Posts

October 26, 2014

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2:38 PM | Jared Diamond: ‘150,000 years ago, humans wouldn’t figure on a list of the five most interesting species on Earth’
Oliver Berkeman in The Guardian: Most people would be overjoyed to receive one of the MacArthur Foundation’s annual “genius grants” – around half a million dollars, no strings attached – but when Jared Diamond won his, in 1985, it plunged...
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10:35 AM | Sunday Poem
Hazards of Hindsight For a moment forget hindsight prudence and reconsideration Hindsight dry-cleans your speech Forget caution and correction don’t render me speechless with your reason – all I want from you is a quick artless response that knocks judgement...
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12:49 AM | Putting politicans in their place on climate change
The US is a strange country. It has some great comedians (and some great scientists) but it also has some lousy politicians. It’s a real mystery to me how the US House Committee on Science, Space and Technology can have … Continue reading →

October 25, 2014

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6:10 PM | Art of Darkness
Pico Iyer at the New York Times: To what extent is the price of immortality humanity, as you could put it? Must the revolutionary artist ignore — even flout — the basic laws of decency that govern our world in...
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6:05 PM | the hilltop: life in the occupied territories
David L. Ulin at The LA Times: Assaf Gavron's 2010 novel "Almost Dead" does something I would have thought impossible — it makes satire out of terrorism. The story of a man who becomes an Israeli national hero after surviving...
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6:02 PM | Dylan Thomas: a poet unlike any other
Owen Sheers at The Financial Times: Perhaps of greater importance to Thomas’s poetry, however, was the wider cultural landscape of 1930s Wales, and Thomas’s geographical and familial location within it. Thomas’s parents were the personification of the intellectual and industrial...
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5:39 PM | R. Read and N.N. Taleb advocate religion as a risk-management system: I am not convinced.
My difficult relation with N.N. Taleb’s ideas has been the underlying thread of a significant proportion of posts, and I keep hoping this tension will generate useful insights. However sometimes my will to embrace ideological diversity is shaken vigorously… Rupert…Read more ›
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1:15 PM | ‘The Immortal Evening'
Priscilla Gilman in The New York Times: On Dec. 28, 1817, Benjamin Robert ­Haydon, then England’s pre-eminent history painter, hosted a dinner party to celebrate his progress on his latest work, “Christ’s Entry Into Jerusalem.” He invited, among others, three...
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11:11 AM | Who Really Found the Higgs Boson?
Neal Hartman in Nautilus: To those who say that there is no room for genius in modern science because everything has been discovered, Fabiola Gianotti has a sharp reply. “No, not at all,” says the former spokesperson of the ATLAS...
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11:03 AM | Destroying Pakistan: The curse of the blasphemy law
Farahnaz Ispahani Nina Shea in The Weekly Standard: Pakistan’s blasphemy law, which turns 30 this year, has become only more deadly with age. Since blasphemy was made a capital crime under the nation’s secular penal code, the effect has been...
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10:55 AM | Ravi Shankar & Allah Rakha Live: Raag Pancham Se Gara
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10:53 AM | We took four New Yorkers to The Death of Klinghoffer: what was their verdict?
Moustafa Bayoumi, Kayla Epstein, Alan Yuhas, and Eli Valley in The Guardian: Kayla Epstein: As this panel’s Orthodox Jewish participant, I’m aware that I’ve been asked to participate for a very specific purpose: to bring the bearing of my religious...
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10:29 AM | Saturday Poem
Texts Waking up, Sitting up with a yawn, Rolling up the tattered mat, Tucking up the torn mundu, Walking along the hedges. Not for a lark. The muddy fields grimace, The cows wag their tails. Where is that long night...
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9:37 AM | Note-by-Note Cooking: the Future of Food
Over at the Columbia University Press Blog, an interview with Herve This on his new book: Question: How does note-by-note cooking differ from molecular gastronomy? Herve This: Molecular gastronomy is a scientific activity, not to be confused with molecular cooking....

