The word wunderkind was dragged, politely, into usage by that great plodder George Bernard Shaw to note that every age manages to season its offspring with instantaneous genius; Mozart is not a singularity. And for decades after, "wonder child" happily stayed within the safe semantic confines of age and the arts. Which was nice for the rest of us. You couldn’t be a wunderkind, without being a kind; you were not to be wundered at if you couldn’t perform some great musical, or perhaps painterly, feat. Then, in 1972, the New Yorker—channeling the emergence of youth culture the decade before—pushed the watershed and gave the kids some breathing space to [...]
If you think of all the information encoded in the universe from your genome to the furthest star, from the information that's already there, codified or un-codified, to the information pregnant in every interaction, "big" has become the measure of data. And our capacity to produce and collect Big Data in the digital age is very big indeed. Every day, we produce 2.5 exabytes of information, the analysis of which will, supposedly, make us healthier, wiser, and above all, wealthier—although it's all a bit fuzzy as to what, exactly, we're supposed to do with 2.5 exabytes of data—or how we're supposed to do whatever it is that we're supposed to [...]
What’s new, you might ask, in another tale of careless youth broken on the galley of journalism? Well, someone in power finally stood up—sort of—for the little guy. In a column on the resignation of 20-something Elizabeth Flock after charges of “a significant ethical lapse” and “serious factual errors,” the Washington Post’s Ombudsman Patrick Pexton said, you know what? The newspaper was just as culpable as the reporter: “The Post” he wrote, “failed her as much as she failed The Post.”
As stirring as it is to find a hint of post-hoc compassion in a professional culture where any mistake appears increasingly to be fatal, the question is: [...]
To adapt Robin Williams' immortal comment on cocaine, buying a newspaper could be God’s way of telling you you’re making too much money. (But not for long—ha-ha.) The sales of the Boston Globe to Red Sox owner John Henry and the Washington Post to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos at prices reflecting but a glimmer of the gold they once traded for has triggered a bull market in speculation over the general future of newspapers and the fate of the New York Times, in particular.
The debating season may be presidential, but if the spectacle of supersized pandering served with an unlimited salad bar of platitudes, slogans, and empty promises strikes you as strangely unfulfilling, there is always academia, where, sometimes, the politics are as equally vicious because the stakes are equally as high. Such was the case in San Antonio recently, at the Obesity Society's 30th annual meeting, the premier scientific conference in the US on what is, arguably, the nation's most pressing health problem. As the prologue to a four-day Finnegan's Wake of technical discussion (did you know that NMDA receptor NR2B subunits in the parabrachial nucleus mediate compensatory feeding?), the society's presidential [...]
Trevor Butterworth, of STATS, and Damien Cave, of the Times, today have suggested that full-time media consultant (including to the dangerously ill Newhouse Newspapers) and Google enthusiast Jeff Jarvis stop complaining and start doing, on the occasion of Jarvis' latest very angry rant about, yes, newspapers.
As you may have heard, sex doesn't burn nearly as many calories as you might have been led to believe. But this is far from the only finding in obesity research that wilts under intense scrutiny, as the rest of this paper in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed. Each piece of received wisdom about weight-loss and dieting the study took on (eat fruits and vegetables! eat breakfast! etc.)—was found wanting. Conclusions: "False and scientifically unsupported beliefs about obesity are pervasive in both scientific literature and the popular press." What we think of as hard science can, it turns out, be pretty soft.
One example as [...]
As part of its "Intoxication Nation" series, "a crazy land where Charlie Sheen is the mayor and Courtney Love is the sheriff" (according to actress Kristen Johnston, who's a recovered alcoholic) ABC's "20/20" warned viewers it would show them "what the kids are doing."
This, according to the conventions of television, could not be good. The only question really, was the degree of plausible depravity. Vodka-soaked tampons? Check. Eyeball shots? Check. Gobbling booze-infused Gummi Bears because they want to live in crazy land all the time? Check. Once upon a time, Nirvana's "Smells like Teen Spirit" demanded the world entertain us; now, according to "20/20," this generation of kids [...]