December 26, 2011

History often emerges only in retrospect.

TIME did an excellent job of encompassing the crazy, eventful, tumultuous year 2011 has been in its "Person of the Year" issue. The person: the protester. Great infographics in the front of book that feature some of the year's most viral images, buzzwords (i.e. "occupy" and "planking"), best tweets, things of the year (i.e. percentage 99% and the 7th billion person born), how forces of nature have affected the world, and so on. It seriously blows my mind when I think of all that has happened. The cover story of protesters around the world features powerful portraits and words from some of the people who fought this year for their freedoms and beliefs. Also includes short profiles of Admiral William McRaven (led the Osama bin Laden raid), Chinese activist Ai Weiwei, Paul Ryan, and Kate Middleton. Finally, a farewell to some prominent people who died this year (Steve Jobs, Elizabeth Taylor, Gil Scott-Heron, Betty Ford, Joe Frazier, etc). Concludes with a Joel Stein piece about Ryan Gosling (<3!).

"History often emerges only in retrospect. Events become significant only when looked back on. No one could have known that when a Tunisian fruit vendor set himself on fire in a public square in a town barely on a map, he would spark protests that would bring down dictators in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya and rattle regimes in Syria, Yemen and Bahrain. Or that that spirit of dissent would spur Mexicans to rise up against the terror of drug cartels, Greeks to march against unaccountable leaders, Americans to occupy public spaces to protest income inequality, and Russians to marshal themselves against a corrupt autocracy. Protests have now occurred in countries whose populations total at least 3 billion people, and the word protest has appeared in newspapers and online exponentially more this past year than at any other time in history.

Is there a global tipping point for frustration? Everywhere, it seems, people said they'd had enough. They dissented; they demanded; they did not despair, even when the answers came back in a cloud of tear gas or a hail of bullets. They literally embodied the idea that individual action can bring collective, colossal change. And although it was understood differently in different places, the idea of democracy was present in every gathering. The root of the word democracy is demos, "the people," and the meaning of democracy is "the people rule." And they did, if not at the ballot box, then in the streets. America is a nation conceived in protest, and protest is in some ways the source code for democracy — and evidence of the lack of it.

The protests have marked the rise of a new generation. In Egypt 60% of the population is under the age of 25. Technology mattered, but this was not a technological revolution. Social networks did not cause these movements, but they kept them alive and connected. Technology allowed us to watch, and it spread the virus of protest, but this was not a wired revolution; it was a human one, of hearts and minds, the oldest technology of all.

Everywhere this year, people have complained about the failure of traditional leadership and the fecklessness of institutions. Politicians cannot look beyond the next election, and they refuse to make hard choices. That's one reason we did not select an individual this year. But leadership has come from the bottom of the pyramid, not the top. For capturing and highlighting a global sense of restless promise, for upending governments and conventional wisdom, for combining the oldest of techniques with the newest of technologies to shine a light on human dignity and, finally, for steering the planet on a more democratic though sometimes more dangerous path for the 21st century, the Protester is TIME's 2011 Person of the Year. -- Rick Stengel"

December 04, 2011

"I don't want to blow shit up. I want to get stuff done."

2012=1968? by John Heilemann

"In such an environment, formal claims to leadership are invariably and forcefully rejected, leaving the processes for accomplishing anything in a state of near chaos, while at the same time opening the door to (indeed compelling) ad hoc reins-taking by those with the force of personality to gain ratification for their deas about how to proceed. "In reality," says Yotam Marom, one of the key OWS organizers, "movements like this are most conducive to being led by people already most conditioned to lead.""

"Capitalizing on this support is the central issue facing OWS, and its ability to do so will depend on myriad factors, including the behavior of plutocrats, politicians, and police. (In terms of presenting shocking and morally clarifying imagery, the recent pepper-spraying incident at the University of California, Davis, struck many as reminiscent of Bull Connor's goons dousing civil-rights protesters with fire hoses in 1963). But it will also depend on which of two broad strains within OWS turns out to be dominant: the radical reformism of social democrats such as Berger, who want to see a more humane and egalitarian form of capitalism and a government less corrupted by money, or the radical utopianism of the movement's anarchists and Marxists, who seek to replace our current economic and political arrangements with ... who knows what? "My fear is that we become the worst of the New Left," Berger says. "I don't want to live in a fucking commune. I don't want to blow shit up. I want to get stuff done.""

"Teichberg is a 39-year-old Russian immigrant with stooped shoulders and a mop of brown hair who grew up in Rego Park and is so jacked in to the electronic grid that he comes across like a character out of Neuromancer. But what makes him so interesting is that you could just as easily imagine him making a cameo in The Big Short. A math prodigy who was a Westinghouse Science Talent Search finalist before matriculating at Princeton, he left college (temporarily) after his sophomore year and went to work for Bankers Trust, the first in a string of Wall Street gigs at firms including Deutsche Bank, Swiss Reinsurance Corp., and HSBC. And what did he do in those places? He created, modeled, and traded derivatives, including some of the first synthetic CDOs. And he told the London Times, he was "one of the people [who] built that bomb that blew up the whole economy.""

"Like Teichberg's, their criticisms of that system are more sophisticated and precise than those of many of their comrades. But their politics, also like Teichberg's, are the opposite: earnest and idealistic, for sure, but also vague and half-formed."

I could never quite align myself with the Occupy Wall Street movement, and I can't quite articulate why; I don't know why. One might think I might be a little more sympathetic (I have less than $1,000 to my name, about $25,000 in debt, no job, living with a single mother who got laid off a few months ago...). At the same time though, I'm really confident in my potential to succeed in the career I've chosen, I have an awesome internship, I'm optimistic that my mom will find a job soon, I'm lucky enough to be able to live at home in NYC. I don't quite feel screwed over by the system just yet. I don't know. I also met a lot of the protesters; interns headed down there in September to help with polling, and I don't know, I just wasn't impressed. I didn't get the idea many of them knew what they were talking about. Anyway, I liked that John Heilemann evaluated how this movement can and whether it will, influence politics next year. And especially loved that he spoke to some of the more intelligent leaders (though the movement claims to be leaderless) who have identified some of the problems I've had with the movement and their ideas on how to improve it and make it effective. And it's not that I don't think there aren't fundamental things that need to change. I just never thought camping out in a park and yelling was the best way to address the problem. I think they (we?) have to be smarter about our approaches if we want to make any real differences ... meh, that's all I have to say about it for now.

