The fate of the book review in the age of the algorithm

Christian Lorentzen in Harper’s: It is a commonplace that we live in a time of political polarization and culture war, but if culture is considered not in terms of left and right but as a set of attitudes toward the arts, then, at least among people who pay attention to the arts, … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

Sean Carroll’s Mindscape Podcast: Alan Lightman on Transcendence, Science, and a Naturalist’s Sense of Meaning

Sean Carroll in Preposterous Universe: Let’s say, for sake of argument, that you don’t believe in God or the supernatural. Is there still a place for talking about transcendence, the sacred, and meaning in life? Some of the above, but not all? Today’s guest, Alan Lightman, brings … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

Opportunity costs: can carbon taxing become a positive-sum game?

John Quiggin in Aeon: Decades ago, economists developed solutions – or variants on the same solution – to the problem of pollution, the key being the imposition of a price on the generation of pollutants such as carbon dioxide (CO2). The idea was to make visible, and accountable, … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

David Deutsch: Which Laws of Nature are Fundamental?

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On the Poetic Legacy of W.S. Merwin

John Freeman at Literary Hub: This inward movement of Merwin’s poetry happened simultaneously with a radical stylistic shift. In the introduction to The Second Four Books of Poems, Merwin describes how, beginning in the early 1960s, he began to shed punctuation, until he had give … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

Philosophers as The Emotion Police

Agnes Callard at The Point: If you tell me to calm down, I probably won’t. The same goes for: “be reasonable,” “get over it already,” “you’re overreacting,” “it was just a joke,” “it’s not such a big deal.” When someone minimizes my feelings, my self-protective reflexes kick in. … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

Hilma of Klint: Painting the Beyond

Susan Tallman at the NYRB: Born in 1862 to a prominent Swedish family (her great-grandfather had been ennobled for services as a naval officer), Hilma af Klint was a skilled painter of portraits and landscapes who in the first decades of the twentieth century began making hundred … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

The science of the con

Melanie McFarland in AlterNet: Look at me, the con artist says. Watch closely so you can see everything I’m doing. We can’t, of course, because we’re not meant to. Yet we fall for frauds because we so want what they promise to be true: easy money, better solutions, painlessness a … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

The Creativity of ADHD

Holly White in Scientific American: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is typically described by the problems it presents. It is known as a neurological disorder, marked by distractibility, impulsivity and hyperactivity, which begins in childhood and persists in adul … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

Wednesday Poem

From “understory” …… (to my wife, nālani …… and our 7-month old daughter, kai) kai cries from teething– how do new parents comfort a child in pain, bullied in school, shot by a drunk APEC agent? #justicefor -kollinelderts– nālani gently massages kai’s gums with her fingers- how d … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

The Immortals and Time

Christopher G. Moore in CulturMag: The word “immortals” is entwined in my mind with the Jorge Luis Borges’ story titled The Immortals. The story is an exploration of immortal beings imprisoned in the infinite and seeking to understand their condition. This passage in particular s … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

Flawed analysis, failed oversight: How Boeing, FAA certified the suspect 737 MAX flight control system

Dominic Gates in The Seattle Times: As Boeing hustled in 2015 to catch up to Airbus and certify its new 737 MAX, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) managers pushed the agency’s safety engineers to delegate safety assessments to Boeing itself, and to speedily approve the result … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

Needed: A U.S. Policy on Saudi Arabia

Jonathan Guyer in American Prospect: Until the 1970s, Saudi Arabia was simply a docile U.S. ally and source of cheap oil. That began to change with the OPEC-engineered price hikes, masterminded by the Saudi government. The Saudi government then subsidized the spread of radically … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

Sean Carroll on the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics

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The East in You Never Leaves

Júlia Sonnevend at Eurozine: The East in you never leaves, I thought, after leaving the immigration bureau. Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, here I was in Manhattan, and felt deeply and fully ‘eastern’. What does that mean for somebody who was only ten years old in … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

Two Memories of W. S. Merwin

Christopher Merrill and Alice Quinn at The Paris Review: The sun was setting in Hawaii on a spring day in 1995, when W. S. Merwin invited me into his study to hear him recite a new poem, and since he did not care to turn on the lights I listened to the last stanzas of his “Lament … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

