In this week’s New Yorker

May 13, 2012

The “Innovators” issue contains any number of astonishing sentences, including this one, from Michael Specter’s “The Climate Fixers,” about geoengineers laboring to find drastic solutions to global warming:

“The Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering project, or SPICE, is a British academic consortium that seeks to mimic the actions of volcanoes like Pinatubo by pumping particles of sulfur dioxide, or similar reflective chemicals, into the stratosphere through a twelve-mile-long pipe held aloft by a balloon at one end and tethered, at the other, to a boat anchored at sea.”

From the same article: “In 2008 Chinese soldiers fired more than a thousand rockets filled with chemicals at clouds over Beijing to prevent them from raining on the Olympics.”

And Joan Acocella’s essay about English usage manuals and the battle between prescriptivists and descriptivists offers this summary of Ruth Wajnryb’s 2005 book Expletive Deleted:

“Arabic and Turkish, she says, are justly praised for elaborate, almost surrealist curses (‘You father of sixty dogs’). Bosnians focus on the family (‘May your mother fart at a school meeting’). Wajnryb gives generous treatment to the populations, such as the Scots and the African-Americans, who hold actual competitions of verbal abuse, and she offers memorable examples:

I hate to talk about your mother, she’s a good old soul,
She got a ten-ton pussy and a rubber asshole.

In addition to these, other excellent pieces include Evan Osnos’s “The Love Business,” about Gong Haiyan, who created the most successful online dating website for Chinese match-seekers, and an extremely illuminating and well-written profile by Larissa MacFarquhar of Clayton Christensen, who wrote a classic book called The Innovator’s Dilemma. Christensen has applied a huge amount of research and thinking to the subject of why and how successful businesses can and almost inevitably do fail. He’s an incredibly smart who is also a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who fervently prayed to God to tell him whether the Book of Mormon was true, which He did. Go figure.

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