The efforts all share the upscale New York brand identity.

Really interesting feature (and package) that covers New York City's booming tourism industry. Fifty million tourists will have visited by the end of this year, breaking a record. Apparently the milestone has been reached because of Michael Bloomberg's and NYC & Company's (a marketing type agency) initiatives, connections, outreach, etc. Read and you'll see. Anyway, thought the way their niche-marketing/advertising/PR strategies for potential tourists from the U.S. and abroad was interesting. And how they've been able to convince hotels, airlines, and other members of the industry to join them in their efforts.

"Among travelers from the top foreign markets, Australians are the most adventurous. They are the most likely to attend a sporting event, go dancing, shop, buy tickets to a concert or a play--anything, really. The French are the likeliest to attend an art gallery or a museum. The British, Irish, and Arab Middle Easterners are the least interested in art. Brazilians are emphatically anti-guided tours. The Japanese are seriously into Harlem, crowding gospel brunches and church tours (it is an open secret among New York's jazz community that our jazz clubs are, at this point, all but subsidized by older Japanese men). The Norwegians, Danes, Finns, and the Dutch are the wealthiest, with 18 percent of the arrivals earning more than $200,000. Indians are the thriftiest, in a sense--because they often stay with friends or relatives and avoid hotels, they spend only $88 a person a day. But they also tend to stay longer than other groups, spending $1,000 per trip. The "Russian oligarch" stereotype, statistically speaking, is fiction. 
    Our visiting compatriots, meanwhile, have their own quirks. Their behavior patterns fall into two main categories: day-trippers who tend to come from relatively nearby and get in and out quickly for a specific purpose, and overnighters, who swarm in from farther away and stay longer. While just about every day-tripper who comes to New York shops here, guests from D.C. are almost twice as likely as the average tourist to name that as their main reason to visit. Among overnighters, Angelenos do the most shopping, Miamians are the most inclined to hit an art gallery, and Bostonians tend to favor our nightclubs. 
    To capitalize on those and other differences, NYC & Company has launched niche-marketing campaigns for different places. While the efforts all share the upscale New York brand identity, they are tailored in unique ways. Asian ads focus on our main icons to entice first-time visitors. European markets get bombarded with messages meant to encourage repeat visits and a "live like a local" experience. In Italy and Germany, NYC & Company has been selling the notion of the city's "energy" and "vibrancy," as opposed to any specific sites. It's less Broadway and more Bedford Avenue--a place where you go to be cool. In the domestic market, the sales pitch stays largely the same: The ads for New York that appear in Texas are the same as those running in Connecticut."

"As their economy grew like never before, middle-class Brazilians abandoned traditional vacation destinations like Argentina for New York. NYC & Company quickly influenced American Airlines to create discount fares. After observing the Brazilians' consumer behavior and realizing they are disproportionately taken with Broadway theater, NYC & Company sent five musicals to Sao Paulo. "Nobody's paying for anything--AA is flying them in," says Fertitta, practically giddy. Between 2009 and 2010 alone, the number of Brazilian tourists in the city increased by an incredible 77 percent. And the typical Brazilian drops $415 a day here, about double the international average."

*For a few weeks this year I worked in a watch/jewelry store in midtown Manhattan that largely attracts tourists and I definitely noticed that many more than the last time (I also worked there in 2009) stemmed from Brazil. 

Also, I loved Tourist Profiling and I thought Geotagging the Tourists was really cool. And I really, really want to have some oysters at Grand Central Oyster Bar one day soon!

December 01, 2011

The hothouse brand of American malice stalks our country still.

What Killed JFK, by Frank Rich

"What's also clear is that, despite the ardent attempts of the Kennedy cult to keep his romantic image alive, it is fading among those Americans who are too young to have witnessed it firsthand, in Technicolor. They tend to see JFK now as the property of their parents and grandparents--a short, transitional chapter in the American story, gradually reverting to black-and-white. Listen to Jackie Kennedy in her conversations with Schlesinger--with her feathery voice and piquant observations bespeaking a vanished time and class--and it's hard to imagine what any 21st-century American under 40 could possibly make of her patrician eccentricities. In retrospect, that exhilarating rally at American University in Washington, D.C., in January 2008--where Caroline Kennedy, her uncle Teddy, and her cousin Patrick, soon to end the family's 64-year run in national office, passed the torch to Obama--was the dynasty's last hurrah.

On the other hand, read Manchester or 11/22/63 or any other account of that time, and the vitriol that was aimed at Kennedy in life seems as immediate as today. It's as startling as that "You lie!" piercing the solemnity of a presidential address like a gunshot--or the actual gunshots fired at the White House last week by another wretched waif. In the end, that political backdrop is what our 44th and 35th presidents may have most in common. The tragedy of the Kennedy cult is that even as it fades, the hothouse brand of American malice that stalked its hero stalks our country still."

This issue is packed with good stuff. Just look to the cover. Especially "When Did the GOP Lose Touch With Reality?" by David Frum and "When Did Liberals Become So Unreasonable?" by Jonathan Chait. The piece about Bloomberg's personal conflict with Occupy Wall Street. The design story, too. The juice-bar spread (the photo is perfect). And can't forget "He Shops She Shops," particularly the part with the senior couple, Leo and Tillie! Fuck it, here is the table of contents.

November 25, 2011

Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.

Steve Jobs's death on October 5 shocked the world, even though his illness guaranteed it sooner than later. Millions realized how significantly he changed our lives and the Internet was abuzz with expressions of sadness and gratitude. I was super impressed by TIME's last-minute decision to stop the presses with three hours left to close and recreate the issue to commemorate his death. A reflection from TIME's art director describes the process in more detail; it's really amazing. The cover photo was so moving. It was perfect, capturing Steve Jobs on the floor of his living room with his Mac, before he could imagine the success he would experience in the coming decades.

