Archive for February, 2023

Quote of the day: JOURNALISM

February 20, 2023


You know what journalists do? They take the shit out of your mouth and they throw it in your face.

—Willem de Kooning

portrait by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

In this week’s New Yorker:

February 9, 2023

As usual, the New Yorker’s anniversary issue (cover art by John W. Tomac) is stuffed with extra-good material:

  • Rebecca Mead on Lady Glenconner, intimate friend of the late Queen Elizabeth and author of a cheeky memoir called Lady in Waiting;
  • Leslie Jamison’s “Why Everybody Feels Like They’re Faking It,” on how the experience of “impostor phenomenon” — first studied by Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes at Oberlin College — got pathologized as “impostor syndrome”;
  • Lawrence Wright’s long, excellent reported essay on “The Astonishing Transformation of Austin,” which shines a spotlight on several inspiring individuals fighting the good fight in Texas (such as Alan Graham, a former real-estate developer whose Community First! Village has built micro-homes for Austin’s burgeoning unhoused population); and
    • David Remnick’s up-close-and-personal profile of Salman Rushdie.

      The issue gets off with a bang: the ever-straight-shooting Washington correspondent Amy Davidson Sorkin’s commentary “The New G.O.P. Takes the Country Hostage with the Debt Ceiling.” We’ve been reading a lot on this subject, but rarely with as succinct and astute a paragraph as this:

      What’s remarkable, given that the Republicans are basically brainstorming a ransom letter, is how often they insert notes of fiscal sanctimony. “The debt ceiling is literally the nation’s credit card—it’s got a maximum,” Representative Steve Scalise said. It is literally not the nation’s credit card. When a card is maxed out, you can’t keep ordering goods and services, but Congress can, and does. The Treasury is not exceeding the debt limit because it has gone on a rogue shopping spree; it is trying to cover the spending that Congress has already approved. A better analogy would be someone who, faced with financial commitments—utilities, rent, child support—simply decides not to pay.

Quote of the day: MULTITASKING

February 9, 2023

We used to multitask, and then research came out and said you can’t literally multitask. Your brain can’t have your inbox open next to the memo you’re writing while you’re also on the phone. So everyone, in the first decade of the 2000s, said: I turned off my notifications. I do one thing at a time. But what we didn’t realize is that even when you jump over to check the inbox and come right back, it can be just as damaging as multitasking. When you looked at that email inbox for 15 seconds, you initiated a cascade of cognitive changes. Research has shown that people who work on multiple things concurrently are less able to filter out irrelevancy, have poorer memory and are more easily distracted. So if you have to work on something that’s cognitively demanding, the rule has to be zero context shifts during that period. Treat it like a dentist appointment. You can’t check your email when you’re having a cavity filled. You have to see it that way.

–Cal Newport, interviewed by David Marchese for the New York Times Magazine

photo by Mamadi Doumbouya

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