Daniel Mendelsohn: A Critic's Manifesto: The Intersection of Expertise and Taste (The New Yorker)
what has made us all anxious about truth and accuracy in personal narrative is not so much the published memoirs that turn out to be false or exaggerated, which has often been the case, historically, but rather the unprecedented explosion of personal writing (and inaccuracy and falsehood) online, in Web sites and blogs and anonymous commentary—forums where there are no editors and fact-checkers and publishers to point an accusing finger at.
Wherein Rob Delaney makes the case for universal health care better than the Obama campaign.
I am of the opinion, as a dad, a husband (of a woman with reproductive organs), a tax payer, a voter and an American living inside a human body, that improving the mechanisms for delivering health care in this nation is as high a priority as we will ever have. Why? When you unshackle good, hard-working, kind, enterprising Americans from the fear that health care costs could bankrupt them, you will unleash an intellectual and economic force that will knock your socks right off your feet, whether you bought them at Brooks Brothers or Goodwill.
The Onion: Nation Suddenly Realizes This Just Going To Be A Thing That Happens From Now On
Following Hurricane Sandy’s destructive tear through the Northeast this week, the nation’s 300 million citizens looked upon the trail of devastation and fully realized, for the first time, that this is just going to be something that happens from now on.
Jordan Sargent: Your Guide to RapGenius.com, the Controversial Rap Lyrics Site That Just Landed a $15 Million Investment (Gawker)
Well, some snotty kids got $15 million. At least the people who founded the culture that made them rich are also living on the high hog, right?
Not quite. A lot of the originators of rap music — many of whose lyrics provide part of the content that RapGenius' business model is based on — are far from rich. Kool Herc, who maybe more than any one person can be said to have invented hip-hop, can't afford required surgery, and when these kids are parading around in suits and fresh kicks it leaves a bad taste in a lot peoples' mouths.
First, the value of anonymity decreases as the cost of criticizing those in power goes down. Protecting the anonymity of others becomes a whole lot less important when the only consequence of their speech is that they’ll have to live with people knowing what they said. Second, protecting anonymity is not a virtue in itself. As with other things, the value of protecting something hinges on the value of what you’re protecting.
Without detracting from current discussion, I want to emphasize the inadequacy of the “But It’s Legal” argument applies much more broadly. We can consider corporate immoral-but-maybe-legal actions through the Creepshots Lens. Environmental destruction, unsafe labor conditions, predatory lending, inhuman wage practices and discriminatory membership policies don’t become okay if they’re technically legal.
Nitsuh Abebe: So a feature I wrote for New York mag… (a grammar)
Sometimes music listeners talk as if artists are running the show: there’s a stage, and these musicians are standing on it, addressing us. And then sometimes musicians talk as if listeners are running the show: they make music for their own pleasure, and then a vast and fickle public decides whether anyone will be interested, and what chance the music will get to continue. I wonder sometimes if the internet has exploded the former impulse and maybe diminished our memory of the latter…
Mark Richardson: I’ve been ripping a bunch of old CDs…
So then I looked to see about downloading it from Amazon, and they are selling downloads for $9.49. This is an album recorded 60 years ago. Most likely, everyone involved with it has been dead for a long time. Billie Holiday has been dead for 53 years. It was recorded live, cheaply. If the total cost of recording it was $200 I’d be amazed. And here we are 60 years later and I’m expected to pay $9.49 for digital files.
Eric Harvey: Bob Dylan's Great White Wonder: The Story of the World's First Album Leak (Pitchfork)
On one basic level, what happened in 1969 with Wonder—and what happens every day with mp3 leaks—illuminates a very basic economic fact: Official markets will always lead to unsanctioned ones that feed off of the legit products—and often operate much more efficiently. Consumer desire has never automatically limited itself to strictly legal operations, particularly when fans can convince themselves (often rightly) that they’re doing no harm to the artists.
I don’t agree with this completely, but it’s a solid argument.
More broadly, the political problem of the Democrats is that they’re a party of capital that has to pretend for electoral reasons sometimes that it’s not. All the complaints that liberals have about them—their weakness, tendency to compromise, the constantly lamented lack of a spine—emerge from this central contradiction. The Republicans have a coherent philosophy and use it to fire up a rabid base. The Dems are afraid of their base because it might cause them trouble with their funders.
Romney believes in money. Obama believes in nothing.
Most liberals want to write off Obama’s bad performance as a bad night. It’s not just that. It’s a structural problem.
Steven Hyden: An interview with Animal Collective's Panda Bear, Noah Lennox, about 'Centipede Hz' (Grantland)
By the end of the interview, Lennox had gotten his point across: Animal Collective — honestly, truly, for real this time, OK? — doesn't think about its audience when it comes to making creative decisions. Making music for Lennox and his bandmates is an inherently self-indulgent exercise; the only sin is doing something you're not into. This strikes me as a healthy attitude. Public taste is fickle. And doing things their own way has clearly served Animal Collective well up to this point, both artistically and commercially.
Rebecca Solnit: The Problem With Men Explaining Things (Mother Jones)
Most of my life, I would have doubted myself and backed down. Having public standing as a writer of history helped me stand my ground, but few women get that boost, and billions of women must be out there on this 6-billion-person planet being told that they are not reliable witnesses to their own lives, that the truth is not their property, now or ever. This goes way beyond Men Explaining Things, but it's part of the same archipelago of arrogance.
Get a notebook and write at least a word in it every day.
I am starting to think that the best advice—the only advice, maybe—you can give comes out of your own haphazard, irregular, lucky, accidental experience.