But it was Newsweek's commemorative issue that blew me away. Granted, I think they had more time to put it together. While TIME's issue was not entirely devoted to Steve Jobs (I believe they still ran much of the original intended content), Newsweek pulled together a wide range of excellent editorial solely devoted to the man. It included, yeah, the typical articles reiterated everywhere about both his early life (adoption, high school partnership with Steve Wozniak, dropping out of college, LSD in India, etc.), and how he ultimately changed the world with his innovation and eye for good design. But it also included an essay about Steve's relationship with Laurene Powell Jobs, the "apple of his eye," and an essay about his relationship with Bill Gates. It included an excerpt from his famous Stanford University commencement speech, another from a conversation between him and screenwriter/producer Aaron Sorkin, and an in depth look at the disease that killed him. Several infographics tracked: his magazine covers, his "geek chic" fashion, the businesses he transformed (computers, movies, videogames, music, phones), the gadgets he created, and his flops. It included an essay about the geniuses who came before him and a thought-provoking essay about the geniuses who we will never know. Quotes demonstrated how Steve Jobs foresaw many innovations. I loved the excellent photography of worldwide tributes and of the young Steve. The sad mac on the inside cover: minor detail but nice touch. It was a well-rounded tribute to Steve Jobs's life and career, and I really enjoyed reading it and recommend to all. (Try to find a print issue, because articles are nearly impossible to find on the Daily Beast)


When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, some day you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "no" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7.30 in the morning and it clearly showed a tumour on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for "prepare to die". It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.
I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumour. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.
This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope it's the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful, but purely intellectual, concept:
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but some day not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And, most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

November 24, 2011

It often takes a disaster to get people thinking about their power

If someone had pitched the cover story about the Ashkenazi Jews to me, I'm not sure I would have run with it. But it worked and lended itself to a great cover (and great opening spread photograph).

I really liked Robert Sullivan's "A Slight Chance of Meltdown." It alerted me to the conflicts surrounding Indian Point, a nuclear power plant so close to home. I thought Sullivan did a great job of presenting both sides of the conflicts and demonstrating that, we kind of lose either way. (At least until we find alternative sources of energy).

"It often takes a disaster, or the threat of one, anyway, to get people thinking about their power--otherwise they just plug in or charge it overnight, without giving a second thought to where those electrons are born."

"The magnitude-5.8 quake in Virginia hit in the vicinity of the North Anna nuclear plant with twice the amount of ground movement the structure was designed for, cracking a wall of a reactor's containment unit and shifting the concrete pads under casks that store used nuclear fuel. It was the first time an operating U.S. nuclear plant experienced a tremor that exceeded its design parameters."

"If there was a fire in the reactor, then Indian Point would, by regulation, begin to shut down. Fortunately, if the sprinkler system was damaged in the quake, then workers could turn to the additional fire requirement and backup generators installed after 9/11. Unfortunately, the scenario that involves enough shaking to damage the reactor building also involves damage to the buildings containing the emergency fire equipment. Indian Point would then call in local fire officials, who, Entergy boasts, are well prepared to deal with radiation releases. But suppose this quake has damaged area transportation routes. Suppose trees and wires are down and the plant is running on backup power. Suppose emergency officials are dealing with other buildings that have collapsed on emergency equipment: A 2001 study argued that a magnitude-7 quake in nearby Bergen County would destroy 14,000 buildings and damage 180,000. In this scenario, the fire spreads and the reactor is no longer under control."

"As far as releases of radiation go, the NRC mandates only a ten-mile evacuation area for Indian Point. In other words, official policy states that New York City would be spared any sizable risk from a meltdown. But perhaps it's more sensible to look at what the NRC had to say in Japan. After the Fukushima meltdown, the NRC told Americans living there to clear out of a 50-mile zone. Subsequently, the Japanese government declared huge swathes of land uninhabitable for decades. The local 50-mile equivalent is a circle defined by Kingston to the north; Bridgeport, Connecticut, to the east; the Delaware Water Gap to the west; and the southern tip of Staten Island to the south. It includes all of the 8.2 million people living in New York City."

"If you agree with the governor that this small risk of contamination of 2.7 percent of the U.S. population is not worth the benefit of nuclear power, then you have to come up with some other way to replace the 2,000 megawatts of energy Indian Point currently provides to New York City and Westchester." The image of a dark Times Square mentioned later in this graf was pretty powerful. Never even thought about how much energy is required to keep Times Square lit, more today than ever before, I think.

"Entergy poses a good question: If you are against the possible destruction of New York City by Indian Point, and also against the as-yet-unquantifiable possibility of watershed damage caused by fracking, and at the same time against summer blackouts and all their attendant public-health and safety issues, is there anything left to be for?"

Also thought Gabriel Sherman did some great reporting for his story about Elisabeth Murdoch; James Murdoch (her brother) resigned from the boards of News Group's newspapers yesterday. Think this family has a long way to go before any good is associated with their name.

I also haven't really mentioned the Strategist section, but it's always solid. Loved Art of the Feast, the holiday food guide. Almost decided to make one of the featured dishes for today, but yeaaaahh, not happening.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 22, 2011

In those days, nothing happened without men.

Loved this issue's cover story, an oral history to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the launch of Ms. magazine. I love oral histories! Sometimes it's just better to let the sources tell the story. Aside from learning about how this magazine changed so many women, liberating them, giving them a voice, I really enjoyed learning about the challenges of starting the magazine. Doing so in the face of that adversity made it all the more interesting. But just the tidbits about brainstorming the name of the magazine, the covers, story ideas. I loved that. Coming up with the money. The conflicts about representing diversity--how they wanted to more often but had to consider their Southern readers. The letters to the editor and commentary after the first preview issue (especially the negative ones). I don't identify myself as a feminist. (Not even sure what it means today). I'm not sure of what kind of woman I would have been in the 1970s. I'm not sure I would have been the bra-less, sign-bearing, vocal protester (though who knows). But I think I would have loved the provocative, thought-provoking, intelligent nature of the magazine. It went there. Also, what really hit home was the mention of the limited opportunities women had to become journalists. Not until I read it did I realize there was a time when being a journalist would not have been an option for me.

