7.2.16

Everything About Everything: David Foster Wallace’s ‘Infinite Jest’ at 20 - The New York Times

Everything About Everything: David Foster Wallace’s ‘Infinite Jest’ at 20 - The New York Times



Robert Lowell’s Tainted Love | New Republic

Robert Lowell’s Tainted Love | New Republic



Jefferson

Corruption in America by Zephyr Teachout. In the era of the American Revolution, it was customary for countries to give lavish gifts to foreign ambassadors. It served the purpose of influencing treaties and negotiations, and the gifts were so prevalent and large that they were considered part of an ambassador's income. Americans were so horrified by the practice and its potential for corrupting influence that these gifts were specifically restricted in both the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. Dignitaries such as Benjamin Franklin received extravagant gifts, but presented them to Congress and petitioned for permission to keep them which was often granted.  Thomas Jefferson took a different approach:

"When Thomas Jefferson, after the Constitution was ratified, took his own turn as a diplomat to France, he thought at first that he could be free from the custom of receiving gifts, which he found distasteful. As one of his biographers put it, 'Jefferson thought it mercifully prohibited by the Constitution.' Nonetheless, the French court gave him a snuff box at the end of his tour, embedded with 'brilliants' surrounding a portrait of the king. It was valued slightly less -- but only slightly -- than the one given to Franklin. He wrote to his assistant William Short, asking him to let the appropriate parties know that the gifts clause meant that he could not accept the customary present from the king. 'Explain to them that clause in our new constitu­tion which [says] "no person holding any office of profit or trust under the U.S. shall accept any present, emolument, office, or title of any kind whatever from any king, prince or foreign state." ' Jefferson recognized that he could go through Congress for ap­proval but told Short he did not choose 'to be laid on the grid­iron of debate in Congress for any such paltry purpose,' so he should not even let the relevant parties know about it. 'Be so good as to explain it in such a manner as to avoid offence.' The difficul­ties attending the gift caused Jefferson 'considerable anguish,' but he eventually accepted it.


"Instead of going through Congress, he asked his secretary to take the gilded frame, remove the diamonds, catalogue and value them, sell the most valuable, put the money toward Jefferson's own private account, and not report it. Literary historian Mar­tha Rojas describes his response as 'both calculated and tor­tured,' and argues that it may have been driven by concerns about money. His letters to Short on the matter were written in cipher. He asked him to take out the diamonds and sell them, and then safely return the portrait, doing whatever was neces­sary to keep attention away. Upon Short's instructions, the banker extracted the diamonds. The money raised from the sale of the diamonds was put into his own account and used to pay for the diplomatic presents and embassy debts. When it was done, Short wrote: 'I send you ... the remains of what I received for you, agreeably to your desire. The secrecy you requested is fully observed.'

"Whether Jefferson did not want to offend the French or could not resist the temptation of a chance to pay off debts, we cannot know. But his simultaneous disdain for European gifts and his inability to resist them foreshadow a long American practice: our desire to reject and accept the old practices simultaneously; our inability, at a deep level, to wrestle with how to allow wealthy presents and politics to coexist. The fate of the 'dismembered' portrait of France is unknown."
Author: Zephyr Teachout
Publisher: Harvard University Press

2.2.16

Best Joke Ever: Steven Wright, Immortal King of One-liners and Literalism.

McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Best Joke Ever: Steven Wright, Immortal King of One-liners and Literalism.

Jazz

The Miles Davis Quintet by Bob Gluck. Most organizational management styles fall into roughly two camps: those managers that manage very closely, dictating each decision and keeping very close tabs on each detail, and those managers that are more inclined to delegate and give their subordinates freedom and latitude. Miles Davis, perhaps the most revered and successful jazz musician of the twentieth century, fell into the latter camp. His energies were directed at finding the very finest musicians he could possibly find -- in fact a huge number of his band members went on to become legends themselves -- and then giving them the space to explore and create:

"He was at the time a nondirective bandleader. Members of his quintet were given wide latitude to play what they wished. The 'just going places' ethic noted by Corea was pregnant with possibilities, opening tremendous space for unan­ticipated musical creativity. Corea observes that Davis's method was focused on the choice of musicians:
Miles ... was a chemist -- a spiritual chemist -- as far as putting musicians together, because he himself didn't really compose tunes that much, although he developed styles and arrangements but he chose musicians that went together a way that he heard and that he liked. And he went from this piano player to that piano player or from this drummer to that drummer -- he chose these guys so that it went together in a way that he heard it. And I guess that's leadership, you know, it's like the choosing of the way and the treatment of the group.

