Monday, November 23, 2009

Miscellany -- of i-phone Kindles and The New York Times

1)Sublime ahead of the curve, not terminally geeky. True, I downloaded the Kindle for I-Phone app, not the I-pod touch. It's nonetheless amazingly nice not to lug a book (or two, if I'm approaching the end of one) on the Metro or bus in anticipation of a long ride. My phone, my music, and my distracting reading material can all be in one convenient place. How marvelous! I suppose I would be tempted to shell out for Kindle proper the next time Pnin and I take a long flight, as Helvidius's* battery life is not that long.

Speaking of the Kindle for i-phone, I recently finished Tyler Cowen's Create Your Own Economy on this device. This review by Matt Yglesias and this one from Crooked Timber are both very good. As Yglesias says, the book's so unorthodox that it's hard to do justice with a short summary. It's an extended riff on autism spectrum disorders, yes, and as someone who tests positive for Asperger's by the admittedly imprecise metrics of Internet quizzes, I find this stuff fascinating. There is also stuff on Sherlock Holmes, why our civilization has never made contact with aliens, Hermann Hesse's Glass Bead Game, and Facebook and Twitter. For all its extraordinary breadth and range, nothing about the book feels forced.

It's marvelous. One of the best non-fiction books I've read this year. Highly recommended.

2)I have some empathy, but not much, with Susan Goldberg's picky eaters rant (via) On the one hand, I recall trying to plan a dinner party in college with one guest on the Atkins diet and another who was a vegan. I threw up my hands, realizing there was nothing they could both eat, and finally decided to go with having two entrees. The two entree approach, of course, has the added benefit of providing the guests without dietary restrictions with a wider range of choices.

On the other, trying to plan around different people's dietary restrictions is sort of like doing an LSAT logic game. You would think that this would bring back traumatic memories of a life trial now long past, but you would be wrong. I kind of enjoy feeling that my brain is still sharp in this way. Being able to pretend that I am good at logic games also lets me fantasize semi-plausibly about leading another life in which I might have made Chicago or been able to crack legal academia or something.

3)At his new blog at The New York Times, Ross Douthat has a post up about how conservative Christians have slowly come to accept women in the workplace. I'm torn on how to respond. I can't quite decide if I want to pick on it as an easy target for snark, or if I should acknowledge it as a good faith gesture toward arch conservatives recognizing that sometimes evolving with the times is good.

I fear Douthat also fails to note that working class women did commonly work outside the home before 1960 or so. Both my grandmothers did, after all. Staying at home a la Betty Draper was something of a luxury even in the 1960s. So evangelical Protestants who grew up working class, with working mothers, might find women in the workplace less weird than Douthat thinks.

*My i-phone is named Helvidius, in honor of a pseudonym James Madison used while writing the Federalist Papers. Pnin and I discussed this in the AT&T store, I'm sure much to the amusement of the salespeople present. Having an i-phone named Helvidius is terminally geeky rather than sublimely ahead of the curve.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! One small correction: "Helvidius" was Madison's pseudonym for a series of political essays he wrote several years after the Federalist papers, responding to Hamilton's "Pacificus" essays defending George Washington's neutrality declaration during the Anglo-French conflict of the 1790s.