Pogrebin: In those days, nothing happened without men. You needed one man to be nice to you and then maybe you could run with it.

Milton Glaser (New York design director, 1968–77): We worked right out of the office and started simultaneously doing our weekly magazine. We really felt, all of us, that we were on the brink of a moment in time.

Steinem: It had a universality because it’s harking back to a mythic image—the many-armed Indian God image. And it solved our problem of being racially “multibiguous” because she’s blue: not any one race. (on the cover)

Pogrebin: We chose Ms. because it could be explained and justified—since “Mister” or “Mr.” doesn’t communicate a man’s marital status, why should women carry “Miss” or “Mrs.,” as if to advertise their availability as mates?

Louise Bernikow (contributor, 1970s): The story was my politics-is-personal moment. I grew up knowing “girls couldn’t,” and when it came to being writers, I knew that I couldn’t be a reporter for the New York Times or Newsday; I could only be a researcher. But I had never put it together in terms of the pyramid that the story reveals.

President Nixon to Henry Kissinger on White House Audiotapes, 1972 
Nixon: [Dan Rather] asked a silly goddamn question about Ms.—you know what I mean?
Kissinger: Yeah.
Nixon: For shit’s sake, how many people really have read Gloria Steinem and give one shit about that?

New York Times Headline, March 22, 1972:
“In Small Town U.S.A., Women’s Liberation Is Either a Joke or a Bore.”

Gillespie: The magazine, despite its flaws, provided so many words that had been missing. So many silences finally broken. Ms. changed lives, changed attitudes, helped to create and change laws, policies, practices.


I was also thoroughly amused by the 2,000+ word feature about rats in New York City. Rats have become kind of an inside joke with a few of my friends. They always come up in conversation somehow and we freak. One of my friends has experienced unpleasant encounters. Did you know rats can collapse their skeletons to fit through a hole no bigger than a quarter?

November 20, 2011

Our class war will rage on without winners indefinitely.

The Class War Has Begun by Frank Rich is excellent and my favorite of this issue. I feel about Occupy Wall Street and the protesters about the same way that Sam Graham-Felsen in Noreen Malone's "The Kids Are Actually Sort of Alright" feels: "Even just the physical style, the types of chants, the stuff that they're eating, the granola--it's just so derivative of the sixties," he said. "It's like, 'Guys, let's do something that's more our generation.'" I'm just annoyed with them, frankly. I get it. But I think they're going about it the wrong way. But anyway. It was really refreshing to read this article by Frank Rich that evaluated the movement by using historical context and a different perspective.

Excerpt "Elections are supposed to resolve conflicts in a great democracy, but our next one will not. The elites will face off against the elites to a standoff, and the issues animating the class war in both parties won't even be on the table. The structural crises in our economy, our government, and our culture defy any of the glib solutions proposed by current Democrats or Republicans; the quixotic third-party movements being hatched by well-heeled do-gooders are vanity productions. The two powerful forces that extricated America from the Great Depression--the courageous leadership and reformist zeal of Roosevelt, the mobilization for World War II--are not on offer this time. Our class war will rage on without winners indefinitely, with all sides stewing in their own juices, until--when? No one knows. The reckoning with capitalism's failures over the past three decades, both in America and the globe beyond, may well be on hold until the top one percent becomes persuaded that its own economic fate is tied to the other 99 percent's. Which is to say things may have to get worse before they get better." 

The annotations are also excellent! And as an intern, I helped! I retrieved the first, congressional testimony, "Don't Forget Me for a Job," from the Center for Legislative Archives. Was told that editor in chief Adam Moss was so moved by the testimony he cried. I transcribed part of the second, "The Coffee Summit," as well as met Eliot Spitzer and got him the coffee when he came to the office to do the interview (ha, bizarre, but true). 

"The Romney Economy" by Benjamin Wallace-Wells is also a good read, as is Logan Hill's profile of Anton Yelchin (I helped transcribe most of this interview and I hated Anton Yelchin by the end of it, haha. Thought Logan did a good job of illustrating Anton's essence in so few words without imposing any of his own opinions and letting the readers interpret for themselves. To Anton's credit, I've heard Like Crazy was amazing).

November 11, 2011

If the answer matters, you've got your answer.

Another excerpt from Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried. In honor of Veterans Day? I don't know.

"You can tell a true war story by the questions you ask. Somebody tells a story, let's say, and afterward you ask, "Is it true?" and if the answer matters, you've got your answer. For example, we've all heard this one. Four guys go down a trail. A grenade sails out. One guy jumps on it and takes the blast and saves his three buddies. Is it true? The answer matters. You'd feel cheated if it never happened. Without the grounding reality, it's just a trite bit of puffery, pure Hollywood, untrue in the way all such stories are untrue. Yet even if it did happen--and maybe it did, anything's possible--even then you know it can't be true, because a true war story does not depend upon that kind of truth. Absolute occurrence is irrelevant. A thing may happen and be a total lie, another thing may not happen and be truer than the truth. For example: Four guys go down a trail. A grenade sails out. One guy jumps on it and takes the blast, but it's a killer grenade and everybody dies anyway. Before they die, though, one of the dead guys says, "The fuck you do that for?" and the jumper says, "Story of my life, man," and the other guy starts to smile but he's dead. That's a true story that never happened." (p. 80).

November 10, 2011

Managing our decline.

"The Kids Are Actually Sort of Alright," in the October 24 issue of New York Magazine aimed to analyze the current post-recession "post-hope" generation. I really wanted to love it. I had the biggest issue with her sources. Noreen Malone placed too much of herself, her experiences, her sister, her friends and acquaintances, in an article that was supposed to describe a group comprised of an entire generation, people from all walks of life. She seemed to know most of the sources beforehand (with the exception of Yaphet Murphy, an Occupy Wall Street protester later eliminated from the article for lying about his age, and thus, not fitting into the demographic). They all looked the same: white, Brooklyn residents (We all know which parts right? One, she described, had a "Brooklyn beard." What does that even mean?), members of middle class (or higher) families, who followed their dreams (woodworking or English, for example) and are now either stuck and hating it or stuck and loving it. No interviews with minorities, community college students, few with residents of the outer boroughs. No interviews with people of the generation who have perhaps beaten odds (low-income families) but found success through perseverance and hard work (they're out there).

