Links: John le Carre, the writer’s temperament, condoms, slut shaming, desire, transport, and more!

* John le Carre’s complete works discussed; I am most of the way through Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and am amazed at how good it is, and how taunt even repeated stories feel. I have started and sometimes completed le Carre’s novels from the last fifteen years but seldom liked them, even when I wanted to. There may be a fuller post here.

* David Brooks: “Engaged or detached?” “Writers who are at the classic engaged position believe that social change is usually initiated by political parties [. . .] the detached writer wants to be a few steps away from the partisans. [. . . ] She fears the team mentality will blinker her views.” Read the whole thing because the context is important, but as a writer I lean heavily towards the “detached” point of view.

* How ‘Slut Shaming’ Has Been Written Into School Dress Codes Across The Country, which should be obvious yet isn’t.

* “Why still so few use condoms;” spoiler: because it doesn’t feel as good.

* “What do you desire?, possibly NSFW.

* “Nobody Walks in L.A.: The Rise of Cars and the Monorails That Never Were” but should have been. L.A., Seattle, and other places have begun to recognize the obvious about the limits of car-based transport.

* “Who Killed The Deep Space Climate Observatory?” This story, along with pathetic “Superconducting Super Collider” debacle, is the sort of thing that, if the U.S. really does take an intellectual and cultural backseat to the rest of the world, will be cited by future historians as examples of how the U.S. turned away from the very traits and behaviors that made it successful in the first place. “Who Killed the Deep Space Climate Observatory?” is also an example of how the real news is very seldom the news you read in the headlines.

* “Documentary ‘Aroused’ explores what makes women turn to porn careers.”

* “[A]rtists and writers love to cast gigantic stores as misbegotten cathedrals.” I’m guilty.

* Frank Bruni on Amanda Knox and pervasive sexual double standards, with the somewhat stupid title “Sexism and the Single Murderess.”

* Why many streets are ridiculously wide.

* The role of a dictionary. People (most often students) often refer to me as a walking dictionary and say that I must not need one, and I usually say the opposite: I often use dictionaries, and in my experience most people who work with words do.

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