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April 12, 2014

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7:17 AM | The Banker, the Visitor, His Wife and Her Lover
Amitava Kumar in the New York Times: Zia Haider Rahman Another month, another bright young star in the firmament of Indian writing. I didn’t write that sentence. It appeared in these pages almost 14 years ago, in August 2000, opening...
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2:48 AM | Closet Darwinism, and definitions
Every so often, somebody makes the case that “Darwinism”, “Darwinist” and “Darwinian”, being the generic noun, the individual term, and the adjective of Darwin’s name and therefore (supposedly) theory, are dead terms that cause nothing but harm (see Scott and … Continue reading →

April 11, 2014

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8:55 PM | Why We’re in a New Gilded Age
Paul Krugman in the NYRB (photo by Emmanuelle Marchadour): Piketty throws down the intellectual gauntlet right away, with his book’s very title:Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Are economists still allowed to talk like that? It’s not just the obvious allusion...
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8:45 PM | How the CIA Turned Doctor Zhivago into a Propaganda Weapon Against the Soviet Union
Colin Marhsall in Open Culture: Humanity has long pondered the relative might of the pen and the sword. While one time-worn aphorism does grant the advantage to the pen, most of us have entertained doubts: the sword, metaphorically or literally,...
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8:42 PM | The Banker, the Visitor, His Wife and Her Lover
Amitava Kumar reviews Zia Haider Rahman's ‘In the Light of What We Know’ (photo by Katherine Rose): In diverse genres, but primarily in fiction, writers from India and (especially after the attacks of Sept. 11) from Pakistan and Bangladesh, as...
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1:37 PM | Free will and the psychology of freedom
The most basic distinction in the philosophy of free will is between “compatibilists” and “incompatibilists”. The difference is in their view of determinism. “Incompabilists” believe that determinism is incompatible with free will. Compatibilists do not necessarily believe that free will exists, but they don’t believe that determinism automatically implies that it doesn’t. My goal in … Continue reading »
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12:47 PM | kate bush returns
Ian Penman at The London Review of Books: Kate is perceived to be more ‘one of us’ than other pop/rock figures, one of the extended family. There’s a feeling that she’s ‘stayed the same’, that success ‘hasn’t spoiled her’. She’s...
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12:43 PM | can the transition to a more modest way of living be accomplished peaceably?
Jonathan Benthall at the Times Literary Supplement: In Pauperland: Poverty and the poor in Britain, Jeremy Seabrook makes an eloquent case that wealth, which now commands “many of the rites and observances formerly associated with religion”, is founded on an...
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11:59 AM | Her Dagestan: Taus Makhacheva
Stephanie Ball in AsiaPacificArt: In Taus Makhacheva’s three-minute video Walk (2010), a jagged cliff zigzags across the frame producing a line of perspective. Three points demarcate the division between the ocher earth and a brilliant blue sky, and a figure...
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11:50 AM | James Lovelock reflects on Gaia's legacy
Philip Ball in Nature: A new exhibition at the Science Museum in London features the personal archives of one of the most influential modern scientists; James Lovelock. ‘Unlocking Lovelock: Scientist, Inventor, Maverick’ tells the story of the British scientist's work...
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10:15 AM | Friday Poem
We remember the rabbit when we see the duck, but we cannot experience both at the same time. ........................ —E.H. Gombrich, Art and Illusion . Duck/Rabbit What do you remember? When I looked at his streaky glasses, I wanted to...
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9:24 AM | CfP: Agent-Based Modeling in Philosophy
LMU Munich11-13 December 2014www.lmu.de/abmp2014In the past two decades, agent-based models (ABMs) have become ubiquitous in philosophy and various sciences.  ABMs have been applied, for example, to study the evolution of norms and language, to understand migration patterns of past civilizations, to investigate how population levels change in ecosystems over time, and more.  In contrast with classical economic models or population-level models in biology, ABMs are praised for their […]

