know it’s impossible, but it’s so beautiful you want to believe it’s true. And great magic, great storytelling, has that battle between your head and your heart, but you want your heart to win. That’s when you have a really great story. When someone reading it knows something intellectually, but the spiritual component of it, the emotional component of it overpowers whatever they’re thinking.
Organizational structure differs between scientific and engineering pursuits. The coordination of work isn’t interchangeable. In science, independent exploration by groups with diverse ideas leads to discovery, while in systems engineering, independent work would lead to nothing of use, because building a tightly integrated system requires tight coordination. Small, independent teams can design simple devices, but never a higher-order system like a passenger jet.
The British director Paul Greengrass makes two kinds of movie. The first kind is the thriller about people for whom life is already a cavalcade of thrills—Jason Bourne, for instance, a man so busy jumping through windows and driving head on into approaching traffic that it takes him three whole films to find out that his real name is David. The second kind is the thriller about people whose lives... are, for the most part, extremely unthrilling, and who, given the choice, would prefer to keep it that way. In the case of “Bloody Sunday” and “United 93,” the choice is not theirs to make, and the mood of those emerging from the cinema at the end could hardly be more different from the joyous exhaustion of a Bourne fan. The confusing thing is that both kinds of movie look the same. Editing, for Greengrass, creates a lung-bursting race against the clock, and the camera shifts and hops about like someone trying to get a better glimpse through a crowd. He started out in television documentaries, and the impulse to trap something—a gesture, a phrase—as it zips by, or at least to give the illusion of that capture, pervades his feature films.
“Gravity,” ultimately, is a perfect example of the liberal cinema of excitement, of quietly moralized entertainment that’s self-congratulatory in its choice of method and perspective. It rigs the rooting by fixing its meticulous gaze on characters endowed with fine feelings that admit of no wild excess, filtering out any troubling desires and controversial ambitions. It celebrates humanity by... reducing the spectrum of human life to a narrow consensus of decency. “Gravity” is a thriller that passes muster of seriousness, but its amazing technological extremes are yoked to the service of a musty, mild worldview. Neither vulgarity nor fantasy, neither visionary scientific ambitions nor strange personal impulses intrude on its earnest methodical complacency.
The (near) impossibility of deliberative democracy. I confess that the interaction ritual perspective makes me feel pessimistic about the prospects for anything like genuinely deliberative democracy. Deliberation is itself a ritual situation, but one that seems particularly fragile and unlikely to produce strong commitments, unlike many other political rituals, since it is premised on... disagreement. The basic building blocks of political solidarity – all the rituals inadvertently sacralising various opinions as tokens of membership – seem to cut against the possibility of successful deliberation except in very rare circumstances.
The problem was, many of these people were already starting to adopt a critical attitude that assumed it was possible to know immediately and without a doubt what was good and bad in a movie the precise moment it appeared — an attitude that Kael’s disciples have subsequently adopted with even more shrillness and impatience. Intricate, melancholic mood pieces like Antonioni’s, which invite and... reward — and occasionally even require — weeks of mulling over, could find no place at all within this approach, so fewer and fewer critics wound up dealing with them, seriously or otherwise. Better to come up with a clever quip about them right away than continue to think about them for a week or two, or even revise an opinion about them when the review got reprinted (which Kael has never done about a single movie in any of her 11 books — confidence with a vengeance, and one that necessarily rules out a whole cinema of uncertainty). In a marketplace virtually predicated on planned obsolescence, movies that stick in one’s craw rather than speed through the digestive system are bound to cause trouble.
But Silicon Valley’s explanation of why there are no disruptive innovations is parochial and reductive: the markets—in particular, the incentives that venture capital provides entrepreneurs—are to blame. According to Founders Fund’s manifesto, “What Happened to the Future?,” written by Bruce Gibney, a partner at the firm: “In the late 1990s, venture portfolios began to reflect a different sort of... future … Venture investing shifted away from funding transformational companies and toward companies that solved incremental problems or even fake problems … VC has ceased to be the funder of the future, and instead become a funder of features, widgets, irrelevances.” Computers and communications technologies advanced because they were well and properly funded, Gibney argues. But what seemed futuristic at the time of Apollo 11 “remains futuristic, in part because these technologies never received the sustained funding lavished on the electronics industries.”
“Thanks” and “Thank you” have worked their way into this portion of the formula particularly in emails. More traditional valedictions have been replaced with “Thank you” so subtly that it’s now a common sign-off in this medium. But what does it mean? And why is it more acceptable than “Sincerely” or “Yours truly”? It is in part be a reflection of our times. Email offers a speedier means of... contact than an actual letter (and in some cases, a telephone), but that speed also means we’re sending more messages through this medium both for personal and professional reasons, and reading and responding to these messages requires a commitment of time. So it’s more important that the sender recognize the burden that they’ve placed on the recipient. In a time when letters took time to write, send, and respond to, it was important for the sender to attest to her reliability. Responses and actions were not so easy to take back. “Sincerely” and “Yours truly” which were meant to build trust between communicants. Credibility was an important determinant of whether a response would be issues. Today, as the web enables stranger to contact each other with little effort, credibility is less of a factor in determining responses (SPAM mail aside) when weighed against time.
