Good Reads: from a new media chapter, to telescopic contacts, to Doritos tacos
In this week's round-up of Good Reads includes why Jeff Bezos will be good for The Washington Post, how 'literally' became 'figuratively,' bionic contact lenses, real-life 'escape the room" games,' and Doritos tacos.
A new hope for legacy media?
Why did Amazon.com chief Jeff Bezos buy The Washington Post with $250 million of his own money? That’s the question many have asked Henry Blodget, editor of The Business Insider, a prominent blog that has Mr. Bezos among its investors. Mr. Blodget does not claim to have any inside information on Bezos’s decision, but writes with the insight of having worked with him for many years.
According to Blodget, Bezos loves the long game. He invests in projects that interest him, not ones that will turn a quick profit. With a reported net worth of $25 billion, Bezos can afford to throw around a lot of cash – and he does. He poured $42 million into a massive atomic clock designed to keep time for 10,000 years. He funded a mission to find and recover Apollo 11’s engines from the bottom of the ocean. He regularly invests Amazon’s profits into new long-term ventures, such as the Kindle e-book reader or the company’s new TV and movie studio.
“So, anyone rooting for the Washington Post to transform into a successful digital business should be thrilled that Jeff Bezos is buying it,” he writes. “Anyone hoping the Washington Post will never change, meanwhile, should find some other status quo to cling to. The status quo at the Post is dying with or without Bezos.”
Chris Gaylord is the Monitor's Innovation Editor. He loves gadgets, history, design, and curious readers like you.
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That’s a language pet peeve, literally
Bob Garfield hates when people misuse the word “literally.” On the Lexicon Valley podcast, he griped to cohost Mike Vuolo that people often use the word to mean its exact opposite – and this literally makes his brain explode.
Mr. Garfield assumed that this is a modern corruption of language, something that metastasized within his lifetime. But as Mr. Vuolo points out, people have used “literally” in a metaphorical or hyperbolic way for more than 150 years. Charles Dickens’s book “Nicholas Nickleby,” published in 1839, contains the line: “ ‘Lift him out,’ said Squeers, after he had literally feasted his eyes in silence upon the culprit.” Similar usages appear in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” and James Joyce’s “Dubliners.”
The rest of the episode explores why language pet peeves bother people so – and why the joke may be on them.