How The World Was Built for Men

Sophie McBain at The New Statesman: The data gap is particularly dangerous, and maddening, in medical research. Women are severely under-represented in clinical trials, which means we could be missing out on drugs that work for us and are regularly prescribed inappropriate drugs, … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

Tuesday Poem

Portrait in Nightshade and Delayed Translation In Saint Petersburg, on an autumn morning, having been allowed an early entry to the Hermitage, my family and I wandered the empty hallways and corridors, virtually every space adorned with famous paintings and artwork. There must be … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

A Counterculture Portraitist’s Chronicle of New York’s Youth

Michael Schulman in The New Yorker: They come to New York City every week, in buses and trains and cars, carrying bags, carrying ambitions, carrying the fabulous clothes on their backs. They’re the fashion kids, the art kids, the theatre kids, the who-knows-what kids—creative ren … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

New research identifies potential PTSD treatment improvement

From Phys.Org: Researchers may have found a way to improve a common treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by changing how the brain learns to respond less severely to fearful conditions, according to research published in Journal of Neuroscience. The study by resear … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

Upcoming Challenges for Two of the Largest Democracies

by Pranab Bardhan In the next couple of months two of the largest democracies in the world—India and Indonesia—will have their national elections. At a time when democracy is under considerable pressure everywhere, the electoral and general democratic outcome in these two countri … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

Monday Poem

I’m Listening to Something I’m listening to something. I don’t know what it’s called but it’s Chopin. It’s a tune Alexa pulled from the high-capacity byte magazine of her small black canister which sits under a lamp upon a table against the wall (where most of us have spent at le … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

Computer Simulations And The Universe

by Ashutosh Jogalekar There is a sense in certain quarters that both experimental and theoretical fundamental physics are at an impasse. Other branches of physics like condensed matter physics and fluid dynamics are thriving, but since the composition and existence of the fundame … | Continue reading | 1 year ago


Prabhakar Kolte. Untitled, 2005. Acrylic on canvas. More here, and here. | Continue reading | 1 year ago

Bauhaus Is 100, Whatever That Means

by Thomas O’Dwyer On April 1, one hundred years ago, Walter Gropius established the Bauhaus school of design in Weimar, central Germany. It lasted a mere 14 years — exactly the same time as the Weimar Republic. In 1933, the Nazis destroyed both. Short life or not, Bauhaus opened … | Continue reading | 1 year ago


by Brooks Riley | Continue reading | 1 year ago

Loosen Your Hands And Let Go

by Mary Hrovat I was struck by a sentence in Susan Orlean’s The Library Book: “If nothing lasts, nothing matters.” This line was part of a discussion of memory, the fear of being forgotten, and the value of passing things on to future generations. I share a passion for the idea o … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

Let’s Work It Out: Language of Fitness

by Gabrielle C. Durham I teach two kinds of group exercise classes, and part of the certification processes for both disciplines devoted no small amount of attention to how to speak to your minions, uh, students. Negative forecasting is a no no. (Example: “Don’t think about the s … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

Poetry in Translation

Spring in Kashmir by Rahman Rahi And there’s a love-torn couple In the lap of a shikara on Dal And there’s a vermilion cloud In a sapphire sky flirting a peak And there’s a deodar With kohl-rimmed eyes And there’s a tulip With parched lips And there’s a wine goblet Bubbling with … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

Philosophy: A Dialogue

by Jeroen Bouterse “…And now to introduce our second panelist: Martha. Martha does believe that academic philosophy is worth pursuing, and she has – of course – written a book about it. Martha, can you briefly summarize your argument?” M: “Thank you. Yes, well, you can imagine th … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

A Perfect Day (According to Self-Help)

by Joshua Wilbur I wake up just before sunrise. For weeks, I’ve gone to bed at exactly 10 PM because—as Shawn Stevenson shows in Sleep Smarter—a consistent bedtime is the single most important factor in waking up well-rested. Before getting out of bed, I perform a series of stret … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

Monday Photo

White rose, May, 2014. | Continue reading | 1 year ago

Music to My Earworms

by Carol A Westbrook What song did you have in your head when you woke up today? Was it, “Oh Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling” as you recalled your St. Patrick’s Day celebration from the previous weekend? Probably not. Chances are, the song in your head was not a slow, … | Continue reading | 1 year ago


by Christopher Bacas My answering machine whirrs. From an echoing room, the chainsaw-voice shouts into a speaker phone: THIS IS GOD. ANSWER THE PHONE… SON….OF….A….BITCH PICK… UP… THE… GODDAMPHONE…… CALL ME…GOD ‘click’ Creator of the universe overloads a magnetic comb-and-wax-pape … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

The Next Big Karachi Novel?

