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Evolution’s Random Paths Lead to One Place


Emily Singer in Quanta Magazine (photo by Sergey Kryazhimskiy): In his fourth-floor lab at Harvard University, Michael Desai has created hundreds of identical worlds in order to watch evolution at work.

Reflections on the Independence Referendum


As we approach the referendum on Scottish independence, several pieces reflect on its meaning and implications.

This Isthmus of a Middle State


Robert Paul Wolff over at his website: One must indeed have turned a deaf ear to the chatter of the public square not to have heard the constant invocation of The Middle Class.  Politicians, pundits, bloggers, even economists speak of nothing else.  Presidential hopefuls mouth the phrase more often than teenager girls say "like." But a moment's reflection will reveal that "middle class" is a rather odd phrase indeed.  In truth, a great deal of ideological insight into contemporary America can be achieved simply by meditating on the phrase "middle class."  It is the purpose of this blog post to initiate such a meditation.

How Corrupt Are Our Politics?


David Cole reviews Zephyr Teachout's Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Box to Citizens United, in the NYRB (photo by Lauren Lancaster): The US attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, is now investigating whether the governor or others violated federal laws by obstructing corruption investigations.

The Death of Adulthood in American Culture


A.O. Scott in the NYT Magazine: TV characters are among the allegorical figures of our age, giving individual human shape to our collective anxieties and aspirations.

Cinema Europe I: Where It All Began

Dziga Vertov: Soviet Toys (1924)

death carol by walt whitman

Is 'Progress' Good for Humanity?


Jeremy Caradonna in The Atlantic: The stock narrative of the Industrial Revolution is one of moral and economic progress.

Sunday Poem

True To judge if a line is true, banish the error of parallax. Bring your eye as close as you can to the line itself and follow it.

'Someday I might end up as a poet': Prison letters from Faiz Ahmed Faiz to his wife


Salima Hashmi in Scroll: Since being Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s daughter has given me privileged access to the family archives, I have become an accidental archivist.

Los Angeles Time-Lapse - Supermoon

Los Angeles Time-Lapse - TimeLAX 03 - Supermoon from iVideoMaking on Vimeo.

Francis Fukuyama’s ‘Political Order and Political Decay’


Sheri Berman at The New York Times: Perhaps Fukuyama’s most interesting section is his discussion of the United States, which is used to illustrate the interaction of democracy and state building.

earth: both extraordinary and insignificant


Tim Radford at The Guardian: His book is an intoxicating collection of questions answered with other questions, and startling discoveries that make creation even more mysterious.

limits to the pursuit of happiness


Stephen Cave at The Financial Times: For most of the past 2,000 years of western culture, happiness on earth was considered neither achievable nor desirable.

From the Archives: A Basic Income for All


I recently posted a link to a thorough summary of the idea and history of universal basic income, over at Vox.

Saturday Poem

The Art of Leaving The warmth is leaving your shirt, hanging over the back of the chair. Slowly it is giving back everything it had of yours.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind


Galen Strawson in The Guardian: Human beings (members of the genus Homo) have existed for about 2.4m years.

Can a Book Ever Change a Reader’s Life for the Worse?


Leslie Jamison in The New York Times: At his sentencing hearing in 1981, after he was convicted of John Lennon’s murder, Mark David Chapman read aloud from J.

From the Archives: A Basic Income for All


Advocates of a UBI may, but generally do not, propose it as a full substitute for existing conditional transfers.


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