My Favorite Articles
- Lists of Best Magazine Articles. While it’s easy to get sucked up into the most recent news articles, it’s useful to take a longer view of the more important articles of the year. David Brooks does a good retrospective in his annual Sidney Awards. Longform.org also has a good annual list. You can get many of these articles (and others) in audio via the Audm app. If you want an even longer view of the best magazine articles, take a look at Kevin Kelley’s Best Magazine Articles Ever.
- There’s a great story of how the Citibank building was built incorrectly and was in danger of falling down. The story broke in The New Yorker and there is also a great story of it on the podcast 99% Invisible. If you’re interested in Citi’s double-decker elevators, here’s a surprisingly detailed blog.
- John Hughes (of Brat Pack Fame) wrote the short story Vacation 58: If Dad hadn’t shot Walt Disney in the leg, it would have been our best vacation ever which became the basis of his movie National Lampoon’s Vacation
- And here’s the article that Top Gun was based on
- The toy fad of 2017 was fidget spinners. The Economist has a great overview of the fidget spinner craze
- Here’s a really interesting image of how people distribute themselves in a park. It’s called a Voronoi diagram and it shows how each person tries to maximize their own space
- There has been a light bulb that’s been on since 1901 in a firehouse in Livermore California. The reason light bulbs burn out isn’t a technical problem but an economic one.
- Lewis Menand’s review of Smart, Faster, Better, I learned that all self help books have the same goal — to get us to be the people we know we should be. These books don’t have have any new solutions — they just reiterate common sense through the current cultural or businesses lenses. Menand points out that Dale Carnegie’s famous book How to Win Friends and Influence People (which I love) could be summed up in the sentence “If you are nice to people, they will like you.” But, he continues, the purpose of these books is not “What would Jesus do? but How, exactly, would He do it?” Carnegie’s book has some great tips on how to be nice to people like, “Be a good listener and focus on what the other person is interested in.” To me, it’s a fundamental point that none of these books, as much as they try, have the answer — we already know the answer. But they do have some good tips and tricks on how help us anyway.
- How Tom Wolfe Became … Tom Wolfe is Michael Lewis’s homage to one of his heroes. It includes two of my favorite Tom Wolfe stories, the “Dear Byron” story and the Chuck Yaeger story.
- Aristotle on Cancel Culture is a great article highlighting what we should be arguing about and how we argue.
- Weird histories. Here’s one of the Greek Gyro (born in Chicago) and Inside the Secret World of Trader Joes.
- Atul Gawande has a fascinating article on Two Hundred Years of Surgery which highlights how anesthesia and antiseptics changed the field.
- This is a fascinating study of Mate Preferences and Matching Outcomes in Online Dating, which tells you things like how much more money you’d have to make if you were an inch shorter. It’s a little old (from 2006) but I don’t think privacy protections would allow for a more recent study.
- Pandemics Leave Us Forever Altered, talks about how germs have rewritten history a bit more than we give them credit for. There’s an interesting bit on how germs helped make Hawaii a part of the US.
- A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again — David Foster Wallace on taking a ride on a cruise ship.
- There goes (VAROOM! VAROOM!) that Kandy Kolored (THPHHHHHH!) tangerine-flake streamline baby (RAHGHHHH!) around the bend (BRUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM…) — Tom Wolfe
I wrote a blog post on The Best Magazine Articles on Technology and they’re all pretty phenomenal. The articles I write about are:
- The Tinkerings of Robert Noyce by Tom Wolfe, Esquire Magazine, December 1983
- Secrets of the Little Blue Box by Ron Rosenbaum, Esquire, 10/1971
- Spacewar by Stewart Brand, Rolling Stone, 11/7/1972
- Inside The Deal That Made Bill Gates $350,000,000 by Bro Uttal, Fortune, 7/21/1984
- You’ve Got Blog by Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, 11/13/2000