Thursday, February 07, 2013

[Good Links] Link Slam

Link Slam: Odds and sods from aimless trolling of the web when I should have been writing.
  • Paul Theroux on his travel wish list:
    Nothing to me has more excitement in it than the experience of rising early in the morning in my own house and getting into my car and driving away on a long, meandering trip through North America. Not much on earth can beat it in travel for a sense of freedom - no pat-down, no passport, no airport muddle, just revving an engine and then 'Eat my dust.'

    Places I have not been, that I would love to go to in my car include a trip north, starting in Cape Cod and taking in Quebec, and continuing until I run out of road, then turning west, seeing the rest of Canada, land of my fathers. I have seen only a small bit of it, but the rest of it beckons, the very names: Great Slave Lake, Yellowknife, Moose Jaw, down through Alaska - months of it, maybe a year, and why not?
  • I suppose I am something of an outlier with respect to high school. I don't think my experience was all that different than others -- the usual mix of bullies, muddle-headed education, and awkward adolescence -- but I don't seem to be regularly dwelling on it. In fact, I rarely give high school a second thought. College was a much more formative time for me. (Maybe I'm just a slow developer.) In any event, this article on the persistence of high school's influence over the course of one's life is truly one of the best written articles I have ever read. It comes to the obvious conclusion that High School is a horrendous experience, even for the cool kids, but just when you are expecting a banal condemnation and a call for change you get something like this:
    Today, we also live in an age when our reputation is at the mercy of people we barely know, just as it was back in high school, for the simple reason that we lead much more public, interconnected lives. The prospect of sudden humiliation once again trails us, now in the form of unflattering photographs of ourselves or unwanted gossip, virally reproduced. The whole world has become a box of interacting strangers. Maybe, perversely, we should be grateful that high school prepares us for this life. The isolation, the shame, the aggression from those years-all of it readies us to cope.

    [Later, at her high school reunion] We'd all grown more gracious; many of us had bloomed; and it was strangely moving to be among people who all shared this shameful, grim, and wild common bond. I found myself imagining how much nicer it'd have been to see all those faces if we hadn't spent our time together in that red brick, linoleum-tiled perdition. Then again, if we hadn't-if we'd been somewhere more benign-I probably wouldn't have cared.
    No cathartic howling, no black-and-white answers, which is what you have gotten from 99.83% of typical journalists. Nicely done.
  • Reason #936 why I have given up on being political.
  • And reason #937
  • And for that matter, why bother with opinions at all?
  • If all that is not enough reading for you, here's a list of the best non-fiction web writing of 2012. Some of these you have seen here before.