“The segments grow smaller in such a regular way that the seventeenth-century Scottish mathematician John Napier, it is said, was inspired by them to invent logarithms.”
From an essay by Oliver Sacks on horsetails — in general and those growing on New York City’s High Line — in the August 1, 2011 issue of The New Yorker.
“Stieg was like a sponge, absorbing everything, and without ever taking notes! For example, to come up with the clothes his characters wore, which were always described in great detail, he never consulted any catalogues or peered into any shopwindows. All he did was study fashion in the street. And he loved that.”
From “Stieg Larsson’s Long Good-bye,” an excerpt of Eva Gabrielson’s memoir “‘There Are Things I Want You To Know’ about Stieg Larsson and Me,” appearing in the July 2011 issue of Vanity Fair.
“As he passed us, he shot me a look. The look was what did it. Imagine my finger tapping the first in a line of dominos.”
From page 4 of the novel “Long Drive Home” by Will Allison (describing a basic idea, the seemingly innocuous origin of a long series of snowballing events and decisions that culminate in … well, you have to read the book yourself).
As part of our fantasy that we can, if not control time, at least keep track of it, we humans have moved from sundials that throw shadows, to clocks with hands that go around and around, to machines with flipping or glowing numbers.
Now comes a clock that literally tells time in words — and you can even select the language from among the seven on offer.
Yes, according to the “Gadgetwise” section of The New York Times on June 23, 2011, a German company has introduced a clock that will display the words “It is a quarter past one” (or whatever) and update them every five minutes. The clock has many other features and, in addition to its many languages, comes in many colors (all of them food-related, for some reason — like “dark chocolate” and “vanilla sugar”). And yes, if you have to ask how much it costs … well, you know the rest.
I usually like to applaud new ideas, not criticize them. But this clock makes me wonder. Writers are constantly being admonished to show, not tell. And most children learn to “tell” time and “read” a (traditional) clock at about when they learn to read words. But what about the 85% of US juvenile inmates who are functionally illiterate, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics?
OK, so I’m over-thinking this one.
“While the idea gives the work its soul, the medium gives the work its personality. Paintings and sculpture have a different vocabulary from printmaking, as does each of the distinct print mediums. The sensory experience of each medium — derived from the tools and materials particular to it — are entirely different, and each is suited to the ‘soul’ of the image.”
From “Pressing Ideas,” an profile of the Tamarind Lithography Workshop by Jordana Pomeroy in the Summer 2011 issue of Women in the Arts, the journal of the National Museum of Women in the Arts (quoting Tamarind director Marjorie Devon).
“The actual vaccine – the world’s first — was invented by Edward Jenner, a British country doctor, at the end of the eighteenth century. After noting that mikmaids rarely got the disease, he theorized, correctly, that exposure to cowpox — a virus similar to smallpox but much less virulent — conferred resistance.”
From an essay/review by Michael Specter in the May 30, 2011 issue of The New Yorker about the new book “Pox: An American History” by Michael Willrich.