“Another scary part: Before Paxil, while working on stories, turns of phrase would pop into my head, fully formed. Lying awake at night, or riding on the subway, poof—a neat arrangement of words would appear from nowhere. And would often show up in the article. It’s part of what makes writing fun and surprising. On Paxil, it’s gone. The words just aren’t coming.”—Extroverted Like Me
Hip-hop fantasies of a black executive have popped up throughout the genre’s history, visions of empowerment that speak to a real-life condition of powerlessness. In this sense, they’re merely a loftier version of the standard hip-hop fantasies of potency, whether it’s sexual domination, VIP access, or street-corner supremacy.
With Obama’s win, this dynamic stands to change. For 25-odd years, hip-hop has been black America’s main ambassador to the white American mainstream. How will hip-hop see itself now that the most powerful man in the country is a) black and b) a Jay-Z fan?
“It isn’t skill. I can do two things — shoot from the outside and run. (I don’t get tired.) I dribble as little as possible. I drive to the basket once a decade; I’ve blocked two shots in my entire life, and if white men can’t jump, this white Jewish man really can’t jump. Maybe twice a year my shot is on and I feel I can’t miss. On days like that I think that I’ve finally arrived and can’t wait for the next game. But when game day rolls around again and I get out on the court, I find that I have regressed to my usual level, which is several degrees south of mediocre.”—My Life On the Court
“The internet is about freedom, and I suspect that a truly free population will not be held captive and forced to watch ads. We always knew that freedom comes at a price; perhaps the price of internet freedom and the failure of ads will be paying a fair price for the content and the experience and the recommendations that we value.”—Why Advertising is Failing on the Internet
In the years after World War II, and especially after the civil rights reforms of the 1960s, black Americans’ standardized-test scores improved steadily and significantly, compared with those of whites. But at some point in the late 1980s, after decades of progress, the narrowing of the gap stalled, and between 1988 and 1994 black reading scores actually fell by a sizable amount on the national assessment. What had appeared to be an inexorable advance toward equality had run out of steam, and African-American schoolchildren seemed to be stuck well behind their white peers.
The issue was complicated by the fact that there are really two overlapping test-score gaps: the one between black children and white children, and the one between poor children and better-off children. Given that those categories tend to overlap — black children are three times as likely to grow up in poverty as white children — many people wondered whether focusing on race was in fact a useful approach. Why not just concentrate on correcting the academic disadvantages of poor people? Solve those, and the black-white gap will solve itself.
“Boredom is a natural condition of modern life that plagues rich and poor alike. Even unusually gifted individuals who create lucrative innovations must endure boredom. Advice for new college graduates on how to survive tedium is presented.”—Listening to Boredom
“Connecting and disconnecting have switched places of late. When I was growing up, having a telephone in your car meant you were a person of great importance. Only a politician of cabinet rank would have one, or maybe a senator, a police commissioner or spy boss, a mogul, tycoon, or captain of industry. To be available to others while on the go and to have them available to you meant that your electronic presence, your judgment, input, direction or counsel was so essential that your personal life, your peace and quiet, took second fiddle to some Greater Good; to be able to be reached anywhere anytime was a real status symbol.”—The Difficulties of Disconnecting
A generation ago, Jordan re-defined what “basketball greatness” means to a large segment of the basketball watching public. Jordan was the most dominant perimeter scorer ever, the best 1-on-1 perimeter defender in the league in his prime, an aerial acrobat and a crunch-time killer. He was ultra competitive, confident to the point of arrogance, and he backed up all of his great stats and swagger by winning a string of titles unrivaled since the days of Bill Russell.
Flash forward to today. Over his career, Bryant has always been compared to Jordan. He plays the same position. They’re similarly sized. Bryant is the best scorer in the league like Mike, has aerial artistry like Mike, is known for being a late-game assassin like Mike and can play strong man-to-man defense like Mike. Even his demeanor, and the way he moves on the court, reminds many of No. 23 for the Bulls. I think that many have made the transitive logic leap that since Jordan was the best that must mean the guy that looks most like him now is the best as well.
This logic doesn’t necessarily work for me, though, because ultimately Jordan was unquestionably the best because he won. All of the other things certainly contributed, but that Jordan was the best player on the team that nobody could beat is what separated him from everyone else. Without that, he would have been open to comparisons to any of the other great players of his era. As Kobe is today. And frankly, if you look beyond style and focus on substance, it’s difficult to argue that Kobe Bryant has ever been the best player in the league.
“You can teach almost anyone determined to learn them the basics required to write sentences and paragraphs that say what you want them to say clearly and concisely. It’s far more difficult to get people to think like a writer, to give up conventional habits of mind and emotion. You must be able to step inside your character’s skin and at the same time to remain outside the dicey circumstances you have maneuvered her into. I can’t remember how many times I advised students to stop writing the sunny hours and write from where it hurts: “No one wants to read polite. It puts them to sleep.”—On Teaching Writing
“The best thing that can be said for American youth, in or out of uniform, is that it has learned that it must try to make the best of a bad and difficult job, whether that job is life, war, or both,” Time concluded. “The generation which has been called the oldest young generation in the world has achieved a certain maturity.”—Generation OMG
“[Juilliard] actually began in 1905 but at that time it was called the Institute for Musical Art. In 1926 it began a gradual merger procedure with the Juilliard Graduate School that finally came to fruition in 1946 with the founding of the Juilliard School of Music under the guidance of composer William Schuman. But the changes were far from over. Up to this point, it was widely known for its excellence in instrumental music but those horizons began to expand in 1951 when Juilliard added a dance division.”—Val Kilmer and the Juilliard School
“The first time I taught a writing class I was scared stiff. This was at a private school where I was filling in for a teacher who had left suddenly in the middle of the semester. Nothing I had done before — editing a magazine, publishing five novels — prepared me for trying to explain how I’d done it or, more daunting still, to translate what I worked at every day into curriculum.”—Pupils Glimpse an Idea, Teacher Gets a Gold Star