The 2nd great quintet: Wayne Shorter,  Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams

"In a 1969 DownBeat interview with Larry Kart, Corea relates that in their first conversation, Davis told him about how to interpret Shorter's compositions: 'I don't know what else to tell you except that we'll go and play, but whatever you think it is, that's what it is.' Hancock remembers Davis's leadership of the previous quintet in a similar way. He explains in a 1971 DownBeat interview:

"With Miles' band we were all allowed to play what we wanted to play and shaped the music according to the group effort and not to the dictates of Miles, because he really never dictated what he wanted. I try to do the same thing with my group. I think it serves this function that I just mentioned ­-- that everybody feels that they're part of the product, you know, and not just contributing something to somebody else's music. They may be my tunes, but the music belongs to the guys in the band. They make the music -- it's not just my thing."
The Miles Davis Lost Quintet and Other Revolutionary Ensembles
Author: Bob Gluck
Publisher: University Of Chicago Press
2016 by The university Of Chicago Press, Ltd., London
Page 14

New Orleans

Empire of Sin by Gary Krist. Though New Orlean's reputation as a center for sin and perdition had followed it since its founding in 1718, by the early 1800s New Orleans was one of the wealthiest cities in the Western hemisphere with an enormous trade in cotton and slaves, and was the cornerstone port for the greatest river transportation system on Earth.  Obtained in the Louisiana Purchase and retained in the final battle of the War of 1812, it was an indispensable key to the early ascendance of the United States. It was for this reason that the Civil War armies battled so desperately at Vicksburg, and that after that battle Abraham Lincoln proclaimed so joyously that "the Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the sea." But the rise of the railroads had diminished its indispensability, and by the late 1800s its reputation was more for sin than commerce, for brothels and the Mafia more than steamboats:

"Thanks to its unique history, in fact, New Orleans scarcely seemed American at all. Founded as a French outpost in the early 1700s, the city had come of age under Spanish rule in the latter half of the eighteenth century, giving the place a distinctive Franco-Latin character that still manifested itself in everything from its architecture to its municipal administration. And although the 1803 Louisiana Purchase had forcibly thrust the city into the rapidly growing United States, several decades as capital of the American South had done only so much to make it seem less foreign. 'I doubt if there is a city in the world,' Frederick Law Olm­sted said of New Orleans in 1856, 'where the resident population has been so divided in its origin, or where there is such a variety in the tastes, habits, manners, and moral codes of the citizens.' And this extraordi­nary multiplicity -- augmented by successive waves of immigration from Europe and the Caribbean -- had only grown more pronounced as the cen­tury progressed. 'What a mingling of peoples!' another visitor marveled in 1880: 'Americans and Brazilians; West Indians, Spanish and French; Germans, Creoles, quadroons, mulattoes, Chinese, and Negroes.'

Prostitute in New Orleans' red-light district of Storyville -- E.J. Belloc
"The urban culture that developed around this confluence of races and ethnicities was something that the rest of the country soon came to regard with a combination of wonder, suspicion, and often abhorrence. Worldly New Orleans was emphatically unlike, say, Lutheran Minneapolis, or even the Baptist cities in the rest of the South. For one thing, New Orleans wasn't even Protestant, at least not much beyond the handful of uptown neighborhoods containing the enclaves of Anglo-American privilege; it was still a largely Latin, Catholic city, with entrenched attitudes and mores that could seem -- to anyone aspiring to conservative Protestant standards of rectitude -- distressingly exotic. As such, it was a strange and disturbing place to many -- a place where married white men attended 'Quadroon Balls' to find mixed-race concubines, where macabre voodoo rituals oc­curred in shanties and back alleys, and where even prominent politicians might meet in City Park to duel with pistols or épées at dawn. In the city's notorious tenderloin districts, brothels specialized in all manner of interra­cial mixing and arcane sexual practices, while narcotics, alcohol, and loud, degenerate kinds of music filled the saloons and dance halls, promoting deviant behavior of all kinds.

