The Disinformation Vaccine: Is There a Cure for Conspiracy Theories?

Andy Kroll in Rolling Stone: Sander van der Linden was working in his office at the University of Cambridge a few years ago when he received a strange phone call. A professor of social psychology and director of the Cambridge Social Decision-Making Laboratory, van der Linden is o … | Continue reading | 14 hours ago

AI conquers challenge of 1980s platform games

Paul Rincon at the BBC: Scientists have come up with a computer program that can master a variety of 1980s exploration games, paving the way for more self-sufficient robots. They created a family of algorithms (software-based instructions for solving a problem) able to complete c … | Continue reading | 14 hours ago

The Secret Life of a Coronavirus

Carl Zimmer in the New York Times: Last spring, coyotes strolled down the streets of San Francisco in broad daylight. Pods of rarely seen pink dolphins cavorted in the waters around Hong Kong. In Tel Aviv, jackals wandered a city park, a herd of mountain goats took over a town in … | Continue reading | 15 hours ago

Reading the Room

Ryan Ruby in the New Left Review: Since its consolidation at the end of the eighteenth century, the realist novel has been the premier vehicle for the depiction of contemporary life. For over two hundred years, a relatively fixed set of representational techniques – point-of-view … | Continue reading | 15 hours ago

Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1919 – 2021)

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Douglas Turner Ward (1930 – 2021)

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Barry Le Va (1941 – 2021)

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Sunday Poem

Origins of Violence There is a hole. In the hole is everything people will do to each other. The hole goes down and down. It has many rooms like graves and like graves they are all connected. Roots hang from the dirt in craggy chandeliers. It’s not clear where the hole stops begi … | Continue reading | 17 hours ago

What if we’ve forgotten how to socialise?

Pamela Druckerman in 1843 Magazine: During a rare excursion to a clothes shop I took last month, an older woman walked in, looked around at the other shoppers and exclaimed, “humans!” It was an unusual moment of bonding with strangers. Mostly I just hold my breath as people squee … | Continue reading | 17 hours ago

How Negro History Week Became Black History Month and Why It Matters Now

Veronica Chambers in The New York Times: Black History Month has been celebrated in the United States for close to 100 years. But what is it, exactly, and how did it begin? In the years after Reconstruction, campaigning for the importance of Black history and doing the scholarly … | Continue reading | 18 hours ago

Rawls at 100

Joshua Cohen in Boston Review: The American political philosopher John Rawls was born in 1921 and published A Theory of Justice in 1971. In celebration of these 100th and 50th anniversaries, we provide this reading list of great Rawls-related essays that have appeared in Boston R … | Continue reading | 1 day ago

The tyranny of work

Jamie McCallum in Aeon: Years ago, I set up a weekly Google Alert for the phrase ‘work ethic’ to help me gather material for the book I was writing. I have read thousands of these articles over the years. As individual stories, the alerts are only moderately interesting. A signif … | Continue reading | 1 day ago

The Broken System

Elizabeth Anderson in The Nation: Last spring, Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina explained why, at a pivotal moment in the Democratic primaries, he endorsed Joe Biden for president: “Our problem, it seems to me, is too many candidates spend time trying to let people … | Continue reading | 1 day ago

The Chinese ‘Debt Trap’ Is a Myth

Deborah Brautigam and Meg Rithmire in The Atlantic: China, we are told, inveigles poorer countries into taking out loan after loan to build expensive infrastructure that they can’t afford and that will yield few benefits, all with the end goal of Beijing eventually taking control … | Continue reading | 1 day ago

Erroll Garner – So You Wanna Learn To Play The Piano Hun?

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From Devout Christianity to UFOs

Jenny Valentish at The Guardian: The Believer is the highly anticipated second book from Sarah Krasnostein, author of multi-award-winning The Trauma Cleaner. She immerses herself in the worlds of UFO chasers, paranormal investigators, Creationists, Mennonites, a woman whose belie … | Continue reading | 1 day ago

Reviewing the Book Review

Parul Sehgal at the NYT: To wander through 125 years of book reviews is to endure assault by adjective. All the fatuous books, the frequently brilliant, the disappointing, the essential. The adjectives one only ever encounters in a review (indelible, risible), the archaic descrip … | Continue reading | 1 day ago

