Weekly Newsletter

On Writing #

Writing with the Master
Profiles John McPhee, a staff writer for the New Yorker and professor at Princeton. Uses accounts from McPhee’s students to illustrate his erudition.

The Patch by John McPhee
As a companion to the profile of John McPhee, I’ve included this piece of his. In an attempt to understand better the reverence with which his students speak of him, I read three of his past New Yorker articles. “The Patch” struck me as the most appropriate. I hope you like it.

Food and Food Production #

Evolution of Diet
Examines traditional diets of various indigenous cultures. Discusses how these diets can inform the development of a modern diet that is both healthy and sustainable. Avoids dogma and keeps the reader engaged.

The Next Green Revolution
Surveys the different ways agricultural yields could increase to accommodate increasing populations. Eclipses other articles on this topic by balancing differing opinions on what agricultural technologies will lead to the best future. Tidbits about Juma, a cassava farmer from Tanzania, complement the more scientific aspects of the article.

Banking #

Small Bank in Kansas is a Financial Testing Ground
Discusses how a small bank in Kansas combines a traditional bank model with innovative uses of technology to serve its customers better. This approach falls short of the “disruption” championed by Silicon Valley elites, but nevertheless represents a valuable means of modernizing outdated systems.

Torture #

Panel Faults C.I.A. Over Brutality and Deceit in Terrorism Investigations
Summarizes the recently-released Senate report on C.I.A. interrogation tactics, the hearings following its release, and the C.I.A’s response to the report. Although this article displays a mild bias in favor of the Senate report, it manages to cover the main sides of the debate.

A Tortured Report
Argues that the Senate report both understates the effectiveness of the interrogation techniques employed and omits parts of the truth in order to protect Democratic Party higher-ups from potential fallout.

Glenn Greenwald Salon Interview
Glenn Greenwald, known primarily for authoring the Guardian’s original article about Edward Snowden’s leaking information about the NSA, argues that the C.I.A’s employment of torture and the accompanying cover-up reflect intrinsic corruption in Washington’s political and media estates.

Other Contributions #

York and Fig: At the Intersection of Change (Matt Ritter)
Provides interesting perspectives on the individuals that led the gentrification of Highland Park, Los Angeles. Presents a generally unbiased viewpoint about an issue that advocates on all sides painfully distort.

However, the author overlooked certain positive changes resulting from gentrification, including the inevitable reduction in crime. He also neglected to explore the possibility that vandals targeted the gay couple partly due to their sexuality.

Further discussion of the economic factors behind gentrification would have enhanced the article. For example, an exploration of the relationship between gentrification and widespread rent control in Los Angeles would have been enlightening.

How Gangam Style broke YouTube’s counter (Noah Reichblum)
Explains how the view count of “Gangam Style” managed to exceed YouTube’s View Counter integer limit. Elucidates the mathematics behind the bug simply and succinctly.