What’s Worse Than Snark? Smarm (Says Tom Scocca)


One of the Web’s more accomplished snarkmeisters argues that the push by some goody-goodies for more niceness on the Internet – for instance, the decision by BuzzFeed’s new books editor to avoid negative reviews, or, in Scocca’s opinion, almost anything Dave Eggers says – is worse than the problem it’s trying to address.

How America Lost Its Real Rural Music


“It’s not discussed enough… someone should write a book on it – how we really lost how we make and listen to music with the onslaught of mass media. It’s changed so much – in 1933 there were 20,000 jukeboxes in America. By 1939 there were 400,000 jukeboxes! That immediately eliminates so many live musicians.”

Radio’s Christmas Music Bonanza


“The fact that Christmas music on the radio performs best the night before Christmas shouldn’t surprise you, but after digging into the data for the top holiday-format stations in each of those markets last year, a few interesting trends emerged.”

The Kinda Creepy Mistakes People Are Finding In Google Book Scans


“Scavengers obsessively comb through page after page of Google Books, hoping to stumble upon some glitch that hasn’t yet been unearthed. This phenomenon is most thoroughly documented on a Tumblr called The Art of Google Books, which collects two types of images: analog stains that are emblems of a paper book’s history and digital glitches that result from the scanning.”

How Literature Has Gotten Tangled Up In Bureaucracy


“In particular, the obsession with codifying, regulating, recording, reviewing, verifying, vetting, and chronicling, with assessing achievement, forecasting achievement, identifying weak points, then establishing commissions for planning strategies for regular encounters to propose solutions to weak points, and further commissions empowered to apply for funding to pay for means to implement these solutions, and so on.”

The Singalong Phenomenon. Why?


“What is it with people and singing along? No really, what is it? Here, I offer four possible explanations for a phenomenon that, for anyone who celebrates live performance, doesn’t make much sense.”

Saudi Religious Police Ban Arabic Equivalent Of Twilight


The kingdom’s Committee for the Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue has ordered bookstores to remove from their shelves the popular fantasy novel HWJN, about a young djinni who falls in love with a human woman. Among the Committee’s objections: the young woman’s use of a Ouija board.

Nelson Mandela’s Legacy To The Arts


“Many people know that Nelson Mandela’s life inspired novels, poems, plays and films, but few people know how powerful his effect on the theater was and how powerful the theater’s effect was on him.” A tribute from playwright Emily Mann, director of Princeton’s McCarter Theater.

How The Letter “E” Died (Yeah, Really)


“Long considered one of the most influential letters in the Roman alphabet, at the turn of the century E had originally been heralded as the signal letter in the digital world. But in recent years, the letter had suffered a series of debilitating setbacks that closely correlated with the rise of online applications. It died May 20, 2013.”

Is This The Golden Age Of Shakespeare?


“It is a heck of a lot of activity for a man who has been dead since 1616 and was once consigned to dusty textbooks – and it is a trend that I am not sure anyone would have predicted even in the Nineties when Shakespeare was performed regularly and well, but without generating the same enthusiasm.”

How Did The UK Become Such A Major Movie Production Center?


“Britain already had a world-class franchise, in the shape of the James Bond films – but they tend to only come along every three or four few years, whereas there were eight Potter movies in the space of a decade – which meant virtually continuous employment for literally thousands of film workers in this country.”

Director For The 2015 Venice Biennale Named


In a statement, the biennial’s president, Paolo Baratta, referred to Okwui Enwezor’s knowledge of the “complex phenomenon of globalisation”. The curator of Documenta 11 in Kassel, Enwezor has organised biennials from Seville to South Korea and the major travelling survey of post-war African art “The Short Century” (2001-02).

Is It Or Isn’t It A Leonardo?


“The drawing of Isabella in the Louvre, on which the painting is clearly based, was done some time between late 1499 and March of 1500, when Leonardo was a guest at her court in Mantua. According to the newspaper, carbon dating of the painting conducted at the University of Arizona confirms that it was executed sometime between 1460 and 1650, placing it in a corresponding timeframe.”