Saturday Poem

— An original poem written for the inaugural reading of Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith at the Library of Congress. In This Place There’s a poem in this place— in the footfalls in the halls in the quiet beat of the seats. It is here, at the curtain of day, where America writes a lyr … | Continue reading | 1 day ago

The French Inquisition

Rafia Zakaria in The Baffler: I HAVE NEVER FELT WELCOME in France. From the sneer on the face of the immigration officer stamping my passport, to the in-your-face staring of black-clad middle-aged women on the metro, to the standoffish workers in Parisian bakeries—it all adds up … | Continue reading | 1 day ago

Ten Little Known Black History Facts

From PBS: In an effort to honor this expansive and growing history, Black History Month was established by way of a weekly celebration in February known as “Negro History Week” by historian Carter G. Woodson. But just as Black history is more than a month, so too are the numerous … | Continue reading | 1 day ago

J.K. Rowling

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Thank You, Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Alysia Abbott at Literary Hub: When Lawrence Ferlinghetti died this week at age 101, nearly one month shy his 102nd birthday, many of my friends, even writer friends, expressed surprise on social media. I didn’t even know he was still alive! Indeed, Ferlinghetti outlived all the … | Continue reading | 2 days ago

The Storyteller of Tangier

Lucy Scholes at The Paris Review: Like many readers, I suspect, I first came across the name Mohammed Mrabet in relation to Paul Bowles. Throughout the sixties, seventies, and eighties, everyone from Life magazine to Rolling Stone sent writers and photographers to Tangier—where B … | Continue reading | 2 days ago

What “weird Catholicism” reveals about the language of the internet

Justin E. H. Smith in the New Statesman: When the New York Times Magazine ran its profile of the “Weird Catholic Twitter” (WCT) community in May 2020, extremely-online Catholics and non-Catholics alike came together in one of the internet’s periodic gestures of widespread, synchr … | Continue reading | 2 days ago

Artificial Neural Nets Finally Yield Clues to How Brains Learn

Anil Ananthaswamy in Quanta: In 2007, some of the leading thinkers behind deep neural networks organized an unofficial “satellite” meeting at the margins of a prestigious annual conference on artificial intelligence. The conference had rejected their request for an official works … | Continue reading | 2 days ago

Glenn Greenwald on Trending as a Transphobe and Biphobe

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Pankaj Mishra’s Reckoning With Liberalism’s Bloody Past

Kanishk Tharoor in The New Republic: For nearly three decades, Mishra has skewered the pieties of politicians and intellectuals in the Anglophone world (including India, which boasts more English speakers than the United Kingdom), while also bringing his spirited attention to the … | Continue reading | 2 days ago

Friday Poem

Self-Portrait Between the computer, a pencil, and a typewriter half my day passes. One day it will be half a century. I live in strange cities and sometimes talk with strangers about matters strange to me. I listen to music a lot: Bach, Mahler, Chopin, Shostakovich. I see three e … | Continue reading | 2 days ago

Between the Lines: Seeking solace in the work of the fourteenth-century Persian poet Hafez

Nilo Tabrizy in Guernica: I wouldn’t wish being Iranian on my worst enemy,” my friend Marjan posted on Instagram in mid-January. Like many Iranians, Marjan is stuck in visa limbo. An economics professor in New York, she traveled to Iran in August of last year, and by the time her … | Continue reading | 2 days ago

23 Black leaders who are shaping history today

Courtney Connley in Make it: Black Americans have played a crucial role in helping to advance America’s business, political and cultural landscape into what it is today. And since 1976, every U.S. president has designated the month of February as Black History Month to honor the … | Continue reading | 2 days ago

Ten Years of Hope and Blood

Robert Solé in The Markaz Review: It is in the middle of winter that the “Arab Spring” comes unexpectedly. On December 17, 2010, in Sidi Bouzid, an agricultural village in central Tunisia, Mohamed Bouazizi, a young unemployed peddler, sets himself on fire after his merchandise is … | Continue reading | 3 days ago

Why “Trusting the Science” Is Complicated

Suman Seth in the Los Angeles Review of Books: It is possible that John Pringle’s neighbors viewed him with some distaste. Formerly physician-general to the British forces in the Low Countries, in 1749 Pringle had settled down in a rather swanky part of London, where he began inv … | Continue reading | 3 days ago