"The Crescent City was also a place cursed with a deep-rooted culture of violence and crime: colorful miscreants stalked the streets; warring vice lords shot up their rivals' saloons and gambling dens; and mysterious Ital­ians, purportedly members of the murky organization called 'the Mafia' or 'the Black Hand,' assassinated one another for obscure and sinister reasons. For visitors from other parts of the country -- and for the city's growing ranks of white Protestant elites -- the opportunities for moral contamination were legion. As one Victorian minister put it in 1868, 'It is no easy matter to go to heaven by way of New Orleans.' ...

New Orleans Mardi Gras in the early 1890s.

"The rise of 'concert saloons' -- raucous theaters where patrons could drink while watching erotically suggestive stage performances -- had brought crime and high-profile immorality to some of the busiest shopping avenues in the city. ... And perhaps most scandalous of all, brothels and assignation houses had become impossible to avoid, cropping up in many places where decent middle-class families lived. Many felt that a man could no longer feel comfortable in his own home, never know­ing when the house next door might be sold and turned into a disorderly house, forcing his wife and children to bear witness to scenes of the utmost wickedness and depravity. ...

"The effects of this expansion of vice and crime were now plain to see throughout the city. Stories abounded of honest, job-seeking women being ruined by unscrupulous concert-saloon proprietors; of agents steer­ing underage girls to bordello keepers for a commission; and of dressmak­ers' assistants and messenger boys being seduced into the 'sporting life' while making deliveries to brothels, saloons, and gambling houses. By the late 1880s, criminality of all types in the city seemed virtually out of con­trol: 'At no time since the war ... has crime been so rampant or criminals so free as at present,' observed the Mascot in 1888."
Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans
Author: Gary Krist
Publisher: Broadway Books

