I was there last year and just fell in love with Australiaâ€”holy shit, the produce, the proteins, the fish. This place is insane. Why wouldn't you want to open a restaurant out here? We're going to try to use only Australian ingredients, with the exception of some fermented products from Japan and some wines from France.
Since my brain really only works in the morning, I try to keep that time free for writing and thinking and don't read any media at all until lunchtime, when I treat myself to The New York Times--the paper edition. At this point, I realize, I am almost a full 24 hours behind the news cycle. Is this is a problem? I have no idea. My brother, who is a teacher, always says that we place too much emphasis on the speed of knowledge acquistion, and not the quality of knowledge acquistion: I guess that means that the fact that I am still on Monday, when everyone else is on Tuesday, is okay.
I would have never started reading Maureen Tkacik's Gladwell for Dummies in The Nation if I had known that it was over 8K words, so, you know, be warned. And yet it has an "irritating, unrelenting readability" that kept bringing me back to it over several hours. While Anti-Gladwellian screed might be too strong of a descriptor, I'd be comfortable throwing around phrases like petty and jealously thorough. Profiles like this don't get written without there being some sort of personal vendetta involved. And yet, while it's a devastating look at Gladwell's work, it also functions as a takedown of those who enjoy his books. The title of the article should not have been "Gladwell for Dummies" (that would have been better lampooned as "Pseudoscience for Airplanes"), but "Gladwell is for Dummies". Maureen, you make me feel dumb for having read Gladwell's articles, what SHOULD I read?
That success is in the eye of the unsuccessful would seem to be the great unspoken dilemma dogging critics asked to consider the work of the rich and famous author and inspirational speaker Malcolm Gladwell. No matter how well intentioned or intellectually honest their attempts to assess his ideas, the subtext of Gladwell's perceived success, and its implications for their own aspirations in the competitive thought-generation business, obscures their judgment and sinks their morale. Nearly a decade has passed since the New York Times dryly summarized Gladwell's first book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference (2000), as "a study of social epidemics, otherwise known as fads," and yet, each Sunday, it still taunts perusers of the paperback nonfiction rankings, where it currently sits in sixth place. Gladwell may be merely "a slickster trickster" who "markets marketing" (as James Wolcott put it), or a "clever idea packager" who "cannot conceal the fatuousness of his core conclusions" (science writer John Horgan); he might even be an "idiot" (Leon Wieseltier). But one thing is clear: Gladwell is no fad. He is a brand, a guru, a fixture at New York publishing parties and in the spiels of literary agents hoping to steer writers toward concepts that will strike publishers as "Gladwellian."
I'm not going to link to it, because it's one of the most obvious pieces of linkbait I've ever seen. Basically, the author thinks Malcolm Gladwell dates pretty women, lots of them, and wanted to talk to him about it. If that had happened, the article might have been differen. Instead, when the author calls, Gladwell says things like:
â€œThis is utterly ridiculous. I mean, I donâ€™t know you. How would you know such things?â€
â€œI write books. Iâ€™m a private person.â€
â€No, noâ€”I donâ€™t think I want to participate in this at all, but good luck with it!â€
Is that really all you need to do to get published on a big site? No wonder the traditional media looks down on the online media.
Hell yeah! This is the kind of web documentation I can get behind. Malcolm Gladwell has a new book coming out called What the Dog Saw made up of articles he's written for the New Yorker over the last several years. Kottke took it upon himself to grab links for all the articles, so it's up to you if you want to read the articles for free or buy them in a pleasing collection.
The videos on Youtube, magazine articles, newspapers reports, anything that used to be analog that now is digital have a perceived value that is based on their legacy delivery.
The music is often free, but it is NEVER freely distributed.
Anil Dash takes a step back, says the dust-up is likely conceived to sell books and magazines, argues that Gladwell's main point is that Anderson didn't provide evidence only anecdotes and then goes on to mention all the people who say Gladwell is heavy on the story and light on the science. Henry Blodget agrees with Gladwell. Mike Masnick at TechDirt is firmly in the Anderson camp. The Opinionator Blog (at NYTimes.com) gleefully discusses some of the bloodsport. Fred Wilson says some things will be free and some won't.
Finally, Chris Anderson somewhat bitchily responds (sniffingly referring to Gladwell as a 'journalist' (the horror!) using GeekDad to prove the idea of paying people to get people to wirte instead of paying writers.
What is it, Malcolm Gladwell Week on Unlikely Words? Bill Simmons just put up a 3 part email discussion (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), check it out if you want to say goodbye to your morning. Not sure if this is a resurrection of the Curious Guy feature Simmons used to do a couple years ago, but if you want to say goodbye to tomorrow as well, here are the other Curious Guy discussions.
Malcolm Gladwell's article on underdogs from last week's New Yorker was interesting and full of anecdotes, though the fawning over Rick Pitino gave me great pause because Rick Pitino did a little destruction of the Celtics that lasted until the middle of this decade. Along with Pitino, you'll read about David and Goliath, Lawrence of Arabia, a girls basketball team from CA, and wargames. The single paragraph that attempts to explain antisemitism was weird and unnecessary in the scheme of the article, but there's a couple nuggets like the one below that belong on a motivation poster.
We tell ourselves that skill is the precious resource and effort is the commodity. Itâ€™s the other way around. Effort can trump abilityâ€”legs, in Saxeâ€™s formulation, can overpower armsâ€”because relentless effort is in fact something rarer than the ability to engage in some finely tuned act of motor coordination.
Update: Gladwell has posted a response to some criticisms of his description of the press and calling Rick Pitino's 1996 Kentucky team an underdog.
Since my favorite authors refuse to have blogs of their own, I will do it for them. Here's an article by Chuck Klosterman about Obama's brother-in-law Craig Robinson a college basketball coach in Oregon. The famous campaign story of Michele making (NBA alumni) Craig let Obama play basketball with him and his friends is retold and analyzed from a different light.
Here's Klosterman on The B.S. Report podcast. Haven't listened yet, but I imagine it will be good.
And you know what else? Someone needs to come up with an Alltop channel that features all the articles by all the good authors who refuse to have blogs. I'm thinking Michael Lewis, Michael Pollan, Klosterman, maybe Susan Orlean if it's about origami or orchids, maybe Krakauer, Gladwell because he never updates his site. There's others. Who am I missing?
For your lazy day viewing pleasure. Malcolm Gladwell being interviewed by Charlie Rose (below) and I couldn't figure out how to embed the Bill Moyers video, but Michael Pollan being interviewed by Bill Moyers. Both very interesting and a good way to spend a couple hours.
While I think this it's possible this is a case of what Malcolm Gladwell wrote about earlier this year (the "phenomenon of simultaneous discoveryâ€”what science historians call â€œmultiplesâ€"), I'm not inclined to give Dane Cook the benefit of the doubt. That's what he gets for those "There's only one OCTOBER" commercials in '07. I'll never forgive him.