It would be harder to accurately imagine what New York City was like the day before the advent of broadcast television than to imagine what it will be like after life-size broadcast holography comes online. But actually the New York without the television is more mysterious, because we’ve already been there and nobody paid any attention. That world is gone. My great-grandfather was born into a world where there was no recorded music. It’s very, very difficult to conceive of a world in which there is no possibility of audio recording at all. Some people were extremely upset by the first Edison recordings. It nauseated them, terrified them. It sounded like the devil, they said, this evil unnatural technology that offered the potential of hearing the dead speak. We don’t think about that when we’re driving somewhere and turn on the radio. We take it for granted.
The Art of Fiction No. 211, William Gibson

The Nazi Anatomists

Emily Bazelon:

Now, because of Hallervorden and Spatz’s later methods, the disease they discovered is called something else. That is the right decision, NYU’s Caplan says. While he does not think science has to throw out Hallervorden and Spatz’s findings, he also has rules for dealing with tainted data. “If you use it, you had better be sure you don’t have any choice,” he said. “The purpose should be life-saving or very, very important. And you have to admit you are using it, but without giving credit to the person who gave you the tainted experiments. You say, ‘This came from a prominent German scientist under the Nazis.’ But you don’t recognize them by name.” That is fitting. But it took a long time to get there.

On Staying Grounded

Venkat Rao:

It seems to me that I have no true sense of the sacred in my life, comparable to what my religious or spiritual friends claim to feel. To me, the term is merely convenient shorthand for certain behaviors that anchor my lifestyle, rather than a reference to something ineffable and mystical.

I like to occasionally troll religious people by claiming I am ritualistic rather than religious. It is a particularly good line for annoying those who claim to be spiritual rather than religious. I keep exactly what they discard from religion, and discard exactly what they keep.

The Flight from Dallas

Chris Jones:

President Johnson has never been on Air Force One — which is code-named Angel by the Secret Service — at least not in flight. Whenever he and Kennedy were flying to the same city, he would ask for permission to come aboard, to be allowed to share a little of Kennedy’s spotlight, to wave from the top of the same ramp. Those requests were always refused—Kennedy always citing security concerns, Johnson always believing his exile was for more personal reasons. The Kennedy people dismissively called him Rufus Cornpone, the sort of man capable of ruining a good suit just by wearing it. Evelyn Lincoln says later that Johnson’s repeated demotion to Air Force Two “bothered the vice-president more than anything else.” Now here he is, flying on the first plane, leaving the second in its wake—not due to the favor of a more powerful man but because he is the most powerful man. He looks around the stateroom. Jackie Kennedy had helped decorate it. Soon he will have much of it torn out.