Trying to catch up

Jody Beth LaFosse interviews Robyn Hitchcock

In the End, You’re the Property of the Airports: Robyn Hitchcock Flies On

January 31st, 2016RESET-+
SPARE A THOUGHT for Robyn Hitchcock, he of acid birds and glass hotels and uncorrected personality traits and arresting polka-dot shirts. Hitchcock emerged from post-punk’s heady cauldron with his first band, the Soft Boys, and attained a modest level of American fame with the magical-realist tintinnabulations of the Egyptians, but for the past two decades or so he’s been recording and performing primarily as a solo artist. His last album — the well-received The Man Upstairs, produced and arranged by the legendary folk producer Joe Boyd — came out in 2014, and the always peripatetic musician, now 62, spent much of the past year drawing zigzagged lines across the atlas on tour with his partner, singer-songwriter and erstwhile Australian radio presenter Emma Swift.
Now back in their adopted home of Nashville, Tennessee, and speaking to me on a spotty phone connection, Hitchcock is gracious, loquacious, and warm. Still, he definitely sounds ready for a break from what he calls “the realities of reality” before he and Swift depart for the South African safari they’ve been booked to play in February. These realities are the crux of our interview, reflecting on how a career artist such as Hitchcock, who in the past was privy to the making of the major-label sausage, has had to adapt to a different garde manger to survive in a hostile new world.
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JODY BETH LAFOSSE: Tell me about the 2015 you just had. You’ve been performing a lot, and you always have. Was life on the road particularly good to you this past year, or different?
ROBYN HITCHCOCK: Well, we were very much in transit, so we were really living on the road for about six months, and now we’ve come to rest in Nashville. The sun is going to set quite soon, and there’ll probably be another frost. The trees, of course, are in bud already. But the frosts have only just begun — that’s the way the climate is these days.
So gosh, where was I? I was playing in the States; and then Australia; and then the States; and then Italy, Germany, Spain; and then it was Britain; and then it was Canada; then it was a mixture of Canada and the States; and then it was Britain again. And I spent New Year’s Eve in Toronto. You make things into a pattern; there’s nothing strategic about this. You simply find where your bookings are and you try and make a narrative out of it. You try to make an itinerary. You try and make it make sense in some way.
But actually, all musicians are doing is commuting to work. [laughs] Very long-distance, and more or less permanently. I enjoy playing live, so I don’t mind it too much, but that’s the way it is. When I was based in Europe, I was coming over here five times a year, but I note that since I moved here, I’ve been back in England almost incessantly.
It doesn’t make a lot of difference. In the end, you’re the property of the airports. And if you play your air miles right, you can travel in reasonable comfort. It’s not really good for the environment, and it’s not that great for your skin or your lungs. But it’s a living, and I’m very lucky to have it. I’m 62, self-employed, doing what I love best. It’s something that very few people have. [laughs] So I have to bear that in mind when I feel like kvetching about spending all of my life on planes.
How involved are you with the less glamorous nuts-and-bolts stuff of putting a tour together?
I’ve got a US agent, I have a British agent, and I have a German agent. I have an Italian agent and a Spanish agent, and I have somebody who helps me in Norway, and I’ve got a contact in Japan, and I’ve got a couple of contacts in Australia. And there’s a man down in Uruguay [laughs] who does that for me down there, in Uruguay and Argentina. But they all speak directly to me. I have a manager who deals with the recording side, with the record company. But I book all the live shows myself. I deal directly with the agents.
Going back 30 or 40 years, the whole hierarchy in music was that you had to get a manager, and an agent, and a record company, and you’d get a publishing deal, and maybe you’d hire a publicist. And the record company would have an in-house art department, in-house publicity, all that. But people like me never quite fitted into that. In the early years I was on independent labels, and really self-managed most of the time. I got onto major labels in the late eighties and then through the nineties, and then I was back onto independent again. Most of my career has been away from major labels. What’s happened in the last 15 years, it seems to me, is that it’s just back to a series of cottage industries.
I want to talk about you as a singer of other people’s songs. You did "Visions of Johanna" at the 50th anniversary of Bob Dylan’s electric Newport appearance.
Oh, I did, yes!
How important to you is being an interpreter of this material, and what do you bring to it that’s unique to you?
What I bring to it that is unique to me is me. If you want to define me, perhaps you can define me more by how I cover somebody else’s song than by how I do one of my own, because the difference between Bob Dylan doing “Visions of Johanna” and me doing it is me. Although having said that, I probably do it far more faithfully than Dylan does. That’s probably a bad example.
A lot of the people whose songs I play, like Nick Drake or Syd Barrett or Jim Morrison or Arthur Lee, they’re all gone. Half the Beatles are gone. Dylan’s still there. Ray Davies is there. But generally, in terms of being an interpreter, that’s only something I’ve thought about recently. I never thought of myself as much of a singer. I became a singer because I wanted to write songs and perform them, but I never thought of myself as having any gifts as a singer, other than having the ability to stand up and perform. But those people are gone now; you’re not going to hear them stand up and do those songs, so I might as well do ’em, and if people enjoy it then it’s working.
