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Ralph Waldo Emerson’s American poetry

Dan Chiasson at The New Yorker: The listlessness of Emerson’s poetry is surprising, given the veneration he expressed for the art.

on 'Naked at Lunch: The Adventures of a Reluctant Nudist'

Michael Bywater at Literary Review: The American edition of Naked at Lunch has the title in big upper-case letters, printed as though they were cutouts, windows onto the scene behind, showing a man on a slatted chair that appears to be on a ship.

Two books confront the challenges of growing up black in America

Gene Seymour at Bookforum: Fine. Let’s start with “Negro,” or, if one prefers, “negro.” Even with this word’s present-day, often lower-case status, there are African Americans for whom “Negro” is a trigger word for outrage or affront.

Why can't we stop for death?

John Grey in New Statesman: When he was entering what he knew would be the final stage of his terminal illness, Bob Monkhouse used to joke that the terrible thing about dying was how stiff it left you feeling the next day.

Psychology Is Not in Crisis

Lisa Feldman Barrett in The New York Times: An initiative called the Reproducibility Project at the University of Virginia recently reran 100 psychology experiments and found that over 60 percent of them failed to replicate — that is, their findings did not hold up the second time around.

Fearing Artificial Intelligence

by Ali Minai Artificial Intelligence is on everyone's mind. The message from a whole panel of luminaries – Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Apple founder Steve Wozniak, Lord Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal of Britain and former President of the Royal Society, and many others – is clear: Be afraid!

Effective Altruism and its Blind Spots

by Grace Boey Want to do some good in the world? There’s a good chance that (like me) you’d at least like to try.

The Scopes "Monkey trial", Part 1: Issues, Fact, and Fiction

by Paul Braterman What is the purpose of this examination? We have the purpose of preventing bigots and ignoramuses from controlling the education of the United States, and that is all.

The Magical Dimensions of the Globe

by Charlie Huenemann  There’s a particularly good episode of Doctor Who (“The Shakespeare Code”) wherein the Doctor and Martha visit Shakespeare and save the world from a conspiracy of witches.

In praise of footpaths

by Emrys Westacott As an expatriate Brit who has lived in North America for many years, I have sometimes been asked what I miss most about the old country.


by Brooks Riley

The Lunch Box

by Mathangi Krishnamurthy On a plane ride to Mumbai last week, I bought oatmeal cookies. For a fleeting second, I thought about sharing them with my surly co-passenger, who had been looking straight ahead ever since occupying the middle seat right next to my windowed one.

Can free speech survive the internet?

by Thomas R. Wells The internet has made it easier than ever to speak to others. It has empowered individuals, allowing us to publish our opinions without convincing a publishing company of their commercial value; to find and share others' views on matters we concern ourselves with without the fuss of photocopying and mailing newspaper clippings; and to respond to those views without the limitations of a newspaper letter page.

Restoring Henry Kissinger

Michael O'Donnell in Washington Monthly: In 1940 the young Henry Kissinger, caught in a love quadrangle, drafted a letter to the object of his affections.

Flamed but Not Forgotten: On Jonathan Franzen’s ‘Purity’

Lydia Kiesling in The Millions: There are a few digs at you, reader, in Purity, Jonathan Franzen’s big new novel.

Subatomic particles that appear to defy Standard Model points to undiscovered forces

Hannah Osborne in Yahoo! News: Subatomic particles have been found that appear to defy the Standard Model of particle physics.

America’s Self-Inflicted Wound in Syria

Frederic C. Hof in Foreign Policy: On Aug. 16, Syrian regime aircraft bombed a vegetable market in the rebel-held Damascus suburb of Douma, slaughtering over 100 Syrian civilians and wounding some 300 more.

Oliver Sacks, RIP

Oliver Sacks has died. As my friend John Ballard has said, "He taught us how to live and die gracefully." John also sent me this article by Sacks which appeared in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago: In December 2014, I completed my memoir, “On the Move,” and gave the manuscript to my publisher, not dreaming that days later I would learn I had metastatic cancer, coming from the melanoma I had in my eye nine years earlier.

Cinema! Cinema! Part 1 - La Nouvelle Vague