Now Reading: Norman Mailer on screen, Pittsburgh startups, Albert Einstein’s brain

‘Now Reading’ is a daily collection and sharing of online stories and is meant for minimal consumption by the few readers of this blog. Topics will include books, food, matters of culture, photography, media and technology … there are no rules. Have a story to add? Share it in the comments.

Norman Mailer on the big screen

In The New Yorker’s ‘Page-Turner’ blog, Christine Smallwood writes about the journalist and author’s curious experiments in film. Mailer directed and starred in three total films, none of them garnering much acclaim, and Smallwood analyzes how the Mailer we see on screen is similar and different from the one we read in print.

When I read Mailer’s “The Fight,” I was fascinated by his decision to apply the same treatment to himself as he used with his characters, turning from author to Norman Mailer, the character. He exposed the shallowness of his ego and the complexities of his natural curiosity to a degree in which I felt I was living inside Mailer’s heart while reading that book. And Smallwood writes of a similar self-infatuation in Mailer’s films. Mailer clearly wrote from a burning desire to engage in other human beings, but he also wrote from an inferno of misplaced desires (so it seems to me). It’s never been clear to me if Mailer wrote because he had a story that needed to be told, or if he wrote because he needed to know he was being heard.

Can startups help more than themselves?

Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic has an interesting piece about Pittsburgh and the strong entrepreneurial culture that has sprouted there. In most places, the Pittsburgh that is portrayed represents a time that’s long gone. It’s not a city powered by steel mills and the sentimentalities that come with those tales. Today’s Pittsburgh has a tech heartbeat, powered by elite research institutions and the startup companies that are the byproducts of graduates from those places.

But Pittsburgh is just an example Madrigal uses to illustrate his larger question: Can startup companies lift swaths of urban cities out of poverty and solve some of the socioeconomic problems that seem to be everlasting? Can tech startups create jobs that don’t require a degree from a premier university? Nobody knows the answer to that, but the hope, in Madrigal’s piece and far beyond it, is that companies will be encouraged to push for growth even if the reward is simply to provide a town with a vibrant resource of manpower and less-privileged people with opportunities to climb from their misfortunes.

The Einstein brain app

This is wild: For $9.99, you can download an app that allows you to examine the Albert Einstein’s brain. I’m not kidding — this Wired piece goes into detail about how this app originated, how it is being used (a great tool for researchers and students, but what the hell does a regular person do with it?) and some potential issues with it. I wouldn’t fork over 10 bucks for someone’s digitized brain, but that’s mainly because there’s no utility in it for me. But the idea of this is still cool, for whatever it’s worth.

E-mail: Twitter: @TMitrosilis

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