Joan Didion

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pages: 363 words: 123,076

The Gang That Wouldn't Write Straight: Wolfe, Thompson, Didion, Capote, and the New Journalism Revolution by Marc Weingarten

1960s counterculture, Bonfire of the Vanities, British Empire, citizen journalism, cognitive dissonance, Donner party, East Village, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Haight Ashbury, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, Joan Didion, Kickstarter, Menlo Park, New Journalism, non-fiction novel, Norman Mailer, post-work, pre–internet, rent control, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Stewart Brand, upwardly mobile, working poor, yellow journalism

THE CENTER CANNOT HOLD Biographical background on Joan Didion is taken from Joan Didion, Where I Was From (New York: Random House, 2003) and Michiko Kakutani, “Joan Didion: Staking Out California,”New York Times, June 10, 1979. “I wrote stories from the time I was a little girl”: Linda Kuehl, “The Art of Fiction No. 71: Joan Didion,”Paris Review, Fall-Winter 1978. “Nothing was irrevocable … the shining and perishable dream itself”: Joan Didion, “Goodbye to All That,”Slouching Towards Bethlehem (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1990), 229-30. “the way the rivers crested”: Didion, Where I Was From, 157. “paralyzed by the conviction that the world”: Kakutani, “Joan Didion: Staking Out California.” “Most of my sentences drift off, don’t end”: Kuehl, “The Art of Fiction.” “So they had come … to see Arthwell”: Joan Didion, “How Can I Tell Them There’s Nothing Left?”

Saturday Evening Post, May 7, 1966. “adolescents drifted from city to torn city”: Didion, “Slouching Towards Bethlehem,”Slouching Towards Bethlehem, 84. “Debbie is buffing her fingernails”: Ibid., 92. “wearing a reefer coat”: Ibid., 127 “Every day I would go into [Allene Talmey]’s office”: Kuehl, “The Art of Fiction.” “Hathaway removed the cigar from his mouth”: Joan Didion, “John Wayne: A Love Song,”Slouching Towards Bethlehem, 34-35. “Joan Didion is one of the least celebrated and most talented writers”: Dan Wakefield, “Places, People and Personalities,”New York Times Book Review, July 21, 1968. 6. MADRAS OUTLAW “Wolfe’s problem”: Hunter S. Thompson, “Jacket Copy for Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream,” The Great Shark Hunt: Strange Tales from a Strange Time (New York: Rolling Stone Press/Summit Books, 1979), 108.

Many of them couldn’t and didn’t. Witness Time’s and Newsweek’s clumsy mishandling of the hippie movement, or the embarrassing countercultural appropriations of broadcast journalism (Dan Rather reporting from Vietnam in a Nehru jacket, to name just one egregious example). Within a seven-year period, a group of writers emerged, seemingly out of nowhere—Tom Wolfe, Jimmy Breslin, Gay Talese, Hunter S. Thompson, Joan Didion, John Sack, Michael Herr—to impose some order on all of this American mayhem, each in his or her own distinctive manner (a few old hands, like Truman Capote and Norman Mailer, chipped in as well). They came to tell us stories about ourselves in ways that we couldn’t, stories about the way life was being lived in the sixties and seventies and what it all meant. The stakes were high; deep fissures were rending the social fabric, the world was out of order.


pages: 319 words: 108,797

Dark, Salt, Clear: Life in a Cornish Fishing Town by Lamorna Ash

hive mind, invisible hand, Joan Didion, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Year of Magical Thinking

They quickly started a family and moved to Newlyn, swapping their youthful adventures for a quiet life, staying in most nights, watching TV or listening to the blues. But then, while they were on holiday last Christmas, another earthquake ripped through their foundations, dismantling the life they had built together. At one point in Californian essayist Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking – the devastating meditation on the grief she experienced after the death of her first husband John and then her daughter Quintana – she considers the years she spent searching for meaning as a young woman. She often contemplated the episcopal litany, ‘as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end’. The young Joan Didion interpreted the phrase as ‘a literal description of the constant changing of the earth, the unending erosion of the shore and mountains, the inexorable shifting of the geological structures that could throw up mountains and islands and could just as reliably take them away’.

BLOOMSBURY PUBLISHING Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 50 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3DP, UK BLOOMSBURY, BLOOMSBURY PUBLISHING and the Diana logo are trademarks of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc First published in Great Britain 2020 This edition published 2020 Copyright © Lamorna Ash, 2020 Lamorna Ash has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as Author of this work Text from A Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd © 2005, Joan Didion Text from ‘The Collected Stories of Dylan Thomas’ by Dylan Thomas © 1954, Dylan Thomas. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp. Text from New Collected Poems of Marianne Moore by Marianne Moore, reprinted with permission of Faber and Faber Ltd. Text from Elizabeth Bishop: Prose The Centenary Edition by Elizabeth Bishop published by Chatto and Windus, reprinted with permission of The Random House Group © 2011, Elizabeth Bishop Text from The Complete Poems by Elizabeth Bishop published by Chatto and Windus, reprinted with permission of The Random House Group © 2004, Elizabeth Bishop Text from Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez, published by Vintage and reprinted by permission of the Random House Group Ltd © 2014, Barry Lopez All rights reserved.

Even today, there is residual anger directed towards the press regarding the way they swept in that Christmas, allowing the town no time at all to grieve or process their trauma in peace. After the cameras left, a silence hung over the area. People gathered at friends’ houses just to sit with each other. No one wanted to be alone, but no one could speak much either. ‘It was as if the whole bay had the life knocked out of it,’ David Barron remembers. There are several fragments of poetry that Joan Didion returned to after the deaths of her husband and daughter. One of these was from Gerard Manley Hopkins’s ‘Heaven-Haven’: And I have asked to be Where no storms come. Where the green swell is in the havens dumb, And out of the swing of the sea. When I first read these lines they sounded like a resignation. Every fisherman I have met who has had a loved one die at sea, chooses to do the opposite: to be where the storms come, not just to live through grief, but to confront it head on, out there, in the water.


pages: 207 words: 64,598

To Show and to Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction by Phillip Lopate

Charles Lindbergh, Columbine, desegregation, fear of failure, index card, Jane Jacobs, Joan Didion, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Nelson Mandela, Norman Mailer, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Republic of Letters, Ronald Reagan, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, urban planning, white flight

For me, the great adventure in reading nonfiction is to follow, as I say, a really interesting, unpredictable mind struggling to entangle and disentangle itself in a thorny problem, or even a frivolous problem that is made complex through engagement with a sophisticated mind. George Orwell reflecting on his ambivalence toward Gandhi, Robert Benchley meditating on his face, Seymour Krim on his failure, Susan Sontag on camp, Stendhal on love, Montaigne on experience, Norman Mailer on sex, Virginia Woolf on a room of one’s own, Loren Eiseley on brown wasps, Edmund Wilson on the development of socialist thought, Charles Lamb on married couples, Joan Didion on migraines, William Gass on the color blue. . . . None of these examples read like short stories or screenplays; they read like what they are: glorious thought excursions. I have purposely mixed longer, book-length tracts in with smaller essays, to reinforce the point that the pursuit of consciousness is not just the prerogative of the short-sprint personal essayist. Indeed, there is something about consciousness which is almost infinitely extensible—frighteningly so.

We should not be so in awe of invention; it can be a fairly cheap knack. We also need to recognize that some of our best recent writers were arguably better at nonfiction than fiction. Though they usually preferred to think of themselves as novelists, none of them ever created a character as vibrant as his/her nonfiction narrator, be it Mary McCarthy, George Orwell, James Baldwin, Gore Vidal, Norman Mailer (“Aquarius”), Susan Sontag, or Joan Didion. So nonfiction has nothing to apologize for. It can hold its head up high. * * * * Elias Canetti, I suppose, though some would argue he got it for his novel Auto-da-Fé. On the Necessity of Turning Oneself into a Character In personal essays and memoir, nothing is more commonly met than the letter I. I think it is a perfectly good word, one no writer should be ashamed to use. First person is especially legitimate for personal writing, so drawn to the particulars of character and voice.

The use of literary models can be a great help in invoking life’s mystery. I like to remind myself, as well as my students, of the tonal extremes available: we can rant as much as Dostoevsky’s Underground Man or Céline’s or Bernhard’s narrators, we can speak (as the poet Mayakovsky says) “At the Top of My Voice,” we can be as passionate and partisan as Hazlitt or Baldwin, or even whine, the way Joan Didion sometimes does, with self-aware humor. We can try to adopt the sane, thoughtful, responsible manner of George Orwell or E. B. White. From all these models a writer of personal narrative can then choose how measured or feverish she wants to come across at any time: in one piece, she can sound like the soul of reason; in another, a step away from the loony bin. Mining our quirks is only the beginning of turning ourselves into characters.


How to Write Like Tolstoy: A Journey Into the Minds of Our Greatest Writers by Richard Cohen

Anton Chekhov, Bonfire of the Vanities, colonial rule, Honoré de Balzac, index card, Joan Didion, non-fiction novel, Norman Mailer, Ronald Reagan, University of East Anglia

“One of the most difficult things is the first paragraph,” he writes. I have spent many months on a first paragraph, and once I get it, the rest just comes out very easily. In the first paragraph you solve most of the problems with your book. The theme is defined, the style, the tone. At least in my case, the first paragraph is a kind of sample of what the rest of the book is going to be. Joan Didion had her own take on this: “What’s so hard about that first sentence is that you’re stuck with it. Everything else is going to flow out of that sentence. And by the time you’ve laid down the first two sentences, your options are all gone.” More happily, according to the Canadian writer Mavis Gallant, authorship “is like a love affair: the beginning is the best part.” * * * *1 In 2006, I quoted some of the most famous opening sentences in literature during a university talk.

After Fitzgerald had completed his initial draft his editor, Maxwell Perkins, wrote to him: You adopted exactly the right method of telling it, that of employing a narrator who is more of a spectator than an actor: this puts the reader upon a point of observation on a higher level than that on which the character stands and at a distance that gives perspective. In no other way could your irony have been so immensely effective. This holds true for, among others, several fictions by Joseph Conrad. Joan Didion, interviewed in 2006, picked out his 1915 novel Victory because of the way the plot unfolds: The story is told thirdhand….So there’s this fantastic distancing of the narrative, except that when you’re in the middle of it, it remains very immediate. It’s incredibly skillful….It opens up the possibilities of the novel. Since the narrator has a role within the story (whether participating or not), he or she may not have knowledge of all the events.

Steven Millhauser even recalls, “One of Beckett’s narrators reports that as a child he learned the names of the days of the week. And the child thinks: ‘Only seven!’ I sometimes feel the same way about the personal pronouns….Only three!—or perhaps: Only six! I’d invent a fourth person, if I could….” Important though it is to decide who is to tell the story, such a question is part of the larger issue touched on earlier—what Joan Didion called “the distancing of the narrative.” This slightly forbidding phrase concerns the space that exists between a reader and a story. At the most basic level, standing apart from one’s characters creates detachment, while a more intimate distance promotes empathy and identification. In film, we are accustomed to seeing a camera used in wide-angle or in close-up; the same applies, through many shifts, to the written word.


pages: 207 words: 63,071

My Start-Up Life: What A by Ben Casnocha, Marc Benioff

affirmative action, Albert Einstein, barriers to entry, Bonfire of the Vanities, business process, call centre, coherent worldview, creative destruction, David Brooks, don't be evil, fear of failure, hiring and firing, index fund, informal economy, Jeff Bezos, Joan Didion, Lao Tzu, Menlo Park, Paul Graham, place-making, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Sand Hill Road, side project, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, superconnector, technology bubble, traffic fines, Year of Magical Thinking

. >> I am fortunate in many ways: I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, home to some of the world’s smartest business and technology practitioners; I have tremendously supportive parents; I’ve gone to good schools. But I want to convince you that these circumstances alone are not enough to guarantee success. I’ve met with entrepreneurs young and old all over the world and the common thread is a spirit, not a background or location. Writer Joan Didion captured the necessary spirit in the conclusion of a commencement address at the University of California, Riverside. Read these words, read this book, and then go out and make things happen! I’m not telling you to make the world better, because I don’t think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I’m just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it.

He also is the oral presentation coach for all the entrepreneurs who pitch the Band of Angels investment group. Appendix A: What’s Next I spent a long, long time on this book. And with the way the publishing world works, I probably won’t make much money on it. I wrote it because I believe in the power of each of us to change the world. So I only ask of you one thing: begin. Get started. “Live in life,” as Joan Didion would say. Go start a company. Go start a club. Create a website, write a blog, cold-call your hero. Buy this book for your friends and talk about it. Talk about entrepreneurship. Read more books. But start. Now. The clock is ticking. If not now, when? If not you, who? I’m ready to help. Tap into a larger community around My Start-Up Life by visiting the companion website: www.mystartuplife.com.

by William Marling Intellectual Life The Blank Slate, by Steven Pinker The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, by Erving Goffman Reflections by an Affirmative Action Baby, by Stephen Carter Integrity, by Stephen Carter The Accidental Asian, by Eric Liu Mind Wide Open, by Steven Johnson Socrates Café, by Chris Phillips Self-Renewal, by John Gardner Public Intellectuals, by Richard Posner Psychology Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert Cialdini Flow, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl Biography/Memoir My Life, by Bill Clinton This Boy’s Life, by Tobias Wolff Swimming Across, by Andy Grove All Over But the Shoutin’, by Rick Bragg Personal History, by Katherine Graham Emerson: Mind on Fire, by Robert Richardson In an Uncertain World, by Robert Rubin The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion Religion End of Faith, by Sam Harris The Universe in a Single Atom, by the Dalai Lama APPENDIX C The World’s Religions, by Huston Smith The Bhagavad-Gita Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith, by Anne Lamott Under the Banner of Heaven, by Jon Krakauer Politics/Current Affairs Ghost Wars, by Steve Coll Running the World, by David Rothkopf Founding Brothers, by Joseph Ellis A Conflict of Visions, by Thomas Sowell Going Nucular, by Geoffrey Nunberg America at the Crossroads, by Francis Fukuyama Holidays in Hell, by P.


pages: 123 words: 36,533

Keep It Real: Everything You Need to Know About Researching and Writing Creative Nonfiction by Lee Gutkind

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, index card, Joan Didion, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Mahatma Gandhi, New Journalism, Norman Mailer, Ronald Reagan

This objectivity is an essential component of journalistic integrity. But writers like Tom Wolfe or Joan Didion, proponents of New Journalism, rejected this notion; instead they and other writers accepted as necessary the presence, personality, and perceptions of the author. New Journalism and its literary descendants acknowledged and even celebrated the writer’s presence. The author/narrator interacts with other characters, comments upon events, and self-reflectively explores his or her personality in response to the developing story. Creative nonfiction is complexly structured by narrative voice, and the effectiveness of the piece depends, to a large extent, on the author’s narrative presence. For instance, in her classic essay “Slouching towards Bethlehem,” Joan Didion examines 1967 San Francisco with a voice that is precise and emotionally detached.

All this means that it is safest to write about dead people, next safest to write about public officials and public figures, and safest of all to write only the truth. Evolution of the Genre We have several ways to tell this story. A popular place to begin is in the 1960s, when a group of hardworking reporters and magazine writers began to chafe under the normal restrictions of journalistic writing. They started to break the rules. Writers like Joan Didion, Gay Talese, Lillian Ross, Tom Wolfe, and Hunter S. Thompson embraced a much more personal voice, no longer camouflaging the narrator’s personality. They cultivated the subjective voice, believing that the writer’s point of view had become an integral part of any story. Novelists also turned their hand to writing nonfiction and incorporated the narrative techniques that had served them so well in fiction.


pages: 309 words: 95,644

On Writing Well (30th Anniversary Edition) by William Zinsser

affirmative action, Alistair Cooke, Donald Trump, feminist movement, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, Joan Didion, New Journalism, Norman Mailer, popular capitalism, telemarketer, Thomas L Friedman

From The Vintage Mencken, gathered by Alistair Cooke. Vintage Books (paperback), 1955. 29–30 How to Survive in Your Native Land, by James Herndon. Simon & Schuster, 1971. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, a division of Gulf & Western Corporation. 55–57 The Lunacy Boom, by William Zinsser. Harper & Row, 1970. 59–60 Slouching Toward Bethlehem, by Joan Didion. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1968. Copyright 1966 by Joan Didion. Reprinted by permission of the publisher. 61–62 The Dead Sea Scrolls, 1947–1969, by Edmund Wilson. Renewal copyright 1983 by Helen Miranda Wilson. Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Inc. 65 “Coolidge,” by H. L. Mencken. From The Vintage Mencken. 66 Pop Goes America, by William Zinsser. Harper & Row, 1966. 90 Spring Training, by William Zinsser.

., when he saw something that looked strangely like a balloon rising out of the ground.” And I’m very tired of the have-in-common lead: “What did Joseph Stalin, Douglas MacArthur, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Sherwood Anderson, Jorge Luis Borges and Akira Kurosawa have in common? They all loved Westerns.” Let’s retire the future archaeologist and the man from Mars and the button-nosed boy. Try to give your lead a freshness of perception or detail. Consider this lead, by Joan Didion, on a piece called “7000 Romaine, Los Angeles 38”: Seven Thousand Romaine Street is in that part of Los Angeles familiar to admirers of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett: the underside of Hollywood, south of Sunset Boulevard, a middle-class slum of “model studios” and warehouses and two-family bungalows. Because Paramount and Columbia and Desilu and the Samuel Goldwyn studios are nearby, many of the people who live around here have some tenuous connection with the motion-picture industry.

“Tell me,” he said, “what insights do you all have about the literary experience in America today?” Silence also greeted this question. Finally I said, “We’re here to talk about the craft of writing.” He didn’t know what to make of that, and he began to invoke the names of authors like Ernest Hemingway and Saul Bellow and William Styron, whom we surely regarded as literary giants. We said those writers didn’t happen to be our models, and we mentioned people like Lewis Thomas and Joan Didion and Gary Wills. He had never heard of them. One of the women mentioned Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff, and he hadn’t heard of that. We explained that these were writers we admired for their ability to harness the issues and concerns of the day. “But don’t you want to write anything literary?” our host said. The three women said they felt they were already doing satisfying work. That brought the program to another halt, and the host began to accept phone calls from his listeners, all of whom were interested in the craft of writing and wanted to know how we went about it.


The Empathy Exams: Essays by Leslie Jamison

Atul Gawande, crowdsourcing, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, Joan Didion, land reform, Rubik’s Cube, Skype, Slavoj Žižek

One face is angry, purple and red, bruised and bleeding shades, captioned, no me llores. Don’t cry for me. Don’t weep to me. The other face is alabaster pale with blushing stains on its cheeks: sí, te lloro. I cry for you. I weep to you. I leave weeping. I’m just kidding. Don’t weep to me. The wounded one will not permit herself. And yet, does. Servicio Supercompleto Near the beginning of Salvador, Joan Didion’s 1983 account of a repressive state in the thick of civil war, Didion goes to the mall. She’s looking for the truth of a country held in its aisles, and also tablets to purify her drinking water. She doesn’t find the tablets, but she does find everything else: imported foie gras and beach towels printed with maps of Manhattan, cassette tapes of Paraguayan music, vodka bottles packaged with stylish glasses.

“I see no motive,” says a disembodied voice in the first film, while the camera prowls the forest floor—getting close to the ground as if hunting for it, this lost motive, nestled in tangled tree roots or buried in a creek gully long gone dry. The parents need an explanation. So do reporters. So do prosecutors. There’s no motive apparent so motives are found. The press says “Satanic orgy.” The parents seem convinced of devil worship. Damien calls West Memphis “Second Salem.” “We tell ourselves stories in order to live,” Joan Didion wrote, meaning frightened people need motives. Meaning everyone does. A preacher remembers Damien saying he couldn’t be saved. He hadn’t taken the Bible into his heart. Damien self-identifies as Wiccan—which he explains on the stand as “basically a close involvement with nature.” Hearing him say this, I can’t help thinking of the woods. I think of three boys lying hog-tied. I don’t hear guilt, but I hear the connective tissue of imagining—how, faced with a tragedy, you want to put the pieces together any way they might fit.

