Posts

October 05, 2014

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3:16 PM | The Arab whodunnit: crime fiction makes a comeback in the Middle East
Jonathan Guyer in The Guardian: From Baghdad to Cairo, a neo-noir revolution has been creeping across the Middle East. The revival of crime fiction since the upheavals started in 2011 should not come as a surprise. Noir offers an alternative...
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3:07 PM | We are told that we are an irrational tangle of biases, to be nudged any which way. Does this claim stand to reason?
Steven Poole in Aeon: Humanity’s achievements and its self-perception are today at curious odds. We can put autonomous robots on Mars and genetically engineer malarial mosquitoes to be sterile, yet the news from popular psychology, neuroscience, economics and other fields...
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2:58 PM | 'I am not a spy. I am a philosopher.'
Ramin Jahanbegloo in the Chronicle of Higher Education: The heavy steel door swung closed behind me in the cell. I took off my blindfold and found myself trapped within four cold walls. The cell was small. High ceiling, old concrete....
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2:52 PM | How Not To Understand ISIS
Alireza Doostdar at the University of Chicago Divinity School website: The group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant or simply the Islamic State (ISIL, ISIS, or IS) has attracted much attention in the past few months...
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2:48 PM | Love and Death in Sarajevo
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1:07 PM | Sunday Poem
Shaving I am not shaving, I'm writing about it. And I conjure the most elaborate idea— how my beard is a creation of silent labor like ocean steam rising to form clouds, or the bloom of spiderwebs each morning; the...
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1:01 PM | "Underwear" by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
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12:20 PM | U. Srinivas (1969 - 2014)
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12:04 PM | Life as an orphan in a plastic tent city, bombing Iraq (again) and keeping my “Juslim” name
Jemima Khan in New Statesman: Zaatari camp in Jordan is a chalky pop-up city and temporary holding pen for the collateral damage from Syria’s civil war; 80,000 refugees, mostly women and children, existing in orderly limbo. Most left Syria on...
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11:59 AM | First sentences of non-fiction texts: The Top Ten
John Rentoul in The Independent: After an online debate with Brian Moore over the opening sentence of 'A Tale of Two Cities' (best of lines, worst of lines), which I would have rejected for my Top 10 First sentences of...
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3:24 AM | Heinrich Himmler, family man: Why “The Decent One” is the most haunting documentary I’ve ever seen
Andrew O'Hehir in Salon: Much of the history of human thought has revolved around our efforts to understand the nature of evil, which have never yielded anything like a satisfactory result. We are fascinated by serial killers and murderous dictators,...
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12:47 AM | The science and politics of climate change
Michael Mann: The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars – TAM 2013. Have a look at this video for an excellent description of the history and science of climate change. It’s presented by one of the central figures. Michael Mann … Continue reading →

October 04, 2014

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2:10 PM | the novels of Yoram Kaniuk
Mona Gainer-Salim at The Quarterly Conversation: Kaniuk draws the reader into his fictional world as a participant, not just a spectator. The reader is forced to consider his own role in relation to the work, to reflect on his reactions...
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2:05 PM | The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher
Terry Castle at The New York Times: Plot — in the ordinary sense — is frequently subordinated to dialogue in Mantel: In fact, as in an Ivy Compton-Burnett novel, the dialogue seems almost to become the plot. Two ill-assorted characters...
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2:01 PM | trying to make sense of contemporary art
Jackie Wullschlager at The Financial Times: There are some forms of success, Degas said, that are indistinguishable from panic. The 21st-century art market is one. Prices soar, museums bloat, buyers swarm, but still everyone involved – collector, dealer, commentator, curator...
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1:35 PM | In Facebook’s Courtroom
Joshua Rothman in The New Yorker: Earlier this month, when TMZ released a video of Ray Rice punching Janay Palmer, his fiancée (now wife), in an Atlantic City* elevator, the online response followed a pattern that’s both familiar and strange....
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1:31 PM | Jeff Goldblum GE Commercial
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1:25 PM | Hollywood Salaries Revealed, From Movie Stars to Agents (and Even Their Assistants)
From The Hollywood Reporter: How bad is the decline in actor salaries over the past decade? Despite the huge sums still being raked in by such superstars as Robert Downey Jr. (his $75 million comes from his 7 percent, first-dollar...
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11:54 AM | Saturday Poem
Mistaken Identity I thought I saw my mother in the lesbian bar, with a salt gray crew cut, a nose stud and a tattoo of a parrot on her arm. She was sitting at a corner table, leaning forward to...
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11:53 AM | Can life in a nursing home be made uplifting and purposeful?
Atul Gawande in The Telegraph: In 1991, in the tiny town of New Berlin, in upstate New York, a young physician named Bill Thomas performed an experiment. He didn’t really know what he was doing. He was 31 years old,...
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11:18 AM | Market-Driven Behavior
David Bromwich in The New York Times: Paul Roberts thinks a society that wants it now is untenable, and he has written a prophecy to tell us why. He begins “The Impulse Society” with a parable: a visit to a...

October 03, 2014

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4:20 PM | Ten Questions for the Philosophy of Cosmology
Last week I spent an enjoyable few days in Tenerife, one of the Canary Islands, for a conference on the Philosophy of Cosmology. The slides for all the talks are now online; videos aren’t up yet, but I understand they … Continue reading →
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3:30 PM | The Birds of War
Christopher Benfey in the New York Review of Books: Is it to be war? It would seem so, now and for the foreseeable future. Yet the future seems, increasingly, unforeseeable, as the seers with furrowed brows, convened around the tables...
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3:21 PM | The Odds, Continually Updated
F. D. Flam in the New York Times: Statistics may not sound like the most heroic of pursuits. But if not for statisticians, a Long Island fisherman might have died in the Atlantic Ocean after falling off his boat early...
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3:09 PM | The Sound So Loud That It Circled the Earth Four Times
Aatish Bhatia in Nautilus: On 27 August 1883, the Earth let out a noise louder than any it has made since. It was 10:02 AM local time when the sound emerged from the island of Krakatoa, which sits between Java...
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2:39 PM | Story SLAM Winner: Micaela Blei
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12:43 PM | Unraveling “Racial Threat”
Laura Levis in Harvard Magazine: Riding the train to work every day in Chicago, Ryan Enos began to notice an intriguing pattern: at a certain downtown station, all the African-American riders seemed to get off just as Caucasian riders climbed...
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12:37 PM | How cancer cells assure immortality by lengthening the ends of chromosomes
From KurzweilAI: On Sept. 23, KurzweilAI noted that scientists at the Salk Institute had discovered an on-and-off “switch” in cells that might allow for increasing telomerase, which rebuilds telomeres at the ends of chromosomes to keep cells dividing and generating....
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12:17 PM | A journalist remembers her days in Libya with James Foley
Clare Morgana Gillis at The American Scholar: BENGHAZI, April 2011–A large and detailed map of Sirte hung on the wall of the general’s office where James Foley and I conducted what turned out to be our last interview before our...
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12:13 PM | Pope Francis Revisits Liberation Theology
Eric Frith at Dissent: Late last month, Pope Francis told reporters he considers it very important that the beatification of Oscar Romero—the process of declaring Romero officially “blessed” that is the stepping-stone to sainthood—be accomplished quickly. “Romero is a man...
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