Nadya Chishty-Mujahid in Dawn: Abdullah, the delightful septuagenarian protagonist of Hussain M. Naqvi’s latest novel The Selected Works of Abdullah the Cossack, might be a ‘Cossack’ (having successfully imbibed his way to earning that name), but Naqvi himself is nothing short of … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

Poet W.S. Merwin Dies At 91

Corinne Segal in Literary Hub: As a student at Princeton, Merwin studied under John Berryman and R. P. Blackmur. After graduating in 1948, his travels would take him through Europe before he landed in the south of France. Michael Wiegers described the beginning of his time there … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

“The Other Americans” Asks What It Means to Be an Immigrant in 2019

Naina Bajekal in Time: When Laila Lalami’s 2014 novel The Moor’s Account was short-listed for a Pulitzer Prize, jurors called its tale of a 16th century Spanish expedition to Florida “compassionately imagined out of the gaps and silences of history.” Five years on, Lalami turns t … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

How a Guy From a Montana Trailer Park Overturned 150 Years of Biology

Ed Yong in The Atlantic: In 1995, if you had told Toby Spribille that he’d eventually overthrow a scientific idea that’s been the stuff of textbooks for 150 years, he would have laughed at you. Back then, his life seemed constrained to a very different path. He was raised in a Mo … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

The history and politics of white identity

Kenan Malik in Pandaemonium: Identity politics is one of the defining – and one of the most divisive – issues of our age. And no identity is more contested or fought over than white identity. For some it is a means of giving voice to a group whose identity has previously been den … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

Greek to a Greek

Wolfgang Streeck in Inference Review: WHAT A STRANGE book—strange but indispensable nevertheless. From January to July 2015, Yanis Varoufakis served as the Greek government’s finance minister. Adults in the Room is an account of his battle with what he calls Europe’s deep establi … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

Carolee Schneemann (1939 – 2019)

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Michael Gielen (1927 – 2019)

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W.S. Merwin (1927 – 2019)

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Death of the calorie

Peter Wilson in  MIL: As a general rule it is true that if you eat vastly fewer calories than you burn, you’ll get slimmer (and if you consume far more, you’ll get fatter). But the myriad faddy diets flogged to us each year belie the simplicity of the formula that Camacho was giv … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

Forget Everything You Think You Know About Time

Brian Gallagher in Nautilus: Last April, in the famous Faraday Theatre at the Royal Institution in London, Carlo Rovelli gave an hour-long lecture on the nature of time. A red thread spanned the stage, a metaphor for the Italian theoretical physicist’s subject. “Time is a long li … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

Sunday Poem

A Refugee in Paris What do I know of this city A migrant, a refugee Carrying a storehouse of fears Its splendor faded In the falling light Its step sprouting Tense, sinister shadows Shrouded in suspicions What do I know of this city A stranger skirting light and shadows Seeking a … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

James Joyce’s Dublin, A Microcosm Of The World

Sarah Baxter in Literary Hub: The pub is warm and beery. Grog glasses—drained, foam stained—scatter sticky veneer. Red-wine lips, hoppy breath, a slurry of slurring; laughter like gunfire, craic-ing off the wood panels, mirror walls and ranks of whiskey bottles. Bar talk is of th … | Continue reading | 1 year ago

Finding the right “dose” for solar geoengineering

Leah Burrows at the website of the Harvard School of Engineering: One of the key misconceptions about solar geoengineering — putting aerosols into the atmosphere to reflect sunlight and reduce global warming — is that it could be used as a fix-all to reverse global warming trends … | Continue reading | 1 year ago