Passing glances: Scorsese on men, Turkle on surfing

Last night I saw a Martin Scorsese film. Does it matter which one? Not for the purposes of what I’m about to say, but I’ll tell you anyway. It was The Wolf of Wall Street.

Considering how often Martin Scorsese has dealt with bros being bros— Continue reading


Unsold! My New Yorker cartoon idea

Now and then, I tinker with ideas for cartoons and captions. Long ago, having noticed that the typical fortune-cookie fortune is unspeakably boring, I thought of a captionless image that would show, in the foreground at left, a restaurant table with a fortune reading, “Call the kids! Something’s wrong—I just know it!” In the background at right, we’d see a woman rushing madly out the door, followed by a man who was perhaps flinging dollars at the cashier on his way. Continue reading

Passing glances: protests and sex on campus

The University of California at Berkeley, which in the 60s originated what came to be called the free speech movement, has now become a major home of an un-free-speech movement, and American college campuses are now one setting for a clash, which is also playing out in the wider world, between conflicting stances toward sexual behavior. Some recent reading illustrates the issues.

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Sunday miscellany: Spinoza, website ads, and a viral outbreak

A possible goal: non ridere, non lugere, neque detestari, sed intelligere (not to laugh, to cry, or to condemn, but to understand). From Baruch Spinoza, Tractatus Theologico-Politicus.

From something that happened earlier today: It’s funny but kind of stupid when a timed pop-up ad gets in the way of a timed display ad on a web page. If I were one of those clever smarty-pants web writers who’s always talking about things that happen on the web, I might try to work up an essay about this. Continue reading

Language watch: desultory remarks on emoji, forms of “emoji,” etc.

Language is one of the things we’re fond of here at Je Suis…; we find ourselves resorting to it quite often, in fact. (A character in Tom Stoppard’s After Magritte insists at one point, “Now there’s no need to use language!” We disagree, and besides, she’s talking about something else.) Not long ago, our eye was caught by a particular profusion of word forms, which we forwarded to the editor of the World Wide Words newsletter but didn’t think to post here until now. This is the second paragraph of a New York Times article published in June:

“You know, sometimes you’ve typed a whole message and you realize at the end that you’re entirely lacking in emojification,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president for software engineering. “So we provided the solution: When you tap on the emoji button, we’ll highlight all the emojifiable words there, and you can just tap, tap, tap, tap and emojify.”

To which a modest response Continue reading

What athletes have in common with actors

In a books column on the sports business in the May 16, 2016, New Yorker, Louis Menand mentioned this:

The entire industry rests on the labor of athletes. The number of athletes is actually quite small, but, as a class, they are not getting that much of the money. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 13,700 people make their living playing spectator sports in the United States (compared with, for example, sixty-nine thousand people who are actors). The median annual wage for athletes is $44,680.

Are those numbers correct? Prepare for a bit of head spinning.

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In space, no one can hear you campaign: Hillary Clinton talks about aliens

NYT teaser for Hillary on UFOs

A few days ago, a story teaser on the New York Times website said “space enthusiasts” were excited that Hillary Clinton has spoken openly about the possibility that extraterrestrials have visited our planet. Maybe they are, but I haven’t seen any scientists or science writers talking about the Times’s story. To put it politely, “space enthusiasts” is probably not the best term for those who are excited by this development.

But there’s a bigger glitch here. Continue reading