The following are some of the best stories, articles, essays, blog posts, etc, that I read during 2013. They weren’t necessarily written in 2013. I’m including them in roughly the order I encountered them.
- Power and the Internet
Bruce Schneier, awesome as always
- THE FIFTY-NINE-STORY CRISIS
The story of how an architectural disaster was averted with Citicorp Center. Seriously, everyone should read this
- The Machiavelli series at Ex Urbe
This is a 4-ish part series of blog posts. I’m just linking to the first here, but read them all. Fantastic writing about history.
- The American Metropolis at Century’s End: Past and Future Influences
Past and future influences on American cities
- Triumph of the Cyborg Composer
What if emotionally moving music can just be reduced to algorithms? What does that say about us?
- Russell Brand on Margaret Thatcher: ‘I always felt sorry for her children’
A condemnation of conservatism in the 80s in general.
- Secrets of the Magus
A portrait of Ricky Jay
- Overheard: Steven Soderbergh
Steven Soderbergh on the film industry. Introduced me to the useful phrase “mayhem porn.”
- A Rocket To Nowhere
Why the Space Shuttle was broken as designed. Everything on this website is worth reading, really. It doesn’t belong on my 2013 list, but as long as I’m linking to Idle Words, I recommend Scott and Scurvy too.
- Why Americans are the weirdest people in the world
American social scientists assume their worldview is universal. It ain’t.
- Eyal Ophir on the Science of Multitasking
TL;DR: It doesn’t work.
- Kudzu and the California Marriage Amendment
How the variety of intersex conditions make it literally impossible to ban same-sex marriage.
- How Does Our Language Shape the Way We Think?
That old Sapir-Worf hypothesis
- Wildcatting: A Stripper’s Guide to the Modern American Boomtown
A slice of life that is completely foreign to me.
- William Gibson, The Art of Fiction No. 211
Long interview. Lots of interesting observations
- The Brain on Trial
The limits of rationality and free will as it relates to the law.
The abuse of “civil forfeiture,” especially in small Texas towns
- The Ecuadorian Library
Chairman Bruce on the clay-footed heroes of modern-day whistleblowing
- Why two spaces after a period isn’t wrong (or, the lies typographers tell about history)
Exhaustive treatment of this controversial issue
- Administrators ate my tuition
I’ve been wondering for a while why college tuition has gotten so outrageously expensive. Apparently rampant administrative overhead has something to do with it.
- Physics: What We Do and Don’t Know
A very dense wrap-up of the state of subatomic particles and cosmology.
- Imagining the Post-Antibiotics Future
The most sobering thing I’ve read in a long, long time.
- The shadow genome: why DNA isn’t destiny
Epigenetics is changing the way scientists look at genetic inheritance
- The Welfare Queen
Welfare fraud was the least of her crimes. Just an insane story.