Near the conclusion of her own magnificent 1994 reconnaissance of those elusive psychic perimeters, Autobiography of a Face, Lucy Grealy wrote: I used to think truth was eternal, that once I knew, once I saw, it would be with me forever, a constant by which everything else could be measured. I know now that this isn’t so, that most truths are inherently unretainable, that we have to work all our lives to remember the most basic things. Grealy is one of the provisional guides Leslie Jamison invokes in The Empathy Exams, along with Caroline Knapp, James Agee, Frida Kahlo, Joan Didion, Anne Carson, Susan Sontag, Elaine Scarry, and Vladimir Propp, among others, and something of Grealy’s canniness and persistence spurs Jamison. As readers (maybe also authors) we are so acclimated to reductive and tidy literary niches, enclosures, and genres—can the book in our hands safely be branded a memoir, a collection of essays, reportage, science, anthropology, cultural criticism, theory?


pages: 338 words: 112,127

Leaving Orbit: Notes From the Last Days of American Spaceflight by Margaret Lazarus Dean

affirmative action, Elon Musk, helicopter parent, index card, Joan Didion, low earth orbit, Mars Rover, Nelson Mandela, New Journalism, Norman Mailer, operation paperclip, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, risk tolerance, sensible shoes

www.graywolfpress.org Published in the United States of America ISBN 978-1-55597-709-2 Ebook ISBN 978-1-55597-341-4 2 4 6 8 9 7 5 3 1 First Graywolf Printing, 2015 Library of Congress Control Number: 2014960047 Cover design: Kimberly Glyder Design Cover photo: Personnel in the Launch Control Center watch the launch of Apollo 11, July 16, 1969. Kennedy Space Center Media Gallery, NASA. To Elliot, and the future Lovell: Well, how about let’s take off our gloves and helmets, huh? Anders: Okay. Lovell: I mean, let’s get comfortable. This is going to be a long trip. —Transcript of Apollo 8, first mission to lunar orbit, 1968 It is easy to see the beginnings of things, and harder to see the ends. —Joan Didion, “Goodbye to All That,” 1968 CONTENTS Prologue: Air and Space Chapter 1. The Beginnings of the Future: This Is Cape Canaveral Chapter 2. What It Felt Like to Walk on the Moon Chapter 3. Good-bye, Discovery Chapter 4. A Brief History of the Future Chapter 5. Good-bye, Endeavour Chapter 6. A Brief History of Spacefarers Chapter 7. Good-bye, Atlantis Chapter 8. The End of the Future: Wheel Stop Chapter 9: The Future Epilogue Timeline of American Spaceflight Bibliography LEAVING ORBIT PROLOGUE: Air and Space The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, has a grand entrance on Independence Avenue, a long row of smoked-glass doors set into an enormous white edifice.

While I wait, I read from Of a Fire on the Moon. Norman Mailer gripes about being packed into buses with the other journalists, all of them sweating through their shirts and ties, smoking and cursing the brutal Florida heat. I have the luxury of driving my own air-conditioned car; instead of a shirt and tie I wear a sundress, a beach hat, and enormous sunglasses that I hope make me look like Joan Didion. When Norman Mailer gets off the bus at the Press Site, he recounts his impressions (in the third person) of feeling slightly disconnected from the events happening so near yet so far away. He says that people had built up for him how unforgettable the launch experience would be, that he had been promised that the ground would shake. But he couldn’t match his lived experience with this expectation.

, one of a huge peach-colored full moon hanging low in the sky, the kind of moon that must have made a tempting target for the newly transplanted spaceworkers of the sixties. As the photos upload, I start preparing to teach my next class, Writing Creative Nonfiction. I’ve built into the syllabus a unit I call A Brief History of Creative Nonfiction, in which we spend a few weeks reading Truman Capote, Gay Talese, Joan Didion, John McPhee, Hunter S. Thompson, James Agee, Tom Wolfe, Norman Mailer—important writers who were working in that moment in the sixties when literary journalism converged with a thread of creative writing and the genre we now call creative nonfiction was born. On the syllabus for tomorrow are selections from Tom Wolfe, who is rightfully credited with being one of the founding fathers of creative nonfiction by helping to define the New Journalism.


pages: 556 words: 141,069

The Profiteers by Sally Denton

Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Berlin Wall, Boycotts of Israel, clean water, corporate governance, crony capitalism, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, energy security, Fall of the Berlin Wall, G4S, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Joan Didion, Kitchen Debate, laissez-faire capitalism, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, new economy, nuclear winter, profit motive, Robert Hanssen: Double agent, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, trickle-down economics, uranium enrichment, urban planning, WikiLeaks, wikimedia commons, William Langewiesche

But this rags-to-riches arc belies the real Bechtel story: the creation of a regional corporate power in the American West subsidized by the US government. “The California settlement had tended to attract drifters of loosely entrepreneurial inclination, the hunter-gatherers of the frontier rather than its cultivators, and to reward most fully those who perceived most quickly that the richest claim of all lay not in the minefields, but in Washington,” wrote Joan Didion of the money and power in her native land. Dad Bechtel personified the caricatured mogul of the new western industrialism that blossomed during the Great Depression. Fashioning a fruitful coalition with the federal government, Bechtel and a handful of his peers shaped a resource-based empire that would dominate national affairs for decades to come. At its heart was the then largest civil contract ever let by the US government—the dam that remade the American West.

Weinberger especially went to great lengths to insure Pollard would never be free to tell his story—a story that would have included Bechtel’s long-standing business relationships with Israel’s enemies in the Middle East—especially Saddam Hussein. * * * PART ONE WE WERE AMBASSADORS WITH BULLDOZERS 1872–1972 * * * This extreme reliance of California on federal money, so seemingly at odds with the emphasis on unfettered individualism that constitutes the local core belief, was a pattern set early on. —JOAN DIDION, Where I Was From CHAPTER ONE Go West! A “tall, beefy man with a bull-like roar,” Warren Augustine Bechtel, whose legacy would be one of the greatest engineering achievements in American history, came into the world on September 12, 1872. The fifth in a family of eight children, he was raised on a hardscrabble farm near Freeport, Illinois. His parents—Elizabeth Bentz and John Moyer Bechtel—were descendants of pioneer Pennsylvania German families.

Once described by President Hoover as “the greatest men’s party on earth” (a non sequitur apparently lost on Hoover, who was once described as “that swinging Bohemian . . . who was running for the presidency on a ‘dry’ platform”), the Grove is where emerging geopolitical trends are discussed in the privacy of 127 primitive camps. The most esteemed of these camps is Mandalay—named for the Kipling poem—where Steve Jr., like his father before him and his father’s partner, McCone, had been a member his entire adult life, following the patrilineal formation of the Grove. A “virtual personification of Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex,” author Joan Didion once pronounced Mandalay’s roster of members and guests. “Here, shielded from intrusion by a chain-link fence and the forces of the California Highway Patrol,” wrote Laton McCartney, “men like Justin W. Dart, William F. Buckley, George Bush, Edgar Kaiser, Jr., and Tom Watson could walk in the woods, skinny-dip in the Russian River, toast marshmallows over a fire, dress in drag for a ‘low jinks’ dramatic production, and, for a few days at least, hew to The Grove’s motto: ‘Spiders Weave Not Here.’ ” Its edict, taken from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, refers to a strict directive that prohibits Bohemians from explicitly conducting business at the Grove.


pages: 301 words: 100,597

My Life as a Goddess: A Memoir Through (Un)Popular Culture by Guy Branum

bitcoin, different worldview, G4S, Google Glasses, Joan Didion, Kickstarter, Mark Zuckerberg, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, pets.com, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Rosa Parks, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, telemarketer

Yes, he was an aspirational figure for a young gay man like me to see, but the reason I was able to so delight in his identity wasn’t because I imagined I could ever be as suave, seductive, or beautiful as he. I could identify with George because he wasn’t safe. He wasn’t boring. George did nothing to assure Jules or me that happily ever after was our birthright. But he didn’t die, either. He didn’t disappear, diminish, or get sad. George knew there were other joys to be had. Joan Didion says we tell ourselves stories to live. We seek narrative to provide rationalization to the chaos of life. Some people cling to the narrative they are given, by choice or by instinct, finding selves they should be with certain happinesses prescribed for their ends. Some of us don’t. Like D’Erasmo said, we believe our stories are singular and uncapturable. I fear it. I fear I am alone, that my story is errata, that I am unlike others and a little bit gross.

If you don’t know what Mommie Dearest is about, I don’t know why you’re reading this book, but it’s a Faye Dunaway movie about a Joan Crawford who selflessly makes women’s weepy films to give her daughter a better life, then her daughter writes a really mean book about her. 10. Not to be confused with the previously referenced Friends With Benefits, the other fuck-buddy rom-com staring a Black Swan cast member and featuring a bald, gay friend. Fuck-buddy rom-coms were the dueling lambada movies of 2011. JOAN DIDION SLEPT HERE LET’S BE HONEST, I went to college begrudgingly. Sure, I know, I’ve spent all of this book telling you how much I wanted to get out of Yuba City. Isn’t that supposed to be my liberation? The moment when everything gets fine and my story becomes boring and I’m rendered successful and self-assured and perfect: Isn’t this when I, like Oprah, become fixed? No, because people are fundamentally dumb animals, and like dumb animals, we rarely accept what’s good for us.

No, because people are fundamentally dumb animals, and like dumb animals, we rarely accept what’s good for us. I was mad at Berkeley because I did not get in to Stanford. That is why everyone goes to Berkeley. It is a state-funded second prize for overachievers who did not overachieve quite enough. I knew one person at Berkeley who’d gotten in to Stanford and still chose to go to Berkeley. I’m sure she regrets it to this day. Hell, Joan Didion didn’t get in to Stanford, and she invented California. It is my considered belief that not getting in to Stanford builds character. There were other issues with going to college. First of all, no one I knew, except for my teachers, had done it. Second of all, it was a new life. I’d hungered for this life deeply. If popular culture had taught me anything, it was that going to college was a way to ensure you could become a person whose clothes never had roofing tar on them.


pages: 104 words: 34,784

The Trouble With Brunch: Work, Class and the Pursuit of Leisure by Shawn Micallef

big-box store, call centre, cognitive dissonance, David Brooks, deindustrialization, ghettoisation, Jane Jacobs, Joan Didion, knowledge worker, liberation theology, Mason jar, McMansion, new economy, post scarcity, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Thorstein Veblen, urban sprawl, World Values Survey

As a result, solidarity across job categories – ‘card dealer’ and ‘security,’ say – was hard to come by, even though all employees shared a union, the CAW. The effect was, unlike at the auto plants, a loss of cohesion. Working-class Windsor is forever under economic and bureaucratic threat just as California is constantly under the threat of natural forces – not just earthquakes, but drought, the Santa Ana winds, wildfire. Joan Didion writes about this acutely in ‘Los Angeles Notebook’: It is hard for people who have not lived in Los Angeles to realize how radically the Santa Ana figures into the local imagination. The city burning is Los Angeles’s deepest image of itself; Nathanael West perceived that, in The Day of the Locust; and at the time of the 1965 Watts riots what struck the imagination most indelibly were the fires.

In a stunt gone terribly wrong, the cronut was giving people food poisoning, as the maple butter jam was contaminated with staphylococcus aureus, a toxin derived from humans via skin, infected cuts, pimples, nasal passages and the throat. The story could not have a more descriptive villain. As people got sick, there was both a sense of schadenfreude that they got what they deserved, but also an unsurprised sense of knowing this is how it was always supposed to end, much like when Joan Didion saw Los Angeles on fire from the Harbor Freeway. Extreme food will, inevitably, end with one kneeling over a toilet. Though the hype around the annual CNE stunt food has an air of fun about it, media plays a big role in constructing the artifice around brunch too. When I ask her how race, gender and sexuality intersect with brunch, Farha Ternikar says she doesn’t think race plays a big role in brunch scenes (though it’s easily mocked as a ‘Stuff White People Like’ pastime), saying it’s much more about class.


pages: 519 words: 142,646

Track Changes by Matthew G. Kirschenbaum

active measures, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Buckminster Fuller, commoditize, computer age, corporate governance, David Brooks, dematerialisation, Donald Knuth, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook, East Village, en.wikipedia.org, feminist movement, forensic accounting, future of work, Google Earth, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Haight Ashbury, HyperCard, Jason Scott: textfiles.com, Joan Didion, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, low earth orbit, mail merge, Marshall McLuhan, Mother of all demos, New Journalism, Norman Mailer, pattern recognition, pink-collar, popular electronics, RAND corporation, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, social web, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, text mining, thinkpad, Turing complete, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K, Year of Magical Thinking

“José Saramago, “The Art of Fiction No. 155,” interviewed by Donzelina Barroso, Paris Review, Winter 1998, http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/1032/the-art-of-fiction-no-155-jose-saramago. 41. Amos Oz, “The Art of Fiction No. 148,” interviewed by Shusha Guppy, Paris Review, Fall 1996, http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/1366/the-art-of-fiction-no-148-amos-oz. 42. Joan Didion, “The Salon Interview: Joan Didion,” interviewed by Dave Eggers, Salon, October 28, 1996, http://www.salon.com/1996/10/28/interview_11/. 43. Maria Nadotti, “An Interview with Don DeLillo,” trans. Peggy Boyers, ed. Don DeLillo, Salmagundi 100 (Fall 1993): 86–97. 44. See Patricia Cohen, “No Country for Old Typewriters: A Well-Used One Heads to Auction,” New York Times, November 30, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/01/books/01typewriter.html?

“The word processor program moves blocks of type around (any size); writes over a line that isn’t perfect, leaving no trace; erases words or lines or paragraphs in a second or two; and when I’m ready it prints as pretty a manuscript as you ever saw, with justified margins and no visible corrections.”37 The prolific fantasist Piers Anthony switched to a computer in 1985 only after his wife, a computer engineer, convinced him that the keyboard could be reprogrammed to re-create the custom Dvorak layout he insisted on using with his manual typewriter.38 Then there is Jorie Graham: “I still use it like a fancy typewriter.”39 José Saramago: “What I do on the computer is exactly what I would do on the typewriter if I still had it, the only difference being that it is cleaner, more comfortable, and faster. Everything is better.”40 Amos Oz: “The word processor is, for me, nothing but a typewriter, only you don’t have to use Typex to erase or correct a mistake.”41 Joan Didion, commenting on the IBM Thinkpad she was using at the time of a 1996 interview, likewise stated, “I just use it like a typewriter.” But she immediately complicates her own response, adding, “Before I started working on a computer, writing a piece would be like making something up every day, taking the material and never quite knowing where you were going to go next with the material. With a computer it was less like painting and more like sculpture, where you start with a block of something and then start shaping it.”42 Not all writers choose to use a computer, even today.

NINE REVEAL CODES When John Barth needed to find a way to introduce a collection of his short stories in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, he turned to a word processing metaphor—WYSIWYG, or “Wys” for short—conferring its name on the “brackish tidewater marsh-nymph” who becomes Barth’s interlocutor as he works through his relationship to what would now strike him as eleven “mostly Autumnal and impossibly innocent” pieces of fiction.1 Joan Didion begins The Year of Magical Thinking (2006) by recounting the properties of the Microsoft Word file containing the first words she wrote after her husband’s death from a heart attack as he was sitting across the kitchen table from her. The file’s seemingly inconsequential technical details are proffered by Didion as a kind of touchstone, an objective anchor for her memories even as she asserts her autonomy over a misleading date stamp: “That would have been a case of my opening the file and reflexively pressing save when I closed it.”2 Paul Kafka’s Love [ENTER] (1997) features chapters named for its characters with a date stamp and a time stamp and the suffix .doc appended to each of them, for example “10/23/92 23:06 Bou.Doc.”


pages: 324 words: 80,217

The Decadent Society: How We Became the Victims of Our Own Success by Ross Douthat

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, AI winter, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, Burning Man, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, centre right, charter city, crack epidemic, crowdsourcing, David Graeber, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, East Village, Elon Musk, Flynn Effect, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Francisco Pizarro, ghettoisation, gig economy, Haight Ashbury, helicopter parent, hive mind, Hyperloop, immigration reform, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Islamic Golden Age, Jeff Bezos, Joan Didion, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, life extension, mass immigration, mass incarceration, means of production, megacity, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, multiplanetary species, New Journalism, Nicholas Carr, Norman Mailer, obamacare, Oculus Rift, open borders, out of africa, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, pre–internet, QAnon, quantitative easing, rent-seeking, Robert Bork, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Snapchat, social web, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, technoutopianism, the built environment, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, wage slave, women in the workforce, Y2K

Lady Gaga has replaced Madonna, Adele has replaced Mariah Carey—both distinctions without a real difference—and Jay-Z and Wilco are still Jay-Z and Wilco. Except for certain details (no Google searches, no e-mail, no cell phones), ambitious fiction from 20 years ago (Doug Coupland’s Generation X, Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, Martin Amis’s Time’s Arrow) is in no way dated, and the sensibility and style of Joan Didion’s books from even twenty years before that seem plausibly circa 2012. … Not long ago in the newspaper, I came across an archival photograph of Ian Schrager and Steve Rubell with a dozen of their young staff at Morgans, the ur-boutique hotel, in 1985. It was an epiphany. Schrager’s dress shirt had no collar, and some of the hair on his male employees was a bit unfashionably fluffy, but no one in the picture looks obviously, laughably dated by today’s standards.… Yet if, in 1990 or 1980 or 1970, you’d examined a comparable picture from 27 years earlier—from 1963 and 1953 and 1943, respectively—it would be a glimpse back into an unmistakably different world.

The boomer utopianism that now feels rote, dated, and commercialized was a genuine revolution when it first emerged, and it had to feel like a revolution because it was attacking something that still felt confident, rooted, possibly enduring. Sit down with the first season of Mad Men or an equivalent primary source and then watch the 1970 Woodstock documentary and marvel at the antinomy. Read a sheaf of New Yorkers from the heyday of William Shawn, E. B. White, and James Thurber, and then read your way through the New Journalism—starting with Tom Wolfe’s savaging of Shawn, and then on through Garry Wills, Joan Didion, and Hunter S. Thompson—and you’ll see a conflict between two potencies, two strong cultural approaches, with the younger one not just tearing at weak points but also feeding off the older order’s strength. Pick up a novel or a memoir whose characters inhabit the pre–Vatican II Catholicism of the 1940s and then read the liberalizing theologians whose work defined the Catholic 1960s and 1970s, and you’ll see one generation’s confidence clashing with another’s, a liberal certainty blazing up to overthrow a religious culture that felt timeless just a few short years before.

That often happens; in periods before true political upheaval, the rebel, the rioter, the street fighter, even the terrorist is more tuned in to what’s really going on—or what’s really coming—than the law-abiding citizen. You could understand the future of Germany better in 1930 by watching Brownshirts and Reds fight in the streets than by hanging out with middle-class shopkeepers; you could see the American future more clearly in the abolitionist John Brown’s wild career than anywhere else in the 1850s. Joan Didion’s famous essay “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” was published “in the cold late spring of 1967,” and she argued that even though the economy was strong and the country seemed superficially stable, you could tell that America’s “center was not holding” by visiting Haight-Ashbury and pondering the hippies. A year later, Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy were dead, the Democratic National Convention was in chaos, and the terrorist wave mentioned earlier had begun.


pages: 347 words: 90,234

You Can't Make This Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction--From Memoir to Literary Journalism and Everything in Between by Lee Gutkind

airport security, Albert Einstein, Atul Gawande, Columbine, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, Joan Didion, Mark Zuckerberg, New Journalism, non-fiction novel, Norman Mailer, out of africa, personalized medicine, publish or perish, Ronald Reagan, Stephen Hawking, working poor, Year of Magical Thinking

Hours later, sipping coffee in a truck stop or diner, I sketched with words the tired faces and recorded the conversations of my fellow travelers. These were wonderful, formative experiences for me, although frenetic and wild, especially when I soared through those dark country roads on two wheels. Passion is what’s required of a creative nonfiction writer—passion for people, passion for the written word, passion for knowledge, passion for spontaneity of experience, passion to understand how things work. As Joan Didion said in a New York Times Magazine article titled “Why I Write” (1976), “I write to find out what I am thinking, what I am looking at, what I see, and what it means.” I know it is easy to provide examples of famous writers (and athletes), but what about people laboring alone and in the dark, who have yet to achieve success? They may be reluctant to tell people they are writers, lest someone ask what they have published and whether they have appeared on the best-seller list.

They too fall under the creative nonfiction umbrella: true stories well told. “Lyric essay” is a term that confounds many people, perhaps because “lyric,” a poetic term, and “essay,” a more fact-oriented term, don’t seem to fit together. But they can fit and often do, as John D’Agata demonstrates in his 2002 anthology, The Next American Essay. D’Agata brings together work from such creative nonfiction masters as John McPhee, Susan Sontag, Joan Didion, and Annie Dillard to demonstrate the scope of the lyrical form of creative nonfiction, blending biography, poetry, philosophy, and memoir. As I have mentioned on page 25, D’Agata, along with his mentor, poet Deborah Tall, helped introduce the lyric essay in a literary journal, the Seneca Review (a publication of Hobart and William Smith colleges), which Tall edited from 1982 until her death in 2006.

