People taking office are swearing in using e-readers. “A Kindle is not a beautiful object,” Hannah Rosefield notes at the New Yorker. But this may be partly the point. “As cool as a copy of the Constitution from the eighteenth century would have been,” says Suzi LeVine, the American ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, “ I wanted to use a copy that is from the twenty-first century, and that reflects my passion for technology and my hope for the future.”
Also at the New Yorker, Caleb Crain reviews a new biography of Stephen Crane. “Existential compromises fascinated Crane. Does an alcoholic choose to drink? Is a soldier blameworthy if he flees an attack that scatters half his regiment? . . . In narratives of the hopeless and the near-hopeless, of human beings experiencing powerlessness and self-delusion, [Crane] managed to record a new kind of consciousness, giving the reader glimpses of the self as an opaque and somewhat mechanistic thing.”
Will media rivals Rupert Murdoch and Sumner Redstone become business partners? “Historically, a deal between Redstone and Murdoch would have been considered anathema by both men,” Buzzfeed points out. But it may become necessary, now that they face “digital disruption, declining advertising, and the impending mergers of distributors Comcast-Time Warner Cable and AT&T-DirecTV.”
Nicholas Wade’s recent book about genes and race, A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History, is about as racist as it sounds, argues Phillip Cohen at the Boston Review. “In Wade’s telling, the Caucasian and East Asian races comprise the richest and most powerful nations in the world because they are genetically better adapted to success in modern capitalist systems than are Africans and the other racial groups, who remain steeped in tribalism, the ‘default’ human condition.”
Emily Gould, whose first novel, Friendship, is forthcoming in July, has left her position at 29th Street Publishing.
Sunday’s US-Portugal World Cup game was the most-watched soccer telecast ever, drawing a total of at least 24.6 million viewers.