In all likelihood, dismantling or sharply contracting America’s prison system would make the country feel more like the United Kingdom. In the UK, only 3 percent of crimes result in a prison sentence. In the United States, the figure is closer to 18 percent. London is a more dangerous city than New York. Your likelihood of getting robbed or assaulted is higher there. For educated, middle-class... whites unlikely to get in trouble with the police, London is, in some ways, a tougher place to raise children. On the other hand, life spans are longer in the UK; social mobility is more fluid; racial disparities are smaller; the AIDS crisis is better-controlled; and neighborhoods are more cohesive. Despite some slippage in the last decade, the UK never had the prison boom we experienced in the US—Margaret Thatcher didn’t allow it. Confronted with a crime and drug abuse rate that is high by European standards, London attacked the problem on the front end, installing thousands of CCTV security cameras and hiring thousands of bobbies to discourage lawbreaking. Compared to the United States, they do little in the way of punishment.
Romantic comedy has become boiled down to its essence: two people are thrown together and sometimes it’s funny. The best of them—such as “Knocked Up,” “The Break-Up,” or “Greenberg”—have simple mechanisms that could theoretically spin for hours (in fact, when I saw “Knocked Up,” I imagined it had a missing hour). That’s why the exemplary filmmaker for our era of linear romance is John Cassavetes.... That’s also why there’s an essential element of emotional harshness, a fundamentally vitriolic tone, to these movies and others like it: where previously romantic comedy implied an entire metaphorical framework that removed the story from the stuff of life, today it implies all the difficulty that romantic melodrama does—plus the stuff of contemporary comedy, which (as “Funny People” brilliantly shows) is often even more acerbic and disturbingly intimate than that of drama.
a new Harold Lloyd is unthinkable because physical comedy depends on the proximity and possibility of death, which no longer seems acceptable to viewers who are completely aware of the prevalence of stunt doubles and digital effects, and who are repelled by the idea that a performer would actually face death for what is, after all, only a movie. In other words, physical comedy—the kind that made silent comedies famous—has been moralized out of existence.
Backstory is an essentially democratic mode of storytelling; it defines people by their personal particulars rather than by their social station or other outward identifiers, and it explains action not in terms of situations but in terms of individuals’ needs, conflicts, desires, dreams, and troubles. Popular Hollywood movies are the avant-garde of this liberal idea (“Man of Steel,” for example,... is nothing but backstory), which converts the present into destiny and the future into a vision of redemption, whether making good on a past error or sin (that’s Tonto’s story) or seeking some sort of vengeance. With Westerns, backstory makes sense: history is to society as backstory is to character, and the country is as tethered to its past as are its citizens to their personal stories. The simple didacticism of “The Lone Ranger” is to grant Native Americans their rightful place in the national narrative, and to find a way to make good on the injustices on which the nation developed. The Western is an inherently political genre because it renders as physical action the functions of government that, in modernity, are often bureaucratic and abstract.
Everyone is born with an endowment of labor; why not also an endowment of capital? What if, when each citizen turns 18, the government bought him or her a diversified portfolio of equity? Of course, some people would want to sell it immediately, cash out, and party, but this could be prevented with some fairly light paternalism, like temporary "lock-up" provisions. This portfolio of capital... ownership would act as an insurance policy for each human worker; if technological improvements reduced the value of that person's labor, he or she would reap compensating benefits through increased dividends and capital gains. This would essentially be like the kind of socialist land reforms proposed in highly unequal Latin American countries, only redistributing stock instead of land.
CAROL MATHEWS OF UCSF has been leading research into hoarders’ cognitive patterns. She and others have conducted functional-MRI studies that attempt to mimic the emotional decision making associated with hoarding: sorting, categorizing, thinking about discarding personal items. In these studies, people with hoarding disorder show increased brain activity in the orbitofrontal cortex, a region of... the brain associated with decision making, when they’re making choices related to material things. The extra “lighting up” of the region, scientists say, is due to greater emotional engagement with belongings. And more effort than normal is needed to complete a simple organizational task. A 2012 study from Hartford Hospital has also shown that when compared with people without hoarding tendencies, hoarders experience more activity in the anterior cingulate cortex—another brain area involved in decision making—when dealing with their own possessions, and less when thinking about other people’s things. In other words: It’s tougher for hoarders to clean up their own stuff.
“The key is to find the questions,” James said. “Once you find a question that is interesting and compelling, it actually makes very little difference to the world as a whole whether you get the answer right or wrong. … Because if you don’t get it right, somebody else will. Every interesting question becomes the basis for sequential research done by a lot of different people, and the first take on the answer is always wrong, somewhat.”