Also in theaters this year: Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me, for which the filmmaker ate only McDonald’s food for a month, gaining 24.5 pounds in the process. 20 05 Oprah’s Book Club selects A Million Little Pieces; James Frey appears on an episode entitled “The Man Who Kept Oprah Awake at Night.” The Oprah edition of the paperback sells more than 2 million copies. - The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion’s exploration of grief and the year following her husband’s unexpected death, wins the National Book Award for nonfiction. - Scandal? The family of Dr. Rodolph H. Turcotte files suit against Augusten Burroughs and his publisher, St. Martin’s, for invasion of privacy and defamation of character based on Burroughs’s depiction of the family in Running with Scissors. The case settles for an undisclosed amount; Burroughs describes the settlement as “a victory for all memoirists” but agrees to changes in the author’s note in future printings


pages: 343 words: 101,563

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells

"Robert Solow", agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Asian financial crisis, augmented reality, basic income, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, cognitive bias, computer age, correlation does not imply causation, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, decarbonisation, Donald Trump, effective altruism, Elon Musk, endowment effect, energy transition, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, failed state, fiat currency, global pandemic, global supply chain, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, Joan Didion, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, labor-force participation, life extension, longitudinal study, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, megacity, megastructure, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, nuclear winter, Pearl River Delta, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, postindustrial economy, quantitative easing, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, Sam Altman, Silicon Valley, Skype, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, the built environment, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, universal basic income, University of East Anglia, Whole Earth Catalog, William Langewiesche, Y Combinator

A week after it was sparked, it remained, in the ominous semi-clinical language of wildfires, merely “15% contained.” For a poetic approximation, it was not a bad estimate of how much of a handle we have on the forces of climate change that unleashed the Thomas Fire and the many other environmental calamities for which it was an apocalyptic harbinger. That is to say, hardly any. “The city burning is Los Angeles’s deepest image of itself,” Joan Didion wrote in “Los Angeles Notebook,” collected in Slouching Towards Bethlehem, published in 1968. But the cultural impression is apparently not all that deep, since the fires that broke out in the fall of 2017 produced, in headlines and on television and via text messages, an astonished refrain of the adjectives “unthinkable,” “unprecedented,” and “unimaginable.” Didion was writing about the fires that had swept through Malibu in 1956, Bel Air in 1961, Santa Barbara in 1964, and Watts in 1965; she updated her list in 1989 with “Fire Season,” in which she described the fires of 1968, 1970, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1980, and 1982: “Since 1919, when the county began keeping records of its fires, some areas have burned eight times.”

., “The Rising Tide: Assessing the Risks of Climate Change and Human Settlements in Low Elevation Coastal Zones,” Environment and Urbanization 19, no. 1 (April 2007): pp. 17–27, https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0956247807076960. Wildfire Thomas Fire, the worst: CalFire, “Incident Information: Thomas Fire,” March 28, 2018, http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/incidents/incidents_details_info?incident_id=1922. “15% contained”: CalFire, “Thomas Fire Incident Update,” December 11, 2017, http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/pub/cdf/images/incidentfile1922_3183.pdf. “Los Angeles Notebook”: Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1968). Five of the twenty worst fires: CalFire, “Top 20 Most Destructive California Wildfires,” August 20, 2018, www.fire.ca.gov/communications/downloads/fact_sheets/Top20_Destruction.pdf. 1,240,000 acres: CalFire, “Incident Information: 2017,” January 24, 2018, http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/incidents/incidents_stats?year=2017. 172 fires broke out: California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection, “October 2017 Fire Siege,” January 2018, http://bofdata.fire.ca.gov/board_business/binder_materials/2018/january_2018_meeting/full/full_14_presentation_october_2017_fire_siege.pdf.

This is a note of contrarian optimism echoing Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, in their Break Through: Why We Can’t Leave Saving the Planet to Environmentalists and Love Your Monsters: Postenvironmentalism and the Anthropocene; and the Canadian, Swedish, and South African academics behind the research collaboration “Bright Spots,” who, despite considerably more concern about the effects of global warming, nevertheless keep a running list of positive environmental developments they believe makes the case for what they call a “good Anthropocene.” “The Second Coming”: Among other things, Yeats gave Joan Didion the lines she built into her essay “Slouching Towards Bethlehem”: “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.” “immanent anti-humanism”: The program is also neatly contained in Jeffers’s most famous poem, “Carmel Point”: We must uncenter our minds from ourselves; We must unhumanize our views a little, and become confident As the rock and ocean that we were made from.


San Francisco by Lonely Planet

airport security, Albert Einstein, Apple II, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Burning Man, California gold rush, car-free, carbon footprint, centre right, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, David Brooks, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, G4S, game design, glass ceiling, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, Joan Didion, Loma Prieta earthquake, Mason jar, New Urbanism, Silicon Valley, South of Market, San Francisco, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, transcontinental railway, urban sprawl, Whole Earth Catalog, Zipcar

➡ The Maltese Falcon (Dashiell Hammett) In this classic noir novel, private eye Sam Spade risks his reputation on a case involving an elusive redhead, a gold statuette, the Holy Roman Empire and an unholy cast of thugs. Nonfiction & Memoir People-watching rivals reading as a preferred San Francisco pastime, and close observation of antics that would seem bizarre elsewhere pays off in stranger-than-fiction nonfiction – hence Hunter S Thompson’s gonzo journalism and Joan Didion’s core-shaking truth-telling. Key titles: ➡ Slouching Towards Bethlehem (Joan Didion) Like hot sun through San Francisco fog, Didion’s 1968 essays burn through the hippie haze to reveal glassy-eyed teenagers adrift in the Summer of Love. ➡ On the Road (Jack Kerouac) The book Kerouac banged out on one long scroll of paper in a San Francisco attic over a couple of sleepless months of 1951 shook America awake. ➡ San Francisco Stories: Great Writers on the City (edited by John Miller) One hundred and fifty years of San Francisco impressions, including Jack London’s 1906 earthquake reports and Jack Kerouac’s attempts to hold a Downtown day job

Many programs are broadcast on public radio stations nationwide, including local affiliate KQED-FM (88.5). City Arts & Lectures Lectures Offline map Google map ( box office 415-392-4400; www.cityarts.net; Herbst Theater, 401 Van Ness Ave; tickets from $17; & Civic Center) The city’s foremost lecture series hosts an all-star lineup of today’s most celebrated artists, writers and intellectuals, from Joan Didion to ­David Sedaris and Madeline Albright to Tina Fey. Most take place at the Herbst Theater, and are broadcast on local public-radio station KQED-FM (88.5); check the website for schedules. Warfield Live Music Offline map Google map ( 800-745-3000; www.thewarfieldtheatre.com; 982 Market St; admission varies; box office 10am-4pm Sun & 90min before curtain on show nights; & Powell St) Famous names play this former vaudeville theater, including the Beastie Boys and PJ Harvey; when Furthur (formerly the Grateful Dead) play, the balcony fills with pot smoke.

Best in Print Howl and Other Poems (Allen Ginsberg; 1956) Mind-altering, law-changing words defined a generation of ‘angel-headed hipsters.’ Time and Materials (Robert Hass; 2007) Every Pulitzer Prize-winning syllable is as essential as a rivet in the Golden Gate Bridge. On the Road (Jack Kerouac; 1957) Banged out in a San Francisco attic, Kerouac’s travelogue set post-war America free. Slouching Towards Bethlehem (Joan Didion; 1968) Scorching truth burns through San Francisco fog during the Summer of Love. Green City, USA In 2011, San Francisco was named North America’s Greenest City, and you’ll notice that distinction when it comes to choosing what eat and drink, where to sleep, what souvenirs to buy and how to get around town. Pretty much anything you might want to do in San Francisco, you can do with a green conscience – just look for the designation in this book.


pages: 319 words: 105,949

Skyfaring: A Journey With a Pilot by Mark Vanhoenacker

Airbus A320, British Empire, Cape to Cairo, computer age, dark matter, digital map, Edmond Halley, Joan Didion, John Harrison: Longitude, Louis Blériot, Maui Hawaii, Nelson Mandela, out of africa, phenotype, place-making, planetary scale, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, the built environment, transcontinental railway, Year of Magical Thinking

Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. Henry Holt and Company, LLC: Excerpt from “Kitty Hawk” from The Poetry of Robert Frost edited by Edward Connery Lathem, copyright © 1969 by Henry Holt and Company, copyright © 1956, 1962 by Robert Frost. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of Henry Holt and Company LLC. Janklow & Nesbit Associates: Excerpt from The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. Reprinted by permission of Joan Didion c/o Janklow & Nesbit Associates. Mark Whyles Management Ltd: Excerpt from “Salters Road” by Karine Polwart. Reprinted by permission of Karine Polwart c/o Mark Whyles Management Ltd. Penguin Random House: Excerpt from “The Poem of Flight” from New Selected Poems by Philip Levine, copyright © 1991 by Philip Levine; excerpt from Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck (Penguin Books, 1992), copyright © 1961, 1962 by The Curtis Publishing Company Inc., copyright © 1962 by John Steinbeck, copyright renewed 1989, 1990 by Elaine Steinbeck, Thom Steinbeck and John Steinbeck IV.

The world remains unequal, in light as in almost everything else, and the lesson of Kinshasa lies open to the sky, in the dimmed night-whorl of its fingerprint. — Sometimes when I fly to Los Angeles I arrive from the northwest, from over the shadowed mountains of Malibu, and the city suddenly looms into view like a bowl of phosphorescence gathered from the surface of the Pacific. Los Angeles, from a clear night above it, may alone explain why Joan Didion wrote that “the most beautiful things I had ever seen had all been seen from airplanes.” Even when you come to Los Angeles from the east, from over the land, the deserts are all but empty until you overfly the last great crescent of the city’s mountains. In this sense the city approached from any direction is an island, ablaze between two oceans. It is hard to fly into Los Angeles and not to feel that its cultural and geographic positions are as well matched as those of Plymouth Rock; that human and physical geography are hardly worth teasing apart here.


pages: 244 words: 81,334

Picnic Comma Lightning: In Search of a New Reality by Laurence Scott

4chan, Airbnb, airport security, augmented reality, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Boris Johnson, clean water, colonial rule, cryptocurrency, dematerialisation, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, housing crisis, Internet of things, Joan Didion, job automation, late capitalism, Mark Zuckerberg, Narrative Science, Productivity paradox, QR code, ride hailing / ride sharing, Saturday Night Live, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, Snapchat, Y2K

Freudian psychoanalysis ‘seeks to mitigate our sufferings by loosening the hold of these stories on us – by convincing us […] that they are stories, and not the way things “are”’. In other words, this process is designed to liberate us from stories by asserting a reality beyond them. Important here is the debate that surrounds the act of imagining ourselves in terms of coherent stories – does this give us psychological stability or bring a terrible, limiting rigidity to our inner lives? ‘We tell ourselves25 stories in order to live,’ writes Joan Didion in her essay ‘The White Album’. That is, until we don’t. In 1968, the same year that Muriel Rukeyser wrote that the universe was made of stories, Didion found that her own storytelling instinct had been suppressed. She was living in a house in Hollywood where ‘the window sashes crumbled and the tennis court had not been rolled since 1933’. It was a house in disarray, but she felt she should live there ‘indefinitely’.

Constance Farrington (London: Penguin, 2001 [1961]); ‘trying to include …’, Iain Sinclair, The Last London (London: Oneworld, 2017). 23 ‘Once upon a …’, see ‘Toni Morrison – Nobel Lecture’, 7th December 1993, www.nobelprize.org. 24 ‘an underlying assumption …’, Janet Malcolm, ‘Dora’, in The Purloined Clinic: Selected Writings (New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1992). 25 ‘We tell ourselves …’, Joan Didion, White Album (New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1979). The End of Things 1 ‘I had no …’, Stephanie Beacham, Many Lives (Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, 2011). 2 ‘There was the …’, Virginia Woolf, ‘A Sketch of the Past’, in Moments of Being (London: Pimlico, 2002 [1939]). 3 ‘is trebly accursed …’, Edward Heron-Allen, quoted in Crispin Paine, Religious Objects in Museums: Private Lives and Public Duties (London: Bloomsbury, 2013). 4 ‘each item within …’, Zygmunt Bauman, Modernity and Ambivalence (Cambridge: Polity, 1991). 5 ‘holding it firmly …’, Marie Kondo, Spark Joy: An Illustrated Guide to the Japanese Art of Tidying (London: Vermilion, 2016). 6 ‘What am I …’, Virginia Woolf, Jacob’s Room (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008 [1922]). 7 ‘seemed to fit’, Muriel Spark, Territorial Rights (London: Virago, 2014 [1979]); ‘A sigh of …’, Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary, trans.


pages: 358 words: 104,664

Capital Without Borders by Brooke Harrington

banking crisis, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, British Empire, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, complexity theory, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, diversified portfolio, estate planning, eurozone crisis, family office, financial innovation, ghettoisation, haute couture, high net worth, income inequality, information asymmetry, Joan Didion, job satisfaction, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, liberal capitalism, mega-rich, mobile money, offshore financial centre, race to the bottom, regulatory arbitrage, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, South Sea Bubble, the market place, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, upwardly mobile, wealth creators, web of trust, Westphalian system, Wolfgang Streeck, zero-sum game

Some argue that Israel is a special case due to traditionally high levels of social solidarity; others point out that recent opinion polling among Israelis shows that social solidarity is “quite low,” particularly when it comes to economic inequality and measures to combat it.106 The latter suggests that Israel may indeed offer a useful precedent for some onshore states seeking to stop tax leakage from their boundaries. 7 Conclusion “The secret point of money and power,” wrote Joan Didion, “is neither the things that money can buy nor power for power’s sake … but absolute personal freedom, mobility, privacy.”1 The crucial insight of this book is that professionals make these goals attainable. That is, their application of a particular form of financial-legal expertise to money management provides freedom, mobility, and privacy to the high-net-worth individuals of the world. Wealth managers secure and maintain these privileges for their clients through the strategic use of trusts, foundations, and corporations.

Charles Tilly, From Mobilization to Revolution (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1978). 105. Adam Hofri, “Professionals’ Contribution to the Legislative Process: Between Self, Client, and the Public,” Law & Social Inquiry 39 (2014): 117. 106. Tamar Hermann, Ella Heller, Chanan Cohen, Gilad Be’ery, and Yuval Lebe, “The Israeli Democracy Index 2014,” Israeli Democracy Institute, Jerusalem, 2014. 7. Conclusion 1. Joan Didion, “7000 Romaine, Los Angeles 38,” Slouching towards Bethlehem, 67–72 (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1968). 2. Ibid. 3. Ronen Shamir, Managing Legal Uncertainty: Elite Lawyers in the New Deal (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1995). 4. Jeffrey Winters, Oligarchy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 219. 5. Jens Beckert, Inherited Wealth (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009). 6.


pages: 790 words: 253,035

Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood's Creative Artists Agency by James Andrew Miller

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Bonfire of the Vanities, business process, collective bargaining, corporate governance, Donald Trump, family office, interchangeable parts, Joan Didion, Kickstarter, obamacare, out of africa, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Skype, stem cell, Steve Jobs, traveling salesman, union organizing

TONY KRANTZ: The very first thing I ever packaged was a movie-of-the-week based on Joan Didion’s book Salvador about this war in El Salvador. I was working with a producer named Dick Berg and put together a package with a writer named Ernest Tidyman, who had won the Oscar for The French Connection. Shirley MacLaine was going to play Joan Didion. We walked into Harvey Shephard’s office, who was the head of CBS at the time, and we pitched it to him and he bought it in the room. And I came back to the parking lot or whatever it was and Dick said, “Now we’ve got to get the rights.” And I said, “What do you mean we’ve got to get the rights?” He said, “I don’t have the rights to the book.” And I said, “You’re kidding.” I was so young that I didn’t know to ask the question “Did you have the rights?” My mother had Joan Didion’s phone number in her Rolodex, so I called Joan up and explained the mess.

Chris Brown Bill Broyles Jerry Bruckheimer Genevieve Bujold Sandra Bullock Ken Burns Tim Burton John Calley Robinson Cano Mark Canton Kate Capshaw Glenn Gordon Caron Jim Carrey Johnny Carson Graydon Carter Maverick Carter Dana Carvey Leo Castelli Gil Cates Bob Cavallo Chevy Chase Cher Peter Chernin Robert Chertoff Ted Chervin James Clavell Bill Clinton George Clooney Glenn Close Lee Cohen Sam Cohen Sam Cohn Chris Columbus Sean Connery Martha Coolidge Francis Ford Coppola Sofia Coppola Costa-Gavras Kevin Costner Katie Couric Michael Crichton Hume Cronyn Crosby, Stills & Nash Tom Cruise Lindsay Czarniak Bob Daly Matt Damon Andy Davis Geena Davis John Davis Martha Davis Marvin Davis Roger Davis Gavin de Becker Dan Deirdorf Fred Dekker Peter Dekom Freddy Demann Jonathan Demme Ted Demme Lisa De Moraes Rebecca De Mornay Robert De Niro Brian De Palma Johnny Depp Bo Derek Ira Deutchman Danny DeVito Dean Devlin Neil Diamond Cameron Diaz Leonardo DiCaprio Joan Didion Vin Diesel Barry Diller Celine Dion Richard Donner Lindsay Doran Michael Douglas Peter Drucker Clint Eastwood Blake Edwards Marty Ehrlichman Jane Eisner Michael Eisner Doug Ellin Larry Ellison Roland Emmerich Joe Eszterhas Chad Everett Jeff Fager Tony Fantozzi Frank Farian Chris Farley Will Ferrell Sally Field Bert Fields Carrie Fisher Ryan Fitzpatrick Mick Fleetwood Joe Flint Jane Fonda Harrison Ford Ted Fortsmann Bob Fosse Jamie Foxx Mark Frost Zach Galifianakis Sandy Gallin Alex Gartner Bill Gates David Geffen François Gilles Terry Gilliam Arne Glimcher Roberto Goizueta Eric Gold Whoopi Goldberg Leonard Goldenson Bo Goldman Akiva Goldsmith Roger Goodell Larry Gordon Berry Gordy Sam Gores Donald Grant Brian Grazer Steve Greenberg Brad Grey Wyc Grousbeck Andy Grove Phil Guarascio Peter Guber Marc Gurvitz Gene Hackman Hall and Oates Tom Hanks Tom Hanson Ted Harbert Mark Harmon Jack Harrower Patrick Hasburgh Ethan Hawke Goldie Hawn Salma Hayek Amy Heckerling Ed Helms Gary Hendler John Henry Jonathan Hensleigh Katharine Hepburn Kirk Herbstreit Marshall Herskovitz Steve Heyer Colin Higgins Masahiko Hirata Barry Hirsch Dustin Hoffman Jan Hoffman Ron Howard L.


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The Metropolitan Revolution: The Rise of Post-Urban America by Jon C. Teaford

anti-communist, big-box store, conceptual framework, desegregation, Detroit bankruptcy, East Village, edge city, estate planning, Golden Gate Park, Gunnar Myrdal, Haight Ashbury, housing crisis, illegal immigration, Jane Jacobs, Joan Didion, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Nelson Mandela, New Urbanism, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Potemkin village, rent control, Seaside, Florida, Silicon Valley, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Victor Gruen, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, young professional

In 1980 an article in the New York Times Magazine reported on “the Latinization of Miami,” informing readers that “more than half a million Cuban refugees have transformed a declining resort town into a bustling bicultural city.”7 In 1985 Time magazine described Miami’s Calle Ocho district: “Open-air markets sell plantains, mangoes and boniatos (sweet potatoes); old men play excitedly at dominoes in the main park. Little but Spanish is heard on the streets and indeed in many offices and shops. A Hispanic in need of a haircut, a pair of eyeglasses or legal advice can visit a Spanish-speaking barber, optometrist or lawyer.”8 The writer Joan Didion claimed that “the entire tone of the city, the way people looked and talked and met one another, was Cuban…. There was even in the way women dressed in Miami a definable Havana look, a more distinct emphasis on the hips and décolletage, more black, more veiling, a generalized flirtatiousness of style not then current in American cities.”9 The widespread use of Spanish testified to the strong and persistent Cuban influence.

