How to make a city waterproof

Giovanna Dunmall in The Economist: One evening in March, a pale-blue layer of light began spreading across the plaza outside the United Nations headquarters in New York. Emanating from banks of leds, it appeared to undulate like the surface of the sea high above the heads of passing pedestrians. The effect may have been ethereal but…

Philip Roth, a Writer All the Way Down

Zadie Smith in The New Yorker: One time, I was having a conversation with Philip Roth about lane swimming, a thing it turned out we both liked to do, although he could swim much farther and much faster. He asked me, “What do you think about as you do each length?” I told him the dull truth. “I think, first…

The next Elena Ferrante?

Aida Edemariam in The Guardian: Between 2001 and 2015, sales of translated fiction grew by 96%. One reason, argues Daniel Hahn, who last year established a prize for first translations, is that publishers seem to be taking more account of what people actually want to read. For a long time, he says, the emphasis was on “quite…

Code to joy

Andrew Smith in More Intelligent Life: I remember the moment when code began to interest me. It was the tail end of 2013 and a cult was forming around a mysterious “crypto-currency” called bitcoin in the excitable tech quarters of London, New York and San Francisco. None of the editors I spoke to had heard of…

Our brains are obsessed with being social

From Phys.Org: Our brains are obsessed with being social even when we are not in social situations. A Dartmouth-led study finds that the brain may tune towards social learning even when it is at rest. The findings published in an advance article of Cerebral Cortex, demonstrate empirically for the first time how two regions of the…

The Medicis in the desert

Nicholas Pelham in More Intelligent Life: When Muhammad bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, visited New York earlier this year, the face of Ahmed Mater, the kingdom’s most celebrated artist, was beamed onto an enormous billboard in Times Square. In recent years, he has been feted at exhibitions in London, New York and Venice. He dominates…