I think she wrestles a lot with her point. I think she feels the way the title implies, that we're sort of alright, but is told otherwise by her research, sources, society. She ends by explaining a term she's often heard of: managed decline. "That's what we're doing when we decide that we can be okay with having more unpredictable careers and more modest lifestyles, if that's what's in store: Even as we hold out hope that something will reverse the trajectory, we are managing our decline, we are making do."

I agree. But between the awful transitions, beers with her Brooklyn sources/friends, analyses of songs from indie artists I'm sure most of our generation has not heard of, and one awful lamp metaphor, she did not support her conclusion.


It seems like most of the commenters for this story agreed.

More from this issue:

1. After the Rapture by Dan P. Lee -- Kind of amazing to me that Harold Camping was able to convince thousands that the world would end, first on May 21, and then on October 21. Dan P. Lee describes when Camping had a stroke: "As Camping was eating, God entered his body--for it would have to have been this way, there was no other possibility--coalescing several cells into a tiny clot of lipids that traveled through his bloodstream by the beating of his heart to a narrow bend in a tiny vessel in his brain. As Shirley stood by him in the dining room, the ambulance en route, inside his skull, God began suffocating Camping's brain cells." So good.

2. "I Was No Longer Afraid to Die. I was Now Afraid Not to Die." by Boris Kachka -- First, kind of weird that the title is a quote from the article. Second, I confess. I had no idea who Joan Didion is... still really don't, as I didn't read the whole article. But I loved the lede: "Reading Joan Didion on any subject is like tiptoeing across a just-frozen pond filled with beautiful sharks. You look down and pray the ice will hold. Meeting her is not a vastly different experience. Opening the door to her cavernous Upper East Side apartment, the writer murmurs a monotone "hello" but doesn't shake hands. There's bottled water, she says, waving in the direction of a double-size Sub-Zero in her double-size kitchen. She wears a sun-faded white sleeveless skirt-suit fashioned from the raw silk curtains in her old house in Brentwood. She is 76 but looks older. She has always been birdlike, five two and wire-thin, but never quite this frail. Her arms are translucent river systems of veins. Her face is worn, unyielding. "She doesn't express it," says her agent and friend Lynn Nesbit, but you can see the pain in her face.""

3. How to Survive a Zombie Attack by Dan Kois -- I was both amused by and extremely impressed with this five-page spread. Might be my favorite part of the issue. I would have probably argued that five pages is too many to devote to zombies, but it really works. It called on the expertise of a wide range of people, including Stephen King, professors, neuroscientists, producers and museum curators, to give useful advice for hypothetical (impossible?) situations. It was extremely well-done, educational, and fun to read.

October 18, 2011

All cities can be endlessly improved by a heterodox profusion of creativity.

I meant to post this yesterday, but I fell asleep. Life is exhausting and mustering up the energy to blog regularly (even seemingly simple posts) has been difficult. But it's not that I haven't been reading. I'm currently an intern at New York Magazine and aside from keeping up with current events and blogs (most of which I'm linked to via Twitter), I've been reading each week's issue. It occurred to me Saturday that, duh, I should blog about what I've read in the magazine. Every issue has such great content, I fall more in love with the magazine each week. The most recent issue, aside from the one that hit stands today, is the Urban Global Design issue (10/17/11). It's the first major issue I've assisted with since my internship started a little more than a month ago; it took me a few days to open it up and want to read it for reasons that I may eventually explain here, but once I did, I couldn't deny that the issue was impressive. It was nice to see how wonderfully it all came together in the end. And it was so exciting to work on! Urban design, cities, and how urban design shapes and defines those cities is a topic I've long been interested in.

My favorites from this issue:

1. Bailout Ball by Will Leitch -- I don't really follow the NBA but the lockout sucks for the fans, and probably even more so for the players. Leitch highlights their powerlessness.

2. They See Rich People by Diana Spechler -- A quirky perspective. I really enjoyed this piece.

^^ Intelligencer section content: always honest, to the point, informative, perceptive, often funny.

3. Design: City As Lab by Wendy Goodman (design editor) and Justin Davidson -- An introduction to the cover package. All cities are different and all cities can be endlessly improved by a heterodox profusion of creativity. 

4. The Delirious City: A Survey, reporting by Jillian Goodman, Andre Tartar, and Kat Ward -- Love this compilation created by surveying the world's most prominent architects, critics, urban planners, etc. Think my favorite is the Wikileaks' data center, for sure. Second favorite, the kindergarten classroom in a tree.

5. Design Hunting: Global Edition by Wendy Goodman, some reporting by Rachel Baker* -- I'm attached to this section because I spent the last month and a half or so helping with it. My favorites are the cement plant in Barcelona, the Rotterdam Market Hall, and the Warsaw installation.

*I saw this post received a view and as I reread it, I realized now is a good time to edit this slightly. I'm editing this 3+ years later (11/8/14) to say that I  conducted the interview and wrote the post for the Warsaw installation blurb. I didn't want to mention it then because I was still an intern. But I remember being really upset at the time that I wrote it and that it was attributed to one of the editors. I've also since realized that this is often the way it goes when you're at the bottom. And one day it won't be as such.

6. Tune In, by editors -- Love this. Love the reflections; four music videos that changed pop culture! Videos by Michael Jackson, Madonna, Duran Duran, and Nirvana.

7. Back In The Day-O by Joshua Jelly-Schapiro. Interview with Harry Belafonte. Loved the bit about the role models not living in the neighborhoods anymore. And how ironic that Barack Obama's father was one of the students sponsored by Belafonte to come to America!

I'll try to post some links from the previous issues soon. And I'm excited to post about this week's issue, whose cover story is about my "post-hope" generation, and how maybe we're not so hopeless, after all.

September 23, 2011

The thermodynamic miracle.

