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The saint of Dry Creek

Growing up in rural Washington State during the 1950s, Patrick Haggerty tried to hide the fact that he was gay from his family and from himself.

Hierarchy is either strictly constrained or it is indefensible

The authors of the essay ‘In defence of hierarchy’ appear to throw caution to the winds in advertising the defence of an abstract, audacious thesis about the merits of hierarchy.

Scientific instruments of yore

Behind its modest storefront in Peekskill in New York state, the Early Electrics antique and custom lighting shop doubles as a museum of obsolete medical equipment and scientific models.

What do slaveholders think?

It is everywhere illegal yet slavery persists in many corners of the global economy. How do its beneficiaries justify it?

The only line comedy shouldn’t cross is the no-laughter line

In 1996, the late American comedian George Carlin opened his set at the Beacon Theater in New York with a blistering question: ‘Why is it that most of the people who are against abortion are people you wouldn’t wanna fuck in the first place?

In defence of hierarchy

As a society we have forgotten how to talk about the benefits of hierarchy, expertise and excellence.

Pleasure and the good life

Pleasure, despite being central to human experience and evolution, is quite hard to define. Aristotle argued that what we call pleasure is comprised of least two distinct aspects, hedonia (pleasure) and eudaimonia (human flourishing or a life well-lived). However, as Morten Kringelbach, associate professor and senior research fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford, points out this instalment of Aeon’s In Sight series: ‘It’s surprisingly difficult to show that somebody who is happy is also somebody who has had a lot of pleasure.'  Kringelbach’s research into how pleasure works in the brain seeks to find the connections between experiencing hedonistic pleasure – food, sex, drugs – and living an eudaimonic life.

Science funding is a gamble so let’s give out money by lottery

Perhaps your life, like that of many of my friends and relatives, has been improved by propranolol – a beta-blocker that reduces the effects of stress hormones, and that’s used to treat conditions such as high blood pressure, chest pain, an uneven heartbeat and migraines.

The last hollow laugh

Since Francis Fukuyama proclaimed ‘The End of History’ 25 years ago, he has been much maligned. His work now seems prophetic By Paul Sagar Read at Aeon

Possibly the best rectangle in the world

Described by the 17th-century astronomer Johannes Kepler as a ‘precious jewel’, the so-called ‘golden ratio’ is an irrational number whose physical manifestation is prevalent in nature and has been employed by artists, architects and designers for its aesthetic allure.

There's a Green Card-holder at the heart of Greek philosophy

When it comes to immigration, not all foreigners are the same. The treatment of non-citizen legal residents, for example, raises very different moral and political questions from the larger debate about who should, and who should not, be allowed to enter.

The real Casanova

His name is synonymous with serial seduction but Casanova's memoirs reveal a man greater than the sum of his ‘conquests’ By Laurence Bergreen Read at Aeon

David Graeber on the value of work

If capitalism is supposed to value work, why has it led much of the workforce into the age of seemingly meaningless tasks, titles and functions?

Why bureaucrats matter in the fight to preserve the rule of law

Socrates, while serving on the Athenian Council, sought to prevent it from making an illegal decision.

Dream city

Hurtling down the tracks of a New York City subway train line with the Twin Towers on the horizon, the camera suddenly plunges into the Hudson River.

Tripping in the ICU

For those suffering the trauma of intensive care, the soothing swoosh of otherworldly ambient music can be a welcome gift By Charles Fernyhough Read at Aeon

How arrogance can make even an obnoxious person popular

Urapmin, a remote community in the mountains of Papua New Guinea, has no electricity in any of its seven villages.

The power thinker

Original, painstaking, sometimes frustrating and often dazzling. Foucault’s work on power matters now more than ever By Colin Koopman Read at Aeon

Mister Sunshine

‘Everybody wants to be somebody. But remember: be somebody that’s nice.’ In the 1980s, Larry Woods was extraordinarily rich, unapologetically extravagant and intractably self-involved – or as he now puts it, ‘a real asshole’.

Going underground

Subterranean metaphors have been a powerful tool of political resistance. Today, is there anywhere left to hide?