Seven Isn't Just a Name on Seinfeld

1) Math is hard when you learn it inside the American educational system.

2) Interesting stuff from Tim Lee about large organizations. And he is right about exhausted doctors!

3) You’ve probably been underestimating pottery:

In the usual experience of archeologists, inventions flow from mainlands to islands, and small peripheral societies aren’t supposed to contribute revolutionary advances to the rest of the world. It therefore astonished archeologists to discover that the world’s oldest known pottery was made in Japan 12,700 years ago. For the first time in human experience, people had watertight containers readily available in any desired shape. With their new ability to boil or steam food, they gained access to abundant resources that had previously been difficult to use: leafy vegetables, which would burn or dry out if cooked on an open fire; shellfish, which could now be opened easily; and toxic foods like acorns, which could now have their toxins boiled out. Soft-boiled foods could be fed to small children, permitting earlier weaning and more closely spaced babies. Toothless old people, the repositories of information in a preliterate society, could now be fed and live longer. All those momentous consequences of pottery triggered a population explosion, causing Japan’s population to climb from an estimated few thousand to a quarter of a million.

4) Generally I think that celebrity profiles are a waste of time. Seeing one in The New York Times Magazine, you know the writer is going to attempt something that won’t redound to their professional embarrassment among other journalists, so I read this piece on Megan Fox, wondering how the writer would attempt her own Gay Talese feat. What it’s missing is the writer’s insights about what Ms. Fox’s peculiar life tells us about how celebrity is evolving. The subject provides all sorts of opportunities to suggest a theory. She realizes that she doesn’t have any particular acting talent, for example, yet persists in the belief that there isn’t anyone like her. But so what? I feel as though I’ve read what just missed being the rare worthwhile celebrity profile. What is the genre for if not something more than just telling us about some celebrity?

5) “Conservative Inc.” is the most useful new term I’ve seen in months.

6) At a fancy prep school, this happened:

At last week’s assembly, former SBP and current comedian Scott Rogowsky ’03 made the following comment about an adolescent crush of his: “I really mostly liked her because she had huge bazongas.

I trust you can imagine the controversy that ensued, and the backlash. I haven’t any interest in expressing an opinion on the merits, but I do want to congratulate high school student Sarah Sanders, whose opinion piece on the controversy is well written and argued — I’d say it’s of a higher quality than a lot of stuff published in the op-ed pages of major newspapers. This is a particularly impressive feat when the English department is staffed with faculty whose persuasive writing resembles in style the worst features of liberal arts school screeds. As a dictator, I’d like to think that I’d refrain from committing the kinds of atrocities that come from being corrupted by power, but odds are better than not that I’d send Harry Bauld to English teacher re-education camp, where you’re forced to reach Politics and the English Language under harsh compact fluorescent light bulbs for days on end.

7) And you mocked my lyrics.