As John Steinbeck’s classic Travels With Charley nears the half-century mark, a writer has retraced the author’s cross-country journey and come to the conclusion that the resulting book was full of inaccuracies and outright fabrications. The journalist Bill Steigerwald, whose article appears in the current issue of the libertarian quarterly Reason, says he didn’t set out to trash the Nobel laureate. “As a libertarian, I kind of liked the old guy,” Steigerwald tells the New York Times. “He liked guns; he liked property rights.”
In The New York Review of Books, Anthony Grafton has a long piece on the issues facing the American university system. I've previously linked to Malcolm Harris' excellent n+1 piece on the "higher education bubble," but this infographic vividly illustrates that same inflation.
In the beginning, God died, and it was bad. Then the pun died too, and despair came over the people.
"Over three decades of almost constant composing and recording, he would amass over sixty LPs, running the gamut from early records with his band the Mothers of Invention that helped to create the milieu we think of as the Sixties, to caustic send-ups of that same counterculture, doo-wop pastiche, tape cut-ups, film scores, gonzo cabaret, big-band charts, way out prog, show tunes, music composed entirely on and for the Synclavier digital sampler, full-score orchestral music, and thousands of scabrous, exploratory guitar solos." On Frank Zappa, music theory wizard and occasional public intellectual.
This is really happening: In February, an IBM-programmed computer will take on former champions (including Ken Jennings) in three games of Jeopardy. (via)
The folks at The New Yorker's Book Bench offer their take at The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books. (Spoiler Alert: Katherine Hepburn gets a shoutout.)