Daily Bafflements

Science learning from history; Nicholson Baker’s tweets; suggestions for employers

The BafflerSeptember 12, 2016
A skillpot. / Nicholas LabyrinthX

A skillpot. / Nicholas LabyrinthX

• Epigenetics, the idea that we can inherit some DNA changes from our parents and ancestors, is in the spotlight these days. So it would be remiss of us not to point out that Jackson Lears made the argument that scientists have a thing or two to learn from historians (not just the other way around) in his review of Jessica Riskin’s The Restless Clock, in our new issue.

• Electric Lit brings us the news that a podcasting platform is trying to revive American local dialects by instructing their hosts to use words like emptins, goose drownder, and nasty-neat. Honorable, yes, but we can’t help but be reminded of Field Notes notebooks, who sought to revive “the vanishing subgenre of agricultural memo books, ornate pocket ledgers and the simple, unassuming beauty of a well-crafted grocery list”—and made a hefty profit. As Caroline O’Donovan argued on the blog, the “transmogrification-by-design of cultural history into brand into profit . . . is perturbing.”

• “20 Ways to Help Your Employees Struggling with Food Insecurity and Hunger.” Three guesses what didn’t make it onto this listicle.

• Nicholson Baker joined Twitter last week and seems to be taking to it like a fish to water. He reviewed fifteen books about JFK’s assassination (“there’s nothing silly about trying to find out what really happened”) for Baffler no. 25.