Matthew Walther | American Conservative | 30th January 2014
Entertaining profile of "bilious, foul-mouthed, poker-playing" British historian Maurice Cowling, advocate of “reactionary bloodiness”, who lived "amid empty whiskey bottles, Mills & Boon erotica, and pages torn from obscure volumes of ecclesiastical history", encouraged his students to be “vile” in argument, and insisted that "the only people who understood his work were those who were offended by it"
Christine Baumgarthuber | New Inquiry | 4th February 2014
Italian futurists saw food as a "weapon in the fight against tradition". It could change the body, so why not the mind? In March 1931 they opened the Tavern of the Holy Palate in Bologna, devoted to futurist cooking. On the menu, Chicken Fiat: "A good-sized chicken is boiled, then roasted. After its removal from the oven, a large cavity must be dug in the bird’s shoulder and filled with ball bearings"
Sarah Gerard | American Reader | 5th February 2014
Interview with Elaine Scarry, philosopher and author. Politicians chafe at constitutional restraints in times of crisis; yet the restraints were designed exactly for such times. "The Constitution is there for emergencies, and particularly for the emergency of the claim that we need to go to war. It’s not that we can never go to war; it’s that, if we’re going to go to war, that’s a proposition that needs to be tested in many ways"
Jonathan Rauch | Washington Post | 4th February 2014
"The idea that hate speech always harms minorities is false. Its toleration is to their great collective benefit. In a climate of free intellectual exchange hateful and bigoted ideas are refuted and discredited, not merely suppressed. The open society harnesses the whole range of public criticism in a decentralised knowledge-making process that has no rival at the job minorities most care about: finding truth and debunking bigotry"
Sandra Simonds | Boston Review | 28th January 2014
Nursery rhymes seem "spooky" because they make us think of children who have disappeared — into time, into history, into death. "Reading through the Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes I felt the echoing sounds of the children of history singing, half-singing, laughing or crying. I conjured up the image a little English village boy on a cold February morning in 1650, seven years old, throwing seeds to the birds"
John Gapper | Financial Times | 5th February 2014
Bitcoin "fixes a fundamental gap in the internet". It promises the "quick and cheap exchange – and transfer of ownership – not only of currencies but also of other assets, goods and services". To focus on the volatile Bitcoin exchange-rate misses the point. Bitcoin "is like the data packets that carry information on the internet. They are valued because of what they allow, not for their inherent qualities" (Metered paywall)
Thought for the day:
"Civilisation is a process of extending tradition by argument" — Andrew Brown
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