Other people’s songs reach emotional areas that your own songs don’t, you know? One’s own songs tend to cover a certain part of the emotional spectrum, and actually if you want to feel a certain way you’re often better off singing a Bryan Ferry song or a Lou Reed song, because each of those people has a flavor. And I’m sure I’ve got my own flavor; I wouldn’t know what it is, because I don’t have the perspective. Just as a grapefruit doesn’t know what it looks like, but all the other fruits in the store know what the grapefruit looks like. “I’m as big as the grapefruit; yeah!” “He’s yellow. Round. Wow!” “Oh, I thought he was an orange.” “No, clean your glasses, banana. That’s a grapefruit.” “Whoa.” I’m just one of those un-self-knowing fruits, really.
What’s the difference to you between covering these artists and dealing with them more abstractly through your own songs — for example, writing "The Wreck of the Arthur Lee" [from Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians’ 1993 album Respect] and covering a song by Lee’s band Love?
“The Wreck of the Arthur Lee” is only tangentially connected to Arthur Lee. He wasn’t very happy about it, but he was nice enough to me when I met him. I sometimes refer to other musicians in songs, but they just become part of your cranial mythology, things you grow up with — and one by one, they wink out and then glow in the firmament. You hope if you’re very lucky you’ll be one of them, or be a minor figure in the firmament. “Oh, there’s old Hitchcock glowing up there over Alpha Centauri, under the Great Bear.” “No, isn’t it Julian Cope?” “Oh, you can’t see. Clean your glasses, banana.” So I don’t know. It’s nice if anything you do is remembered, if people have positive memories of it.
Has the current craze for pop culture nostalgia had any impact on what you do or how you think about what you do? Are you finding that you get called upon to be a "nostalgia" guy more than you used to?
As they say, “Nostalgia’s not what it used to be.” Pop culture is now about the same age as I am. I was born in 1953, and rock ’n’ roll seems to have bubbled into being around the same time. Not many people around now actually remember when it started.
People measure their lives out in fashion and in pop culture. They have since World War II, since there’s been no enormous eruption to shatter everything. And everything has been recorded and then re-recorded or adapted to be on a new format, so sound recordings would go from being on a 33 1/3 LP to being on a cassette to being on a CD that came from the quarter-inch tape. But it keeps getting upgraded; you can listen to it on LP again now. It’s just that there’s now so much of it — people’s lives are measured out in, “Oh yeah, do you remember the Specials?” “Oh, right.”“Cyndi Lauper.” “Oh, I lost my virginity to ‘Time After Time’.” I mean, I didn’t personally, but you know, somebody probably did. Or “I had the best hangover of my life after going to see Blur.” You see people feeling about the Stone Roses the same way that I felt about the Jefferson Airplane, and you see those people also getting older. I look around at the punks now, who are a few years younger than me, and they’re all coming up 60. There was a time when punks made me feel old, because I was such a determined Class of ’67 guy and I couldn’t really embrace ’77 fully.
It’s the currency. My parents’ generation had the war, my generation just had drugs, the next generation had irony, and the ones after that have got climate change. [laughs]
I’m not called on to be anything, particularly, in this environment. We’ve all got our period that we get excited about. Mine’s probably from ’64 to ’70. Music you hear as a teenager, or when you’re a young person, just stays with you much more intensely than what you hear afterwards. You’re a much more impressionable organism, and if you want to feel young again you put on a record that you first heard when you were 13. If I want to rush upstairs without running out of breath I’ll listen to Revolver. It’s just how it is.
Is everything swirling around the bowl before it actually disappears? What’s interesting is that there’s been very little change in fashion in the last 20 years. I saw a movie set in 1995 and I didn’t realize it was set in 1995 until I saw people smoking indoors. The things that have changed the most now are people’s cell phones and their laptops. After the eighties, and the big hair and the shoulder pads, fashion seems to have settled down into an all-purpose zone. If you want to be a hipster, you can have a checked shirt and jeans, and you can have a beard or not have a beard, or you can have a leather jacket. There are maybe more beards around than there were 10 years ago, but the result is to make a lot of people look like it’s 1974.
I wonder whether life has accelerated so much between 1950 and 2000 that what we’ve seen this century is people simply trying to catch up. All this music was churned out, all these clothes came out, all these movies came out. If you’re coming up now as a 15-year-old, there’s so much to draw on, assuming you’re even interested in music or movies and don’t just want to play online games. It’s different. There aren’t the generation gaps there used to be. There aren’t the fault lines that say, “You don’t belong here.”
In terms of things not being as cataclysmic as they were in the past, not many of those cataclysms come along in history, and sometimes people expect them to be there, not realizing that’s the aberration rather than the rule. If things have seemed the same since the nineties, maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be.
You’re right. I’m sure we probably couldn’t take that kind of upheaval every 10 years. And things are changing; it’s just not as drastic. There was some kind of acceleration that led up to 1966, ’67. Somewhere between ’65 and ’68 a kind of modern life began, in so many different ways. That was my adolescence. I remember the world suddenly going into color in 1965. Kennedy died in black and white, and the Beatles arrived in black and white. But the Monterey Pop Festival and the Golden Gate Park Human Be-In, all those happened in color.
