NY Times Sunday Review: The Incessant Selling of the Self.
OpenCulture: Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writers.
Guardian.UK: The scientific study has become a flawed manual for living.
“Every ‘study’ becomes a guide to modern life, a teacher who knows us better than we know ourselves, an analyst who can look into our souls. Where our ancestors relied on the Bible or at least a political philosophy, we can write our biography in studies. They become the measure against which we judge ourselves. Worse, they become the measure we hold other people to.”
Guardian.UK: How the ancient Greeks shaped modern mathematics – video animation.
ArtDaily: Dinosaur-killing impact acidified oceans says study by Japanese scientists.
“A common theory is that a ‘nuclear winter’ occurred — the dust pall prevented sunlight reaching the surface, causing vegetation to shrivel and die, and dooming the species that depended on them. Another, fiercely debated, idea adds acid rain to the mix. ”
VQR Online: A Grand Tour.
“Our passion to perfect ourselves runs roughshod over our reason, bending it toward its own ends—ends that, by their very nature, are endless. Thus, Rousseau laments, the ‘human race, debased and dispirited … brought itself to the brink of its ruin.’” In this article about Boswell and Rousseau, even Facebook gets a mention.
Telegraph.UK: Unseen interviews with WW1 veterans recount the horror of the trenches.
“As soon as you got over the top, fear has left you and it is terror. You don’t look, you see. You don’t hear, you listen. Your nose is filled with fumes and death. You taste the top of your mouth ... You’re hunted back to the jungle. The veneer of civilisation has dropped away.”
The Fully Intended: RIP Poetry.
Familiar. Teachers would want to analyze poetry to a depth that immolated any and all appreciation and/or enjoyment. Hence my mockery of TS Eliot at the time: “I grow mold, I grow mold … wheeze … I will wear my fungus rolled.”
I had a particular teacher who was intent on ‘Jesus symbolism’, and found it in seemingly every piece of written work known to mankind. I suspect she could have found it in the phone book. In the crumbs of her morning toast. Almost completely turned me off of reading. If the lead character doesn’t martyr themselves, then it can’t be a good novel?
If they’re not teaching you how to do it, or how to appreciate it, but simply to clinically dissect it … what good does that sort of instruction do? A poem is not a pickled frog or an automobile engine. It has soul.
Independent.UK: Creative writing courses are a waste of time, says Hanif Kureishi.
“A lot of my students just can’t tell a story. They can write sentences but they don’t know how to make a story go from there all the way through to the end without people dying of boredom in between. It’s a difficult thing to do and it’s a great skill to have. Can you teach that? I don’t think you can.” Look, you give kids the basics. Many years later, once they have a stable of experiences, those seeds you plant will take root. It’s a worthy thing to do, teaching creative writing. Stories make up our modern internet!
Public Books: Stop Defending the Humanities.
“This negative stereotyping takes wing, in part, from the sense that humanities academics and the students whom they send into the professions acquire their privilege too easily, exempt from the hard scrabble of working in small business, farming, factories, supermarkets, and so on.” Yet the ‘liberal arts’ universities are the crucible for future captains of industry. Bite (and amputate) the hand that feeds you. Go figure.
CBC.CA: Aboriginal people may have lived on Beringia for millenia.
MeFi: The great Medieval water myth.
Slate: What if we’ve misunderstood our place in the universe?
“If life becomes an important ingredient in the development of the cosmos, it unseats humans as the all-important observers of our universe. It suggests that many other eyes watched the skies before our sun was even lit.” Makes sense.
OpenCulture: Oxford’s Free Course Critical Reasoning For Beginners.
“If you’ve got some time on your hands, the lectures, which average just over an hour in length, can be finished in less than a week. That’s peanuts, if you consider that all our knowledge is built on the foundations that this course establishes.”
Prospect: The battle for the English language.
You know, I think about language as I think about art. Every famed artist spent the time to learn the basics first. Proportion, shading, perspective. The ‘rules’ were well-ingrained. Then, upon reasonable command of the basics, they riffed. Same should go for language and grammar. In other words, it’s very clear who is working from a deep knowledge of language and grammar — and who isn’t.
ArtDaily: New research on Byzantium - Adolescence, polished language.
“The project is dedicated to analysing the ‘discharge’ of youth from the family in the period from the 6th to the 11th century. ‘At that time, the reasons for this discharge were for general or professional education, marriage, and entering a monastery.’” Sounds limited to the affluent, to me. Wider net?
ScienceMag: High-Profile Stem Cell Papers Under Fire.
“Just a week later, anonymous bloggers at the PubPeer website, a forum for postpublication discussion of scientific results, started pointing out anomalies in image 1i in the research article. To some eyes, it appears that the center lane of a blot image has been spliced in. On 13 February, PubPeer contributors zeroed in on the research letter, claiming that part of figure 1b, showing the placenta of a STAP chimera, may have been rotated and reused in figure 2g.”
Quarterly Conversation: The Decameron, by Giovanni Boccaccio
Review of a new and exciting translation. “… Rebhorn is the first Boccaccio translator in 300 years to understand so clearly that the main thing being celebrated amidst all these fevered couplings is ‘intelligence in all its forms.’” On my list. Thank you, wood s lot.
LiveScience: ‘Mother Lode’ of Amazingly Preserved Fossils Discovered in Canada.
“The new fossils reveal the internal organs of several different arthropods, the most common type of animal in both the new and old Burgess Shale locations. Retinas, corneas, neural tissue, guts and even a possible heart and liver were found.”
Slate: High school in America - A complete disaster.
It’s been the problem for ages, IMHO. Real-world applicability. I think of my experience with high school physics - the one and only class that offered applications to what I was learning. Calculating acceleration of a little model. Centripetal force of swinging a weight on a length of string. Because my algebra and calculus weren’t up to snuff (from some really grotty teaching), I spent my semesters completely frustrated, playing catch-up. I should have gotten tutored, now that I look back.
Colossal: 900-Year-Old Coded Viking Message Carved on Wood Fragment Finally Solved.
It says, “Kiss Me.”
Wikipedia: International Nuclear Event Scale.
New Statesman: The lady vanishes - what happens to the women forgotten by literary history?
“Behind most great male authors, there is a chief muse and bottle washer; a one-woman literary agency.” Great read; recommended.
New Yorker: The Scientist Who Took on a Leading Herbicide Manufacturer.
Long, but worth the read. Also worth Google cross-referencing some of the statements within.
Guardian.UK: Dan Gillmor - Why all the angst? Blogging is far from dead.
“A decade or so ago, journalism went through a mini-spasm of angst about one of the changes then roiling the trade. Many worried about a practice they considered weird and, they concluded, at best semi-professional: blogging. But what became known as the “bloggers v journalists” affair ultimately faded into obscurity as just about every major news organization added blogs to its website.” Dan himself was the first, really.