Displaying articles for: February 2012

9 Algorithms That Changed the Future

In our increasingly digitally-dominated world, any book that attempts to explain for the layperson "the ingenious ideas that drive today's computers" should find a ready audience and become required reading for the curious, enthusiastic, responsible and attentive netizen—a category more and more of us find ourselves in these days, willy-nilly.  

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Bill Griffith: Lost and Found: Comics 1969-2003

Contemporary readers of Bill Griffith's comic strip, Zippy the Pinhead, know with certainty that the illustrator is one of the most accomplished draftsmen working in comics today, his talents on a par with those of Robert Crumb. His art -- nuanced shading; economical linework; evocative textures; fidelity to dress, gesture, expression, architecture, automotive design, and the thousand and one other accoutrements of modern life -- is an unfailing daily marvel, especially considering the speed and regularity at which the strip is produced. Moreover, Griffith's staging and pacing are exemplary. Knowing all this, current fans of the strip are in for a surprise, a shock, and, ultimately, a major treat, when they pick up Griffith's new career retrospective, Lost and Found: Comics 1969-2003, and discover an artist whose rudimentary skills were on a par with those of, say, a young Aline Kominsky.

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I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did

Once held close to the chest and protected by well-understood laws, the valuable information about our lives that we blithely disclose with our every keystroke has the potential to turn around and bite us on the butt. Modern jurisprudence has failed to cope with the new intrusions and, what's even worse, has actually come down against the individual's rights. Although the cover image of I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did is that of an omniscient HAL 9000-type lens, Andrews's remit is not really the surveillance state exemplified by ubiquitous CCTV cameras and drones, nor is government her major villain. She is primarily concerned with the information we give away to corporations and other shady characters when we work, play, or shop online.

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April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

And women too.  Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others.  Warning: choking-up hazard.

The King of Pain

Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.

The Good Inn

Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.