Creative people who are in the public eye — and not just musicians — are now more likely to be diversifying their self-expression into other media, where their verbal skill and sense of humor can shine through and maybe attract a new audience if they want one. Dozens of musicians are writing memoirs now, and John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats wrote the novel Wolf in White Van. Do you see the barriers between the different types of artistic expression breaking down, or are the barriers still there but you have to cross them all to remain vital?
I don’t think you have to cross them all to remain vital. You just have to do what you’re best at. I did try writing a bit in the nineties. I thought, “I’m good with words, I like writing things down” — I thought I could write a novel, and I couldn’t. I mean, it wasn’t any good. [laughs] I tried writing a children’s book, and that wasn’t any good either. People kept encouraging me: “You should be doing this.” But I realized that I really like writing songs and playing the guitar more than anything else. Left to my own devices, I will always pick up the guitar rather than try and write.
I’ve tried writing bits of memoirs, and again, I found that I was writing my own life like a journalist. [laughs] It was like an article in the NME or Uncut. A lot of people who’ve been around a long time, there is an audience for their memoirs. Elvis Costello’s put out a memoir recently. Julian Cope’s written some great stuff. Julian probably enjoys writing more than music; I don’t know if he does that many gigs these days. I prefer to play. I do paint and draw a bit, and I would like — if I have time — to do more paintings. I’ve got a few on my website.
You seem to enjoy being a presence on Twitter.
I like that; I have fun. And where I used to [laughs] read books and whatever else I used to do, I now tweet. I certainly read less. I remember seeing about 10 years ago that someone said, “Email is eating into quality television time,” and I thought that was the most hilarious thing. It’s like saying, “Heroin addiction really messes with your alcoholism.”
Twitter, Instagram, Facebook: all these things are a sort of burden, but they also give you a chance to publicize yourself without hiring a publicist. You’ve got to be able to expect people to know your boundaries, and trust them to behave with you. But it depends how far you go and what sort of person you are.
What opportunities do you have as a musician now that you didn’t 30 years ago, or 40 years ago? What opportunities were there through the more traditional record-industry model before that aren’t now?
What you don’t have is the opportunity to sell records on the same scheme. If you want to sell records, you have to be your own record shop, basically. There’s the resurgent vinyl shops, but on the whole if you want to sell records, you need to go and sell them yourself — or be around while they’re being sold — at the end of the show. And I can’t say I like that much, but the younger people do accept it.
The difference, to me, from 30 years ago is that I’ve been around another 30 years. So possibly more people know who I am, or they’ve known about me for longer. My core audience, I suppose, is still pretty good. There’s been more time for the word to spread. And I was never particularly well-known, so it’s not like I reek of one era. I was a college radio star in the late eighties, but that didn’t translate into a Top 20 scenario. [laughs] I’m more like a folk singer, really.
I don’t know how much longer I have to keep going before I retire. If I stop touring, I don’t know how much money I’ll have coming in. It’s like a shark; you have to keep swimming. [laughs] Fortunately, I do like playing, and I quite like traveling, so I’m all right for a little bit, touch wood. We’ll see.
Tell me about the musical South African safari you’re about to embark on.
It’s organized by an Australian man named Matt [Collins, of Tourica Tours]. Something like 10 people have paid quite a lot of money each to go and look at zebras and giraffes and lions and antelopes and gazelles and whatever else is around in the daytime, and in the evening they have me and they have Emma Swift and me singing to them. [laughs] It’s going to be an interesting time.
For it to appeal, you have to like two things: you have to want to go out and experience South African wildlife, and you also want to listen to Robyn Hitchcock and Emma Swift. So it’s interesting to see how many people fit into both those categories. I can imagine people wanting to do one or the other. It’s an odd mixture, really.
[The safari organizer] normally does golf, but he did a friend of ours named Mick Thomas last year and apparently it worked well, so we’ll see. They pay us to do it, and they take us out there, and they take us around. It’s such an unlikely thing. I wouldn’t normally go on a South African safari — it’s not something I would think of doing. When I’m not traveling, I like to stay at home — if I’ve got a home — and go to the coffee shop, and feed the cat, and worry about doing my accounts, and all that other human stuff. Wish us luck.
If we’d done it even 10 years ago, there would have been less evidence of it. Now, whatever we do, it will all be on Instagram and Facebook and YouTube. I’ll try to get them to put the cameras down while we’re eating, but it’s a safari holiday so they’re going to want to film everything. It’s not like 20 years ago, when they’d have to send everything off to the developer’s before they got it back. It’ll all be posted so the folks back home in Detroit and Eugene, Oregon, and Houston, Texas, and wherever else — I don’t know where they’re from, but they must be from somewhere — everyone will see exactly what’s going on.
Are you comfortable with that?
There’s nothing I can do about it, really. It just means I have to make sure I look nice, and stand up straight. If I fall out of a tree, everyone’s going to see it. I’m hoping I won’t be put in a tree. God forbid, if we’re eaten by jackals, everyone will see our wretched femurs. [laughs] “By god, I think it’s your shinbone.” “No, it’s hers.”
It’s terrifying, frankly. But it’s something to do, and if I’m going to do it at all, now is probably a good time, before everything starts shutting down and I can’t do stuff anymore. [laughs]
I wish you and your respective femurs the best of luck.

