Animals, The Met, James Baldwin, Parapsychology, Free Speech


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Can We Know What Animals Think?

The Economist | Medium | 14th March 2017

We assume that chimpanzees think because they look so much like us; but how about octopuses, which are “ferociously good problem solvers” — does that imply human-type thought? And, if animals can think, why doesn’t animal culture change over time? “To say that animals have a biological basis for consciousness is not the same as saying they think or feel … No animal has all the attributes of a human mind; but almost all the attributes of human minds are found in some animal or another” (4,800 words)

Inside A Met Director’s Shocking Exit

William Cohan | Vanity Fair | 20th March 2017

Behind the scenes at the Metropolitan Museum in New York where director Thomas Campbell resigned under pressure after eight years in the job that started well but ended disastrously with a bungled expansion, staff cuts and a ballooning deficit. Consensus view: The Met board was wrong to appoint a director without high-level managerial experience, however bright he might have seemed as a curator. “Another problem was Campbell’s friskiness with certain women on the staff” (3,900 words)

James Baldwin And The “Man”

F.W. Dupee | New York Review Of Books | 1st February 1963

In memory of Robert Silvers, the first piece in the first issue of the New York Review Of Books: Frederick Dupee on The Fire Next Time. “Baldwin impresses me as being the Negro in extremis, a virtuoso of ethnic suffering, defiance, and aspiration. His role is that of the man whose complexion constitutes his fate. Believing himself to have been branded as different from and inferior to the white majority, he will make a virtue of his situation. He will be different and in his own way be better” (1,800 words)

The Bunny, The Witch, And The War Room

Sharon Weinberger | IEEE Spectrum | 21st March 2017

Reports that the Soviet Union was using telepathic rabbits to communicate with deep-sea submarines inspired the CIA to begin Cold-War research into parapsychology with SRI and Uri Geller. They invited George Lawrence from ARPA, the Pentagon’s research arm, to observe. Lawrence thought Geller was a fraud, but saw the potential of reading minds. Biocybernetics was born. “Instead of relying on the paranormal, researchers would use measurable brain signals to control a computer” (3,070 words)

Holocaust Denial And The Marketplace Of Ideas

Alan Dershowitz | Times Literary Supplement | 20th March 2017

“Freedom of speech and the open marketplace of ideas are not a guarantee that truth, justice or morality will prevail. The most that can be said is that freedom of expression is less bad than its alternatives such as governmental censorship, official truth squads or shutting down the marketplace of ideas. Like democracy itself, untrammelled freedom to express hateful and dangerous lies may be the ‘worst’ policy – except for all the others that have been tried over time” (2,080 words)

Video of the day: Atlas Of Ancient Rome

What to expect:

From Princeton University Press: Andrea Carandini’s “Atlas of Ancient Rome” (2’38”)

Thought for the day

Most people know what a story is until they sit down to write one
Flannery O'Connor

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