Watchmen. I can't remember the last time I read a book so engrossing. I love it. I missed that. I missed reading!

I found the following excerpt on Tumblr a few months ago and reblogged it because I loved it so much, completely unaware of the fact that it came from Watchmen. Jon brings Laurie to Mars, where he has escaped to. She tries to convince him to return to Earth, as it is chaotic and destructive with his absence, but he doesn't believe it's worth it. He believes life is meaningless, that she's meaningless. They fight. She cries. He realizes he's wrong. He says:

"Thermodynamic miracles ... events with odds against so astronomical they're effectively impossible, like oxygen spontaneously becoming gold. I long to observe such a thing. And yet in each human coupling, a thousand million sperm vie for a single egg. Multiply those odds by countless generations, against the odds of your ancestors being alive, meeting, siring this precise son, that precise daughter ... until your mother loves a man she has every reason to hate, and of that union, of the thousand million children competing for fertilization, it was you, only you, that emerged. To distill so specific a form from that chaos of improbability, like turning air to gold ... that is the crowning unlikelihood. The thermodynamic miracle. But the world is so full of people, so crowded with these miracles that they become commonplace and we forget ... I forget. We gaze continually at the world and it grows dull in our perceptions. Yet seen from another's vantage point, as if new, it may still take the breath away."
Chapter IX, p. 26

September 01, 2011

I should have become a watchmaker.

I love Watchmen. I've been reading it slowly -- usually just during subway rides. Today I read chapter 4 and, so far, it's my favorite.

I tend to be attracted to stories about the misunderstood "monster." And then of course there's science fiction: the supernatural, the manipulation of space and time. Finally, the essentials: love & loss, nostalgia & torment. You know, all the stuff that makes for good literature.

I found the chapter on YouTube. I think it's better to read it; the suspense builds more dramatically as your eyes move from scene to scene and your mind processes what is happening. But still, seriously amazing.

Watchmen Motion Comic, Part 1/3

Watchmen Motion Comic, Part 2/3

Watchmen Motion Comic, Part 3/3

"The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking ... The solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker."
- Albert Einstein

August 19, 2011

Top 100 Science-Fiction & Fantasy

About a week ago, NPR published a list of the top 100 science-fiction and fantasy books, as chosen by their readers. I love, love, love science-fiction and fantasy, and some of my favorite books of all time made the list (1984, Animal Farm, Frankenstein!, Flowers for Algernon). It's my goal to read them all.

Right now I'm reading Watchmen. I really like it so far.

April 05, 2011

Air Lift, son of Bold Venture, full brother of Assault

Death of a Racehorse by W.C. Heinz

Usually, I wouldn't care, and seeing as how not many people read this at the moment, that I know of, I shouldn't. But just in case this blog should accumulate readers in the future, I'll considerately post the excerpt after my comments because I don't want to ruin the experience. In my opinion, for the end to be effective, the short story needs to build up to it. I finally decided to read this piece, which I only know because Chris Jones frequently mentions it's one of his favorites. This is weird but the first way I can think to describe the way it makes me feel is in Italian, "Mi colpisce." It hits me. It moves me. The last two grafs--so hard to read, but I still do over and over and they get me every time.

They moved the curious back, the rain falling faster now, and they moved the colt over close to a pile of loose bricks. Gilman had the halter and Catlett had the gun, shaped like a bell with the handle at the top. This bell he placed, the crowd silent, on the colt's forehead, just between the eyes. The colt stood still and then Catlett, with the hammer in his other hand, struck the handle of the bell. There was a short, sharp sound and the colt toppled onto his left side, his eyes staring, his legs straight out, the free legs quivering.

"Aw ----" someone said.

That was all they said. They worked quickly, the two vets removing the broken bones as evidence for the insurance company, the crowd silently watching. Then the heavens opened, the rain pouring down, the lightning flashing, and they rushed for the cover of the stables, leaving alone on his side near the pile of bricks, the rain running off his hide, dead an hour and a quarter after his first start, Air Lift, son of Bold Venture, full brother of Assault.

March 23, 2011

And so, when opened up by the knife, the meat dried out immediately

Esquire, February 2011

I read the first few grafs and thought to myself, "I get that this is a men's magazine, and ok, yeah, Brooklyn Decker is gorgeous, but why does she get a whole article devoted to her?!?! There is literally nothing to Brooklyn Decker but her physical appearance." Voiced my opinion, to which my wise friend responded, "Maybe that's the point." Ah, yes. By the end, I found the story to be quite amusing. Below excerpt possibly a metaphor for Brooklyn?

"But it isn't the truth. The chicken was good when it came out of the oven. Just fine, juicy--piquant, even. Nice touch with the prosciutto, Brooklyn. But it was too hot, and so, when opened up by the knife, the meat dried out immediately. The salad couldn't save it. By the time she asked, the chicken really was quite a chore."

Tom Chiarella, you so smart.

PS, I can't believe she's only two years older than me.

March 21, 2011

And a Labrador retriever came along and lapped some up

Esquire, February 2011

We Drink It So You Don't Have To by David Granger

What: Skinnygirl Margarita

Why: Liquor stores can't keep the stuff in stock, which means your girlfriend is drinking it.

What It Tastes Like: Say the cute little four-year-old down the block made a bowl of lemonade but instead of sugar used Splenda and instead of lemons used lemon flavoring and put it in a big bowl filled with ice and set it in the sun so all the ice melted and the "lemonade" got kind of hot and she got bored and went inside and a Labrador retriever came along and lapped some up and then stuck his head in the bowl and got the stuff all up in his nose and sneezed uncontrollably into the bowl for awhile. That's what it tastes like. On ice.

Why I love David Granger. Love Bethenny Frankel, too, though, but guessing that Granger is most certainly right.

January 14, 2011

And the future will be what the future will be.

Love love love the What I've Learned section in Esquire. So I loved the "Meaning of Life" issue because it was filled with them. I almost blogged excerpts from each one but that would take too long, take up too much space.

Robert De Niro: "Now is now. Then is then. And the future will be what the future will be. So enjoy the moment while you're in it. Now is a great time."

