The New York Review of Books: Two Cheers for the Middle Ages!
Three books reviewed. Read the entire review before choosing any.
Public Books: Thinking Critically about Critical Thinking.
“Critical thinking, in either context — as a practical skill or as a rugged comportment toward the ineffable — would seem to function as a second-order fantasy, hovering above the very thing that we cannot come to terms with in a satisfying way: the role of liberal arts in higher education.” Add curiousity in the mix, and you’ve got a potent combination. IMHO.
NPR: Patricia Marx, Author Of ‘Let’s Be Less Stupid’.
“I took the test and I thought well, I’m pretty smart! My mother’s right, I really am pretty smart. These aren’t very hard. And then I get the results and it’s 74. 74! That’s, like, you’d have to be trained on how to scratch your arm if you have an IQ of 74. You have to get assistance to tie your shoes.”
HackedEducation: Is It Time to Give Up on Computers in Schools?
“Computers and mainframes and networks are points of control. They are tools of surveillance. Databases and data are how we are disciplined and punished. Quite to the contrary of Seymour’s hopes that computers will liberate learners, this will be how we are monitored and managed. Teachers. Students. Principals. Citizens. All of us.” Interesting; a bit too panicked about surveillance perhaps. A computer’s never yet reached out and whacked my wrist with a ruler.
Atlantic: Don’t Call Kids ‘Smart’.
Colossal: The Tedious 10-Month Restoration of a 355-Year-Old Painting at the Metropolitan Museum of
Hey, they were able to remove that Instagram filter ... (joking, just joking) ...
c|net: Professor warns robots could keep us in coffins on heroin drips.
Guernica: The Arts and Humanities Aren’t Worth a Dime.
“A liberal arts education teaches you how to think, not what to think; it produces informed, skeptical citizens capable of absorbing, weighing, and creating all sorts of knowledge. It may not teach you how to change your oil or program a website, but it prepares you to learn any skill, and most importantly, to question how any task is performed, challenge conventional wisdom, and introduce new processes.”
Guardian.UK: Exposure to mixture of common chemicals may trigger cancer, scientists find.
“The finding supports the idea that chemicals may be capable of acting in concert with one another to cause cancer, even though low-level exposures to these chemicals individually might not be carcinogenic.”
NY Review of Books: Our Universities, The Outrageous Reality.
Given recent events there may be more explanation here than in the battle flag of a defeated rebellion.
Digression: In the online arguments over the flag, many are getting confused over the multiple Southern flags. The flag in question is “the flag of the Army of Northern Virginia”, specifically a battle flag, not representing the Confederate States of America as the official country flag. Note it was officially square. The Tennessee variant was rectangular. Much later veteran’s groups adopted the Battle Flag over the CSA flag, probably out of building the myths around General Lee. I believe the story was, post-war, every Rebel veteran served under Lee (just as every WWII vet saw combat, etc. etc.). [I’d be more impressed with a Stonewall Jackson veteran, myself.] The Battle flag is part and parcel of post-war mythmaking. You have to actually read a book to understand the subtleties (see original link).
An interesting tidbit, probably lost on most: General P.G.T. Beauregard demanded this new battle flag be created because the CSA official small-square-on-a-white-field flag was confused with the Union Stars & Stripes when flapping in battle. Beauregard, immediately after the war, promoted civil rights and voted for recently-freed slaves.
“Heritage, not hate?” You have to accept the full heritage. I wonder if Beauregard ever flew that flag in front of his house, post-war. Given that he’d been pardoned by the Union, I sort of doubt it. And he couldn’t stand Jefferson Davis, even refusing to take part in his funeral parade. If the instigator of the flag didn’t fly it, should anyone else?
Nick Bostrom: Existential Risks - Analyzing Human Extinction Scenarios.
“Maximize the probability of an okay outcome, where an ‘okay outcome’ is any outcome that avoids existential disaster.” Professor Bostrom’s lecture yesterday impacted me in many ways, but none moreso than this observation. As he said, we can’t uninvent things (so far). We have to manage what we’ve created in a moral manner.
SciAm: Harsh, Critical Parenting May Lead to Anxiety Disorder Symptoms.
NY Times: Anxious Students Strain College Mental Health Centers.
God help them if they get addicted to benzos ... probably all too easy, in a college environment.
Farnam Street Blog: How to Read A Book
Would that school effectively taught switching between the levels. Most would just chuck a book at you.
Chronicle of Higher Ed: Mortal Motivation.
“While thinking about death directly [snip] folks do rational things to get away from it, like trying to get healthy. It’s when death lurks on the fringes of consciousness that they cling to worldviews and seek self-esteem.”
I understand John Nash and wife have died in a car accident.
I wrote a piece a few years ago about my experience of John Nash during his ‘dark period’ in Princeton, over on Quora.
Pacific Standard: Creative Thinking Can Inspire Unethical Behavior.
“According to a research team led by Ke Michael Mai, a creative frame of mind enables one to come up with compelling justifications for bad behavior.” Someone, somewhere is going to start using this as an excuse to further eliminate the liberal arts, just watch.
Nice Marmot: The Growth of Oligarchy.
Yep. It’s been many years now since Princeton University made more money as a real estate holding company than as a university. They could drop the whole education side of things and be quite well off.
Guardian.UK: After 350 years of academic journals it’s time to shake things up.
“The panellists agreed that the goal should be to move away from scientific publishing — towards scientific communication.” One might suggest the ‘lowly’ blog as the form of communication.
Hyperallergic: Entire First-Year MFA Class Drops Out in Protest at USC.
Bad form, on the part of the school.
Italian Ways: Ancient Rome’s bikinis, in Piazza Armerina.
Veni, vidi ... and swooned.
The Mischiefs of Faction: The Threat the STEM Focus Poses to the Social Sciences.
The Atlantic: Don’t Overthink It.
“The clearest contrast to the narcissist that I can think of is the repairman, who must subordinate himself to the broken washing machine, listen to it with patience, notice its symptoms, and then act accordingly.” I tend to discuss ‘pragmatism’ in this vein. Eventually concepts have to hit the pavement and function within realities.
Later: In this vein of thought, imagine an optimism-spouting social media person describing how to fix a badly-manufactured automobile engine.
Aeon: Human beings do not have an instinct for war.
“... chimpanzees are known to engage in violent, group-level encounters, complete with search-and-destroy missions that conjure images of human skirmishing and outright warfare. Bonobos, on the other hand — genetically, no more distant from Homo sapiens — do nothing of the sort, and are renowned for making love, not war.” The author is a budding Buddhist, so grain of salt.
Globe and Mail.CA: Nick Bostrom - ‘I don’t think the AI train will slow down.’
“If I am correct, it means that we might go, in a relatively brief period of time, from something slightly subhuman to something radically super intelligent. And whether that will happen in a few decades or many decades from now, we should prepare for this transition to be quite rapid, if and when it does occur. I think that kind of rapid-transition scenario does involve some very particular types of existential risk.”