.: Government Printing Office, 2003), p. 11. 4. Ibid., p. 10. 5. Ibid., p. 51. 6. Thomas D. Boswell and James R. Curtis, The Cuban-American Experience: Cultural, Images, and Perspectives (Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Allanheld, 1984), pp. 41–43. 7. Herbert Burkholz, “The Latinization of Miami,” New York Times Magazine, 21 September 1980, p. 45. 8. “Hispanics: A Visible Presence,” Time, 8 July 1985, p. 37. 9. Joan Didion, Miami (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987), p. 52. 10. Raymond A. Mohl, “Miami: New Immigrant City,” in Searching for the Sunbelt: Historical Perspective on a Region, ed. Raymond A. Mohl (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1990), p. 160. 11. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract: 2003, p. 58. 12. Boswell and Curtis, Cuban-American Experience, pp. 79, 82. 13. Ibid., p. 87. 14. Guillermo J.


The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America by Margaret O'Mara

"side hustle", A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, accounting loophole / creative accounting, affirmative action, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Web Services, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, autonomous vehicles, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, Ben Horowitz, Berlin Wall, Bob Noyce, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, business climate, Byte Shop, California gold rush, carried interest, clean water, cleantech, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, computer age, continuous integration, cuban missile crisis, Danny Hillis, DARPA: Urban Challenge, deindustrialization, different worldview, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Frank Gehry, George Gilder, gig economy, Googley, Hacker Ethic, high net worth, Hush-A-Phone, immigration reform, income inequality, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of movable type, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Joan Didion, job automation, job-hopping, John Markoff, Julian Assange, Kitchen Debate, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, mass immigration, means of production, mega-rich, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, Mitch Kapor, Mother of all demos, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, mutually assured destruction, new economy, Norbert Wiener, old-boy network, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Paul Terrell, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, pets.com, pirate software, popular electronics, pre–internet, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Robert Metcalfe, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Snapchat, social graph, software is eating the world, speech recognition, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, supercomputer in your pocket, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, the market place, the new new thing, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, Thomas L Friedman, Tim Cook: Apple, transcontinental railway, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, Unsafe at Any Speed, upwardly mobile, Vannevar Bush, War on Poverty, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, Y Combinator, Y2K

Opening in early April 1968, the film was unlike anything moviegoers had seen before: a visual spectacular of precisely modeled spaceships and trippy psychedelics, with a nonlinear plot, plodding pace, and few recognizable actors. The closest thing the film had to a star was the omniscient and ominous HAL 9000, who seized control of a deep-space mission from its human astronauts. 2001 was a box-office dud at first, but word of mouth among the college crowd turned it into a phenomenon. Other pop culture landmarks cascaded out in 1968 as well: the Beatles’ White Album, the Broadway musical Hair, and Joan Didion’s lyrical and searing portrait of countercultural San Francisco, Slouching Towards Bethlehem. It was a year of fractured politics, of rage against the war machine, of slain heroes and violence on the streets, of trust shattered and authority questioned. At the Summer Olympics in Mexico City, San Jose State University athletes and track medalists Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists in a Black Power salute on the podium, becoming one of the most enduring images of the decade.

Woodside’s early 1960s fight against the power lines occurred about the same time that Palo Altans were mobilizing against a proposed expansion of the Stanford Industrial Park; by the early 1970s, local activism had resulted in a host of local measures up and down the San Francisco Peninsula that controlled growth and protected open spaces. And, as we will see later, semiconductor pioneers politically mobilized when their industry was in peril. But the chipmakers largely remained aloof from broader regional affairs. They were, as Joan Didion later wrote of the restless and rootless Californians surrounding Ronald Reagan, “a group devoid of social responsibilities precisely because their ties to any one place had been so attenuated.”21 ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL In Boston, it was a lot harder to remain unencumbered by history. The high-tech companies of Route 128 not only sat amid Revolutionary War battlefields and nineteenth-century mill towns, but also in a regional economy anchored in the past.

.: Stanford University Press, 2002). 20. Kim-Mai Cutler, “East of Palo Alto’s Eden: Race and the Formation of Silicon Valley,” TechCrunch, January 10, 2015, https://techcrunch.com/2015/01/10/east-of-palo-altos-eden/, archived at https://perma.cc/7EMT-VSRD; Herbert G. Ruffin II, Uninvited Neighbors: African Americans in Silicon Valley, 1769–1990 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2014). 21. Joan Didion, “Life at Court,” The New York Review of Books, December 21, 1989, reprinted in We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live: Collected Nonfiction (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006); Margaret Pugh O’Mara, Cities of Knowledge: Cold War Science and the Search for the Next Silicon Valley (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2004), 132–39. 22. Bennett Harrison, “Regional Restructuring and ‘Good Business Climates’: The Economic Transformation of New England Since World War II,” in Sunbelt/Snowbelt: Urban Development and Regional Restructuring, eds., Larry Sawers and William K.


pages: 251 words: 44,888

The Words You Should Know to Sound Smart: 1200 Essential Words Every Sophisticated Person Should Be Able to Use by Bobbi Bly

Albert Einstein, Alistair Cooke, Anton Chekhov, British Empire, Columbine, Donald Trump, George Santayana, haute couture, Honoré de Balzac, Joan Didion, John Nash: game theory, Network effects, placebo effect, Ralph Waldo Emerson, school vouchers, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs

.” – Paul Klee, German-born Swiss painter tactile (TACK-tile), adjective Related to the sense of touch. This year’s Parisian couture is distinguished by its use of highly TACTILE fabrics. tangential (tan-JEHN-shull), adjective Divergent or digressive; having little to do with the subject or matter at hand. “New York is full of people … with a feeling for the TANGENTIAL adventure, the risky adventure, the interlude that’s not likely to end in any double-ring ceremony.” – Joan Didion, American journalist tantamount (TAN-tuh-mount), adjective Equivalent in value or effect. Eleanor considered our snub of her TANTAMOUNT to betrayal and, in truth, she was correct. tantric (TAN-trik), adjective Anything related to the school of thought that views sex as a sacred and deeply spiritual act. “Both religions [Hinduism and Buddhism] were patronized by the same kings, ministers, and merchants, many of whom indulged in the same TANTRIC heterodoxies.” – William Dalrymple, Scottish historian and author tautology (taw-TAHL-uh-jee), noun A statement, principle, or phrase repeated many times in different ways for emphasis and resulting in redundancy.


pages: 131 words: 45,778

My Misspent Youth: Essays by Meghan Daum

haute couture, Joan Didion, Norman Mailer, rent control, Yogi Berra

—Ira Glass, host of This American Life “A voice that is fresh and wickedly funny, bracing in its honesty.” —Bruce Jay Friedman “For a collection this smart, assured, and unpredictable, Daum should get time off in purgatory and a start-up grant on her next incarnation as well … She is never less than original in her observations, and never less than honest in her self-examination. Brave words from a brave writer.” —Flaunt “A Joan Didion for the new millennium, Meghan Daum brings grace, wit, and insight to contemporary life, love, manners, and money. Her ‘misspent youth’ is a reader’s delight.” —Dan Wakefield, author of New York in the Fifties “Meghan Daum has the true essayist’s gift: she will say what no one else is willing to say (about being a shiksa, about leaving New York, about being unable to grieve), and through her eloquent and vivid candor she embodies for the reader nothing less than what it feels like to be alive in America right now.”


pages: 476 words: 132,042

What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Buckminster Fuller, c2.com, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, charter city, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, computer vision, Danny Hillis, dematerialisation, demographic transition, double entry bookkeeping, Douglas Engelbart, en.wikipedia.org, Exxon Valdez, George Gilder, gravity well, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, interchangeable parts, invention of air conditioning, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Joan Didion, John Conway, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, Lao Tzu, life extension, Louis Daguerre, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, new economy, off grid, out of africa, performance metric, personalized medicine, phenotype, Picturephone, planetary scale, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, refrigerator car, Richard Florida, Rubik’s Cube, Silicon Valley, silicon-based life, Skype, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Ted Kaczynski, the built environment, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, Vernor Vinge, wealth creators, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K

The planet itself seemed less impressive, in its old-fashioned, deliberate, annual or daily revolution, than this huge wheel, revolving within an arm’s-length at some vertiginous speed, and barely murmuring—scarcely humming an audible warning to stand a hair’s-breadth further for respect of power—while it would not wake the baby lying close against its frame. Before the end, one began to pray to it. Almost 70 years later California writer Joan Didion made a pilgrimage to the Hoover Dam, a trip she recounts in her anthology, The White Album. She, too, felt the heart of a dynamo. Since the afternoon in 1967 when I first saw Hoover Dam, its image has never been entirely absent from my inner eye. I will be talking to someone in Los Angeles, say, or New York, and suddenly the dam will materialize, its pristine concave face gleaming white against the harsh rusts and taupes and mauves of that rock canyon hundreds or thousands of miles from where I am. . . .

The Linux Foundation. http://www.linuxfoundation.org/publications/estimatinglinux. php. 316 different open-source projects: Ohloh. (2010) “Open Source Projects.” http://www.ohloh.net/p. 316 but without any bosses: General Motors Corporation. (2008) “Form 10-K.” http://www.sec.gov. 319 innate attraction to living things: Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson. (1993) The Biophilia Hypothesis. Washington, D.C.: Island Press. 319 Ergonomic Scissors: Generic tailor’s scissors, unknown origin. 320 one began to pray to it: Langdon Winner. (1977) Autonomous Technology: Technics-Out-of-Control as a Theme in Political Thought. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, p. 44. 321 to a world where no one is: Joan Didion. (1990). The White Album. New York: Macmillan, p. 198. 322 “passion and utility” of clocks snag some: Mark Dow. (June 8, 2009) “A Beautiful Description of Technophilia [Weblog comment].” Technophilia. The Technium. http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2009/06/technophilia.php#comments. 322 “we love the objects we think with”: Sherry Turkle. (2007) Evocative Objects: Things We Think With. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, p. 3. 325 so small as to be invisible: Nigel R.


pages: 160 words: 53,435

Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction by Tracy Kidder, Richard Todd

Atul Gawande, demand response, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, Joan Didion, moral hazard, Norman Mailer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, Yogi Berra

It relies on what is meant to be artful juxtaposition. In “Castro’s Beard,” Jeff Porter interweaves his boyhood with Cold War events that were happening simultaneously but outside his consciousness. An account of the Soviet ships approaching Cuba with a complement of missiles is followed without transition by a paragraph taking us to a Little League game: “In the top of the third inning I am hit by a pitch.” In much of her work, Joan Didion uses the first person as a tuning fork, to pick up the vibrations of an age. Her essay “The White Album” is redolent of the social confusion of the 1960s, and a perfect example of the first person as an authenticator of experience. One passage begins with a psychiatric report: “a personality in process of deterioration with abundant signs of failing defenses and increasing inability of the ego to mediate the world of reality and to cope with normal stress.”


pages: 177 words: 54,421

Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, Ben Horowitz, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Burning Man, delayed gratification, Google Glasses, Jeff Bezos, Joan Didion, Lao Tzu, Paul Graham, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, side project, South Sea Bubble, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Steve Jobs, Upton Sinclair

It would make sense to stop here to avoid belaboring the issue—but that would risk skipping Hughes’s egregious tax fraud; the plane crashes and fatal car accidents; the millions he wasted on private investigators, lawyers, contracts for starlets he refused to let act, property he never lived in; the fact that the only thing that got him to behave responsibly was the threat of public exposure; the paranoia, racism, and bullying; the failed marriages; the drug addiction; and dozens of other ventures and businesses he mismanaged. “That we have made a hero out of Howard Hughes,” a young Joan Didion wrote, “tells us something interesting about ourselves.” She’s absolutely right. For Howard Hughes, despite his reputation, was quite possibly one of the worst businessmen of the twentieth century. Usually a bad businessman fails and ceases to be in business anymore, making it hard to see what truly caused his failures. But thanks to the steady chain of profits from his father’s company, which he found too boring to interfere with, Hughes was able to stay afloat, allowing us to see the damage that his ego repeatedly wrought—to himself as a person, to the people around him, to what he wanted to accomplish.


pages: 504 words: 147,722

Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick by Maya Dusenbery

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Atul Gawande, equal pay for equal work, feminist movement, gender pay gap, Joan Didion, longitudinal study, meta analysis, meta-analysis, obamacare, phenotype, pre–internet, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, selection bias, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), sexual politics, Skype, stem cell, women in the workforce

And it’s estimated that 2.4 to 7.1 million Americans have chronic migraine, in which the headaches gradually become more frequent until they are occurring at least fifteen days a month for three months in a row. That’s a lot of people who spend at least half their days often unable to work, sleep, or sometimes even get out of bed. The pain of a migraine, which typically lasts between four and seventy-two hours, can be unimaginably bad. According to writer and migraine sufferer Joan Didion, “That no one dies of migraine seems, to someone deep into an attack, an ambiguous blessing.” Cindy McCain famously said she could imagine her husband Senator John McCain’s experience of torture in Vietnam because the “unbearable” pain of a migraine “may come close,” a comparison the senator didn’t dispute. Even those who don’t get migraines all that frequently say that the condition shapes their whole lives; the unpredictable nature of the attacks leaves them constantly worried about how to avoid triggers.

Migraine Research Foundation, “Migraine Facts,” https://migraineresearchfoundation.org/about-migraine/migraine-facts/. And it’s estimated that 2.4 to 7.1 million Americans have chronic migraine . . . Joanna Kempner, Not Tonight: Migraine and the Politics of Gender and Health (Chicago: The Univ. of Chicago Press, 2014). “That no one dies of migraine seems, to someone deep into an attack . . . Joan Didion, The White Album: Essays (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009), 171. Cindy McCain famously said she could imagine her husband Senator . . . Liz McNeil, “Cindy McCain’s Secret Struggle with Migraines,” People, September 2, 2006, http://people.com/celebrity/cindy-mccains-secret-struggle-with-migraines/. “For the past 100 years, migraine has been thought of as an imagined . . . P. Phillips, “Migraine as a Woman’s Issue—Will Research and New Treatments Help?”


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The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty by Benjamin H. Bratton

1960s counterculture, 3D printing, 4chan, Ada Lovelace, additive manufacturing, airport security, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, Celebration, Florida, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, connected car, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, dark matter, David Graeber, deglobalization, dematerialisation, disintermediation, distributed generation, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, facts on the ground, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, Georg Cantor, gig economy, global supply chain, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Guggenheim Bilbao, High speed trading, Hyperloop, illegal immigration, industrial robot, information retrieval, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jacob Appelbaum, Jaron Lanier, Joan Didion, John Markoff, Joi Ito, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Khan Academy, liberal capitalism, lifelogging, linked data, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, McMansion, means of production, megacity, megastructure, Menlo Park, Minecraft, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Monroe Doctrine, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, peak oil, peer-to-peer, performance metric, personalized medicine, Peter Eisenman, Peter Thiel, phenotype, Philip Mirowski, Pierre-Simon Laplace, place-making, planetary scale, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, reserve currency, RFID, Robert Bork, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, semantic web, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Slavoj Žižek, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, software studies, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spectrum auction, Startup school, statistical arbitrage, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, Superbowl ad, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, TaskRabbit, the built environment, The Chicago School, the scientific method, Torches of Freedom, transaction costs, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, undersea cable, universal basic income, urban planning, Vernor Vinge, Washington Consensus, web application, Westphalian system, WikiLeaks, working poor, Y Combinator

The human User-passenger, drifting through an architecture of displacement and suspended proprioception, is symbiotically reliant on the apparatus, itself a machinic User of the wider infrastructural systems around them to provide not just transportation but an artificial somatosensorium. This massive mutual prostheticization (a form of nested parasitism, even) takes time to arrive, and the mediatization of the automotive experience did not arrive recently. Many years ago, I jotted down these notes while stuck in a particularly slow traffic jam: Sitting in traffic on a Los Angeles freeway, I am reminded of Joan Didion's revelation that this trap is the most authentic Angeleno social experience. We are not going to any place, all lined up behind our windshields, we are all already there.49 Today, bumper to bumper, we are now all also talking to ourselves, taking meetings, texting, emailing, Googling, checking on this and that, editing essays on our phones. This is the home and office. We do not always need to arrive, because we are already there: if this was your home, you would live here by now. … The freeways as boulevards of “fast parking” are a grid that segments and enables an inertial sort of mobility.

The robot replaces the expensive worker, the inexpensive worker replaces the expensive robot, the even more inexpensive desktop fabrication network replaces the inexpensive worker, and so on. 48.  See Intuitive Surgical, “Da Vinci … Changing the Experience of Surgery,” Da Vinci Surgery, December 2013, http://www.davincisurgery.com/; K. Grant, “MDARS: Multiple Robot Host Architecture,” SPAWAR, July 10, 1995, http://users.isr.ist.utl.pt/~jseq/ResearchAtelier/misc/MDARS%20Multiple%20Robot%20Host%20Architecture.htm. 49.  Interview with Joan Didion in Shotgun Freeway: Drives through Lost L.A., directed by Morgan Neville and Harry Pallenberg (King Pictures, 1995). 50.  Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles, directed by Reyner Banham (1972). 51.  Benjamin H. Bratton, “iPhone City (v.2008),” in Digital Cities AD: Architectural Design 79, no. 4 (2009): 90–97. 52.  Elon Musk and SpaceX, “Hyperloop Alpha,” August 12, 2013, http://www.spacex.com/sites/spacex/files/hyperloop_alpha-20130812.pdf. 53. 

To speak of the Angeleno condition, its precipice, in the dystopian vernacular is not a critical stance; it is the party line (or more precisely, the oscillation between the utopian and the dystopian, back again, over again, in and out, one through the other, both occupying the same place and plot). The Tyrell Corporation and Rand Corporation, Reyner Banham and Darby Crash, Squeaky Fromme and Ryan Seacrest. Joan Didion's self-driving Google car and Gregory Ain's gated community project in Calabasas. Philip K. Dick's spec screenplay for the Farmville movie, and Rene Daalder and Rem Koolhaas's 1974 screenplay about computer-generated actors and digital films taking over Hollywood. Diller, Scofidio & Renfro's use of proprietary film script analysis and focus group testing algorithms ported into Grasshopper to simulate crowd flow at the Broad Museum, and blockchain–based digital object identifier infrastructure linking Disney's DRM copy protection to Prism.


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Another Great Day at Sea: Life Aboard the USS George H.W. Bush by Geoff Dyer

Burning Man, Joan Didion, Ronald Reagan

The gap between that and the singing, so heartfelt and full of the spirit, was huge even though the two shared a similar inspiration and belief. I caught the snapper’s eye. We snuck out. 10 I was always self-conscious on the boat, never felt like I was blending in. The crew members were too busy with their long shifts, their chow and everything else that occupied their crowded days to pay me any mind, but I felt as though I stuck out like a hitchhiker’s thumb. I kept circling back to Joan Didion’s sly declaration of her advantages as a reporter in Slouching Towards Bethlehem, one of which was that she was ‘so physically small’ that people forgot all about her. I, on the other hand, was probably the tallest, thinnest—and, to my chagrin, oldest—person on the boat. I was forever in the way, constantly saying ‘Sorry’ and ‘Excuse me’ and generally gangling around the place, never more conspicuous than when I was attempting to lurk unseen on the edges of the gym, like Peter Crouch looming into the penalty box.


pages: 184 words: 62,220

Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion

Charles Lindbergh, Donner party, East Village, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, Joan Didion, Khartoum Gordon, Mahatma Gandhi, Marshall McLuhan, Maui Hawaii, profit motive, sealed-bid auction

Joan Didion Slouching Towards Bethlehem 1968 For Quintana Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity. Surely some revelation is at hand; Surely the Second Coming is at hand. The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert A shape with lion body and the head of a man, A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.


pages: 446 words: 578

The end of history and the last man by Francis Fukuyama

affirmative action, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Bonfire of the Vanities, business cycle, centre right, cuban missile crisis, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, European colonialism, Exxon Valdez, F. W. de Klerk, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, Gini coefficient, Gunnar Myrdal, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, Isaac Newton, Joan Didion, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, kremlinology, land reform, liberal world order, liberation theology, life extension, linear programming, long peace, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, New Journalism, nuclear winter, old-boy network, open economy, post-industrial society, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Socratic dialogue, strikebreaker, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, zero-sum game

This rather humble form of thymos can be thought of as a feeling of self-respect, or, in currently fashionable language, “self-esteem.” It is possessed to a greater or lesser degree by virtually all human beings. Having a modest sense of self-respect seems to be important to everybody, important to their ability to function in the world and the satisfaction they feel with their lives. It is, according to Joan Didion, what enables us to say “no” to other people without self-reproach.2 The existence of a moral dimension in the human personality that constantly evaluates both the self and others does not, however, mean that there will be any agreement on the substantive content of morality. In a world of thymotic moral selves, they will be constantly disagreeing and arguing and growing angry with one another over a host of questions, large and small.