April 10, 2014

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3:13 PM | More Thoughts on Constructing the World (David Chalmers)
With permission, I'm posting some of David Chalmers' quick thoughts/responses to Panu Raatikainen's critical notice of David's recent aufbauesque (2012) book, Constructing the World (some lectures on this are here on youtube):---------------------(1) Are bridge laws allowed in the scrutability base, and if so does this trivialize scrutability theses? Bridge laws are certainly not disallowed from the base in general (indeed, I'd have psychophysical bridge laws in my own base). When I said that […]
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2:15 PM | ‘No Palestinian Has Ever Written Poetry Quite Like This Before’
From Arabic Literature: Before I ever met Najwan Darwish, I’d imagined him in an impassioned frustration, throwing handfuls of promotional fliers in the air: That was at the 2011 Palestine Festival of Literature. Two years later, when I was invited...
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2:07 PM | Volkswagen Polo R WRC - Rally Sweden 2013
Volkswagen Polo R WRC - Rally Sweden 2013 from J-tec on Vimeo.
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1:38 PM | Does action scaling predict 'the embodiment of culture'? (No.)
I recently reviewed a paper for Frontiers by Arthur Glenberg and colleagues called 'Sensory motor mechanisms unify psychology: the embodiment of culture' (Soliman, Gibson & Glenberg, 2014). This is part of an ongoing research topic on embodied cognition run by Guy Dove. Once the paper had been published, I took the opportunity to write up my main remaining problem with the paper as a commentary piece (Wilson, 2014) and I'd like to review that here (and also please see my comment at the end […]
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12:26 PM | The Miracle of Analogy
Kaja Silverman at nonsite: We have grown accustomed to thinking of the camera as an aggressive device: an instrument for shooting, capturing and representing the world. Since most cameras require an operator, and it is usually a human hand that...
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12:19 PM | W. G. Sebald's unsystematic search
Damion Searls at Bookforum: When we read Sebald fifteen or so years ago, his combination of historical acknowledgment and cultural engagement seemed definitive, but rereading him recently, I was surprised to feel the work out of date in some ways....
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12:15 PM | Vegetarian cookbooks for carnivores
Jane Kramer at The New Yorker: I’m not a vegetarian. I would describe myself as a cautious carnivore. The “cautious” dates from a trip to Texas in the mid-seventies, for a book that introduced me to the pitiable state of...
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10:23 AM | the power of CRISPR: Replacing a defective gene with a correct sequence to treat genetic disorders
From KurzweilAI: Using a new gene-editing system based on bacterial proteins, MIT researchers have cured mice of a rare liver disorder caused by a single genetic mutation. The findings, described in the March 30 issue of Nature Biotechnology, offer the...
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10:15 AM | Thursday Poem
Astronomy Lesson The two boys lean out on the railing of the front porch, looking up. Behind them they can hear their mother in one room watching “Name That Tune,” their father in another watching a Walter Cronkite Special, the...
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9:00 AM | What plaster casts from Pompeii tell us about death...and life
Morgan Meis in The Smart Set: Sometime during the late summer, or perhaps the early fall, of the year 79 C.E., Mount Vesuvius erupted near Naples. The result was instant death for the people, plants, and animals in the Roman...

April 09, 2014

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9:51 PM | Declan Waugh scaremongers over fluoride – again
Mary Byrne, the convener of the anti-fluoridation activist group Fluoride Action Network of NZ, is promoting “alarming information” about incidence of neural tube developmental defects like spina bifida with the implication they are caused by community water fluoridation. Her authority … Continue reading →
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9:07 PM | Rich People Rule!
Larry Bartels in The Washington Post (via Andrew Sullivan): Everyone thinks they know that money is important in American politics. But howimportant? The Supreme Court’s Gilded Age reasoning in McCutcheon v. FEC has inspired a flurry of commentary regarding the...
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9:03 PM | The Mathematical World
James Franklin in Aeon: To the question: ‘Is mathematics about something?’ there are two answers: ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. Both are profoundly unsatisfying. The ‘No’ answer, whose champions are known as nominalists, says that mathematics is just a language. On this...
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9:00 PM | Why Only Half of Venezuelans Are in the Streets
Dorothy Kronick in FiveThirtyEight: One year after the death of former president Hugo Chávez, these six weeks of protest reveal a country still profoundly split over Chávez’s political project. On one side are those protesting his successor, Nicolás Maduro, who...
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8:01 PM | Click and zip with bacterial conjugation
Bacterial conjugation may be a tool for doing the CLICK and ZIP in the real world.  Alternatively, it may serve as inspiration for designing the behaviour 1 of a GLC actor in distributed GLC. The description of bacterial conjugation, as taken from the linked wiki page: Conjugation diagram 1- Donor cell produces pilus. 2- Pilus […]
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1:35 PM | 15th Congress of Logic, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science
CALL FOR PAPERS 15TH CONGRESS OF LOGIC, METHODOLOGY AND PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE (CLMPS 2015)University of Helsinki, Finland, 3-8 August 2015http://www.helsinki.fi/clmpsSUBMISSION DEADLINE: 30 November 2014The Congress of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science (CLMPS) is organized every four years by the Division of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science (DLMPS). The Philosophical Society of Finland, the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in […]
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12:16 PM | an interview with artist Sheila Hicks
Danielle Mysliwiec interveiws Shiela Hicks for The Brooklyn Rail: Rail: The woven works and paintings in your M.F.A. thesis exhibition lean heavily toward abstraction. When you began at Yale, Clement Greenberg gave the Ryerson lecture at Yale entitled “Abstract and...
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12:09 PM | what does "atheism" really mean?
Mike Dobbins at Killing the Buddha: But there is another definition of atheism available to us: “a: a disbelief in the existence of a deity. B: the doctrine that there is no deity.” (Merriam-Webster), or even Urban Dictionary’s second definition,...
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