October 24, 2014

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9:29 PM | How Lincoln Played the Press
Gary Wills in the New York Review of Books: People are amazed or disgusted, or both, at today’s “power of the media.” The punch is in that plural, “media”—the twenty-four-hour flow of intermingled news and opinion not only from print...
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6:35 PM | Mystery of dinosaur with giant arms solved
Rebecca Morelle at the BBC: In the 1960s, researchers unearthed two gigantic dinosaur arms. For decades, scientists have speculated about what kind of beast they belonged to. Now, the rest of the dinosaur's body has been unearthed, and researchers say...
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11:43 AM | The Combination Lock Test
Brendan Fitzgerald in The Morning News: A man dies, leaving behind, among other things, a combination lock. Opening it may just prove the existence of the afterlife. I first learned about Stevenson through his obituary, which ran in the New...
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11:28 AM | Making Organizations Moral
Sophia Nguyen in Harvard Magazine: In the early 2000s, a riptide of business scandals toppled Enron, Arthur Andersen, and WorldCom. In the aftermath, says Straus professor of business administration Max Bazerman, “society turned to professional schools” to ask why their...
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11:10 AM | the death of fraternity
Chris Lehman at The Baffler: Whether we like it or not, the big idea behind American democracy is to make us like each other more. It’s a faintly embarrassing dimension of our social experiment, carved out of the crack-up of...
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11:06 AM | Judith Butler's Eqbal Ahmad Lecture at Hamshire College
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11:06 AM | bartleby at the office
Nikil Saval at Dissent: Few institutions have offered themselves as less promising for the novelist than the modern office. Work of any kind is a tricky subject for representation; office work—gray, gnomic, and unknowable—even more so. After all, what is...
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11:00 AM | Joshua Reynolds: portraits in action
Norma Clarke at The Times Literary Supplement: Reynolds dominated British art for some three decades before his death in 1792, by which time the British portrait was firmly established. Jonathan Richardson, in his influential Essay on the Theory of Painting...
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8:36 AM | Obama Is a Republican: He’s the heir to Richard Nixon, not Saul Alinsky.
Bruce Barlett in The American Conservative: A Republican stimulus would undoubtedly have had more tax cuts and less spending, even though every serious study has shown that tax cuts are the least effective method of economic stimulus in a recession....
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6:17 AM | Expressions of the American Mind
An excerpt from Tom Shachtman's Gentleman Scientists and Revolutionaries in Scientific American: During the Revolutionary War, while American laboratory and field research was much reduced, science did not grind to a halt. Scientific thought helped frame America’s initiating rhetoric of...

October 23, 2014

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3:26 PM | remembering our friend Matt Power (who would have turned 40 yesterday)
Mark Kirby at GQ: Today would've been Matthew Power's 40th birthday. The GQ contributor and friend of GQ staffers past and present died this March while reporting a story along the Nile River in Uganda. Matt was curious, adventurous, and...
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1:27 PM | Gough Whitlam, 1916-2014
John Quiggin in Crooked Timber: Gough Whitlam, Prime Minister of Australia from 1972 to 1975, died on Tuesday. More than any other Australian political leader, and as much as any political figure anywhere, Gough Whitlam embodied social democracy in its...
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12:45 PM | Who’s afraid of ‘Klinghoffer’?
Adam Shatz in the London Review of Books: The Death of Klinghoffer, John Adams’s 1991 opera about the hijacking of the Achille Lauro by the Palestine Liberation Front in 1985, has achieved a rare distinction in contemporary classical music: it’s...
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12:35 PM | Benjamin C. Bradlee (1921-2014)
David Remnick in The New Yorker: Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee, the most charismatic and consequential newspaper editor of postwar America, died at the age of ninety-three on Tuesday. Among his many bequests to the Republic was a catalogue of swaggering anecdotes...
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12:29 PM | Afghanistan: ‘A Shocking Indictment’
Rory Stewart in the New York Review of Books: Ashraf Ghani, who has just become the president of Afghanistan, once drafted a document for Hamid Karzai that began: There is a consensus in Afghan society: violence…must end. National reconciliation and...
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12:19 PM | Thomas Piketty: New thoughts on capital in the twenty-first century
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