., but the substance of the debate concerns rights, not economics. 9 The Romanian case is a complicated one because there is evidence that the Timisoara demonstrations were not entirely spontaneous, and that the uprising had been planned in advance by the military. 10 See, for example, “East German VIPs Now under Attack for Living High Off Party Privileges,” Wall Street Journal (November 22, 1989), p. A6. Chapter 17. The Rise and Fall of Thymos 1 Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols and the Antichrist (London: Penguin Books, 1968a), p. 23. 2 See Joan Didion’s short but brilliant essay on this subject, “On Self-Respect,” in Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem (New York: Dell, 1968), pp. 142-148. 3 Aristotle discusses thymos under the rubric of “greatness of soul” (megalopsychia) or magnanimity, which for him is the central human virtue. The great souled man “claims much and deserves much” with respect to honor, the greatest of all external goods, and in doing so observes a mean between vanity on the one hand (claiming much and deserving little) and smallness of soul (claiming little and deserving much).


pages: 204 words: 67,922

Elsewhere, U.S.A: How We Got From the Company Man, Family Dinners, and the Affluent Society to the Home Office, BlackBerry Moms,and Economic Anxiety by Dalton Conley

assortative mating, call centre, clean water, commoditize, dematerialisation, demographic transition, Edward Glaeser, extreme commuting, feminist movement, financial independence, Firefox, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Home mortgage interest deduction, income inequality, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, Joan Didion, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, late capitalism, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, mass immigration, McMansion, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, off grid, oil shock, PageRank, Ponzi scheme, positional goods, post-industrial society, post-materialism, principal–agent problem, recommendation engine, Richard Florida, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, statistical model, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Great Moderation, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, women in the workforce, Yom Kippur War

It can encourage niche consumption (as Chris Anderson celebrates in The Long Tail). But as wonderful as it is to have a computer recommend a sleeper film that even the slacker clerks at my neighborhood video store wouldn’t be able to name, there is a subtle cost to this form of knowledge diffusion. If Amazon had told me that “other white men between ages 35 and 45” also bought Ian McEwan’s latest novel and Joan Didion’s memoir, I might find it offensive. As modernists, we don’t take well to the salience of ascriptive categories. They feel reductive and demeaning of our individuality. If Amazon instead said, “Professors and social scientists who enjoy travel and live in urbanized settings” also enjoyed The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs, then we might find it a little strange as well, even though it’s based on my achieved—or affiliational—characteristics.


pages: 218 words: 65,422

Better Living Through Criticism: How to Think About Art, Pleasure, Beauty, and Truth by A. O. Scott

barriers to entry, citizen journalism, conceptual framework, death of newspapers, hive mind, Joan Didion, Marshall McLuhan, Ralph Waldo Emerson, sexual politics, sharing economy, social web, the scientific method

All those seemed like perfectly plausible selves for me to explore. If not role models, then secret idols and alter egos. But why did I have to stay within that range? To stick with my own supposed kind? Q: Because it’s greedy otherwise, in the way that some of those guys were greedy. You couldn’t be content with wanting to be Jack Kerouac or Bob Dylan or Johnny Rotten or Spider-Man. You had to want to be Joan Didion and Patti Smith and Leadbelly. A: First of all, it was no small leap to imagine myself as Kerouac or Dylan. It’s not as if I really had anything in common with them, apart from some demographic traits shared by a few million others as well. Second of all, one of the ways Patti Smith got to be Patti Smith was by wanting to be Bob Dylan—and also Rimbaud and a lot of other guys. Who’s to say where the boundaries are?


pages: 196 words: 65,045

Art of Creative Nonfiction: Writing and Selling the Literature of Reality by Lee Gutkind, Purba

Columbine, Donald Trump, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, friendly fire, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, Joan Didion, Mason jar, New Journalism, Norman Mailer, Ronald Reagan

Box 81536 Pittsburgh, PA 15217 Page 157 Helpful Information Creative Nonfiction Reading List: A Random Recommended Selection of Books and Authors to Sample and Enjoy, from the Editors of the Journal Creative Nonfiction: Anthologies The Art of the Personal Essay, with an introduction by Philip Lopate Best American Essays, edited by Robert Atwan The Creative Nonfiction Reader, edited by Lee Gutkind The John McPhee Reader, with an introduction by William Haworth The Second John McPhee Reader, with an introduction by David Remnick Suggested Books and Authors Desert Solitaire, Edward Abbey Remembering Heaven's Face, John Balaban Loving Rachel, Jane Bernstein Bringing the Heat, Mark Bowden Friendly Fire, C. D. B. Bryan The Corpse Had a Familiar Face, Edna Buchanan In Cold Blood, Truman Capote The White Album, Joan Didion Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard This House of Sky, Ivan Doig The Broken Cord, Michael Dorris The Studio, John Gregory Dunne The Great Plains, Ian Frasier Page 158 Appendix 4 The Last Shot, Darcy Frey Colored People, Henry Louis Gates The Shadow Man, Mary Gordon Stuck in Time, Lee Gutkind Blue Highways, William Least Heat Moon Dispatches, Michael Herr All Creatures Great and Small, James Herriot Hiroshima, John Hersey Far-Flung Hubbell, Sue Hubbell Liar's Club, Mary Karr House, Tracy Kidder Not Necessarily a Benign Procedure, Perri Klass There Are No Children Here, Alex Kotlowitz Cowboy, Jane Kramer Invasive Procedures, Mark Kramer The Balloon Lady and Other People I Know, Jeanne Marie Laskas Hunting the Whole Way Home, Sidney Lea Arctic Dreams, Barry Lopez Common Ground, J.


pages: 214 words: 71,585

Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids by Meghan Daum

delayed gratification, demographic transition, Donald Trump, financial independence, happiness index / gross national happiness, index card, Joan Didion, Mason jar, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, risk tolerance, Skype, women in the workforce

But, in fairness, what did I know, at eighteen, about Margaret Sanger, or everything it took to pass the Nineteenth Amendment, or how many states failed to ratify the ERA? Not nearly as much as I should have. Not enough to understand the debt of gratitude I owed to the women who had come before me. But what is perhaps even more unsettling is my dawning understanding that because I came of age right on the heels of Roe v. Wade, of Gloria Steinem and Adrienne Rich, of Joan Didion and Alice Munro, it might have been more okay for me not to have children than it is for the women I met at Butler University. Maybe my generation had the distinct advantage of watching our own mothers see on the horizon the choices that would soon be available to women, only to realize how half buried they already were in the quicksand of overbearing husbands and carpool commitments and the Junior League.


Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned" by Lena Dunham

book scanning, Joan Didion, Mason jar, Saturday Night Live, sexual politics, zero-sum game

We do what we can. 19 I would argue this email is funny, just not in the manner it was intended. There is a common superstition that “self-respect” is a kind of charm against snakes, something that keeps those who have it locked in some unblighted Eden, out of strange beds, ambivalent conversations, and trouble in general. It does not at all. It has nothing to do with the face of things, but concerns instead a separate peace, a private reconciliation. —JOAN DIDION, “On Self-Respect”1 I always run into strong women who are looking for weak men to dominate them. —ANDY WARHOL I’VE ALWAYS BEEN ATTRACTED to jerks. They range from sassy weirdos who are ultimately pretty good guys to sociopathic sex addicts, but the common denominator is a bad attitude upon first meeting and a desire to teach me a lesson. Fellows: If you are rude to me in a health-food store?


pages: 219 words: 67,173

Grand Central: How a Train Station Transformed America by Sam Roberts

accounting loophole / creative accounting, City Beautiful movement, clean water, collective bargaining, Donald Trump, Jane Jacobs, Joan Didion, Marshall McLuhan, New Urbanism, the High Line, transcontinental railway, transit-oriented development, urban planning, urban renewal, Y2K

GRAND CENTRAL, its predecessors on 42nd Street and its famous trains, emerged early on as a cultural touchstone emblematic of New York’s magnetic glamour. One way a generation of Americans heard about it was through the popular radio soap opera on NBC Grand Central Station, which was broadcast nationally from 1937 to 1953. “To those of us who came from places where no one had heard of Lester Lanin and Grand Central Station was a Saturday radio program,” Joan Didion wrote, “where Wall Street and Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue were not places at all but abstractions (‘Money,’ and ‘High Fashion.’ And ‘The Hucksters’). New York was no mere city. It was instead an infinitely romantic notion, the mysterious nexus of all love and money and power, the shining and perishable dream itself.” Episodes in the dramatic radio anthology shared an exhilarating prologue: each began in Grand Central, with the announcer (George Baxter, Ken Roberts, or Tom Shirley) intoning, As a bullet seeks its target, shining rails in every part of our great country are aimed at Grand Central Station, heart of the nation’s greatest city.


pages: 236 words: 77,098

I Live in the Future & Here's How It Works: Why Your World, Work, and Brain Are Being Creatively Disrupted by Nick Bilton

3D printing, 4chan, Albert Einstein, augmented reality, barriers to entry, Cass Sunstein, death of newspapers, en.wikipedia.org, Internet of things, Joan Didion, John Gruber, John Markoff, Marshall McLuhan, Nicholas Carr, QR code, recommendation engine, RFID, Saturday Night Live, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand

In all the hand-wringing over the revolution roiling traditional media, this shift has largely been ignored. But it’s central to understanding what has changed and what the future might look like. In the aftermath of the gory and devastating World War I, the poet William Butler Yeats wrote, Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. A couple of generations later, the writer Joan Didion surveyed the social revolution of the 1960s and wrote, “The center was not holding.” In the middle of a painful technology and information revolution, the publishers, producers, and purveyors of traditional media may well feel the same way, that the center has dropped out altogether and a kind of digital anarchy reigns. It’s an understandable response. The digital anarchy we’re experiencing today has torn apart markets as they have been known for hundreds of years, replacing them with something still taking shape and yet to be determined.


pages: 281 words: 78,317

But What if We're Wrong? Thinking About the Present as if It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman

a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, British Empire, citizen journalism, cosmological constant, dark matter, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Gehry, George Santayana, Gerolamo Cardano, ghettoisation, Howard Zinn, Isaac Newton, Joan Didion, non-fiction novel, obamacare, pre–internet, Ralph Nader, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, the medium is the message, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, Y2K

There’s also the human compulsion to lie—and not just for bad reasons, but for good reasons, and sometimes for no reasons, beyond a desire to seem interesting. When D. T. Max published his posthumous biography of David Foster Wallace, it was depressing to discover that many of the most memorable, electrifying anecdotes from Wallace’s nonfiction were total fabrications. Of course, that accusation would be true for countless essays published before the fact-checking escalation of the Internet. The defining works of Joseph Mitchell, Joan Didion, and Hunter Thompson all contain moments of photographic detail that would never withstand the modern verification process51—we’ve just collectively decided to accept the so-called larger truth and ignore the parts that skew implausible. In other words, people who don’t know better are often wrong by accident, and people who do know better are sometimes wrong on purpose—and whenever a modern news story explodes, everyone recognizes that possibility.


pages: 260 words: 76,340

When You Find Out the World Is Against You: And Other Funny Memories About Awful Moments by Kelly Oxford

Donald Trump, Joan Didion, Saturday Night Live, Skype, Snapchat

This is easily done when you don’t have the same group logic as the peers. With Sal, lately, a lot of conversations involve a line of questioning, such as, “Who do you think is hotter? _____ or _____?” and then she texts her friends my answers. Her friends have dozens of snapchats of me saying, “I don’t think Harry Styles is hot, I’m not a pedophile.” Which is a lie, he’s hot. But isn’t it worse if I tell her that I think he’s hot? I’d rather talk to Sal about Joan Didion or how I think Monica Lewinsky got the rawest of deals. But I’ve tried those topics, and similar ones, and she doesn’t seem as interested in those as she is in my attraction to Harry Styles. Yeah, maybe I do have something to worry about. I’m an idiot. I turn left off Moorpark and into the flat, desperate parking lot in front of Pizza Guy and text Sal, “I’m here.” She responds, “We’re across the street.


California by Sara Benson

airport security, Albert Einstein, Apple II, Asilomar, back-to-the-land, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Berlin Wall, Burning Man, buy and hold, California gold rush, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, Columbine, dark matter, desegregation, Donald Trump, Donner party, East Village, El Camino Real, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Frank Gehry, global village, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, haute cuisine, Joan Didion, Khyber Pass, Loma Prieta earthquake, low cost airline, McMansion, means of production, Menlo Park, planetary scale, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, South of Market, San Francisco, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, the new new thing, trade route, transcontinental railway, Upton Sinclair, urban sprawl, Wall-E, white picket fence, Whole Earth Catalog, working poor, Works Progress Administration, young professional

Craigslist also has listings for vacation rentals and housing sublets, short-term jobs, community activities and fee-free classified ads for anything you might want to buy, sell or barter during your trip, whether that’s a surfboard, a pair of skis or a used car. For volunteering opportunities, Click here. Return to beginning of chapter TRAVEL LITERATURE The passionate writings of naturalist John Muir (1838–1914) provide reading material for half a lifetime. Dip into his canon with The Wild Muir: 22 of John Muir’s Greatest Adventures, compiled by Lee Stetson, with rustic woodcut illustrations by Fiona King. In Where I Was From, Joan Didion’s ruminations on California shatter palm-fringed fantasies as she skewers the rancidly rich, their violence and shallowness while describing her pioneering family’s history on this warped shore. Bill Barich’s Big Dreams: Into the Heart of California amusingly narrates an ultimately heartbreaking trip from the Oregon border down Mexico way, searching for the elusive American Dream that so many California immigrants fail to find.

San Francisco Bay Area On the Road (Jack Kerouac) The book Kerouac banged out on one long scroll of paper in a San Francisco attic over a couple sleepless months in 1951 woke up America. Tales of the City (Armistead Maupin) This 1976 romp follows San Francisco characters: pot-growing landladies, ever-hopeful Castro club-goers, and titillated Midwestern arrivals. Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts (Maxine Hong Kingston) A memoir of growing up Chinese American in Stockton, reflecting the shattered mirror of Californian identity. Slouching Towards Bethlehem (Joan Didion) These 1968 essays burn through the hippie haze to reveal glassy-eyed teenage revolutionaries adrift in the summer of love. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (Tom Wolfe) Follow Ken Kesey, the Merry Pranksters, the Grateful Dead and Hell’s Angels as they tune in, turn on and drop out. The Man in the High Castle (Philip K Dick) The bestselling Berkeley sci-fi writer presents the ultimate what-if scenario: imagine San Francisco circa 1962 if Japan and Nazi Germany had won WWII.

Photography buffs plan California vacations around two of the world’s finest photography collections: the SFMOMA Click here, whose superb collection runs from early Western daguerreotypes to experimental postwar Japanese photography, and the Getty Center, which has become the Louvre of photography with over 31,000 photographs in a newly expanded wing. * * * Timeless, rare Ansel Adams photographs are paired with excerpts from canonical Californian writers such as Jack Kerouac and Joan Didion in California: With Classic California Writings, edited by Andrea G Stillman. * * * As the postwar golden west became crisscrossed with freeways and divided into planned communities, Californian painters captured the abstract forms of manufactured landscapes on canvas. In San Francisco Richard Diebenkorn, Clyfford Still and David Park became leading proponents of Bay Area Figurative Art, while San Francisco sculptor Richard Serra captured port-town aesthetics in massive, rusting monoliths resembling ship prows and industrial Stonehenges.


pages: 613 words: 200,826

Unreal Estate: Money, Ambition, and the Lust for Land in Los Angeles by Michael Gross

Albert Einstein, Ayatollah Khomeini, bank run, Bernie Madoff, California gold rush, clean water, corporate raider, Donald Trump, estate planning, family office, financial independence, Irwin Jacobs, Joan Didion, Maui Hawaii, McMansion, mortgage debt, Norman Mailer, offshore financial centre, oil rush, passive investing, pension reform, Ponzi scheme, Right to Buy, Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, The Predators' Ball, transcontinental railway, yellow journalism

The wildly successful television producer Aaron Spelling and his wife Candy bought the property in the early eighties for a reported $10.25 million, along with an adjacent lot, at the suggestion of Marvin and Barbara Davis (both couples were eyeing The Knoll at the time). Its demolition, called a tear-down in Los Angeles, and replacement by a $55 million W-shaped, 56,500-square-foot behemoth that the Spellings called The Manor, complete with bowling alley and beauty salon, was memorialized in The New Yorker by Joan Didion, the most edgy and erudite observer of life in the Southland. She wrote that The Manor became “not just a form of popular entertainment but, among inhabitants of a city without much common experience, a unifying, even a political, idea.” While “people who make movies still have most of the status, and believe themselves keepers of the community’s unspoken code—of the rules, say, about what constitutes excess on the housing front,” Didion continued, things had, in fact, changed, a change she compared to “an anomaly in the wheeling of the planets.”

Their cast of regulars features Huffington, Hollywood types like David Geffen, Mike Medavoy, Lawrence Bender, Norman Lear, Albert Brooks, Rob Reiner, Michael York, Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, Aaron Sorkin, Yvette Mimieux, Bill Maher, and Larry David and his activist ex-wife Laurie, as well as the writer Gore Vidal and the former financier Michael Milken. “It’s a fuller life when you know, in the same life, Martha Stewart and Jared Diamond, Edgar Doctorow and Joan Didion and Sylvester Stallone,” Lynda said when she was profiled in The New Yorker. Yes, The New Yorker. What attracts them all? “To have dinner at the long table under the huge chandelier in the dining room,” observed the author Amy Wilentz, “is to feel as if one were a part of some kind of modern aristocracy, of an entitled few. It’s like dining at the table of the Sun King. But it becomes clear as you look around that nobody here is really a part of all this.… The money is the most important guest.”


pages: 237 words: 82,266

You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up by Annabelle Gurwitch

Atul Gawande, Bernie Madoff, big-box store, Donald Trump, Donner party, Exxon Valdez, Joan Didion, Mahatma Gandhi, Ronald Reagan, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Yogi Berra

* I just thought of this excuse, and I’ve kinda convinced myself of its logic. * Oddly enough, living with in-laws seems to have no negative health benefits for men. Go figure. † Jeff just thinks that Robert DeNiro and Diane Keaton were unavailable. 11 • • • • I’m OK, You’re the Problem “In the early years, you fight because you don’t understand each other. In the later years, you fight because you do.” —JOAN DIDION Socrates is quoted as saying, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Records of that time suggest he also fought with his wife on a regular basis. Big surprise. She Says Every few months for the first maybe nine years of our marriage, I’d get fed up with how much we argue and try to persuade Jeff to attend couples therapy sessions with me by citing the role of a referee in sports. “Players need someone from the outside to judge,” I’ve offered.


pages: 270 words: 79,180

The Middleman Economy: How Brokers, Agents, Dealers, and Everyday Matchmakers Create Value and Profit by Marina Krakovsky

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, Al Roth, Ben Horowitz, Black Swan, buy low sell high, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Credit Default Swap, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, diversified portfolio, experimental economics, George Akerlof, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, income inequality, index fund, information asymmetry, Jean Tirole, Joan Didion, Kenneth Arrow, Lean Startup, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market microstructure, Martin Wolf, McMansion, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, moral hazard, multi-sided market, Network effects, patent troll, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, pez dispenser, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Metcalfe, Sand Hill Road, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, social graph, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, The Market for Lemons, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, two-sided market, Uber for X, uber lyft, ultimatum game, Y Combinator

Superagents like Rosenhaus are almost as well-known as the star athletes they represent, and sports fans commonly condemn them as money-grubbing sharks or forces of destruction,16 but the agents let the vitriol roll off their backs—or, in the case of Rosenhaus, embrace the shark label. These agents pull in the kind of clients who want an agent who’s not only unafraid of public scorn but who’s well-known to team owners and managers for being that way, too. My favorite example of the badass-agent effect comes from the experience of literary agent Lynn Nesbit, whose clients include Jimmy Carter, Michael Crichton, Joan Didion, and Anne Rice. In an interview looking back on her stellar career, Nesbit once said that when she took Tom Wolfe’s first book to auction (rather than letting Wolfe’s editor at New York magazine offer it exclusively to a favored book editor), she incurred the hatred of this influential magazine editor. But that hatred brought her lots of good clients: other writers at New York magazine who, she says, heard the infuriated editor “scream that I was the toughest, bitchiest agent in town.”17 For an Insulator, being bad-mouthed by the right people can pay off.


pages: 1,294 words: 210,361

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Barry Marshall: ulcers, conceptual framework, discovery of penicillin, experimental subject, iterative process, Joan Didion, life extension, longitudinal study, Louis Pasteur, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mouse model, New Journalism, phenotype, randomized controlled trial, Robert Mercer, scientific mainstream, Silicon Valley, social web, statistical model, stem cell, women in the workforce, Year of Magical Thinking, éminence grise

Early the next morning, though, Slamon was back on the telephone. He apologized for the intrusion, but her decision had troubled him all night. Of all the variants of Her-2 amplification that he had encountered, hers had been truly extraordinary; Bradfield’s tumor was chock-full of Her-2, almost hypnotically drunk on the oncogene. He begged her once again to join his trial. “Survivors look back and see omens, messages they missed,” Joan Didion wrote. For Bradfield, Slamon’s second phone call was an omen that was not missed; something in that conversation pierced through a shield that she had drawn around herself. On a warm August morning in 1992, Bradfield visited Slamon in his clinic at UCLA. He met her in the hallway and led her to a room in the back. Under the microscope, he showed her the breast cancer that had been excised from her body, with its dark ringlets of Her-2 labeled cells.

