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Saturday, August 9, 2014 - 12:01 am

The reading list

“Yelp does a lot of things, including a number things that make people hate it. But one thing it does is provide a platform for vernacular art criticism, a different kind of writing about art and the public spaces where it is seen. Vernacular criticism can reject the guidelines set by cultivated artistic tastes, or it can guilelessly speak in ignorance of them, or in its naive fascination with them can inadvertently expose their falseness. Vernacular criticism is an expression of taste that has not been fully calibrated to the tastes cultivated in and by museums. Vernacular criticism inscribes bodies in public spaces that would otherwise erase them.

“I yelp. I've written over 100 reviews on Yelp, almost all of them about museums and galleries. Other Yelp users have found my reviews useful (305 votes), funny (209 votes), and cool (198 votes). I know what it's like to open the window on Yelp's page to compose a new review, to have Yelp ask me to quantify my experience of a place by choosing a number of stars - each with its corresponding interjections. One star is 'eek!' Two is 'meh.' Three is 'A-OK!' Four is 'Yay!' Five is 'Woohoo!' “

— From “Vernacular Criticism” at thenewinquiry.com

A quiz

What is the only sense organ to develop fully before birth?

Wisdom of the ages

“The only easy day was yesterday.” — U.S. Navy Seals motto

Current wisdom

“I stand before you as the president of the United States, a proud American. I also stand before you as the son of a man from Africa. The blood of Africa runs through our family, so for us, the bonds between our countries, our continents are deeply personal.” — President Obama at a three-day summit organized by the White House and aimed at strengthening U.S. ties with Africa.

Quiz answer

Snob words

taradiddle (tar-uh-DID-el). n. - a small lie or fib; pretentious nonsense, as in: “The editorial writer stopped taking notes midway through the mayor's budget taradiddles.”

Today in history

On this date in 1854, Henry David Thoreau's “Walden” was published; so many have talked the talk, so few have walked the walk.


I stayed up all night to see where the sun went, and then it dawned on me.

Now you know

The average life expectancy on the African continent ranges from 74 years in the island nation of Mauritius to just under 32 years in sub-Saharan Swaziland.