On Question Hrmm

... the name is a portmanteau derived from date and catch ..."

Apparently all the totally-non-gay VC capital in the world can't produce a name that doesn't suck.

Alternate take : I would have gone with "Flannl," but that's just me.

Posted on July 21, 2014 at 9:59 am 0

On Man Vs. Word

Also, since I have a lot to say about the process of reading :

I prefer to think of reading ... as a conversation, and what a conversation requires is the absolute opposite of speed.

I've found this particularly applies to two types of reading material not generally lumped together : really good literature and hard-science textbooks. In both cases, the words are not particularly information-dense, but do require a level of engagement that straight-narrative reading doesn't.

The experience of working through a math textbook, for example, is very similar to what you describe above. One doesn't just read what's on the page ("oh, an equation and a bit of explanation, if I'm lucky") but one must also tease out all the implications of why that particular equation is there now, as well as what came before and what this association implies. The author of a good math text, like the literary author, attempts to build a structure of understanding in the reader's mind, and it's done not by exhibiting it fully-built, but rather by supplying the bricks and the plan and engaging the reader to carry out the construction.

It's easy enough to speed-read the prefab stuff, so to speak, but I agree that this sort of "conversational" reading is impossible (and pretty unpleasant) at speed.

Posted on July 17, 2014 at 4:13 pm 1

On Man Vs. Word

@Gef the Talking Mongoose : Oh, also, Maria! I read your piece in the May edition of Harper's! It was quite good, and also DAMN, HARPER'S, GOOD SCORE THERE.

Posted on July 17, 2014 at 3:40 pm 0

On Man Vs. Word

I can’t situate my thoughts in the topography of a big book the same way when I'm ... unable to feel with my hands whether I'm a third or a tenth of the way through ...

I had a really remarkable experience a couple of months back, reading a book which I thought contained a single novel. As it turned out, it contained a novel followed by a 20-some-page novella. It was only when I got to the end of the actual novel and was jerked to a psychic halt that I realized I'd been anticipating the amount of plot left to go tactually rather than intellectually. So, where I was anticipating a last-minute twist or exposition to fill up those last 20 pages ... nothing. It was very discomforting.@Gef the Talking Mongoose : Oh, also, Maria! I read your piece in the May edition of Harper's! It was quite good, and also DAMN, HARPER'S, GOOD SCORE THERE.

Posted on July 17, 2014 at 3:37 pm 2

On To Karl Ove Knausgård, Re: Your Tortured Feelings for the Gays

@MatthewGallaway : Well, who doesn't enjoy a pleasant conversation about KOK?

Posted on July 11, 2014 at 3:57 pm 3

On Introducing... Shirterate


Alternate take : Prepare the Wicker Man.

Posted on July 10, 2014 at 11:32 pm 0

On What $2000 Gets You in Brownstone Brooklyn

@David Roth : Wait, but there is a door on the floorplan, so now I understand even less. Maybe it's a converted attic? But the ceilings are ... horizontal, so, like a free-standing apartment inside an attic? IT EXISTS OUTSIDE TIME AND SPACE. THE SKYLIGHTS SHOW NOTHING BUT THE GAPING VOID AND, OCCASIONALLY, TENTACLES.

Alternate take : The door leads directly to the sewers and the "skylights" are actually repurposed subway sidwalk grates. The neighbor is an 80-year-old bipedal rat who never sorts his recycling.

Posted on July 10, 2014 at 3:06 pm 2

On Introducing... Shirterate

This may be the greatest thing the Awl has ever published. I am completely fucking serious.

The. Greatest.

Posted on July 10, 2014 at 2:56 pm 2

On Preview: 'Lucy'

In the spirit of scientific accuracy, I'd like to point out that the "ten percent of our brains" thing is a straight-up myth. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_percent_of_brain_myth

In other words, we like to think, given the evidence of how horrible we are, that our brains are underutilized and we'd be so much better if only we could perform at our "full potential." The terrible fact is that we already are at our full potential. There is no room for improvement. This is the best we can do, and the existence of this myth just shows that we exercise our limited capabilities to the utmost by lying to ourselves about that fact.

Just doing my part to make the rest of your post all the more bleak and depressing, Balk. You can thank me later.

Posted on July 8, 2014 at 9:35 am 2

On Put Your Phone Down

@Smitros : The big Pacific octopus at the Seattle aquarium has learned to recognize the pre-photo red-eye-reducing flash of an iPhone camera. When he sees it, he spreads out all his arms and turns bright red, which is octopus-speak for "fuuuuuck yooouuuu."

That is all.

NB : this may be related to the well-documented survival strategy in which smaller octopi turn red when hit with a flash of blue-filtered light (seriously, go look it up), but I prefer to think of it as the octopus going all Sean Penn on the paparazzi.

Posted on July 7, 2014 at 12:48 pm 2