Jan Lindsten (Singapore: World Scientific Publishing, 1993). 418 “allergic to cancer”: Merrill Goozner, The $800 Million Pill: The Truth Behind the Cost of New Drugs (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004), 195. 418 Drained and dejected: Ibid. 418 “Nobody gave a shit”: Bazell, Her-2, 49. 419 “When I was finished with all that”: Ibid. Also Barbara Bradfield, interview with author, July 2008. 419 But there was more river to ford: Ibid. 420 “His tone changed,” she recalled: Ibid. 420 “I was at the end of my road”: Ibid 420 “Survivors look back and see omens”: Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking (New York: Vintage, 2006), 152. 420 On a warm August morning in 1992: Bradfield, interview with author. Details of the trial and the treatment are from Bradfield’s interview, from Bazell’s Her-2, and from Slamon, interview with author, April 2010. Drugs, Bodies, and Proof 423 Dying people don’t have time or energy: “Dying for Compassion,” Breast Cancer Action Newsletter 31 (August 1995). 423 It seemed as if we had: Musa Mayer, Breast Cancer Action Newsletter 80 (February/March 2004). 423 “True success happens”: Breast Cancer Action Newsletter 32 (October 1995). 424 The number of women enrolled in these trials: Robert Bazell, Her-2: The Making of Herceptin, a Revolutionary Treatment for Breast Cancer (New York: Random House, 1998), 160–80. 424 “We do not provide . . . compassionate use”: Ibid., 117. 424 “If you start making exceptions”: Ibid., 127. 424 “Why do women dying of breast cancer”: “Dying for Compassion,” Breast Cancer Action Newsletter. 424 “Scientific uncertainty is no excuse”: Charlotte Brody et al., “Rachel’s Daughters, Searching for the Causes of Breast Cancer: A Light-Saraf-Evans Production Community Action & Resource Guide,” http://www.wmm.com/filmCatalog/study/rachelsdaughters.pdf (accessed January 31, 2010). 424 Marti Nelson, for one, certainly could not: Marti Nelson’s case and its aftermath are described in Bazell, Her-2. 427 On Sunday, May 17: Bruce A.


pages: 343 words: 94,215

The Amateurs: A Novel by John Niven

Joan Didion, Steve Jobs, Year of Magical Thinking

PART TWO The brain is the ultimate organ of adaptation. It takes in information and orchestrates complex behavioural repertoires that allow human beings to act in sometimes marvelous, sometimes terrible ways. From Neurons to Neighborhoods, Jack P. Shonkoff and Deborah A. Phillips (eds) I know why we try to keep the dead alive: we try to keep them alive in order to keep them with us. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion 14 NORTH AYRSHIRE GENERAL HOSPITAL, BUILT IN THE early 1980s, is a sprawling structure of white and chocolate that sits less than ten miles to the east of Ardgirvan, just on the outskirts of the larger town of Kilmarnock. NADGE, as the locals call it, was not a place of fond memories for Cathy Irvine. Here, in the gift shop, when the hospital was sparkling and new, she had bought sweets and bright plastic toys to entertain her young boys while her father died upstairs.


pages: 283 words: 98,673

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakauer

Joan Didion, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela

NINE CAMP TWO APRIL 28, 1996 • 21,300 FEET We tell ourselves stories in order to live.… We look for the sermon in the suicide, for the social or moral lesson in the murder of five. We interpret what we see, select the most workable of the multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the “ideas” with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience. Joan Didion The White Album I was already awake at 4:00 A.M. when the alarm on my wrist watch began to beep; I’d been awake most of the night, struggling for breath in the meager air. And now it was time to commence the dreaded ritual of emerging from the warmth of my goose-down cocoon into the withering cold of 21,300 feet. Two days earlier—on Friday, April 26—we’d humped all the way from Base Camp to Camp Two in one long day to begin our third and final acclimatization sortie in preparation for the summit push.


pages: 340 words: 97,723

The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity by Amy Webb

Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, airport security, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, autonomous vehicles, Bayesian statistics, Bernie Sanders, bioinformatics, blockchain, Bretton Woods, business intelligence, Cass Sunstein, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, cognitive bias, complexity theory, computer vision, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Deng Xiaoping, distributed ledger, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Filter Bubble, Flynn Effect, gig economy, Google Glasses, Grace Hopper, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Inbox Zero, Internet of things, Jacques de Vaucanson, Jeff Bezos, Joan Didion, job automation, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, natural language processing, New Urbanism, one-China policy, optical character recognition, packet switching, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rodney Brooks, Rubik’s Cube, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, SETI@home, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, smart cities, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, theory of mind, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, Turing machine, Turing test, uber lyft, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, zero day

This isn’t a complaint; it’s a fact of modern life. As AI advances, a more robust personal data record will afford greater efficiencies to the Big Nine, and so they will nudge us to accept and adopt PDRs, even if we don’t entirely understand the implications of using them. Of course, in China, PDRs are already being piloted under the auspices of its social credit score. “We tell ourselves stories in order to live,” Joan Didion wrote in The White Album. “We interpret what we see, select the most workable of the multiple choices.” We all have choices to make about AI. It’s time we use the information we have available to tell ourselves stories—scenarios that describe how we might all live alongside our thinking machines. CHAPTER FIVE THRIVING IN THE THIRD AGE OF COMPUTING: THE OPTIMISTIC SCENARIO It is the year 2023, and we’ve made the best possible decisions about AI—we’ve shifted AI’s developmental track, we are collaborating on the future, and we’re already seeing positive, durable change.


pages: 307 words: 102,734

The Black Nile: One Man's Amazing Journey Through Peace and War on the World's Longest River by Dan Morrison

airport security, colonial rule, indoor plumbing, Joan Didion, Khartoum Gordon, land reform, Mahatma Gandhi, Potemkin village, Rubik’s Cube, Silicon Valley

A mile into this triumphant march I had sweated dark bands through my tan travel shirt and green construction pants and was lurching with every step under two packs. Cutting three bags down to two was an achievement if you were flying coach to Phoenix, but it didn’t mean dick while trekking in the Sudan. Despite all the lessons of my first three months on the Nile, I was still overweight and understrong. Were all those bungee cords necessary? Was Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem really crying out to come along? Four flip-flopped boys in rough sweatshirts and wide, frayed dungarees shouted from the road as they bobbed past on a wooden flatbed cart. I took two heavy bounds and jumped on, landing almost neatly on my hip. The gray-patched donkey slowed for a couple paces and then adjusted without protest to its new cargo, yanking us along the slippery road and into Malakal’s late-morning scrum of minibuses, camels, motorcycles, asses and Land Cruisers.


The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession by Susan Orlean

Donald Trump, financial independence, index card, Joan Didion, new economy, offshore financial centre, Richard Bolles, traveling salesman, tulip mania

Chadwick & Son, a Virginia nursery, recently registered a hybrid named Hillary Rodham Clinton ‘First Lady.’ In honor of Elizabeth Taylor, the chairwoman of the American Orchid Society’s seventy-fifth anniversary gala, there is a Laelia anceps cultivar named ‘Elizabeth’s Eyes.’ The ‘Jackie Kennedy’ orchid is snow-white with purple trim; the ‘Richard Nixon’ is the color of putty with brown speckles. There is a ‘Nancy Reagan’ orchid and an orchid hybrid named for the daughter of writer Joan Didion and an orchid hybrid named Rajah’s Ruby ‘Babe’s Baby,’ named by Brooklyn Dodger Babe Herman, who bred it. An Illinois orchid breeder named a new Phalaenopsis hybrid after Shinichi Suzuki, the Japanese violinist who developed a method for teaching music to tiny children. I met many people in Florida who had orchids named for them by Florida nurserymen Bob Fuchs and Martin Motes. Once, I was at a show with an orchid judge named Howard Bronstein, who pointed at one of the plants and exclaimed, “My God, what a terrific ‘Howard Bronstein’!”


pages: 319 words: 103,707

Against Everything: Essays by Mark Greif

1960s counterculture, back-to-the-land, Bernie Madoff, citizen journalism, collateralized debt obligation, crack epidemic, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, deindustrialization, Desert Island Discs, Donald Trump, income inequality, informal economy, Joan Didion, Norman Mailer, Ponzi scheme, postindustrial economy, Ronald Reagan, technoutopianism, telemarketer, trickle-down economics, upwardly mobile, white flight

The downturn led to Madoff’s exposure as a curious side effect; as the real loss of value for investors elsewhere led them to try to withdraw cash from the fake fund, they found out their money wasn’t there anymore. Yet Madoff was on my front page every day and my news broadcast at night. Then, following Madoff, we had Octomom. — I don’t mean to suggest that Nadya Suleman isn’t a loon, or a wrongdoer. She clearly belongs to the tradition of the great American wrecks. Sweet, self-serving, at once devious and oblivious, she seems an inheritor of Joan Didion’s California “dreamers of the golden dream,” who can remake reality by sheer force of their denial of contradictions, practicalities, and other people’s eventual suffering. But the press followed sun-kissed Nadya into its own inner California—a land of editorials that write themselves and immoral behavior everyone can hate—without squinting to see what lay beyond. Pornographers were nimbler. Vivid Entertainment, known for its swift-footedness in releasing celebrity sex tapes (Kim Kardashian, Pamela Anderson), offered $1 million to Octomom to star in a new production.


pages: 898 words: 253,177

Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner

affirmative action, Albert Einstein, California gold rush, clean water, Golden Gate Park, hacker house, jitney, Joan Didion, Maui Hawaii, oil shale / tar sands, old-boy network, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Silicon Valley, trade route, transcontinental railway, uranium enrichment, Works Progress Administration, yellow journalism

Only a few weeks afterward, on Interstate 5, the worst mass highway collision in U.S. history occurred, involving 151 cars. About a year later, a pair of walloping earthquakes jolted the Mojave Desert, which has become suburban Los Angeles. In the midst of this litany was a hard winter freeze that wiped out a $1.5 billion citrus crop and yet another earthquake, which reduced much of the lovely town of Ferndale, far up on the north coast, to rubble. Joan Didion once described the state as an “amphitheater of natural disaster,” and all these events bore her out—life in California was imitating a heavy metal cartoon. Only none of these was a natural disaster in any true sense. Earthquakes are quite harmless until you decide to put millions of people and two trillion dollars in real estate atop scissile fault zones. California is not Brazil, and it is far north of Florida—orchard growers are always gambling with frost.

Carey McWilliams’s California: The Great Exception is highly recommended for its portrayal of how agribusiness, banking, food processing, the university extension system, cheap imported labor, and publicly subsidized water have created a huge economic juggernaut in the state. It may be the best general book written about California. The best essayist rooting around where California culture and politics meet, in my opinion, is not Joan Didion, but her husband, John Gregory Dunne. His “Eureka! A Celebration of California” is especially fine, though Didion’s more famous essay, “Holy Water,” is not to be missed. A sense of the concentration of agricultural wealth in California can be gained from “Getting Bigger,” by the California Institute for Rural Studies, which profiles the 211 largest farming companies in the state (the smallest of the 211 is a 5,000—acre operation).


pages: 1,351 words: 404,177

Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America by Rick Perlstein

affirmative action, Alistair Cooke, American ideology, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, cognitive dissonance, cuban missile crisis, delayed gratification, desegregation, East Village, European colonialism, full employment, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, immigration reform, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, index card, indoor plumbing, Joan Didion, Kitchen Debate, liberal capitalism, Mahatma Gandhi, Marshall McLuhan, Monroe Doctrine, moral panic, New Urbanism, Norman Mailer, Own Your Own Home, Paul Samuelson, plutocrats, Plutocrats, price mechanism, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, sexual politics, the medium is the message, traveling salesman, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, walking around money, War on Poverty, white picket fence, Whole Earth Catalog

George Meany on “silent majority”: Jeremy Varon, Bringing the War Home: The Weather Underground, the Red Army Faction, and Revolutionary Violence in the Sixties and Seventies (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004), 147. Al Capp on “Joanie Phoanie”: “Which One Is the Phoanie?” Time, January 20, 1967. “On January 5, 1967, Vietcong terrorists”: “Who Speaks for the Civilian Dead in South Vietnam?” USNWR, January 16, 1967. Mission: Impossible: TV listings, Time, March 4, 1967. Joan Didion published an essay: Joan Didion, Slouching Toward Bethlehem (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1968). The NYPD maintained a twenty-man: William McGowan, “Dan Ran the Hippie Squad,” WSJ, June 17, 2005. The New York Times’s J. Anthony Lukas: “The Two Worlds of Linda Fitzpatrick,” NYT, October 16, 1967; J. Anthony Lukas, Don’t Shoot, We Are Your Children (New York: Random House, 1971), 158–89. “Don’t vote. Don’t politic”: Braunstein and Doyle, eds., Imagine Nation, 50.

Related the TV listings: “When a Communist film producer [J. D. Cannon] alters news films in order to depict U.S. soldiers in Viet Nam as murderers, the I.M. Force is sent on a search and destroy mission.”) The notion of the “Summer of Love” as some kind of untroubled idyll became impossible for the media to sustain: too many desperate flower children were addicted to hard drugs, turning tricks to survive. Joan Didion published an essay in the Saturday Evening Post about what she saw when she looked in on Time magazine’s Man of the Year in Haight-Ashbury: catatonics who left toddler children alone to start electrical fires and scolded them only for ruining the hashish. She called her piece “Slouching toward Bethlehem,” after a poem by Yeats: “The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere / The ceremony of innocence is drowned.”


pages: 377 words: 110,427

The Boy Who Could Change the World: The Writings of Aaron Swartz by Aaron Swartz, Lawrence Lessig

affirmative action, Alfred Russel Wallace, American Legislative Exchange Council, Benjamin Mako Hill, bitcoin, Bonfire of the Vanities, Brewster Kahle, Cass Sunstein, deliberate practice, Donald Knuth, Donald Trump, failed state, fear of failure, Firefox, full employment, Howard Zinn, index card, invisible hand, Joan Didion, John Gruber, Lean Startup, More Guns, Less Crime, peer-to-peer, post scarcity, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, semantic web, single-payer health, SpamAssassin, SPARQL, telemarketer, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the scientific method, Toyota Production System, unbiased observer, wage slave, Washington Consensus, web application, WikiLeaks, working poor, zero-sum game

This book tells the story of how, after playing professional basketball in Inner Mongolia, he met up with co-founder Mark Ames and started an independent newspaper that danced in the flames of Russia’s dying society. The result is a strange and incredible book: stories of seedy dive bars full of drugged-up loose women, intermixed with incredible feats of investigative journalism into the oligarchs dragging Russia down—without any change in tone. It’s wonderful. Joan Didion, Political Fictions Damn, this book is good. Nobody knows how to take a book and skewer it like Didion. The New York Review of Books pieces reprinted in here are simply some of the best eviscerations of any genre. It’s hard to imagine how people can walk after a review like that. Rick Perlstein, Nixonland Perlstein’s last book, Before the Storm, managed to turn the story of a largely dismissed political figure, Barry Goldwater, into a lesson on how the left can take over the country.


pages: 391 words: 105,382

Utopia Is Creepy: And Other Provocations by Nicholas Carr

Air France Flight 447, Airbnb, Airbus A320, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Bernie Sanders, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, centralized clearinghouse, Charles Lindbergh, cloud computing, cognitive bias, collaborative consumption, computer age, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, deskilling, digital map, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Elon Musk, factory automation, failed state, feminist movement, Frederick Winslow Taylor, friendly fire, game design, global village, Google bus, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Googley, hive mind, impulse control, indoor plumbing, interchangeable parts, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Joan Didion, job automation, Kevin Kelly, lifelogging, low skilled workers, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, mental accounting, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Norman Mailer, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, Peter Thiel, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Republic of Letters, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, SETI@home, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Singularitarianism, Snapchat, social graph, social web, speech recognition, Startup school, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, technoutopianism, the medium is the message, theory of mind, Turing test, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator

The tumult of my teenage years was fueled by rock records, but it was put into perspective by books as various as Kerouac’s On the Road and Hemingway’s In Our Time, Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint and Joseph Heller’s Something Happened. During my twenties, a succession of thin volumes of verse—Ted Hughes’s Lupercal, Philip Larkin’s The Whitsun Weddings, Seamus Heaney’s North—were the wedges I used to pry open new ways of seeing and feeling. The list goes on: Hardy’s The Return of the Native, Joyce’s Ulysses, Elizabeth Bishop’s Poems, Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, Joan Didion’s The White Album, Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son. Who would I be without those books? Someone else. PSYCHOLOGISTS AND neurobiologists have begun studying what goes on in our minds as we read literature, and what they’re discovering lends scientific weight to Emerson’s observation. One of the trailblazers in this field is Keith Oatley, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Toronto and the author of several novels, including the acclaimed The Case of Emily V.


pages: 363 words: 109,417

Big Dead Place: Inside the Strange and Menacing World of Antarctica by Nicholas Johnson

Joan Didion, job satisfaction, Milgram experiment, post-work, Ronald Reagan, telerobotics, trade route, young professional

If such professionalism is maintained, the journalist may be invited back, or even hired to help with NSF Public Relations. It is more professional for a journalist writing a story about the polyethylene weather balloons going up not to ask where they come down.10 And as an adventurer, the journalist’s Antarctica card is bolder, brighter, and more dazzling if his eyes scurry away from the old leaking machines and big screen TVs. Describing American journalists who cover presidential campaigns, Joan Didion wrote: “They are willing, in exchange for ‘access,’ to transmit the images their sources wish transmitted.” Similarly, we read in the paper that science in Antarctica is the end rather than the means, and because of this generous pursuit, everything, very soon, is going to be even better than it is now.11 When the NSF-sponsored journalists step from the plane, Antarctica’s beauty speaks for itself, and the psychedelic vastness hobbles the critical faculties.


Coastal California Travel Guide by Lonely Planet

1960s counterculture, Airbnb, airport security, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Apple II, Asilomar, back-to-the-land, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Burning Man, buy and hold, California gold rush, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, Donner party, East Village, El Camino Real, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, flex fuel, Frank Gehry, glass ceiling, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, haute couture, haute cuisine, income inequality, intermodal, Joan Didion, Kickstarter, Loma Prieta earthquake, low cost airline, Lyft, Mason jar, New Journalism, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South of Market, San Francisco, starchitect, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, trade route, transcontinental railway, uber lyft, Upton Sinclair, upwardly mobile, urban sprawl, Wall-E, white picket fence, Whole Earth Catalog, women in the workforce, working poor, Works Progress Administration, young professional, Zipcar

Meanwhile, the state’s iconic images of tanned surfers and sunny sands endure, never mind thornier real-life questions about how to manage a burgeoning human population and its accompanying challenges of never-ending traffic gridlock, housing shortages and a sky-high cost of living. Best in Print The Tortilla Curtain (TC Boyle; 1995) Mexican-American culture clash and chasing the Californian dream. My California: Journeys by Great Writers (Angel City Press; 2004) Insightful stories by talented chroniclers. Where I Was From (Joan Didion; 2003) California-born essayist shatters palm-fringed fantasies. The Joy Luck Club (Amy Tan; 1989) Tales of Chinese immigrants and their daughters in San Francisco. Hollywood Babylon (Kenneth Anger; 1959) Filmmaker’s not always truthful ‘tell-all’ book about the scandals of Hollywood’s early stars. Cannery Row (John Steinbeck; 1945) The colorful and cruel lives of Monterey's beaten-down waterfront workers.

San Francisco Beat scene luminaries included Jack Kerouac (On the Road), Allen Ginsberg (Howl) and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the Beats’ patron publisher who co-founded City Lights Bookstore. Censors called Howl obscene, and Ferlinghetti was arrested for publishing it – but he won his trial in a landmark decision for free speech. Beat poets broke style rules and crossed genres, including poet–painter–playwright Kenneth Rexroth and Buddhist philosopher–poet Gary Snyder. But no author has captured California culture with such unflinching clarity as Joan Didion, whose prose burns through the page like sun on a misty California morning. Her collection of literary nonfiction essays Slouching Towards Bethlehem captures 1960s flower power at the exact moment it blooms and wilts. Didion pioneered immersive first-person New Journalism with fellow ’60s California chroniclers Hunter S Thompson (Hells Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga) and Tom Wolfe (The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test).


