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Posts

March 30, 2014

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10:39 AM | Sunday Poem
Drinking Alone I take my wine jug out among the flowers to drink alone, without friends. I raise my cup to entice the moon. That, and my shadow, makes us three. But the moon doesn't drink, and my shadow silently...

March 29, 2014

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5:48 PM | How Vladimir Putin became evil
Tariq Ali in The Guardian: Once again, it seems that Russia and the United States are finding it difficult to agree on how to deal with their respective ambitions. This clash of interests is highlighted by the Ukrainian crisis. The...
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5:41 PM | Gunshot victims to be suspended between life and death
Doctors will try to save the lives of 10 patients with knife or gunshot wounds by placing them in suspended animation, buying time to fix their injuries. Helen Thompson in New Scientist: Neither dead or alive, knife-wound or gunshot victims...
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5:27 PM | The Story of the Jews
Judith Shulevitz at The New York Times: Most of the book celebrates Schama’s main thesis: that Jews were not the rigidly pious and self-segregating people Christian invective as well as the theologically dominated research of the late 19th and early...
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5:21 PM | ON LYDIA DAVIS’ TRANSLATIONS OF A.L. SNIJDERS
Florian Duijsens at The Quarterly Conversation: Imagine a literary genre much like a diary but composed for immediate consumption. A genre part commonplace book, part Blue Octavo Notebooks, part Twitter stream. Imagine something like a blog but written by public...
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5:18 PM | The Self-Portrait: A Cultural History
Frances Spalding at The Guardian: "The moment when a man comes to paint himself – he may do it only two or three times in a lifetime, perhaps never – has in the nature of things a special significance." So...
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3:21 PM | The Oldest Living Things On Earth
Carl Zimmer in his excellent blog, The Loom: It is easy to feel sorry for the gastrotrich. This invertebrate animal, the size of a poppy seed and the shape of a bowling pin, swarms by the millions in rivers and...
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3:12 PM | Ellen DeGeneris: Bic Pens for Women
No summary available for this post.
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2:41 PM | Finnegans Wake - in pictures
John Vernon Lord in The Guardian: A new illustrated edition of Finnegans Wake, as imagined by artist John Vernon Lord for the Folio Society, matches James Joyce's extravagant word games with elaborately collaged pictures, shedding a brilliant new light on...
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12:35 PM | Outsider Art
Fernanda Eberstadt in The New York Times: In the 1980s, a series of posters began appearing on the streets of New York. The most arresting one — a yellow-and-crimson image of Ingres’s “Odalisque” wearing a gorilla mask that demanded, “Do...
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10:52 AM | Saturday Poem
Chai I've only seen a photograph — boats anchored on the muddy shoals of the Ganges. Splintered canopies on top of blistered bows and sterns, sari'd women leaving their men to wash, or launch the dead among the reeds. A...
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1:21 AM | The origins of “speciation”
As I do some research on the history of speciation theories, I came across this, which is perhaps the original coining of the term: Evolution is a process of organic change and development, universal and continuous, and due to causes … Continue reading →

