• BEYOND CATEGORY

The Signal and the Noise

Nate Silver shot to fame during the 2008 election, when out of the welter of political polling he correctly predicted the outcome of the presidential race in 49 out of 50 states. Since then his blog FiveThirtyEight -- the name comes from the number of votes in the Electoral College -- has been subsumed into The New York Times, where he nailed almost all the 2010 congressional and gubernatorial races. His role is somewhere between a commentator and a bookie. Political types might worship him, but for Silver politics is a purely quantitative undertaking, not so far from his original beat of fantasy baseball.

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April 17: "In less than three years, both GM and Chrysler would be bankrupt, and a resurgent Ford would wow Wall Street..."

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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.