Ma’am Darling by Craig Brown

British Empire, Desert Island Discs, Etonian, Joan Didion, Norman Mailer, North Sea oil, sensible shoes

The evening came close to going pear-shaped. In an effort to cut down on costs, the cash-strapped Tynans had decided on soul food served by a hip, cut-price caterer. When it looked as if the caterer was not going to materialise, Tynan vowed to go to the bathroom and kill himself. Fortunately the caterer arrived in the nick of time, and Tynan was soon back on form greeting his guests, who included Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, Joan Didion and her husband John Gregory Dunne, Gene Kelly, Sidney Poitier, Ryan and Tatum O’Neal, David Hockney and Neil Simon. The Princess proved even more of a catch in America than in Great Britain. ‘It was quite a sight to see Hollywood royalty scrambling over each other’s backs to get to real royalty,’ noted Tynan’s daughter Tracy. ‘People were shoving each other aside to get the princess’s attention.’


pages: 416 words: 121,024

How to Murder Your Life: A Memoir by Cat Marnell

Berlin Wall, carbon footprint, East Village, Frank Gehry, impulse control, Joan Didion, Norman Mailer, period drama, pez dispenser, Rosa Parks, urban decay, walkable city, Wall-E, Zipcar

• Combine any two lipstick shades and you will get a flattering lipstick shade (FACT: JGJ did not herself wear lipstick). • When writing, never refer to your own body parts—toes, stomach, bikini area—or prisoners will use the imagery you’ve created for their masturbatory fantasies, and you will get letters from them. JGJ lived in a Stanford White house with an honest-to-God monkey pen out back. She liked Joan Didion and World of Interiors and Liberty prints and Rice Krispies Treats and the Mohonk Mountain House and Weleda Skin Food moisturizer; she took classes alongside celebrities like Russell Simmons—she loved Russell Simmons—at Jivamukti Yoga in Union Square twice a week; she hoarded tissue paper and ribbons; Jean was constantly being flown first class to Europe by beauty companies; when in Paris as a guest of Chanel beauté, Sofia Coppola’s nanny Lala cared for JGJ’s kids while she toured Coco’s apartment at 31 rue Cambon (Jean had once deboned a chicken with Sofia Coppola, incidentally).


Northern California Travel Guide by Lonely Planet

Airbnb, Apple II, Asilomar, back-to-the-land, Bay Area Rapid Transit, big-box store, Burning Man, buy and hold, California gold rush, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, dark matter, Donald Trump, Donner party, East Village, El Camino Real, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Frank Gehry, friendly fire, glass ceiling, Golden Gate Park, Google bus, Haight Ashbury, haute couture, haute cuisine, housing crisis, Joan Didion, Kickstarter, Loma Prieta earthquake, Lyft, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, Mason jar, McMansion, means of production, Port of Oakland, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South of Market, San Francisco, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, the built environment, trade route, transcontinental railway, uber lyft, Upton Sinclair, urban sprawl, white picket fence, Whole Earth Catalog, women in the workforce, working poor, Works Progress Administration, young professional

The cast of characters who drifted in and out of the scene are household names in American literature: Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Ferlinghetti’s City Lights bookstore published many of the generation’s most definitive titles, including Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems, which won a landmark 1957 obscenity case during the oppressive era of McCarthyism. Timeless, rare Ansel Adams photographs are paired with excerpts from canonical Californian writers, such as Jack Kerouac and Joan Didion, in California: With Classic California Writings, edited by Andrea Gray Stillman. Modern Mythmakers More recently, a number of Northern California authors have enjoyed attention on the international stage. Chinese American novelist Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club was a celebrated work about the dynamics of families in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Writer, editor and publisher Dave Eggers was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his 2000 memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, and two literary ventures have earned national attention: a literary magazine The Believer and a nonprofit literary advocacy program, 826 Valencia, which is named for its Mission District address.

Writer, editor and publisher Dave Eggers was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his 2000 memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, and two literary ventures have earned national attention: a literary magazine The Believer and a nonprofit literary advocacy program, 826 Valencia, which is named for its Mission District address. Some of the most eloquent modern writing on Northern California, the Summer of Love, the Central Valley and the California political circus is by the hand of Sacramento native essayist Joan Didion. Didion’s White Album is a collection of essays that goes deep into the psyche of California in the late '60s, and discussion of the Central Valley in Where I Was From takes a thoughtful look at Ronald Reagan’s governor mansion, water wars and the odysseys of California’s mythmakers. The Land & Wildlife Northern California has stunning landscapes. Its Mediterranean climate – characterized by dry summers and mild, wet winters with snow only at high elevations – makes it an easy year-round destination.


pages: 428 words: 136,945

The Happiness Effect: How Social Media Is Driving a Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost by Donna Freitas

4chan, fear of failure, Joan Didion, lifelogging, longitudinal study, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral panic, mutually assured destruction, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Skype, Snapchat, Year of Magical Thinking

Make themselves look better. Jason, junior, public university TRYING SO HARD TO FORGET OURSELVES In a seminar on memoir that I taught at Hofstra University’s Honors College, my five intellectually gifted and academically driven students contemplated falling madly in love while reading Patti Smith’s Just Kids, what it’s like to be young and Muslim via Eboo Patel’s Acts of Faith, and the trials of grief in Joan Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking. But there was something about memoir itself, about sitting down to contemplate life’s meaning and purpose, that caused my students to question absolutely everything: their majors, their career paths, their backgrounds, the pursuit of true love. It pulled them up and out of their comfort zones and had them pouring out their deepest feelings. They talked endlessly of the overwhelming number of time-consuming commitments that ruled their days and nights and about how, when they stopped and took time to ask themselves why they were doing what they were doing, they weren’t sure how to answer that question.


pages: 496 words: 137,645

Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002) by David Sedaris

clean water, East Village, index card, Joan Didion, place-making, Ronald Reagan

Were he in my class, he could easily point out my inadequacies. I can point them out too, of course, but I’m not the student, and I worry that in defending myself I’ll sound too desperate. September 6, 1988 Chicago Tomorrow is the cocktail party for faculty, and today I found a $5 bill on the street. I’m thinking I’ll spend it on magazines. One thing I’ll buy is this week’s New Yorker, which has a Joan Didion “Letter from Los Angeles” in it. September 8, 1988 Chicago Last month, Evelyne’s electric bill was $345. Kim’s was $109. Shirley’s was $280. Mine was $35. September 9, 1988 Chicago I came upon two evangelists on State Street this morning, both conservatively dressed white women in their late thirties. One handed out pamphlets while the other preached. “Oh, just look at that,” she said into her microphone as a young woman walked by.


pages: 428 words: 134,832

Straphanger by Taras Grescoe

active transport: walking or cycling, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airport security, Albert Einstein, big-box store, bike sharing scheme, Boris Johnson, British Empire, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, City Beautiful movement, congestion charging, correlation does not imply causation, David Brooks, deindustrialization, East Village, edge city, Enrique Peñalosa, extreme commuting, financial deregulation, Frank Gehry, glass ceiling, Golden Gate Park, housing crisis, hydraulic fracturing, indoor plumbing, intermodal, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, jitney, Joan Didion, Kickstarter, Kitchen Debate, laissez-faire capitalism, Marshall McLuhan, mass immigration, McMansion, megacity, mortgage tax deduction, Network effects, New Urbanism, obamacare, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, Own Your Own Home, peak oil, pension reform, Peter Calthorpe, Ponzi scheme, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, sensible shoes, Silicon Valley, Skype, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the High Line, transit-oriented development, union organizing, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, walkable city, white flight, working poor, young professional, Zipcar

You sense the power of the myth when Randy Newman comes on the car radio, rhyming off the freeways in “I Love L.A.” as he cruises Santa Monica Boulevard with a nasty redhead in an open-top Buick. Or when you pass the space-age sign of an In-N-Out Burger and dig the Googie architecture on Sunset that looks so good at 40 miles an hour (and like so much cheap plaster when you get up close). Or when you come across Joan Didion rhapsodizing in The White Album: “The freeway experience is the only secular communion Los Angeles has…. Actual participants think only about where they are. Actual participation requires a total surrender, a concentration so intense as to seem a kind of narcosis, a rapture-of-the-freeway.” Driving Los Angeles’s roads can still be a rapturous experience—provided you do it at three in the morning.


pages: 454 words: 139,350

Jihad vs. McWorld: Terrorism's Challenge to Democracy by Benjamin Barber

airport security, anti-communist, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, borderless world, Bretton Woods, British Empire, computer age, Corn Laws, Corrections Corporation of America, David Brooks, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, digital map, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, George Gilder, global village, invisible hand, Joan Didion, Kevin Kelly, laissez-faire capitalism, late capitalism, Live Aid, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, minimum wage unemployment, new economy, Norbert Wiener, North Sea oil, pirate software, postnationalism / post nation state, profit motive, race to the bottom, Right to Buy, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, undersea cable, young professional, zero-sum game

Margaret Crawford, an astute student of mall culture, has noticed that the express aim of the developers is to contain the entire world within the shopping plaza. She cites one of the builders of the world’s largest mall, who at the opening ceremony boasted: “What we have done means you don’t have to go to New York or Paris or Disneyland or Hawaii. WE have it all here for you in one place, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada!”27 Joan Didion has suggested that malls are actually addictive, a space where “one moves for a while in an aqueous suspension, not only of light, but of judgment, not only of judgment, but of personality.”28 The boundaries that separate the mall from the world are intended to remove every boundary between what goes on inside the mall and in the world: very few exits, no clocks. As fast food energizes consumers to shop (“dining” takes time away from shopping) and movie multiplexes provide entertainment incentives to consumption, so the architecture of mall space—the placement of stairways, the grouping of shops by income level, the theming of stores, the funneling of pedestrian traffic—has as its sole object the facilitation of consumption.29 The mall is not so much part of the suburbs as their essence, for suburbs themselves strive to take on the aspect of a theme park.


pages: 495 words: 144,101

Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right by Jennifer Burns

anti-communist, bank run, barriers to entry, centralized clearinghouse, collective bargaining, creative destruction, desegregation, feminist movement, financial independence, George Gilder, invisible hand, jimmy wales, Joan Didion, John Markoff, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge worker, laissez-faire capitalism, lone genius, Menlo Park, minimum wage unemployment, Mont Pelerin Society, new economy, Norman Mailer, offshore financial centre, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, RAND corporation, rent control, road to serfdom, Robert Bork, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, side project, Stewart Brand, The Chicago School, The Wisdom of Crowds, union organizing, urban renewal, white flight, Whole Earth Catalog

Ayn Rand, “A Suggestion,” The Objectivist, February 1969, 595–96; Ayn Rand, “Of Living Death,” The Objectivist, October 1968, 534. Members of Frank O’Connor’s extended family claimed that Rand herself had an abortion in the early 1930s, which they helped pay for. Heller, 128. Rand never mentioned this incident, but whatever her personal experience, her support of abortion rights was fully consonant with her emphasis on individualism and personal liberty. 50. Joan Didion made a nearly identical argument in “The Women’s Movement,” in The White Album (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979), 110. Many feminists did indeed have Marxist roots. See Daniel Horowitz, Betty Friedan and the Making of the Feminine Mystique: The American Left, the Cold War, and Modern Feminism (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1998). 51. Ayn Rand, “The Age of Envy, Part II,” The Objectivist, August 1971, 1076. 52.


pages: 668 words: 159,523

Coffeeland: One Man's Dark Empire and the Making of Our Favorite Drug by Augustine Sedgewick

affirmative action, Alfred Russel Wallace, British Empire, business cycle, California gold rush, collective bargaining, European colonialism, family office, Fellow of the Royal Society, Food sovereignty, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Honoré de Balzac, imperial preference, Joan Didion, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, land reform, land tenure, Louis Pasteur, mass immigration, Monroe Doctrine, Philip Mirowski, race to the bottom, refrigerator car, the scientific method, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, trade route, wage slave, women in the workforce, working poor, zero-sum game

Robbins to the Secretary of State, January 3, 1931, RG 84, Records of Foreign Service Posts: El Salvador, vol. 114, NARA CP. 8. Harold D. Finley to the Secretary of State, September 30, 1931, RG 84, Diplomatic Posts: El Salvador, vol. 114, NARA CP. 9. Samper and Fernando, “Historical Statistics,” 452. 10. W. J. McCafferty to the Secretary of State, January 16, 1932, RG 84, El Salvador, vol. 116, NARA CP. 11. See, among other sources, Joan Didion, Salvador (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1983; reprint, Vintage, 1994), 54; Robert Armstrong and Janet Shenk, El Salvador: Face of Revolution (Boston: South End Press, 1982), 26. 12. Kenneth J. Grieb, “The United States and the Rise of General Maximiliano Hernández Martínez,” Journal of Latin American Studies 3, no. 2 (November 1971): 151. 13. McCafferty to the Secretary of State, January 16, 1932. 14.


pages: 486 words: 150,849

Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History by Kurt Andersen

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airline deregulation, airport security, always be closing, American ideology, American Legislative Exchange Council, anti-communist, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bernie Sanders, blue-collar work, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, Burning Man, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, centre right, computer age, coronavirus, corporate governance, corporate raider, COVID-19, Covid-19, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, cryptocurrency, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, ending welfare as we know it, Erik Brynjolfsson, feminist movement, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, future of work, game design, George Gilder, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, High speed trading, hive mind, income inequality, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jitney, Joan Didion, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, mass immigration, mass incarceration, Menlo Park, Naomi Klein, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Norman Mailer, obamacare, Peter Thiel, Picturephone, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-industrial society, Powell Memorandum, pre–internet, Ralph Nader, Right to Buy, road to serfdom, Robert Bork, Robert Gordon, Robert Mercer, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Seaside, Florida, Second Machine Age, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, strikebreaker, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Future of Employment, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, union organizing, universal basic income, Unsafe at Any Speed, urban planning, urban renewal, very high income, wage slave, Wall-E, War on Poverty, Whole Earth Catalog, winner-take-all economy, women in the workforce, working poor, young professional, éminence grise

It was the same in the United States then as it is in Scandinavian countries today, the share of the nation’s wealth owned by nonwealthy Americans larger than it had been since measurements began. The system was working pretty well, and the national consensus about fairness endured. People took for granted all the progress we’d achieved. It really seemed irreversible. *1 Norman Mailer was a bit older, thirty-six as the decade began, but Tom Wolfe turned thirty in 1960, Joan Didion in 1964, and Hunter Thompson in 1967. *2 Which is why starting in the 1970s, for instance, the humorist and illustrator Bruce McCall could have a career painting panoramas of fantastical flying machines and infrastructure for the National Lampoon and then The New Yorker, grand futures as if depicted by overoptimists of the past, what he called “retro-futurism.” *3 Between 1964 and 1969, university architecture schools began teaching preservation; the first old American factory was turned into a warren of upscale shops (in Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco); the Manhattan neighborhood where artists had started moving into old industrial lofts was named SoHo, and New York City created a commission that could prevent developers from demolishing historic buildings and neighborhoods; Congress passed the National Historic Preservation Act; and Seattle created the Pioneer Square Historic District


pages: 542 words: 161,731

Alone Together by Sherry Turkle

Albert Einstein, Columbine, global village, Hacker Ethic, helicopter parent, Howard Rheingold, industrial robot, information retrieval, Jacques de Vaucanson, Jaron Lanier, Joan Didion, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, lifelogging, Loebner Prize, Marshall McLuhan, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rodney Brooks, Skype, social intelligence, stem cell, technoutopianism, The Great Good Place, the medium is the message, theory of mind, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Wall-E, women in the workforce, Year of Magical Thinking

Second, online links that are there to be double-clicked are determined by what the author of the text thinks it is important for you to be exposed to. Third, even if one accepts that such links are convenient, they are easily bypassed when reading is interrupted by an incoming e-mail or other online distractions. 3 In The Year of Magical Thinking (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), a memoir about the year after her husband’s death, Joan Didion describes how material objects became charged with meaning. So, for example, Didion cannot bring herself to throw away her husband’s shoes because she is convinced that he may need them. This same magical thinking is associated both with religious devotion and the “illness” of mourning. With time, Freud believed, the true object, the lost husband, comes to have a full internal representation.


pages: 692 words: 167,950

The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Fresh Water in the Twenty-First Century by Alex Prud'Homme

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, big-box store, bilateral investment treaty, carbon footprint, clean water, commoditize, corporate raider, Deep Water Horizon, en.wikipedia.org, Exxon Valdez, hydraulic fracturing, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Joan Didion, John Snow's cholera map, Louis Pasteur, mass immigration, megacity, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, renewable energy credits, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, urban sprawl, William Langewiesche

The steady growth of population and climate change will only sharpen the disagreement. CHAPTER 13 Revenue Streams As it happens my own reverence for water has always taken the form of this constant meditation upon where water is, of an obsessive interest not in the politics of water but in the waterworks themselves, in the movement of water through aqueducts and siphons and pumps and forebays and afterbays and weirs and drains, in plumbing on the grand scale. —Joan Didion, “Holy Water,” The White Album THE JOYS AND SORROWS OF CONVEYANCE In America, the West refers to those states west of the hundredth meridian of longitude. Heading south from the Canadian border, the hundredth meridian cuts through North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. To the east of that line, average annual precipitation is over twenty inches, and crops don’t usually require irrigation.


pages: 510 words: 163,449

How the Scots Invented the Modern World: The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It by Arthur Herman

British Empire, California gold rush, creative destruction, do-ocracy, financial independence, global village, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Joan Didion, joint-stock company, laissez-faire capitalism, land tenure, mass immigration, means of production, new economy, New Urbanism, North Sea oil, oil shale / tar sands, Republic of Letters, Robert Mercer, spinning jenny, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, urban planning, urban renewal, working poor

when they learned the Tories were out and the Whigs were in, comes from that work. On Thomas Macaulay, one book does the job: John Clive’s Macaulay: The Shaping of the Historian (New York, 1973). Macaulay’s two most important parliamentary orations can be found in various collections of his essays, since these were once considered indispensable models of English prose. Today we have no need of Macaulay, since we have Joan Didion, or perhaps P. J. O’Rourke, so these collections are hard to find in print; but it is still possible to spring one loose from a used bookstore or public library. CHAPTER ELEVEN: THE LAST MINSTREL— SIR WALTER SCOTT AND THE HIGHLAND REVIVAL Why is there is no full-length literary biography of Sir Walter Scott, apart from Edgar Johnson’s Sir Walter Scott: The Great Unknown, two volumes (London, 1970), which is now more than thirty years old?


pages: 603 words: 182,781

Aerotropolis by John D. Kasarda, Greg Lindsay

3D printing, air freight, airline deregulation, airport security, Akira Okazaki, Asian financial crisis, back-to-the-land, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big-box store, blood diamonds, borderless world, Boris Johnson, British Empire, business cycle, call centre, carbon footprint, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, Charles Lindbergh, Clayton Christensen, cleantech, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, conceptual framework, credit crunch, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, digital map, disruptive innovation, edge city, Edward Glaeser, failed state, food miles, Ford paid five dollars a day, Frank Gehry, fudge factor, full employment, future of work, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Gilder, global supply chain, global village, gravity well, Haber-Bosch Process, Hernando de Soto, hive mind, if you build it, they will come, illegal immigration, inflight wifi, intangible asset, interchangeable parts, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, invention of the telephone, inventory management, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Joan Didion, Kangaroo Route, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, kremlinology, low cost airline, Marchetti’s constant, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, mass immigration, McMansion, megacity, Menlo Park, microcredit, Network effects, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Pearl River Delta, Peter Calthorpe, Peter Thiel, pets.com, pink-collar, pre–internet, RFID, Richard Florida, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, savings glut, Seaside, Florida, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spice trade, spinning jenny, starchitect, stem cell, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, sustainable-tourism, telepresence, the built environment, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Nature of the Firm, thinkpad, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, Tony Hsieh, trade route, transcontinental railway, transit-oriented development, traveling salesman, trickle-down economics, upwardly mobile, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, walkable city, white flight, white picket fence, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

Richard Branson’s commitment to devote his transportation businesses’s profits to biofuel research was made at the Clinton Global Initiative conference in September 2006. 1: A Tale of Three Cities The early history of Los Angeles International Airport and its first incarnation as Mines Field was drawn from notes taken during a trip to the airport’s Flight Path Learning Center, which has kept Ford A. Carpenter’s original field notes and report to the Chamber of Commerce, along with plans for the LAX II at Palmdale that never was. The origins of the Warfare State are succinctly told by Manuel Castells and Peter Hall in Technopoles of the World. I also found inspiration in Joan Didion’s account of Lakewood’s creation in Where I Was From. Aerospace’s impact on Silicon Valley was measured by the economist Kenneth Flamm in Creating the Computer. Carey McWilliams mentioned the overnight invention of Westchester in California. The smiley curve was added to the lexicon by James Fallows in “China Makes, the World Takes” (The Atlantic, July/August 2007). The breakdown of the Apple iPod’s value chain comes from a widely quoted May 2007 study by the Personal Computing Industry Center in Irvine, California.


pages: 661 words: 187,613

The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language by Steven Pinker

Albert Einstein, cloud computing, David Attenborough, double helix, Drosophila, elephant in my pajamas, finite state, illegal immigration, Joan Didion, Loebner Prize, mass immigration, Maui Hawaii, meta analysis, meta-analysis, MITM: man-in-the-middle, natural language processing, out of africa, phenotype, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, Saturday Night Live, speech recognition, Steven Pinker, theory of mind, transatlantic slave trade, Turing machine, Turing test, twin studies, Yogi Berra

Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote that visual images of scenes and words once appeared involuntarily before him in a dreamlike state (perhaps opiuminduced). He managed to copy the first forty lines onto paper, resulting in the poem we know as “Kubla Khan,” before a knock on the door shattered the images and obliterated forever what would have been the rest of the poem. Many contemporary novelists, like Joan Didion, report that their acts of creation begin not with any notion of a character or a plot but with vivid mental pictures that dictate their choice of words. The modern sculptor James Surls plans his projects lying on a couch listening to music; he manipulates the sculptures in his mind’s eye, he says, putting an arm on, taking an arm off, watching the images roll and tumble. Physical scientists are even more adamant that their thinking is geometrical, not verbal.


