“Biotech companies claim that prices need to be high to reward risky and expensive innovation, but the fact that they’re churning out drugs and profits so consistently seems to undermine that claim. Biotech, in other words, may become the victim of its own success: the bigger the profits, the bigger the likelihood of regulation.”—
James Surowiecki examines the tremendous pricing power of biotech companies and the arguments for regulating drug prices: http://nyr.kr/1ffAf4h
“Moleskine is very good at telling stories. The question is whether people are interested in hearing this new one. The company’s revenue continues to grow each year. Customers remain willing to buy Moleskine notebooks. They are also willing to engage with the brand online—but only to a point.”—Adrienne Raphel on Moleskine’s foray into the digital world: http://nyr.kr/1mcX11z
Tim Wu examines the often-overlooked mild forms of truth-stretching on the Internet, and how they take both an economic and a cultural toll: http://nyr.kr/1hRc8hP
“Unfortunately, more and more product reviews are now fake, and some earnest testimonials from bloggers are paid for. Last year, the New York Attorney General’s office discovered a spa on Craigslist offering ten dollars for a positive review to anyone with ‘at least 10 friends on Yelp.’”
I am often surprised when people talk about the total implausibility of the events in Márquez’s fiction. Having been born and lived in a deeply spiritual and extraordinarily resourceful part of the Caribbean, a lot of what might seem magical to others often seems quite plausible to me.
Of course a woman can live inside her cat, as the character Eva does in Márquez’s 1948 short story ‘Eva Is Inside Her Cat.’ Doesn’t everyone have an aunt who’s done that?
“To the extent that the word ‘desegregation’ remains in our vocabulary, it describes an antique principle, not a current priority. Today, we are more likely to talk of diversity—but diversification and desegregation are not the same undertaking. To speak of diversity, in light of this country’s history of racial recidivism, is to focus on bringing ethnic variety to largely white institutions, rather than dismantling the structures that made them so white to begin with.”—
“I felt unworthy, as though I was receiving a gift under false pretenses. And I felt that an injustice was being enacted, that our roles should be reversed: I, the professor with laughably impregnable job security (it’s called tenure), ought to be offering money to her, the magnanimous, candy-munching woman who wished to keep an evidently down-at-the-heels man supplied with reading glasses.”
“For now, the Cosmos and the N.A.S.L. have a symbiotic relationship: the N.A.S.L. wants the legitimacy that the Cosmos brand brings, and the team needs the league because it needs competition.”
Above: Carlos Mendes is mobbed by teamates after scoring a goal in the thirty-eighth minute against the Atlanta Silverbacks; Hempstead, New York, April 13, 2014. Photograph by Mike Stobe/New York Cosmos/Getty.
Michael Lemonick on the story about a cherry tree that has at least some scientists flummoxed: http://nyr.kr/RpSBua
“Back in 2008, at the behest of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, astronauts carried two hundred and sixty-five cherry pits from a nationally beloved, twelve-hundred-and-fifty-year-old tree known as Chujohimeseigan-zakura to the International Space Station. When these pits came back to Earth, eight months later, a few were planted, but with low expectations.”
Above: The Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata holds a pack of cherry pits, on April 13, 2009. Photograph courtesy Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
Ian Crouch on Woodford Reserve’s controversial new ads: http://nyr.kr/1mdYvZm
“Despite the modern, fashionable feel of its new ads, Woodford Reserve’s definitions of gender are radically narrow, and its sense of the possibilities for human sexuality even narrower. Men must appeal to women, and women to men. To attract women, men have to be rugged and capable while maintaining a perfect veneer of nonchalance. Women can spot a phony or a wimp a mile away.”
Richard Socarides on Jo Becker’s new book, which gives an inside account of the behind-the-scenes effort to get Obama to complete his long evolution on the issue of same-sex marriage: http://nyr.kr/1md7bPK
Above: Barack Obama hosts a reception in honor of national Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month in June, 2012. Photograph by Chip Somodevilla/Getty.
Emma Allen on cooking from Deborah Madison’s revised “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone”: http://nyr.kr/1euWXu8
“On the day of the dinner, I found myself holding the cake together with one hand while texting a friend with the other, ‘please bring me whipping cream,’ which all bad bakers know is the Gorilla Glue of pastry assembly. (‘I’m very fond of elaborate cakes, especially when they’re made by someone else,’ Madison writes.) The pasta turned out a bit dry, perhaps because I imperfectly doubled the recipe. But Madison’s lemon vinaigrette elicited oohs and ahs, and the cake, made fragrant by orange-blossom water, was—once its structural flaws had been mostly obscured by berries—superb.”
“All the rituals of Passover—what Amichai calls child’s play—do not necessarily communicate the notion of freedom they were devised to transmit. The play can become more uncannily precious than the ideas it is meant to put across. Better to have the smells of the seder meal filling the senses than disturbing ideas about bondage and release into the desert filling the talk; better to be a good Jew than a Jew worrying about how to be good.”—Bernard Avishai on the poet Yehuda Amichai’s insight about Passover: http://nyr.kr/1hFygvD
“It’s one thing to consult books like Michelle Alexander’s ‘The New Jim Crow’ and read about the mass incarceration of African-Americans in the United States, but it’s another to see former prisoners filling the seats at a fast-food joint.”
Can we ever become cheerful taxpayers? Benjamin Soskis on the gap between charity and taxation: http://nyr.kr/1m7X92u
“Americans now pay a smaller share of their income in taxes than nearly any other wealthy Western nation, while taxes as a share of G.D.P. stand at fifty-year lows. At the same time, Americans give more to charity than citizens of any other nation, and the United States relies on the voluntary sector to address major social problems more heavily than other advanced economies do.”
Venezuela’s rigid currency controls are driving people to leave the country, but have also made it exceedingly hard for people to depart by air. Girish Gupta on the paradox: http://nyr.kr/1hFjxAM
“Many of the airlines have become so reluctant to accept the bolivar that they have limited the number of tickets for which they will accept the currency. A few have suspended bolivar-denominated sales altogether.”
“If the intelligence, discipline, and hard work that Colbert invested in The Character can be brought to bear on revitalizing the variety show, then the polity’s loss may turn out to be the culture’s gain. If Colbert can truly reinvent the genre, if he has the freedom and the inclination to blow it up and build on the rubble, then perhaps The Character will not have died in vain.”—Hendrik Hertzberg on the end of “Stephen Colbert,” the faux-conservative pundit: http://nyr.kr/Q5cyW6
“I was curious to see what people were buying, and I was also somewhat overwhelmed by the prospect of choosing something to stand for the three and a half years that I had spent at the store—not to mention the decades-long friendships that I had begun while working there.”
“The show’s strength is still the way it relishes lingering and withholding, pausing and fetishizing, forcing the audience to gaze at endlessly interpretable images, like that final one of Don caught in the prison bars of his own broken sliding door. Yet, for all its languorous pacing, it’s surprisingly hard to predict.”—Emily Nussbaum on last night’s “Mad Men” season première: http://nyr.kr/1eBdBs8
The Borowitz Report: Nation Stunned to Learn Congress Accomplished Something Fifty Years Ago
“Although the incident was widely reported throughout the week, the revelation that Congress had achieved something positive and substantial for the country a half century ago left many incredulous and baffled.”