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Against self-criticism

Adam Phillips in London Review of Books: Lacan said that there was surely something ironic about Christ’s injunction to love thy neighbour as thyself – because actually, of course, people hate themselves.

Inheritance of Anger

Robert Minto in Open Letters Monthly: Mario Vargas Llosa’s father was a cruel man who abandoned Mario and his mother for ten years and then returned to tyrannize them.

What Does Quantum Mechanics Suggest About Our Perceptions of Reality?

Hans Halvorson in Big Questions Online: Quantum mechanics suggests that we perceive at most a tiny sliver of reality.

Mathematics on The Simpsons

Cancer risk linked to DNA ‘wormholes’

From KurzweilAI: Single-letter genetic variations within parts of the genome once dismissed as “junk DNA” can increase cancer risk through remote effects on far-off genes, new research by scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London shows.The researchers found that DNA sequences within “gene deserts” — so called because they are completely devoid of genes — can regulate gene activity elsewhere by forming DNA loops across relatively large distances.

A Short History of Fairy Tale

Alberto Manguel at Literary Review: How then can we explain our fascination with fairy tales, everywhere and always?

the Afterlife in Popular Imagination

John Gray at The New Statesman: The afterlife appears in mass media in many guises. Garrett covers depictions of heaven, hell, purgatory and a range of in-between states, including the one occupied by the undead.

Against Self-Criticism

Adam Phillips at The London Review of Books: Lacan said that there was surely something ironic about Christ’s injunction to love thy neighbour as thyself – because actually, of course, people hate themselves.

Wednesday Poem

The Day Nothing Happened On that day in history, history took a day off. Current events were uneventful.

Is liberal Islam the answer?

If Islam needs to be seen through the eyes of the West in order to make sense of itself, how can it find the space for transformation on its own terms?

Inside the mind of Machiavelli

Christopher S. Celenza in Salon: Clues concerning Machiavelli’s thinking as to his own immediate personal path lie in one of the Italian Renaissance’s most beautiful—and in some ways most deceiving—letters, which he wrote to his friend Vettori on December 10, 1513.

Confessions of a Comma Queen

Mary Norris in The New Yorker: I didn’t set out to be a comma queen. The first job I ever had, the summer I was fifteen, was checking feet at a public pool in Cleveland.

Shakespeare: Original pronunciation

Why Our Children Don’t Think There Are Moral Facts

Justin P. McBrayer in the New York Times: What would you say if you found out that our public schools were teaching children that it is not true that it’s wrong to kill people for fun or cheat on tests?

Tuesday Poem

Without You Again, damn it, radio, television, the papers. The powers that be, as expected, are consummate crooks.


Maggie Fergusson in More Intelligent Life: A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler, Chatto, hardback, out now.

Arming the Immune System Against Cancer

Claudia Dreifus in The New York Times: James P. Allison is the chairman of the immunology department at the University of Texas M.D.

ISIS and Islam: Beyond the Dream

by Omar Ali A few days ago, Graeme Wood wrote a piece in the Atlantic that has generated a lot of buzz (and controversy).

Rethinking the Physician-Patient Relationship to Improve the Patient Experience

by Kathleen Goodwin I recently read the surgeon and public health researcher Atul Gawande's latest book, "Being Mortal" in which he writes about end-of-life care in the American healthcare system, which has developed into a series of increasingly radical attempts to postpone death, often at the expense of the comfort of patients during their remaining life.

Steven Pinker Explains Why #TheDress Looked White, Not Blue

Steven Pinker in Forbes: Not since the days of Mitch Ryder and Monica Lewinsky has a blue dress aroused so much passion.