Posts

October 12, 2014

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12:09 PM | Wild Oats by Philip Larkin
No summary available for this post.
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11:15 AM | Sunday Poem
Cafe In that café in a foreign town bearing a French writer’s name I read Under the Volcano but with diminishing interest. You should heal yourself, I thought. I’d become a philistine. Mexico was distant, and its vast stars no...
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3:48 AM | A Disquisition on the Nature of Debt
Daniel Davies over at Crooked Timber: What is debt? It’s a promise to pay back a specific amount of money at a specific time. Why is it so popular – why do people always seem to end up getting into...
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3:40 AM | What Scientists Really Do
Priyamvada Natarajan reviews Philip Ball's Curiosity: How Science Became Interested in Everything and Stuart Firestein's Ignorance: How It Drives Science, in the NYRB: In Curiosity: How Science Became Interested in Everything, the science writer Philip Ball, a former editor at...
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3:36 AM | Sins Of Commission
Hartosh Singh Bal in Caravan (photo Ashok Vahie): ON WEDNESDAY, 31 October 1984, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her guards, both Sikh. In the ensuing violence, which lasted roughly three days, 2,733 Sikhs were killed in...
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3:33 AM | Bonfire of the Humanities: How did History Abdicate its Role of Inspiring the Longer View
David Armitage and Jo Guldi in Aeon (Photo by Ara Guler/Magnum Photos): The mission of the humanities is to transmit questions about value – and to question values – by testing traditions that build up over centuries and millennia. And...

October 11, 2014

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12:34 PM | The Birth of the Pill
Irin Carmon at The New York Times: By the time Eig’s book opens in 1950, Sanger had fixed her obsession on a contraceptive pill to feed the masses. Along with what Eig sets up as “a group of brave, rebellious...
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12:29 PM | the other elizabeth taylor
Adam Z. Levy at The Quarterly Conversation: One wonders why Taylor, who was hailed by Kingsley Amis as “one of the best English novelists born in this century,” has fallen so far from view in the forty years following her...
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12:23 PM | Patrick Modiano is his own genre
Anne-Sylvaine Chassany at the Financial Times: It is his ability to “create a world” that makes his work unique, says Marion Van Renterghem, a journalist at Le Monde who knows him well. “Each book is a piece of this world,...
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11:52 AM | Province of Men: In Afghanistan, girls are disguised and raised as boys
Rafia Zakaria in The New York Times: In August 2010, Time magazine published a picture of a mutilated Afghan girl on its cover — along with a warning to its readers. The image was “distressing” and “scary,” cautioned Richard Stengel,...
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10:45 AM | Is Physicalism coherent?
In my last post I argued that physicalism cannot be rejected simply because people assert there are nonphysical objects which are beyond specification. Some are, however, specifiable, and one commentator has identified the obvious ones: abstract objects like the rules of chess or numbers. I have dealt with these before in my “Pizza reductionism” post, […]