Central America by Carolyn McCarthy, Greg Benchwick, Joshua Samuel Brown, Alex Egerton, Matthew Firestone, Kevin Raub, Tom Spurling, Lucas Vidgen

airport security, Bartolomé de las Casas, California gold rush, call centre, centre right, clean water, cognitive dissonance, currency manipulation / currency intervention, digital map, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, failed state, Francisco Pizarro, Frank Gehry, haute cuisine, illegal immigration, Joan Didion, land reform, liberation theology, low cost airline, low cost carrier, Mahatma Gandhi, Monroe Doctrine, Ronald Reagan, Skype, sustainable-tourism, trade route, transcontinental railway, urban renewal, urban sprawl, women in the workforce

Punta Roca, the country’s finest wave, is at the scruffy port of La Libertad Click here, which is readily accessible from the capital. Several beaches west of here also have excellent waves and all-service surf lodges. Your best bets for lessons are at Esencia Nativa in Playa El Zonte Click here, or a number of places in Playa El Tunco Click here. Peak season is March to December. BOOKS Major Salvadoran authors (Click here) are available in translation. Joan Didion’s Salvador is a moving account of the early days of the war. Nonfiction about the civil war includes Massacre at El Mozote by Mark Danner, Witness to War: An American Doctor in El Salvador by Charles Clements MD, and Rebel Radio, a fascinating, firsthand account of clandestine radio stations operated by FMLN guerrillas. Óscar Romero: Memories in Mosaic by María López Vigil, is a recommended account of the clergyman’s life and political conversion told by those who knew him.

John L Stephens’ widely available classic Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan, in two volumes, dates from the 1840s. These volumes provided the world with the first glimpses of the Maya cities and are still regarded as a good, popular overview. Guatemala: Eternal Spring — Eternal Tyranny by Jean-Marie Simon uses first-hand accounts and more than 130 photographs in a moving, harrowing documentation of human-rights abuses during the civil war. Other interesting portraits include Salvador by Joan Didion, a moving account of the early days of El Salvador’s civil war. Gioconda Belli’s The Country Under My Skin: A Memoir of Love and War profiles Nicaragua. The Darkest Jungle by Todd Balf chronicles the US Army’s disastrous 1854 Darién expedition in Panama. Costa Rica: A Traveler’s Literary Companion (edited by Barbara Ras) is a compilation of short stories by modern Costa Rican writers. Bruce Barcott’s The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw is an account of one activist making a difference in Belize.


pages: 588 words: 193,087

And Here's the Kicker: Conversations with 21 Top Humor Writers on Their Craft by Mike Sacks

Albert Einstein, Charles Lindbergh, Columbine, Donald Trump, Exxon Valdez, fear of failure, game design, illegal immigration, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, index card, Joan Didion, Norman Mailer, out of africa, pre–internet, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, upwardly mobile

Yes, it can be argued that this is the character's view of the world, but I thought it was dangerous — the line between who Woody was in life and the characters he was playing in his movies was pretty fuzzy. And I said, “The critics are going to kill us! It's a pretentious, narcissistic, solipsistic view of the world that you're offering up.” And he said, “Nah, you're crazy, nobody's going to say anything, it's going to be fine.” And he was right. The only person who criticized us was Joan Didion in The New York Review of Books. She said something to the effect of: “Who in the hell do they think they are with their things worth living for?” I've always felt that that particular speech was essential to the broader theme of the movie — that an obsession with minutiae takes our minds off the bigger issues. Maybe you can extract a theme from that dialogue but, honestly, we were not writing to proselytize a point of view like that, although I guess it's sort of inherent in the movie.


pages: 717 words: 196,908

The Idea of Decline in Western History by Arthur Herman

agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, British Empire, David Attenborough, European colonialism, George Santayana, ghettoisation, hiring and firing, Joan Didion, laissez-faire capitalism, late capitalism, lateral thinking, liberal capitalism, mass immigration, means of production, Menlo Park, Nelson Mandela, Norman Mailer, nuclear winter, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post scarcity, profit motive, road to serfdom, Robert Bork, Scientific racism, Scramble for Africa, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transcontinental railway, upwardly mobile

For every Western intellectual who dreads the collapse of his own society (like Henry Adams or Arnold Toynbee or Paul Kennedy or Charles Murray), there is another who has looked forward to that event with glee. For the better part of three decades, America’s preeminent thinkers and critics—from Norman Mailer, Gore Vidal, Thomas Pynchon, Christopher Lasch, Jonathan Kozol, and Garry Wills to Joseph Campbell, Joan Didion, Susan Sontag, Jonathan Schell, Robert Heilbroner, Richard Sennett, Noam Chomsky, Paul Goodman, Michael Harrington, E.L. Doctorow, and Kirkpatrick Sale, not to mention Cornel West, Albert Gore, and the Unabomber—have advanced a picture of American society far more frightening than anything pessimists like Charles Murray or Kevin Phillips could come up with. As a critique of Western industrial society, it dates back to the nineteenth century.


pages: 356 words: 186,629

Frommer's Los Angeles 2010 by Matthew Richard Poole

call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, Charles Lindbergh, clean water, Donald Trump, El Camino Real, Frank Gehry, Guggenheim Bilbao, Haight Ashbury, Joan Didion, Maui Hawaii, Saturday Night Live, sustainable-tourism, upwardly mobile

Bizarro: The Insiders Guide to the O bscure, the Absurd and the P erverse in Los A ngeles (St. Martin’s Griffin, 1997), 192 pages of murder sites, sex shops, curiosity shops, dive bars, and v arious other S outhern California scurrility. FICTION Since the book is almost always better than the mo vie, try a fe w of these no vels that hav e been adapted into successful films: J ames Ellroy’s epic crime novel L.A. Confidential (Mysterious Press, 1990), Joan Didion’s profoundly disturbing Play I t as I t Lays (F arrar, S traus and Giroux, 1990), J oseph Wambaugh’s gripping LAPD chronicles such as The Onion Field (Dell, 1974), John Gregory Dunne’s cynical and har d-boiled True Confessions (Bookthrift Co., 1977), Elmore Leonard’s Hollywood-based bestseller Get S horty (HarperTorch, 2002), and M ichael Tolkin’s absorbing mystery/thriller The Player (Grove Press, 1997).


pages: 901 words: 234,905

The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker

affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anti-communist, British Empire, clean water, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, conceptual framework, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Defenestration of Prague, desegregation, epigenetics, Exxon Valdez, George Akerlof, germ theory of disease, ghettoisation, glass ceiling, Hobbesian trap, income inequality, invention of agriculture, invisible hand, Joan Didion, long peace, meta analysis, meta-analysis, More Guns, Less Crime, Murray Gell-Mann, mutually assured destruction, Norman Mailer, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Potemkin village, prisoner's dilemma, profit motive, QWERTY keyboard, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Bork, Rodney Brooks, Saturday Night Live, social intelligence, speech recognition, Stanford prison experiment, stem cell, Steven Pinker, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the new new thing, theory of mind, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, twin studies, ultimatum game, urban renewal, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

Gender feminism’s disdain for analytical rigor and classical liberal principles has recently been excoriated by equity feminists, among them Jean Bethke Elshtain, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Wendy Kaminer, Noretta Koertge, Donna Laframboise, Mary Lefkowitz, Wendy McElroy, Camille Paglia, Daphne Patai, Virginia Postrel, Alice Rossi, Sally Satel, Christina Hoff Sommers, Nadine Strossen, Joan Kennedy Taylor, and Cathy Young.16 Well before them, prominent women writers demurred from gender-feminist ideology, including Joan Didion, Doris Lessing, Iris Murdoch, Cynthia Ozick, and Susan Sontag.17 And ominously for the movement, a younger generation has rejected the gender feminists’ claims that love, beauty, flirtation, erotica, art, and heterosexuality are pernicious social constructs. The title of the book The New Victorians: A Young Woman’s Challenge to the Old Feminist Order captures the revolt of such writers as Rene Denfeld, Karen Lehrman, Katie Roiphe, and Rebecca Walker, and of the movements called Third Wave, Riot Grrrl Movement, Pro-Sex Feminism, Lipstick Lesbians, Girl Power, and Feminists for Free Expression.18 The difference between gender feminism and equity feminism accounts for the oft-reported paradox that most women do not consider themselves feminists (about 70 percent in 1997, up from about 60 percent a decade before), yet they agree with every major feminist position.19 The explanation is simple: the word “feminist” is often associated with gender feminism, but the positions in the polls are those of equity feminism.


Rough Guide to San Francisco and the Bay Area by Nick Edwards, Mark Ellwood

1960s counterculture, airport security, back-to-the-land, Bay Area Rapid Transit, British Empire, Burning Man, California gold rush, carbon footprint, City Beautiful movement, El Camino Real, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, glass ceiling, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, haute cuisine, Joan Didion, Kickstarter, Loma Prieta earthquake, Menlo Park, Nelson Mandela, period drama, pez dispenser, Port of Oakland, rent control, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, strikebreaker, transcontinental railway, unpaid internship, upwardly mobile, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, white picket fence, Works Progress Administration, young professional

Joshua Gamson The Fabulous Sylvester: The Legend, the Music, the 70s in San Francisco. Gamson uses an early disco diva, the flamingly gay Sylvester, as an entry point into the “Anything Goes” San Francisco of the 1970s. Sylvester’s story is compelling Dan Kurtzman Disaster!. Hour-by-hour account of the Great Fire of 1906, crisply told as a gripping narrative focusing on the fate of a handful of local residents. | Books Joan Didion Slouching Toward Bethlehem. Selected essays from one of California’s most renowned journalists, taking a critical look at the West Coast of the 1960s, including San Francisco’s acid culture. In a similar style, The White Album traces the West Coast characters and events that shaped the 1960s and 1970s, including The Doors, Charles Manson, and the Black Panthers. David A. Kaplan The Silicon Boys.


pages: 1,034 words: 241,773

Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress by Steven Pinker

3D printing, access to a mobile phone, affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anti-communist, Anton Chekhov, Arthur Eddington, artificial general intelligence, availability heuristic, Ayatollah Khomeini, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, business cycle, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, clean water, clockwork universe, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, distributed generation, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, double helix, effective altruism, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, end world poverty, endogenous growth, energy transition, European colonialism, experimental subject, Exxon Valdez, facts on the ground, Fall of the Berlin Wall, first-past-the-post, Flynn Effect, food miles, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, frictionless, frictionless market, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, Hans Rosling, hedonic treadmill, helicopter parent, Hobbesian trap, humanitarian revolution, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, income inequality, income per capita, Indoor air pollution, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of writing, Jaron Lanier, Joan Didion, job automation, Johannes Kepler, John Snow's cholera map, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, knowledge economy, l'esprit de l'escalier, Laplace demon, life extension, long peace, longitudinal study, Louis Pasteur, Martin Wolf, mass incarceration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, minimum wage unemployment, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, Nathan Meyer Rothschild: antibiotics, Nelson Mandela, New Journalism, Norman Mailer, nuclear winter, obamacare, open economy, Paul Graham, peak oil, Peter Singer: altruism, Peter Thiel, precision agriculture, prediction markets, purchasing power parity, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, rent control, Republic of Letters, Richard Feynman, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Rodney Brooks, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Rory Sutherland, Saturday Night Live, science of happiness, Scientific racism, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Simon Kuznets, Skype, smart grid, sovereign wealth fund, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, supervolcano, technological singularity, Ted Kaczynski, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, union organizing, universal basic income, University of East Anglia, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment, urban renewal, War on Poverty, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, women in the workforce, working poor, World Values Survey, Y2K

Heroic blood-bespatterers: Nietzsche 1887/2014. 12. Snow never assigned an order to his Two Cultures, but subsequent usage has numbered them in that way; see, for example, Brockman 2003. 13. Snow 1959/1998, p. 14. 14. Leavis flame: Leavis 1962/2013; see Collini 1998, 2013. 15. Leavis 1962/2013, p. 71. CHAPTER 4: PROGRESSOPHOBIA 1. Herman 1997, p. 7, also cites Joseph Campbell, Noam Chomsky, Joan Didion, E. L. Doctorow, Paul Goodman, Michael Harrington, Robert Heilbroner, Jonathan Kozol, Christopher Lasch, Norman Mailer, Thomas Pynchon, Kirkpatrick Sale, Jonathan Schell, Richard Sennett, Susan Sontag, Gore Vidal, and Garry Wills. 2. Nisbet 1980/2009, p. 317. 3. The Optimism Gap: McNaughton-Cassill & Smith 2002; Nagdy & Roser 2016b; Veenhoven 2010; Whitman 1998. 4. EU Eurobarometer survey results, reproduced in Nagdy & Roser 2016b. 5.


Coastal California by Lonely Planet

1960s counterculture, airport security, Albert Einstein, Asilomar, back-to-the-land, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Berlin Wall, buy and hold, California gold rush, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, centre right, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Donner party, East Village, El Camino Real, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Frank Gehry, global village, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, haute cuisine, illegal immigration, Joan Didion, Khyber Pass, Kickstarter, Loma Prieta earthquake, low cost airline, Mason jar, McMansion, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, South of Market, San Francisco, stealth mode startup, Steve Wozniak, trade route, transcontinental railway, Upton Sinclair, urban sprawl, white picket fence, women in the workforce, working poor, Works Progress Administration, young professional, Zipcar

You’ve probably already read books by Californians without knowing it, for example, Ray Bradbury’s 1950s dystopian classic Fahrenheit 451; Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize–winning The Color Purple ; Ken Kesey’s quintessential ’60s novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo ’ s Nest ; UC Berkeley professor Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior ; Michael Chabon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay ; or Dave Eggers, the Bay area hipster behind McSweeney’s quarterly literary journal. Few writers nail California culture as well as Joan Didion. She’s best known for her collection of essays, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, which takes a caustic look at 1960s flower power and Haight-Ashbury. Tom Wolfe also put ’60s San Francisco in perspective with The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, which follows Ken Kesey’s band of Merry Pranksters, who began their acid-laced ‘magic bus’ journey near Santa Cruz. By that time, the Beat generation of writers had already fired up San Francisco’s North Beach literary scene beginning in the 1950s, including with Allen Ginsberg’s epic poem Howl and Jack Kerouac’s iconic novel On the Road.


Western USA by Lonely Planet

airport security, Albert Einstein, Apple II, Asilomar, back-to-the-land, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Burning Man, California gold rush, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, Charles Lindbergh, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Donner party, East Village, edge city, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Frank Gehry, global village, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, haute couture, haute cuisine, illegal immigration, intermodal, Joan Didion, Kickstarter, Loma Prieta earthquake, Mahatma Gandhi, Mars Rover, Maui Hawaii, off grid, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, South of Market, San Francisco, starchitect, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, supervolcano, trade route, transcontinental railway, Upton Sinclair, urban planning, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration, young professional, Zipcar

Movers & Shakers The National Cowboy Poetry Gathering (www.westernfolklife.org) – the bronco of cowboy poetry events – is held in January in Elko, Nevada. Ropers and wranglers have waxed lyrical here for more than 25 years. After the chaos of WWII, the Beat Generation brought about a provocative new style of writing: short, sharp, spontaneous and alive. Based in San Francisco, the scene revolved around Jack Kerouac (On the Road), Allen Ginsberg (Howl) and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the Beats’ patron and publisher. Joan Didion nailed contemporary California culture in Slouching Towards Bethlehem, a collection of essays that takes a caustic look at 1960s flower power and the Haight-Ashbury district. Tom Wolfe also put ’60s San Francisco in perspective with The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, which follows Ken Kesey’s band of Merry Pranksters. In the 1970s, Charles Bukowski’s semi-autobiographical novel Post Office captured down-and-out downtown LA, while Richard Vasquez’s Chicano took a dramatic look at LA’s Latino barrio.


pages: 769 words: 397,677

Frommer's California 2007 by Harry Basch, Mark Hiss, Erika Lenkert, Matthew Richard Poole

airport security, Asilomar, Bay Area Rapid Transit, car-free, Charles Lindbergh, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, clean water, Columbine, Donald Trump, Donner party, East Village, El Camino Real, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Frank Gehry, Golden Gate Park, Guggenheim Bilbao, Haight Ashbury, indoor plumbing, Iridium satellite, Joan Didion, Maui Hawaii, Silicon Valley, South of Market, San Francisco, sustainable-tourism, transcontinental railway, upwardly mobile, urban sprawl, white picket fence, Works Progress Administration

Finally, for what some critics consider the best novel ever written about Hollywood, turn to Nathanael West’s The Day of the Locust, a savage and satirical look at life on the fringes of the film industry in the 1930s. 49 tale of love and greed set at the turn of the 20th century, and Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, a detective novel that captures the seedier side of San Francisco in the 1920s. Another favorite is Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, in which Philip Marlowe explores the darker side of Los Angeles in the 1930s. California has always been a hotbed for alternative—and, more often than not, controversial—literary styles. Joan Didion, in her novel Slouching Towards Bethlehem, and Hunter S. Thompson, in his columns for the San Francisco Examiner (brought together in the collection Generation of Swine), both used a “new journalistic” approach in their studies of San Francisco in the 1960s. Tom Wolfe’s early work The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test follows the Hell’s Angels, the Grateful Dead, and Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters as they ride through the hallucinogenic 1960s.


Frommer's California 2009 by Matthew Poole, Harry Basch, Mark Hiss, Erika Lenkert

airport security, Asilomar, Bay Area Rapid Transit, California gold rush, call centre, car-free, Charles Lindbergh, clean water, Columbine, Donald Trump, Donner party, East Village, El Camino Real, European colonialism, Frank Gehry, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, housing crisis, indoor plumbing, Joan Didion, Mason jar, mass immigration, Maui Hawaii, post-work, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Skype, South of Market, San Francisco, sustainable-tourism, transcontinental railway, urban sprawl, white picket fence, Works Progress Administration, Y Combinator

Mystery & Mayhem For all y ou mystery buffs headed to California, two must-reads include Frank Norris’s McTeague: A S tory of S an Francisco, a violent tale of lo ve and gr eed set in turnof-the-20th-century S an F rancisco, and Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, a steamy detectiv e no vel that captur es the seedier side of San Francisco in the 1920s. Another fav orite is Raymond Chandler ’s The B ig S leep, wher e priv ate dick P hilip Marlowe plies the seedier side of Los Angeles in the 1930s. California has always been a hotbed for alternative—and, mor e often than not, controversial—literary styles. Joan Didion, in her no vel Slouching Toward Bethlehem, and Hunter S. Thompson, in his columns for the San F rancisco E xaminer (br ought together in the collection Generation of Swine), both used a “ new journalistic ” approach in their studies of 1960s S an Francisco. Tom Wolfe’s early wor k, The Electric K ool-Aid A cid Test, follows the Hell’s Angels, the Grateful Dead, and Ken Kesey’s M erry P ranksters as they ride through that hallucinogenic decade.