In this week’s New Yorker

September 3, 2011

After reading most of this week’s issue on my iPad, it finally showed up in my mailbox. But I’m glad it worked out that way because otherwise I wouldn’t have seen the coolest thing: the video that accompanies Ian Frazier’s piece about Theo Jansen’s mind-blowing wind-powered kinetic sculptures (he calls them Strandbeests), which I guess you can’t see unless you’re a subscriber. But you can see a bunch of other videos on YouTube, including this BMW commercial. (He’s also done a TED talk.) Very cool.

Then there’s the ever-droll Rebecca Mead’s profile of Timothy Ferriss, author of best-selling self-help books, most recently The Four-Hour Body. “The book, which is five hundred and forty-eight pages long, contains a lot of colorfully odd advice—he recommends increasing abdominal definition with an exercise he calls ‘cat vomiting’—but it also reassures readers that they need not go so far as to have Israeli stem-cell factor injected into the cervical spine, as Ferriss did in the name of inquiry. Nor need they necessarily incorporate into their regimen Ferriss’s method for determining the effectiveness of controlled binge eating: weighing his feces to find out exactly what kind of shit he was full of.”

I’m not sure why, but I read all of Larissa MacFarquhar’s piece on an Oxford philosopher named Derek Parfit and also Tad Friend’s heart-sinking report on how the town of Costa Mesa, California, has gone broke and alienated its working people. Like the best (read: most depressing) documentary films, Friend’s story gives you a new person to hate, a Costa Mesa city council member named Jim Righeimer.

And then of course, as ever, the cartoons. Thank you, Alex Gregory (above) and Karen Sneider (below) .

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