October 10, 2014

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9:36 PM | Why Weren’t Alarm Bells Ringing?
Paul Krugman reviews Martin Wolf's The Shifts and the Shocks: What We’ve Learned—and Have Still to Learn—from the Financial Crisis, in The New York Review of Books: The Shifts and the Shocks opens with a long quotation from the late...
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9:24 PM | Ignorance of Philosophy, Identity Politics, and the Cosmopolitan Ideal
Brian Leiter in 3:AM Magazine: [W]hy don’t Anglo-American philosophers engage with non-Western philosophical traditions? In my experience, professional philosophers today often perceive non-Western thinkers as inferior. Of course, few would say this explicitly. Rather, philosophers often point to non-Western philosophy’s...
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7:36 PM | The Evolution of Evolution: Gradualism, or Punctuated Equilibrium?
In some ways I’m glad I’m not an evolutionary biologist, even though the subject matter is undoubtedly fascinating and fundamental. Here in the US, especially, it’s practically impossible to have a level-headed discussion about the nature of evolutionary theory. Biologists … Continue reading →
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12:36 PM | The Strange Case of Nicholas Ray’s Johnny Guitar
Robert Pippin at nonsite: What we have instead is typical of Ray’s much more psychologically than politically complex films; that is, we have a great investiture of importance in love and being loved as the central human problem,42 or, we...
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12:31 PM | magic kingdoms
Sophia Nguyen at The Point: In the dog days of August, two books about the Ivy League landed comfortably on the New York Times bestseller list. One was William Deresiewicz’s Excellent Sheep. The other was Lev Grossman’s The Magician’s Land....
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12:26 PM | Rediscovering Regina Derieva
Cynthia Haven at the Times Literary Supplement: The Russian poet Regina Derieva was born on the Black Sea in Odessa, and enjoyed the shifting rhythms of the sea: “Water is the ideal apparel. However many times you get into it,...
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11:41 AM | Regarding Diptychs
Eric Dean Wilson at The American Reader: Generally, a diptych is two panels of equal size joined together by some device, usually a hinge. The form follows a long tradition that began in late Western antiquity, when Romans appointed to...
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10:58 AM | Friday Poem
Ask The Moon 1 Wakeful past 3 a.m. near the frontiers of Nothing it’s easy, so easy to imagine (like William Blake) an archaic angel standing askew in a cone of light not of this world; easy at this cheating...
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10:37 AM | Yeah, Baby! Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi Are Awarded Nobel Peace Prize
Alan Cowell in the New York Times: Reaching across gulfs of age, gender, faith, nationality and even international celebrity, the Norwegian Nobel Committee on Friday awarded the 2014 peace prize to Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi of India,...
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9:55 AM | Salman Rushdie condemns 'hate-filled rhetoric' of Islamic fanaticism
Anita Singh in The Telegraph: Accusations of 'Islamophobia' are being levelled at anyone who dares to speak out against the "hate-filled rhetoric" of Islamic fanaticism, Salman Rushdie has claimed in a speech condemning Isil and "this new age of religious...
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9:48 AM | A little knowledge: The significance of expertise passed on by direct contact
Editorial in Nature: For the last two decades of the twentieth century, a cold war rumbled on between the laboratories of physicists in Moscow and in the West over the quality of sapphire. The Russian scientists claimed to have measured...

October 09, 2014

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3:36 PM | joseph Cornell: the boxes, the films
Stefany Anne Golberg at The Smart Set: Less known are Cornell’s films; they are Cornell’s boxes in motion. The films are collages of industrial, scientific and home movies purchased from fellow collectors or pillaged from the trash bins of New...
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3:29 PM | He Has His Tools and Chemicals: A David Lynch Retrospective
Jonathan P. Eburne at the Los Angeles Review of Books: On the occasion of two major retrospective events in David Lynch’s career, we can return anew to Twin Peaks, in advance of the Showtime series. In late July, CBS and...
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3:24 PM | In one of the harshest camps for refugees of the Syrian conflict
Joshua Hersh at Virginia Quarterly Review: Refugees and the displaced never have it good, but by all accounts the conditions at Atmeh by late 2012, when its population was estimated at roughly 15,000 people, were especially wretched. (Atmeh’s population is...
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2:20 PM | Does evolutionary theory need a rethink?
Researchers are divided over what processes should be considered fundamental. From Nature: Does evolutionary theory need a rethink? Yes, urgently Without an extended evolutionary framework, the theory neglects key processes, say Kevin Laland and colleagues. Charles Darwin conceived of evolution...
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2:13 PM | The Diversity of Islam
Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times: A few days ago, I was on a panel on Bill Maher’s television show on HBO that became a religious war. Whether or not Islam itself inspires conflict, debates about it certainly do....
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1:46 PM | Debate: Are we alone in the cosmos?
No summary available for this post.
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1:12 PM | The moment of uncertainty
An interview of Robert Crease, historian and philosopher of science at Stony Brook University, New York, on the cultural impact of Heisenberg’s principle on homunculus: What led Heisenberg to formulate the uncertainty principle? Was it something that fell out of...
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1:07 PM | The upside down world paradox
By Catarina Dutilh NovaesAs most kids (I suspect), my daughters sometimes play ‘upside down world’, especially when I ask them something to which they should say ‘yes’, but instead they say ‘no’ and immediately regret it: ‘Upside down world!’ The upside down world game basically functions as a truth-value flipping operator: if you say yes, you mean no, and if you say no, you mean yes.My younger daughter recently came across the upside down […]
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