Yanis Varoufakis: Capitalism has become ‘techno-feudalism’

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How Law Made Neoliberalism

Jedediah Britton-Purdy, Amy Kapczynski, and David Singh Grewal in the Boston Review: We live in an era of intersecting crises—some new, some old but newly visible. At the time of writing, the COVID-19 pandemic has already caused nearly 500,000 deaths in the United States alone, w … | Continue reading | 3 days ago

Thursday Poem

Wild Dreams of a New Beginning There’s a breathless hush on the freeway tonight Beyond the ledges of concrete restaurants fall into dreams with candlelight couples Lost Alexandria still burns in a billion lightbulbs Lives cross lives idling at stoplights Beyond the cloverleaf tur … | Continue reading | 3 days ago

A Conversation with Bertrand Russell (1952)

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Leonora Carrington’s ‘The Hearing Trumpet’

Jim Henderson at 3AM Magazine: “People under seventy and over seven are very unreliable if they are not cats,” somebody says a few pages into Leonora Carrington’s 1974 novel The Hearing Trumpet. Most people would agree; if anything, the bad run of septuagenarians of late shows th … | Continue reading | 3 days ago

The Travel Journals Of Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Lawrence Ferlinghetti at The American Scholar: To tell the truth, to tell the truth! Well-—this is the most depressing   journey I have ever been on—Imagine having to spend one’s life condemned to passing from one motel to another, one hotel room to another, all of them alike, fi … | Continue reading | 3 days ago

Klara and the Sun – what it is to be human

Anne Enright in The Guardian: Klara and the Sun asks readers to love a robot and, the funny thing is, we do. This is a novel not just about a machine but narrated by a machine, though the word is not used about her until late in the book when it is wielded by a stranger… | Continue reading | 3 days ago

How Nations Heal

Colleen Murphy in Boston Review: Transitional justice is both a legal and philosophical theory and a global practice that aims to redress wrongdoing, past and present, in order to vindicate victims, hold perpetrators to account, and transform relationships—among citizens as well … | Continue reading | 3 days ago

Kurt Vonnegut, Shape of Stories

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Is Depression A Uniquely Western Affliction?

Casey Schwartz at Bookforum: This is the familiar arc that Jonathan Sadowsky traces in his new book The Empire of Depression: A New History. But Sadowsky, a medical historian at Case Western, aims to show how the Western notion of depression is making its way around the globe, th … | Continue reading | 4 days ago

The Machine Stops: Science and Its Limits

Henry M. Cowles at the LARB: “IMAGINE, IF YOU CAN, a small room, hexagonal in shape, like the cell of a bee.” So begins a story by E. M. Forster from over a century ago, about a future that feels uncannily like our present. Called “The Machine Stops,” the story conjures a world o … | Continue reading | 4 days ago

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Poet Who Nurtured the Beats, Dies at 101

Jesse McKinley in the New York Times: The spiritual godfather of the Beat movement, Mr. Ferlinghetti made his home base in the modest independent book haven now formally known as City Lights Booksellers & Publishers. A self-described “literary meeting place” founded in 1953 and l … | Continue reading | 4 days ago

Ancient kauri trees capture last collapse of Earth’s magnetic field

Paul Voosen in Science: Several years ago, workers breaking ground for a power plant in New Zealand unearthed a record of a lost time: a 60-ton trunk from a kauri tree, the largest tree species in New Zealand. The tree, which grew 42,000 years ago, was preserved in a bog and its … | Continue reading | 4 days ago

Anjuli Fatima Raza Kolb discusses her book “Epidemic Empire” with Gauri Viswanathan

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The great demographic reversal and what it means for the economy

Charles Goodhart and Manoj Pradhan in the LSE Business Review: The rise of China to the status of economic superpower has been the dominant narrative of the last three decades. China’s rise as the main feature of globalisation, in conjunction with a beneficial sweet spot in demog … | Continue reading | 4 days ago

People Answer Scientists’ Queries in Real Time while Dreaming

Diana Kwon in Scientific American: Dreams are full of possibilities; by drifting into the world beyond our waking realities, we can visit magical lands, travel through time and interact with long-lost family and friends. The notion of communicating in real time with someone outsi … | Continue reading | 4 days ago