The Life and Death and Life of Magazines

The Life and Death and Life of Magazines

Largest Prime Number Ever Found Is 22 Million Digits Long — NOVA Next | PBS

Largest Prime Number Ever Found Is 22 Million Digits Long — NOVA Next | PBS



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29.1.16

Puzzles

National Puzzle Day: Can you solve these 10 difficult brainteasers?

On National Puzzle Day, we take a look at ten fiendishly difficult riddles on the internet, can you solve them?

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National Puzzle Day: Can you solve these difficult brainteasers?
National Puzzle Day: Albert Einstein would be a fan  Photo: AP
Are you a problem solver? Have you got the brainpower to solve these fiendishly difficult puzzles? Scroll down to find out.
On National Puzzle Day, we’ve collated some of the trickiest brainteasers for you to solve.

10. Sudoku

The Everest of numerical games, dubbed the world’s hardest Sudoku puzzle, was published by Arto Inkala, a Finnish mathematician.
Can you solve it? Click to flip and reveal the answer ...

9. The 'world's hardest logic puzzle

There's no escape from this green-eyed logic puzzle....
Did you give up? Here's the answer ...

8. Einstein’s riddle

Although the great scientist's brain was only of average size, weighing 1,230 grams, certain areas contains an unusually high number of folds and grooves.Albert  Photo: REX
When Einstein wrote this riddle he apparently said that 98% of the world would not be able to solve it:
There are 5 houses in five different colours.
In each house lives a person with a different nationality.
These five owners drink a certain type of beverage, smoke a certain brand of cigar and keep a certain pet.
No owners have the same pet, smoke the same brand of cigar or drink the same beverage.
The question is: Who owns the fish?
Hints
The Brit lives in the red house
The Swede keeps dogs as pets
The Dane drinks tea
The green house is on the left of the white house
The green house's owner drinks coffee
The person who smokes Pall Mall rears birds
The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhill
The man living in the centre house drinks milk
The Norwegian lives in the first house
The man who smokes blends lives next to the one who keeps cats
The man who keeps horses lives next to the man who smokes Dunhill
The owner who smokes BlueMaster drinks beer
The German smokes Prince
The Norwegian lives next to the blue house
The man who smokes blend has a neighbour who drinks water
Here's the answer:

7. The George Boolos puzzle

Can you solve this riddle? It was created by US logician George Boolos shortly before his death in 1996.
“Three gods A, B, and C are called, in no particular order, True, False, and Random. True always speaks truly, False always speaks falsely, but whether Random speaks truly or falsely is a completely random matter. Your task is to determine the identities of A, B, and C by asking three yes-no questions; each question must be put to exactly one god. The gods understand English, but will answer all questions in their own language, in which the words for yes and no are da and ja, in some order. You do not know which word means which.”
Here’s the simple solution...