The other people interviewed for this issue included Yoko Ono, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Duvall, Robert Redford, Aaron Sorkin ('Cuse alum!), Mary-Louise Parker, George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush, Ruth Westheimer, Ted Danson, Danny DeVito, Ricky Gervais, Ferran Adria, James L. Brooks, Fred Willard, Albert Brooks, Jodie Foster, Jesus H. Christ (ha), and in memoriam (people who died this year and did interviews in the past), John Wooden, Jimmy Dean, Tony Curtis, David Brown, George Steinbrenner. Read 'em. And then read some more. They're all great.

January 13, 2011

It was just the endless march, village to village, without purpose, nothing won or lost.

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

"Often, they carried each other, the wounded or weak. They carried infections. They carried chess sets, basketballs, Vietnamese-English dictionaries, insignia of rank, Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts, plastic cards imprinted with the Code of Conduct. They carried diseases, among them malaria and dysentery. They carried lice and ringworm and leeches and paddy algae and various rots and molds. They carried the land itself--Vietnam, the place, the soil--a powdery orange-red dust that covered their boots and fatigues and faces. They carried the sky. The whole atmosphere, they carried it, the humidity, the monsoons, the stink of fungus and decay, all of it, they carried gravity. They moved like mules. By daylight they took sniper fire, at night they were mortared, but it was not battle, it was just the endless march, village to village, without purpose, nothing won or lost. They marched for the sake of the march. They plodded along slowly, dumbly, leaning forward against the heat, unthinking, all blood and bone, simple grunts, soldiering with their legs, toiling up the hills and down into the paddies and across the rivers and up again and down, just humping, one step and then the next and then another, but no volition, no will, because it was automatic, it was anatomy, and the war was entirely a matter of posture and carriage, the hump was everything, a kind of inertia, a kind of emptiness, a dullness of desire and intellect and conscience and hope and human sensibility." (p. 14)


January 10, 2011

Certain subatomic particles add 1 percent more matter than antimatter, creating everything we know

Esquire, December 2010

Excerpts from their list of the best of 2010:

"Twelve hours after the first call for help was sent out from Haiti, Chief Master Sergeant Antonio Travis touched down at Toussaint Louverture International Airport in Port-au-Prince, set up a makeshift control tower on a folding card table, and, for the next twelve days, guided the largest single-runway operation in history--four thousand take-offs and landings that brought four million pounds of food, water, and medical supplies to Haitians in need."

"And no copayments for preventive care (such as immunizations, mammograms, and screenings)."

"A recently discovered crate from Ernest Shackleton's 1907 expedition to the South Pole was opened by archaeologists. Inside, they found eleven untouched bottles of whisky. Samples will be sent to Whyte & Mackay in Glasgow, where master blenders will try to reconstruct the original recipe for the rare Old Highland malt, which had been lost."

"When a 911 call to report a house fire in rural Alaska yielded no response, the caller told his German shepherd, Buddy, to find help. Buddy obeyed, ran away, and found a disoriented state trooper whose GPS had frozen up. Buddy led the trooper back to the fire."

"Se lo perdio Raifi...y ahora de contragolpe le va larga a quiere por derecha area viene...en cita por el arquero...DONOVAN!!! GOOOOOOOOOAL!!!!!!"

"Addressing one of the largest mysteries in cosmology--why the Big Bang did not produce equal amounts of matter and antimatter, resulting in nothing, instead of a universe--physicists at the Fermi accelerator laboratory discovered that certain subatomic particles add 1 percent more matter than antimatter, creating everything we know."

"Stranded Sean Murtagh and Natalie Mead in Dubai while en route to their wedding in England, which led them to perform the ceremony locally and broadcast it to their guests back in London via Skype."

"The 107 students of the class of 2010 at Urban Prep Charter Academy in Chicago--all black, all male, all accepted to four-year colleges despite only 4 percent of them reading at grade level as freshmen."

And the brightest. My note to self. Keep these people in mind for future reference:

- Theodore Zoli, engineer
"Picturing the life of one person, imagining his gain, his peril, crossing the bridge that you built? Small, private, empathetic. It's the way a poet works."

"I've always said that bridge building is technology, not art. Or if it is art, it's not like Western art--by the few, for the few. It's more like folk art--by the many, for the many." - Zoli

"Up on its columns now, just before the bolts are set in place, the span is nudged. Zoli watches without comment as the men work. With one small lift from the crane, just enough to push tension on the lifting straps, the whole event is umphed a few inches to the north, and the platform finds its seat. Just like that, it is an event no longer. Just like that, it assumes the seat of the invisible. This is Zoli's moment, when function takes over, and everyone else looks away."

- Danny Hillis, cochairman of Applied, Minds, Inc.
Just check out the spread for this one.
Found both men to be really interesting.

And the last graf of David Granger's editor's note:

"My wife Melanie, and my friend Cornelia Suskind got to know a doctor named Jim Morgan this past year. He runs Lamp for Haiti ( He does what he can out of a clinic in Cite Soleil to ameliorate an impossible situation by dispensing medical care and fixing basic problems. He has a very small budget. I don't know if the larger effort to save Haiti will work, but I know that Lamp for Haiti helps in small and meaningful ways.
That's all any of us can hope to do."

January 04, 2011

It's just a small emptiness, a tiny lacuna.

Dr. William Beecher Scoville, the writer's grandfather

The Brain That Changed Everything by Luke Dittrich, cont'd
Esquire, November 2010

"And what's true of individual brains is true of brain collections as well. With his Brain Observatory, Annese is setting out to create not the world's largest but the world's most useful collection of brains. Each specimen will, through a proprietary process developed by Annese, be preserved in both histological and digital form, at an unprecedented, neuronal level of resolution. Unlike Brodmann's hand-drawn sketches, Annese's maps will be three-dimensional and fully scalable, allowing future neuroscientists to zoom in from an over-head view of the hundred-billion-neuron forest all the way down to whatever intriguing thicket they like. And though each individual brain is by definition unique, as more and more brains come online, both the commonalities and differences between them should become increasingly apparent, allowing, Annese hopes, for the eventual synthesis of the holy grail of any neuroanatomist: a modern multidimensional atlas of the human mind, one that conclusively maps form to function. For the first time, we'll be able to meaningfully and easily compare large numbers of brains, perhaps finally understanding why one brain might be less empathetic or better at calculus or likelier to develop Alzheimer's than another. The Brain Observatory promises to revolutionize our understanding of how these three-pound hunks of tissue inside our skulls do what they do, which means, of course, that it promises to revolutionize our understanding of ourselves."

