When I was 14 I would ride the trolley from Philadelphia to Media, Pennsylvania, to my dad’s. And I loved it. But then again I took the M15 select bus today and loved it, too. It is a long, fast bus that shoots up Manhattan like an arrow. In truth, I love all wheeled forms of public transit. (Even jeepneys? ask the people who hate jeepneys. And I look them right in their cruel eyes and say: Yes. Even jeepneys.)
“In court, Robinson cut a respectable figure. His children and members of his church packed the gallery in support of him. Deputy D.A. Paul Turley, in his closing argument, addressed head-on the defendant’s evident rehabilitation and the three decades that had passed between the crime and the trial. ‘I’m very happy to stand in opposition to the principle that you are entitled to one free murder every 30 years,’ Turley told the jury.”—The Lazarus File - Magazine - The Atlantic
“If we’d wanted you to have a wife, we would’ve issued you one,” he explained. “Go over there and ring that damn bell. Get this over. I’ll let you drink that hot chocolate. Put you in this warm ambulance. Wrap you up in a thick blanket. And you don’t have to put up with this anymore.”
I looked over at the bell. It would be that easy. All I have to do is pull that mother three times. I thought about the heated ambulances with blankets and hot chocolate. Then I caught myself. Wait a minute. I’m not thinking clearly. That’s quitting. “Hooyah, Instructor Stoneclam.” I gave him back his hot chocolate.
Like chess, Monopoly is about controlling territory. Unlike chess, it’s not neofeudal combat, with handed-down traditions and ideologies of strategy and honor — the illusion that everything is perfectly under the player’s control, that all the pieces in the game are visible.
Monopoly is transparently about money and greed. It lays bare the multiple, adjacent worlds and the interlocking systems that tie them together. (In The Wire, the worlds adjacent to drugs and cops include the ports, politics, the schools, and the media.) You gain territory and choose how you build on it, but you also roll dice and overturn hidden cards that can send you in a completely different direction. It’s actually absurdly easy for players to cheat — especially if you let them control the bank. And every time you pass Go, the game — at least in part — starts over again.
Some of the jobs the author describes have evolved, very few of them have all but disappeared (you can’t easily bump into a blacksmith, much less one who sells tractors); the texture of our cities has changed and those little shops have given way to larger chain stores; but by and large we still do the things that occupy Scarry’s anthropomorphic menagerie[.]
In addition to all the things the Corps actually does and does not do, there are infinite actions it is imagined to do, infinite actions it is imagined not to do, and infinite actions it is imagined to be capable of doing, because the Corps has been conceded the almighty role of God.
A very long, very good 1987 article on the history of the Mississippi River and the Army Corps of Engineers’ attempts to control it.
Read more here about the river control infrastructure and the 2011 floods.
“It’s as if the great advances of human civilization, in everything from animal husbandry to mathematics to architecture to manufacturing to information technology, have all crescendoed with the Crunchwrap Supreme, delivered via the pick-up window.”—
I’ve read some good stuff this weekend but when it comes down to it, nothing beats this sentence. This article is recommended if you have any curiosity about the inner workings of the fast food industry.
Always an avid promoter of health, it was not widely known that he smoked for the entire last half of his short life. He had an intense vanity and wanted to keep his weight down at any cost, and smoking seemed to him the most effective. But to make matters worse, he always hand-painted his cigarettes gold. He used to love smoking while making love and to him a piece of smoking gold between his lips was the most erotic thing in the world.
There’s a sign on the other side of the road. It’s bright yellow and busy with pictographs: A sun, some mountains, a rattlesnake, a cactus, and a little drowning man, one arm raised, sinking into a pool of water. CUIDADO! the sign reads. NO VALE LA PENA!
It’s not worth the trouble!
But of course it is. The returns are as stark and clear as those pictures on the sign. By the simple act of carrying his own body across the line, a man immediately boosts his earning potential sixfold. And if he chooses to carry something else along with his body, well, a pound of cocaine costs twice as much in Tecatito than it does in Tecate.
It’s worth the trouble, and so every year roughly 2.5 million people in Mexico make the simple and consummately rational decision to make unauthorized entry into the United States of America.
Glaeser argues that if a city stops building new housing, as Greater Boston more or less has done, and if demand for housing remains strong, the result will be rising prices. The city will become unaffordable to exactly the kind of young, creative people it needs for its future greatness.
Glaeser praises the long frontage of glass towers that face out to Lake Michigan in Chicago, arguing that although they’re not for the poor, they relieve pressure on prices at the lower levels of the housing market. I’m not sure we need that kind of giantism, but if the Greenway is going to work as a park, it’s going to need to be surrounded by a living neighborhood.
This is the sort of intense activity cited in cases of controller burnout, and it obscures the actual functioning of air-traffic control, making it difficult to penetrate. As a pilot, I had the advantage of speaking the language: I spent days there following the technical details, and came away feeling that the intensity was mostly self-induced, and was in fact what the controllers thrived on. The opportunity to indulge in it seemed, in fact, to be what had drawn them to the job. Keep in mind, too, that this was New York, where intensity is a way of life: like other New Yorkers, the controllers complained about the pressure on them, but largely because they would have been embarrassed not to. They complained also about the food in the cafeteria, the condition of the roads, and life on Long Island. One man finally admitted, “How can you go home from this and be satisfied mowing the lawn?”
He is not a man who suffers attempts to chauffeur him around a briefing. “He’s a perpetual-motion machine,” says Thomas J. Harrington, who holds the FBI’s third highest post, associate deputy director. “He likes to drive the thing the whole time.” Among Mueller’s disconcerting habits is a gesture with a cupped right hand that beckons a briefer to quit talking and slide over his notes. Mueller scans them and skips to cross-examination.
Suppose we lived in the world of Harry Potter, and one day in the late 1950s RCA hired a wizard to wave his magic wand and transform all of the world’s black and white sets into color sets. This would clearly represent a large increase in the standard of living—a larger increase, in fact, than the non-magical process whereby people have to buy new, more expensive, televisions. Yet the government in the alternate universe would almost certainly have recorded a smaller increase in GDP. Our own BLS would see consumers buying more expensive televisions while in the Harry Potter universe consumers would be happy with the old, cheap ones. Hence, consumers circa 1970 would be wealthier in that universe than in ours, but official GDP statistics would show just the opposite.
“You haven’t come up to the lair,” he’ll say. “Tell me why. Now.”
You’ll stammer an apology and you’ll tell him you assumed—
“No one should make assumptions about what I say. I only speak information that I want the listener to process and act upon. You received information that I wanted your company in my lair. You processed this and decided I didn’t want the company I requested. Shall I kill you?”
Oh, you want to play your little games? Maybe you’ve heard of something called the App Store, the single biggest distributor of games on the planet. Built into the set. Oh, you want to play your collector’s edition Blu-ray discs? Play them on your Vizio, Derek. You disgust me.
As it happened, profnath and bordeebook were both using pricing algorithms to determine the optimum prices for their books. Profnath’s algorithm was designed to have the lowest price possible—but only by a small amount, hence 0.9983—while bordeebook’s was designed to set the highest price—presumably, Eisen writes, because they don’t actually have a copy of the book and would need to buy one elsewhere to deliver it to a customer. Profnath and bordeebook had become locked in an algorithmic death-struggle[.]
The mass market doesn’t buy, and doesn’t want to buy, products based on what they might become months from now if these companies somehow dramatically improve the software. They buy products for what they are today, out of the box. Motorola and RIM and Samsung are Apple’s industry peers. These are the big leagues, this is The Show. They’re charging customers real money to buy these things. They should be judged by the same standards.