New York Times Magazine writer Jon Mooallem takes a look at the business of sleep:

For years, doctors have been discouraged by Americans’ disregard for and mismanagement of their sleep. (“I might as well have been running a chain of beauty parlors for the last four decades” is how one described his advocacy.) But bragging about how little you sleep, a hallmark of the ’80s power broker, is starting in certain circles to come off as masochistic buffoonery. The sleep docs we once ignored appear on morning shows to offer tips. Health professionals and marketers are hopeful that a new seriousness about sleep will continue moving out of a luxury-minded vanguard and into the mainstream. Sleep may finally be claiming its place beside diet and exercise as both a critical health issue and a niche for profitable consumer products.


John Derbyshire reviews Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle in The New Atlantis:

In his invaluable Reader’s Manifesto, literary critic B. R. Myers, skewering current literary fads, offers a spoof list of rules for serious writers. Rule II is:

Sprawl. Brevity may be the soul of wit, but contemporary reviewers regard a short book as “a slender achievement.” So when in doubt, leave it in.

I naturally had Myers’s mock precept in mind when approaching Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle—three damned, thick, square books weighing in at a total of over 2,600 pages. My better self then reflected that some fine novels, including some indisputably great ones, are of comparable size; that the Victorian “three-deckers” and serialized novels, some of which likewise attained immortality, did not stint on wordage; and there are some stories that can only be told at length. Allowing these charitable thoughts to prevail, I turned to the first page of the Cycle with an open mind, ready to be entertained and instructed. I was not disappointed. This is a fine story-telling achievement.

I can agree with Derbyshire’s assessment only up to a point: it’s truly great storytelling, but at the end of the 2,600 pages, I found myself wondering what on earth the story was about. Perhaps I was just exhausted from toting the books around with me for three months, but I could find little in the end to explain why I had worked so long to read these books.

Russell Baker, writing in the New York Review of Books, reviews two books about the woes of modern newspapers. In his generous commentary, Baker, doesn’t take long to mention the Internet:

The American press has the blues. Too many authorities have assured it that its days are numbered, too many good newspapers are in ruins. It has lost too much public respect. Courts that once treated it like a sleeping tiger now taunt it with insolent subpoenas and put in jail reporters who refuse to play ball with prosecutors. It is abused relentlessly on talk radio and in Internet blogs. It is easily bullied into acquiescing in the designs of a presidential propaganda machine determined to dominate the news.

Its advertising and circulation are being drained away by the Internet, and its owners seem stricken by a failure of the entrepreneurial imagination needed to prosper in the electronic age. Surveys showing that more and more young people get their news from television and computers breed a melancholy sense that the press is yesteryear’s thing, a horse-drawn buggy on an eight-lane interstate.

Welcome to the Deep Reading weblog, a catalog of longer, in-depth articles on science and technology from around the World Wide Web. I created this weblog because I like articles that explore subjects in greater depth than most web content; I look for articles that (a) deal with a subject of interest to me, usually science or technology, but not always; (b) are at least ten pages long, although I will sometimes post links to shorter articles; (c) above all, are good reading.