Because that's the kind of dork I am

I had a farewellish lunch with Banana yesterday and (partly to defend the fact that I haven't finished Underworld yet, which is wonderful-but-lengthy at 900 pages) I mentioned that I actually read the New Yorker. I'm not exaggerating when I say that at least 70% of the people I know have subscriptions to the New Yorker, but I don't think that many people actually read it. Anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that. Banana said she just reads Anthony Lane's movie reviews and then whatever Petey tells her to read.

Since we don't all have a Petey to filter content for us, but we do all have a Jeff'y, I thought I'd take it upon myself to read the
New Yorker and pick out the good bits. Of course, I'm going to skip the pieces that don't interest me at all (say, the Björk
profile in this week's), so it's not particularly scientific, but neither am I.

I've created a new section for This Week in the New Yorker (TWitNY). I'm going to skip over the regular features like the Talk of the Town and the various reviews and focus on the articles and stories.

So what's up in this week's New Yorker, you ask (or don't ask, finding this whole thing silly)? Ummm...

There's a piece on's campaign adverts featuring real Republican switchers, by the guy who did Apple's switcher add campaign. That's pretty interesting. is interesting in general as they really have amassed an incredibly large mailing list of people and seem to be able to use them to raise funds at the drop of a hat--if we can't participate in Democracy by voting, I guess it's comforting to know we can participate by giving money for an advert telling someone else how to vote. Except that I can't give money, having receiving an email from Legal Compliance at my company yesterday saying that we needed to get all sorts of waivers before donating to anything remotely political.

Moving on, there's an article about a cheese merchant in Greenwich Village which I enjoyed. I missed the article on the Cheese Nun sometime last year, whom Banana actually went to visit a few weeks ago in Connecticut (contracting poison ivy in the process), so it's good to read this year's New Yorker cheese feature. I like cheese well enough, but it's usually too salty for my taste. Fresh buffalo mozzarella is painfully good though.

Finally, there's a fascinating article on time perception. The author, Oliver Sacks, talks a bit about Parkinson's and Tourette's patients he's treated and how their dopamine levels affect their perception of time (and their ability to move and react, tied to their perception and reflex centers), as well as discussing how psychotropic drugs can produce similar effects. Interesting nuggets: research done in the '60s "indicating an act of decision could be detected several hundred milliseconds before there was any conscious awareness of it" would seem to strongly rule out any sort of free will in human behavior--don't be confused by the use of the word "decision". I don't think the conception that anyone advocating free will has of decisions is compatible with unconscious reflex reactions. Also, Sacks mentions myoclonic jerks, which I have every once in a while while falling asleep and usually freak me out--but it's good to know that they're normal.

So good stuff touching on three of my favourite topics: politics, groceries, and time. A good week for periodical snobbery.


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