6. Can you work out what spot this car is parked in?

Here's the answer...

5. When is Cheryl's birthday?

Cheryl gives her new friends Albert and Bernard 10 possible dates when they enquired about her birthdayCheryl gives her new friends Albert and Bernard 10 possible dates when they enquired about her birthday  Photo: Kenneth Kong/Facebook
Cheryl and her birthday caused a furore after a confusing question involving two characters named Bernard and Albert went viral.
Cheryl gives her new friends, Albert and Bernard, ten possible dates to choose from when they enquire about her date of birth. She then tells Albert the month and Bernard the day of her birthday.

4. What way is the ballerina spinning?

This was created by Japanese Web designer Nobuyuki Kayahara. Which way do you think the ballerina is spinning?
Here's the answer.

3. Love in Kleptopia

"Jan and Maria have fallen in love (via the internet) and Jan wishes to mail her a ring. Unfortunately, they live in the country of Kleptopia where anything sent through the mail will be stolen unless it is enclosed in a padlocked box. Jan and Maria each have plenty of padlocks, but none to which the other has a key. How can Jan get the ring safely into Maria’s hands?"
Find the answer here at point 5.

2. The GCHQ Christmas quiz

Can you solve the puzzles that have stumped the world? This GCHQ Christmas puzzle has left thousands stumped.
GCHQ Christmas card question: Do you know the puzzle answer? GCHQ has released a Christmas card brainteaser  Photo: GCHQ
Here's our solution.

1. Two spirals

Here's the answer.
Exam questions that divided the internet
Hannah's Sweets
When is Cheryl's birthday?
The answer
Step 1: Take the words from the question, and write it down as an equation - 6/n x 5/(n-1) = 1/3 Step 2: Multiply the 6 by the 5 and the n by the n-1. That gives you: 30/(n^2 - n) = 1/3 Step 3: Multiply the top-left by bottom-right and top-right by bottom-left Step 4: Subtract 90 from both sides, leading to your answer n^2 - n - 90 = 0
When is Cheryl's birthday?
The answer
You should create a table of four columns with the months at the top and the dates Cheryl gives after. "You can rule out some of the options. For Albert to have known the answer, he would have to have May and June as that is when 19 or 18 occur." The number 14 is the only one in both months but Bernard is now sure of the birth date. This means Bernard knows it is July 16.
The cruel exam question
The answer
The answer depends on what type of person you are. "In reality, if too many people overuse a common resource then everyone in the group suffers," said the professor who set it.
Why 5+5+5 doesn’t always make 15
The answer
A student was marked down for using the solution 5+5+5, with the teacher noting the correct working out should be shown as 3+3+3+3+3 using the repeated addition strategy.
The 50 cent conundrum
The answer
360 degrees in a circle divided by 12 x 2 coins = 60

Example questions from the 'hardest test in the world'

  1. Did the left or right win the twentieth century?
  2. "Secure people dare". Do they?
  3. Should intellectuals tweet?
  4. Should prisoners be allowed to watch television?
  5. How can words be beautiful?
  6. Can we be forced to be free?
  7. Is the financial sector larger than it should be?
  8. Can policy rely on human rationality?
  9. Is there an economic case for limiting pay bonuses to twice an annual salary?
  10. Should the state restrict what people should do with their pension savings?
  11. Is homelessness a reflection of a badly functioning economy?
  12. Would an inflation target of 4% be better than 2%?
  13. How do apologies work?
  14. Does the status quo have any moral privilege?
  15. Can emotions be reasons for decisions?
  16. Can there be substantive disagreement in the absence of fact?
  17. What is the connection between knowing something and being certain of it?
  18. Is meaning best understood via the concept of truth?
  19. How can someone know what they will do tomorrow if they do not know that they will not have a heart attack before tomorrow arrives?
  20. Who should pay for the costs of educating and bringing up children?