I Read Therefore I Am

“Slums may well be breeding grounds of crime, but middle class suburbs are incubators of apathy and delirium.”

—Cyril Connolly, English journalist, born September 10, 1903

On Not Finishing Books

Library StacksOnce I went to the library on a Saturday morning and took out some books, came home, read them, and returned them in the afternoon, so I could get some more. I was seven or eight years old, and had just gotten my first library card.

It’s long been my belief that most of life is a set of more or less unpleasant chores that you have to get out of the way in order to get down to life’s real business: reading.

Now, I still read all the time, for pleasure and instruction. But I finish less and less of the books I start reading. Much of the reading I do is on the Internet, in the form of blog posts and other articles. There’s simply less time for books.

My attention span is also shorter, and my patience is limited. A book that starts to bore me gets abandoned. I guess I don’t feel any obligation to finish them anymore, as I once did. The scanning habit has become natural.

There seems to be more to read, too: as if a greater infinity of reading matter exists on the Internet than the already-infinite amount of stuff there was to read in libraries and bookstores, like Cantor’s distinction between the infinity of integers and the greater infinity of real numbers.

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Cultural Diversity along Route 9

“In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.”

—Leo Tolstoy, Russian novelist, born September 9, 1828

Asian Markets

GochujangSecond trip of the week to the asian markets in Hadley and Amherst. We found that the Gohyang Korean Grocery had gochujang (red pepper paste) back in stock. Considering its importance in Korean cooking, I was surprised that they could possibly run out. Distribution problems, presumably

It took three tries to find the dried silverfish (no, not those insects in your attic) and Szechwan preserved vegetables I was looking for, but I found them at Mom’s House in Amherst. It’s pretty interesting what the different stores do and do not carry. To an outsider to the cultures whose foods they stock, it can look like they have a random collection of everything. Markets are funny that way. Visit Trans World MarketInternational Food Market, and Ecuador Andino Store also.

Four Five thriving businesses serving people from all over the world signals that diversity is on the rise in Western Massachusetts. We welcome new neighbors from around the world for their contributions to the local economy and the richness they add to our shared regional culture. 

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Asteroid Destroys Hollywood

“Television won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.”

—Darryl F. Zanuck, American director, born September 5, 1902

Have an A-1 Day

Asteroid Destroys Hollywood“Breaking Bad” is so good right now that I can hardly stand it. The writing, the acting, the direction are all superb. It occurs to me that television has grown up in the shadow of the cinema just as mammals did in the shadow of the dinosaurs. American cinema is over-specialized, and would not be able to survive rapid change in the ecosystem it dominates.

Here’s an interesting take on why we (baby boomers) got to see so many good movies on TV in the olden days (1950s and 60s) and why younger people have so little experience of cinema from before their own time. If you’ve ever experienced the I-don’t-watch-black-and-white look of horror and aversion, you know what I’m talking about. Old Movies and New TV

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Why You Should Come to DELA

“Any living cell carries with it the experience of a billion years of experimentation by its ancestors.”

—Max Delbruck, German scientist, born September 4, 1906

Paging Horatio Alger

Newsboys, Brooklyn Bridge, 1908We had a very spirited discussion at Tuesday’s Northampton DELA (it didn’t quite come to blows) about work-life balance, the alienation of “consumers” from the essential human virtues of work, and what’s wrong with these kids today. You should have been there.

Last time, Jeff Conn and Rick Feldman took a stroll down memory lane, extolling their boyhood business experiences with paper routes to the point where I’ve been considering getting one (in my copious spare time). The paper route appears to have been the making of both of these gentlemen. Typically, Rick’s approach was cool-headed, analytical and systematic; with a keen eye to profit and ROI. Jeff, of course, had more of a romantic, picaresque adventure. Classic DELA.

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“The road was new to me, as roads always are, going back.”
—Sarah Orne Jewett, American author, born September 3, 1849

I hope you had a great holiday weekend: we did, although we did discover that replacing a dedicated GPS with a smartphone or tablet is not without its downside in a world without universal cell service. I’m looking at you, southern Vermont.

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