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A Magical Answer to an 80-Year-Old Puzzle

Erica Klarreich in Quanta: The mathematician Terence Tao, of the University of California, Los Angeles, has presented a solution to an 80-year-old number theory problem posed by the legendary Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdős. Erdős was famous for the thousands of puzzles he came up with, many of which have led to surprisingly deep mathematical discoveries.

John Oliver: Migrants and Refugees

How Did the Nobel Prize Become the Biggest Award on Earth?

From Wired: The Nobel Prize is a big deal. Want to know how I know? Because the Nobels are constantly invoked to signal the importance of other awards: The Turing Award is the “Nobel Prize of Computers,” the Pritzker Prize is the “Nobel Prize of Architecture,” and geography’s “Nobel” is named after the guy who named America after Amerigo Vespucci.

An unjustly-neglected Libyan novelist

Ursula Lindsey at The Nation:  Spina’s opus is the colonial epic The Confines of the Shadow, a cycle of 11 novels and short-story collections that offers a deep and singular account of the great historical fractures that preceded the establishment of Moammar El-Gadhafi’s ­Jamahiriya in 1977.

the pessimism of Michel Houellebecq

Adrian Nathan West at The Quarterly Review: In interviews, Houellebecq has stated that his initial design for the novel involved a conversion to Catholicism, modeled on the one Huysmans depicts in the autobiographical Durtal novels.

on 'Charlotte Brontë: A Life' By Claire Harman

Samantha Ellis at Literary Review: Even now, Brontë’s voice is the most compelling thing about her work: a voice as full of anger, violence and gall as passion.

Anti-parasite drugs sweep Nobel prize in medicine 2015

Ewen Callaway and David Cyranoski in Nature: Three scientists who developed therapies against parasitic infections have won this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

My People I come from people who swear without realising they’re swearing. I come from scaffolders and plasterers and shoemakers and carers, the type of carers paid pence per minute to visit an old lady’s house.

Banglaphone Fiction III

by Claire Chambers Something rather different comes out of fiction by three Bengali women writers based in Britain, as compared to the male authors I examined in Banglaphone Fiction I and II.


by Brooks Riley

Patti Smith - Free Money - 1977

october delights (for shuffy)

Ionel Talpazan (1955 - 2015)

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.