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zionism and primordialism


Ori Weisberg at The Forward: Indeed, today’s Zionists often view Israel not as a modern state, but as the rebirth of ancient sovereignty.

Benjamin Franklin’s Retirement and Reinvention


William Thorndike Jr. in Harvard Magazine: Two hundred and seventy years ago this month, aged 42 and weeks from the midpoint of his long life, Benjamin Franklin did something highly unusual.

populism & its critics


Roger Kimball at The New Criterion: At the heart of Trumpist populism, however—and I suspect of all populism—is a different yearning: for security, especially for those who feel forgotten and left behind.

The Decline of The New Criterion


Daniel Zalkus at The Baffler: You see, The New Criterion was founded in 1982 to be a kind of National Redoubt of High Culture, an earthwork against, as the editors subtly put it in the first issue, “the insidious assault on mind that was one of the most repulsive features of the radical movement of the sixties.” It was the brainchild of pianist Samuel Lipman and New York’s crankiest critic, Hilton Kramer, who for many years thundered from his New York Timesperch against the modish impostures of the art world.

Benjamin Franklin’s Retirement and Reinvention


William Thorndike Jr. in Harvard Magazine: Two hundred and seventy years ago this month, aged 42 and weeks from the midpoint of his long life, Benjamin Franklin did something highly unusual.

Electric Eels Inspire a New Type of Battery


Emily Matchar in Smithsonian: Electric eels, which slither along the muddy bottoms of ponds and streams in the Amazon and Orinoco river basins of South America, can cause a shock powerful enough to knock a horse off its feet.

Thursday Poem

If You Would Read the Bible go to some foreign place, Juarez, say, in Mexico, and listen to a large woman, a powerful laughing mother, talk about her children crawling bare assed on the dirt floor, and about the way roses grow trellised on an adobe wall, and then try to write it down in a letter to a friend, in English – try to catch the words as she said them until you recognize there is no way - no way at all – to do it except to take your friend by the hand, returning to Juarez, and go to the woman, the laughing woman, and yes, humbly, listen with awe.

The Outlaw Novelist as Literary Critic


Benjamin Ogden in the New York Times: In a 2010 letter to his friend and fellow novelist Paul Auster, J.

The Outlaw Novelist as Literary Critic


Benjamin Ogden in the New York Times: In a 2010 letter to his friend and fellow novelist Paul Auster, J.

Brain Cells Share Information With Virus-Like Capsules


Ed Yong in The Atlantic: When Jason Shepherd first saw the structures under a microscope, he thought they looked like viruses.

How to Fix Facebook—Before It Fixes Us


Roger McNamee in Washington Monthly: In early 2006, I got a call from Chris Kelly, then the chief privacy officer at Facebook, asking if I would be willing to meet with his boss, Mark Zuckerberg.

Alain Badiou interviews Michel Foucault

Neuroscientists suggest a model for how we gain volitional control of what we hold in our minds


From Phys.Org: Working memory is a sort of "mental sketchpad" that allows you to accomplish everyday tasks such as calling in your hungry family's takeout order and finding the bathroom you were just told "will be the third door on the right after you walk straight down that hallway and make your first left." It also allows your mind to go from merely responding to your environment to consciously asserting your agenda.

James D. Watson: The Evangelist of Molecular Biology


Algis Valiunas at The New Atlantis: In Watson’s eyes, science is “the highest form of human achievement.” In his early adolescence, excited by his love of birdwatching, the thought of a career as a naturalist had inspired him.

THE MUSIC OF DUANE ANDREWS


Andrew DuBois at Music and Literature: For instrumental music, Andrews’ has lots of linguistic pleasures.

Wednesday Poem

What Happened Here Before                                — 300,000,000— First a sea: soft sands, muds, and marls                — loading, compressing, heating, crumpling,                crushing, recrystallizing, infiltrating, several times lifted and submerged, intruding molten granite magma                deep-cooled and speckling,                                gold quartz fills the cracks—                                — 80,000,000— sea-bed strata raised and folded,                granite far below.

milosz: a biography


Andrew Motion at the Hudson Review: “We see the world once, in childhood, the rest is memory.” So says Louise Glück, and her remark is full of wisdom.

Philip Roth, crabby literary lion, has wonderfully vicious thoughts on Trump


Gabriel Bell in Salon: Asked to draw parallels between his fictional narrative of a fascist, anti-Semitic uprising on American soil, Roth said, "Charles Lindbergh, in life as in my novel, may have been a genuine racist and an anti-Semite and a white supremacist sympathetic to Fascism, but he was also — because of the extraordinary feat of his solo trans-Atlantic flight at the age of 25 — an authentic American hero 13 years before I have him winning the presidency." He add that actual, real 2018 president Donald Trump is, by comparison, "a massive fraud, the evil sum of his deficiencies, devoid of everything but the hollow ideology of a megalomaniac." It's about as good a summation of what our current commander in chief represents as you'll get.  Roth, when asked if he could have predicted today's political and cultural landscape responds that, "No one I know of has foreseen an America like the one we live in today.

Neuroscientists suggest a model for how we gain volitional control of what we hold in our minds


From Phys.Org: Working memory is a sort of "mental sketchpad" that allows you to accomplish everyday tasks such as calling in your hungry family's takeout order and finding the bathroom you were just told "will be the third door on the right after you walk straight down that hallway and make your first left." It also allows your mind to go from merely responding to your environment to consciously asserting your agenda.


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