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Meet the American Vigilantes Who Are Fighting ISIS

Jennifer Percy in the NYT Magazine: Lawton arrived in Syria, was given an M-16 and in just over two weeks was participating in the offensive at Tel Hamis.

Maybe Connect

Jedediah Purdy in The LA Review of Books: EVERYONE I KNOW is reading, or means to read, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Elena Ferrante.

Life Is a Braid in Spacetime

Max Tegmark in Nautilus: Excuse me, but what’s the time?” I’m guessing that you, like me, are guilty of having asked this question, as if it were obvious that there is such a thing as the time.

Shahzia Sikander’s animated art evokes worlds of uncertainty

Sebastian Smee in the Boston Globe: Combining the techniques of traditional Indo-Persian miniature painting with 21st-century digital technology, Shahzia Sikander makes bewitching animations that cry out for multiple viewings.

Sunday Poem

And the soul, if she is to know herself, must look inside the soul   —Plato And the Soul And the soul, if she is to know herself must look into the soul and find what kind of beast is hiding.


Bee Wilson in More Intelligent Life: “Dr Watson doesn’t write to you, he talks to you, with Edwardian courtesy, across a glowing fire.” So said John le Carré, one of many writers in thrall to Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930).

What ‘Black Lives’ Means in Britain

George Yancy interviews Paul Gilroy in The NYT's The Stone: George Yancy: In a review of the 2013 movie “12 Years a Slave,” you wrote that neoliberalism — the unquestioning faith in free market values taken to ideological extremes — essentially ignores the existence of systemic racism, and presents it as “anachronistic.” This worldview, which so many of us in the West confront in society, you wrote, “decrees that racism no longer presents a significant obstacle either to individual success or to collective self-realization.” This made me think of, among other things, the killing in April of Walter Scott, a black man who was shot in the back eight times by a white police officer in Charleston, S.C.

Doing it Wrong

Stoya in The Smart Set: In How to Do Things with Pornography, feminist philosopher Nancy Bauer refers to a specific idea of pornography: the inherently harmful boogey creature that anti-pornography feminists have railed against since the 70s.

The Truth in Midair

J. Hoberman over at the NYRB's daily blog: Like a reel of film coursing through a movie projector, the history of motion pictures rolls on—if increasingly without the projector or the film.

I'm Fine How I Am: A Response to Randall Kennedy's Defense of Respectability Politics

Christopher Lebron in Boston Review: On any given sunny afternoon, or appropriately dusky early evening, when the air seems filled with possibility and release, you can hear me coming a block away.

franzen on re-claiming conversation in the digital age

Jonathan Franzen at the New York Times: Sherry Turkle is a singular voice in the discourse about technology.

more patti smith

David L. Ulin at The LA Times: First, let's clear up a misconception: Patti Smith's "M Train" is not a sequel to her 2010 National Book Award-winning memoir "Just Kids." In fact, "M Train" is not a memoir at all, except in the loosest sense — a book of days, a year in the life, a series of reflections, more vignettes than sustained narrative.

‘Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life’

John Sutherland at the Financial Times: Possessed of insatiable sexual appetite and film-star looks, Hughes was flagrantly unfaithful.

The Snake Handler —After Dennis Covington I’m not long for this world, the young man said nonchalantly.


Jennifer Egbebike in The Feminist Wire: Dear Guy-on-the-Subway, Are you familiar with the term manspreading?

Salman Rushdie’s ‘Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights’

Marcel Theroux in The New York Times: Salman Rushdie’s literary immortality is assured. His second novel, “Midnight’s Children,” lit up fiction in English with the exuberance of a Diwali firework.

The Trouble with Theories of Everything

Lawrence M. Krauss in Nautilus: Whenever you say anything about your daily life, a scale is implied. Try it out.

Alain de Botton: Atheism 2.0

Kissinger poisoned the Middle East: America is living in a quagmire of his making

Greg Grandin in Salon: The only person Henry Kissinger flattered more than President Richard Nixon was Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran.

Why one of Asia’s most open societies keeps turning to military rule

Ian Buruma at Harper's Magazine: As military coups go, Thailand’s putsch on May 22, 2014, was rather polite — no mass imprisonments, no stadiums full of students tortured and shot.