"I remember following my grandfather up a hill. He was usually a sharp dresser--a New York Times reporter once described him as "almost unreal in his dashing appearance"-- but on that particular morning I believe he wore a simple gray scarf, a floppy blue hat, and a threadbare ski suit. He was hauling a wooden toboggan behind him. It was either Christmas or Thanksgiving, one of the two holidays when the whole family would get together at his artifact-stuffed house in Farmington, Connecticut. I don't remember the slide down the hill, just the walk up.
I remember midway through one Christmas dinner, maybe his last one, when he pushed himself up from his chair at the head of the table, wandered back to his study, and came back a few minutes later with a crumpled bullet in his hand. He placed the slug down beside his plate, told us the story behind it. Stamford, Connecticut, turn of the century, a burglar breaks into the home of a young bachelor. The bachelor keeps a pistol by his bedside table but his pistol jams. The burglar's doesn't. A bullet enters the bachelor's chest, where it encounters a deflecting rib, skids away from a lucky heart. The bachelor survives and keeps the bullet as a memento. He eventually passes it down to his son.
The bullet just sat there, for the rest of the dinner, beside my grandfather's plate, and like some of the other artifacts in his home, it was both fascinating and terrible to contemplate. Had it found its target, had its aim been true, then my grandfather, his children, his children's children, most of the people sitting around the table, myself included, would have never existed. It was a matter of centimeters, a fluke of aim, bone, ballistics, and it had made all the difference, its repercussions rippling down through generations."

"Annese puts the slide on a rack to dry, and I look at at again, at the blank spot near the middle, the hole you can see right through. It's just a small emptiness, a tiny lacuna. A matter of centimeters. A beginning and an end."

Luke Dittrich. What a great writer! And what a fascinating article that flowed well and ended with the perfect conclusion. The complexity of the human body, and especially the brain, is one thing I sometimes wish I had the intelligence to study and really understand. Dittrich did a great job of recounting the history of his grandfather's experiment and explaining the parts of the human brain relevant to the story and how they function.

The human mind must contain at least two separate and independent memory systems

The Brain That Changed Everything by Luke Dittrich, cont'd.
Esquire, November 2010

"She asks him to trace the star. It's a hard task for anyone, with any sort of brain, though after awhile, with practice, people with normal brains tend to improve their results, mastering the necessary counterintuitive muscle movements. The first time Henry tries it, he does it a little better. And the next time better still. With each new attempt, he never remembers ever having attempted it before, but soon he's completing the task as well as anyone. Even Henry recognizes the strangeness of this.
"I thought this would be difficult," he says to Milner after tracing the star almost perfectly, "but I seem to have done this well."
In 1962, Milner arrives at another simple but revolutionary conclusion: Since Henry is incapable of consciously remembering the events he's living through but seems to be able to unconsciously remember how to perform certain physical tasks, the human mind must contain at least two separate and independent memory systems. The world of memory science is upended again."

"For example, Henry's inability to recall postoperative episodes, an amnesia that was once thought to be complete, has revealed itself over the years to have some puzzling exceptions. Certain things have managed, somehow, to make their way through, to stick and become memories. Henry knows a president was assassinated in Dallas, though Kennedy's motorcade didn't leave Love Field until more than a decade after Henry left my grandfather's operating room. Henry can hear the incomplete name of an icon--"Bob Dy..."--and complete it, even though in 1953 Robert Zimmerman was just a twelve-year-old chafing against the dead-end monotony of small-town Minnesota."

"He's an old man now, overweight, wheelchair-bound, largely incommunicative. Lately Henry's creeping decrepitude has itself suggested some new experiments. During another meeting, Corkin quizzed Henry on how old he thought he was. He guessed that perhaps he was in his thirties. Then she handed him a mirror.
"What do you think about how you look?" she asked while he stared at himself.
"I'm not a boy," he said eventually."

Many of the items looked like they belonged in a cabinet of curiosities

Esquire, November 2010

"My grandfather's home was full of curious artifacts, each with its own story. He traveled a lot, all over the world, and always came home with something new and strange. It was a lifelong occupation: In the mid-1920s, he'd taken what was in those days a very unusual trip to China and ended up paying some of his college tuition by selling the exotic jewelry he brought back to the States. Many of the items in his home looked like they belonged in a cabinet of curiosities. There was a carved wooden totem hanging on one wall of his dining room, some sort of pagan king or god. It was maybe three feet tall, had a soulful, mournful expression. One Thanksgiving, when I asked where it came from, I was told he'd received it during a trip to South America, perhaps in gratitude for some operation he'd performed there. The carving had apparently once been an object of worship, owing mainly to the fact that it would, at times unpredictable, weep, drops of water streaming from its eyes. Did seasonal moisture variations and the way the wood responded to them cause the tears? Probably. That or magic. My grandfather had appreciated the totem's beauty but was unsentimental about its emotions. When he brought it home, he had someone polish it before he hung it on the wall. It never cried again."

"The operation was crude--the surgeon would drive a skinny ice pick up through the thin bone behind his patient's eyeballs, then quickly swish the pick back and forth, cutting a messy swath through the frontal lobes--but it was inarguably effective at transforming otherwise difficult and uncontrollable individuals into placid, carefree creatures."
This excerpt made me cringe. And all I could think was One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

"In 1848, an explosion drives a steel tamping bar through the skull of a twenty-five-year old railroad foreman named Phineas Gage, obliterating a portion of his frontal lobes. He recovers, and seems to possess all his earlier faculties, with one exception: The formerly mild-mannered Gage is now something of a hellion, an impulsive-shit-starter. Ipso facto, the frontal lobes must play some function in regulating and restraining our more animalistic instincts."