What I Read This Week - 23rd September

The days are getting shorter and colder. The internet is still full of interesting things. - Obama's Way (Michael Lewis at Vanity Fair)

That evening he sat down at his desk in the White House residence, in the Treaty Room, and pulled out a yellow legal pad and a No. 2 ­ ­pencil. When we think of a presidential speech we think of the bully pulpit—the president trying to persuade the rest of us to think or feel in a certain way. We do not think of the president sitting down and trying to persuade himself to think or feel a certain way first. But Obama does—he subjects himself to a kind of inner bully pulpit.

- On the Street Where You Live: Real Estate in Literature (Ian Crouch at the New Yorker)

The novel in English—from Richardson to Austen to Dickens and all the way up, and similarly among Americans from James to Wharton to Fitzgerald to, well, Franzen—might be said to be about real estate as much as it is about anything else.

- Diary: At the Conventions (Christian Lorentzen at the London Review of Books)

On Gandy Bridge I was stopped by a pair of police cars. ‘Where’s your vehicle?’ a cop with a shaved head asked me. I didn’t have one. ‘Could we see some ID?’ I gave them a passport. ‘You’re American, don’t you have a driver’s licence?’ He took my passport to his car to see if I was subject to any pending warrants. ‘You know,’ his partner said, ‘you’re walking a long way.’ I was aware. ‘What are you down here for?’ I told him. ‘Me, I’d be protesting. I’d be raising hell.’ The protests so far were ‘piddly stuff’. He was quite wistful. In the back of the patrol car I learned that the doors can’t be opened from the inside even when they’re unlocked. I was dropped four miles over the bridge in St Petersburg, and walked north towards Clearwater. Beneath the overpass for I-275 I saw the corpse and cracked shell of an unlucky turtle. I didn’t see any ‘Beware of Alligator’ signs until just before I got to the hotel. The walk had taken nine hours. On CNN Piers Morgan was interviewing the five sons of Mitt Romney, who all have the strange quality of laughing at things that have no potential to be funny. I suppose otherwise they’d never laugh at all.

- Everyone Shoots First: Reality in the Age of Instagram (Maria Bustillos at The Verge)

Human self-awareness is multiplying itself onto an altogether new plane.

- Should Millennials Feel Guilty For Leaving Their Small Towns Behind? (Brittany Shoot at The Atlantic)

Early on, I bought into the myth and the language of getting out. Leaving meant making it—it being the pursuit of some nebulous American Dream-type upward mobility.

- Inside the Secret Program to Build the World's Best Maps (Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic)

It seems like a ridiculous notion that we would need a complete representation of the world when we already have the world itself. But to take scholar Nathan Jurgenson's conception of augmented reality seriously, we would have to believe that every physical space is, in his words, "interpenetrated" with information. All physical spaces already are also informational spaces. We humans all hold a Borgesian map in our heads of the places we know that we use to navigate and compute physical space. Google's strategy is to bring all our mental maps together and process them into accessible, useful forms.