March 28, 2014

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10:25 PM | Scientific cooperation despite political posturing
I find it heartening scientific cooperation continues (so far) despite all the political posturing going on down here over the Ukraine political crisis. Here we see the arrival of Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev and NASA astronaut Steven Swanson … Continue reading →
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3:32 PM | Poetry and Action: Octavio Paz at 100
Joel Whitney in Dissent: When protest movements spread through cities around the world in 1968, Octavio Paz looked upon the “great youth rebellions . . . from afar,” he wrote, “with astonishment and with hope.” The poet was then Mexico’s...
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3:27 PM | Wealth Over Work
Paul Krugman in the New York Times: It seems safe to say that “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” the magnum opus of the French economist Thomas Piketty, will be the most important economics book of the year — and maybe...
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3:19 PM | A Math Puzzle Worthy of Freeman Dyson
Thomas Lin in Quanta: Freeman Dyson — the world-renowned mathematical physicist who helped found quantum electrodynamics with the bongo-playing, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman and others, devised numerous mathematical techniques, led the team that designed a low-power nuclear reactor that...
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3:01 PM | Suicidal crickets, zombie roaches and other parasite tales
No summary available for this post.
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2:53 PM | Bertolt Brecht: A Literary Life
Donald Sassoon at Literary Review: What a predicament it is to be an artist or a writer. You are never fully in control of your productions. You paint a cheerful Florentine housewife and, a few centuries later, some jumped-up critic...
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2:50 PM | The Case for Working Less
David Spencer at berfrois: The idea that society might work less in order to enjoy life more goes against standard thinking that celebrates the virtue and discipline of hard work. Dedication to work, so the argument goes, is the best...
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2:47 PM | how to write about birds of prey
John Burnside at The New Statesman: Anyone who has ever stopped to watch a hawk in flight will know that this is one of the natural world’s most elegant phenomena. In many traditions, hawks are sacred: Apollo’s messengers for the...
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1:05 PM | WHEN NATURE OUTPLAYS NURTURE
Ed Smith in More Intelligent Life: Thirty-five years ago, a hundred tennis-playing children were tested for general athleticism. One girl (pictured) was rated by the psychologist leading the analysis as “the perfect tennis talent”. She outperformed her contemporaries at every...
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12:55 PM | First synthetic yeast chromosome revealed
Ewan Callaway in Nature: It took geneticist Craig Venter 15 years and US$40 million to synthesize the genome of a bacterial parasite. Today, an academic team made up mostly of undergraduate students reports the next leap in synthetic life: the...
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11:54 AM | Friday Poem
Tante Tina Puts the 1991 Gulf War Into Perspective ............... (for my mother, 1911-2001, whose story this is) I have a right to be cranky, ja. I am an old lady. You come sitz mal here. Na, a little closer....
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10:24 AM | Counting Infinities
(Cross-posted at NewAPPS)In his Two New Sciences (1638), Galileo presents a puzzle about infinite collections of numbers that became known as ‘Galileo’s paradox’. Written in the form of a dialogue, the interlocutors in the text observe that there are many more positive integers than there are perfect squares, but that every positive integer is the root of a given square. And so, there is a one-to-one correspondence between the positive integers and the perfect squares, and […]

March 27, 2014

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9:10 PM | How to Strengthen Your Faith: A Letter to a Religious Young Person
Yesterday was Richard Dawkins's birthday and I wrote to him to wish him a good one. To amuse him, I also sent along a letter I had written some time ago to a correspondent from Karachi. Richard wrote back saying,...
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2:13 PM | The BRAIN initiative should focus on large scale recording
When I first heard about the BRAIN Initiative (“Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies“), my reaction was a mixture of excitement and apprehension. Excitement, because even though the initial statements were quite fuzzy, they seemed to point toward valid and important goals. Apprehension, because it seemed likely that politics would result in the money being … Continue reading »
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12:54 PM | Pritzker Architecture Prize Goes to Shigeru Ban
Robin Pogrebin in the New York Times: Architecture generally involves creating monuments to permanence from substantial materials like steel and concrete. Yet this year, the discipline’s top award is going to a man who is best known for making temporary...
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12:50 PM | Cosmologists Say Last Week’s Announcement About Gravitational Waves and Inflation May Be Wrong
From The Physics arXiv: Last week, the world of science was ablaze with the news that astrophysicists had found the first evidence of ripples in spacetime from the instants after the Big Bang. The discovery of these gravitational waves would...
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12:35 PM | What medieval Europe did with its teenagers
William Kremer in BBC World News: Around the year 1500, an assistant to the Venetian ambassador to England was struck by the strange attitude to parenting that he had encountered on his travels. He wrote to his masters in Venice...
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12:27 PM | MIT engineers design hybrid living/nonliving materials
From KurzweilAI: MIT engineers have coaxed bacterial cells to produce biofilms that can incorporate nonliving materials, such as gold nanoparticles and quantum dots. These “living materials” combine the advantages of live cells — which respond to their environment, produce complex...
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