The Greatest Invention

Some varied opinions at More Intelligent Life:

Writing is the Greatest Invention

The Greatest Invention is the Scientific Method

The Web is the Greatest Invention

The Blade is the Greatest Invention

I think they’re all pretty significant…and what about the printing press, or the use of language itself?


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‘The Finest Life You Ever Saw’

From The New York Review of Books, a James Salter review of Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934–1961 by Paul Hendrickson. A brief excerpt:

Paul Hendrickson’s rich and enthralling Hemingway’s Boat, which covers the last twenty-seven years of Hemingway’s life, from 1934 to 1961, is not, as is made clear at the beginning, a conventional biography. It is factual but at the same time intensely personal, driven by great admiration but also filled with sentiment, speculation, and what might be called human interest. Hendrickson can write an appreciation of a photograph of Hemingway, his wife Pauline, and a boat hand named Samuelson sitting at a café table in Havana as if it were an altarpiece, and can give Havana itself—its bars, cafés, the Ambos Mundos Hotel, the ease of its life and dedication to its vices—a bygone radiance, a vanished city before its puritan cleansing by Castro.


On returning to America from his African safari in 1934, Hemingway fulfilled a long-held desire to buy a sea-going

fishing boat, and at a boatyard in Brooklyn he ordered the thirty-eight-foot cabin cruiser that he christened Pilar, his favorite Spanish name and also the secret name for his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer, from early in their romance. In May 1934 his boat was delivered.

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On Enduring Love

From The Browser, FiveBook Interviews, with Riz Khan’s recommendations—commentary at the link:

Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts

The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro

The World According to Garp, by John Irving

Before She Met Me, by Julian Barnes

Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë

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Metaphorical Love

From Richard Nordquist, an article referring to a piece from the past called, Love Is a Metaphor—99 of them.

As our collection demonstrates, love has been compared to everything from a migraine headache and a hawk with velvet claws to a banana peel and an exploding cigar. And while some comparisons evoke a sense of rapture, others impart feelings of cynicism or despair.

And some are simply funny, like Frank Cardone’s comment that love is like a river:

She fell for him like her heart was a mob informant and he was the east river!!!

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‘The Muses of Insert, Delete and Execute’

From The New York Times, a literary history of word processing. The introduction:

The literary history of the typewriter has its well-established milestones, from Mark Twain producing the first typewritten manuscript with “Life on the Mississippi” to Truman Capote famously dismissing Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” pounded out on a 120-foot scroll, with the quip “That’s not writing, that’s typing.”


The literary history of word processing is far murkier, but that isn’t stopping Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, an associate professor of English at the University of Maryland, from trying to recover it, one casual deletion and trashed document at a time.

For the record, I love my MacPro laptop.
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How To Talk About Books You Haven’t Read

I have not read How To Talk About Books You Haven’t Read by Pierre Bayard, but this review found at Of Books and Bicycles offers some insights on the book that’s worth checking out. I may have to add it to my rather long reading list. The comments at the post are quite good, also.

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Five myths about church and state in America

From Oxford University Press Blog, by David Sehat:

Liberals claim that the founding fathers separated church and state, while conservatives argue that the founders made faith a foundation of our government. Both sides argue that America once enjoyed a freedom to worship that they seek to preserve. Yet neither side gets it right.


See the five myths at the link…and Merry Christmas

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The Art of Literary Olfaction

From Brevity’s Nonfiction Blog, a couple quotes on olfactory cues and writing:

 Smell speaks to our primal mind. The importance of including the sense of smell in our writing is not just to follow the age-old advice to “use sensory language” to engage the reader, though smells can engage the reader more deeply and directly than any other sense. More than that, smell acts like a laser, cutting straight through to our emotional cores.


“No other sensory system has this type of intimate link with the neural areas of  emotion and associative learning, therefore there is a strong neurological basis for why odors trigger emotional connections.”

Rachel S. Herz, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Brown University

Scientific American, October 2011

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10 Quotes From Christopher Hitchens

See all ten at the Christian Science Monitor. Here are number two and number seven:

2. Hitchens on Michael Moore

“Europeans think Americans are fat, vulgar, greedy, stupid, ambitious and ignorant and so on,” Hitchens said of the filmmaker. “And they’ve taken as their own, as their representative American, someone who actually embodies all of those qualities.”

7. Hitchens on writing

“Everybody does have a book in them,” Hitchens said. “But in most cases, that’s where it should stay.”


Update: Link fixed now

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