Dylan, Money, Change, Minds, Greece

Dylan, Unencumbered

Katrina Forrester | n+1 | 3rd August 2020

Interesting throughout, these notes on Bob Dylan’s new album, Rough And Rowdy Ways, and its place in the Dylan tradition. “How long can it go on? Let’s put it another way: Why can’t he stop? Dylan’s gifts have long coexisted with his compulsion to repeat, his humility with his arrogance. In earlier phases of his career he gave the sense things were obstructing him: Women, fear, the Sermon on the Mount, the world, his better self. Today, Dylan is serving no one. He’ll carry on for as long as no one stops him” (2,770 words)

Truth Is Paywalled, Lies Are Free

Nathan Robinson | Current Affairs | 2nd August 2020

Paywalls are justified. Publishers and creators need to live. It costs money to produce and publish good editorial content. But even good paywalls can have bad externalities. As more and more good content goes behind paywalls, more people will consume more bad content that is freely available. “A white supremacist on YouTube will tell you all about race and IQ; but if you want to read a careful scholarly refutation, obtaining a legal PDF from the journal publisher would cost you $14.95” (4,100 words)

How Much Things Can Change

Rodney Brooks | 3rd August 2020

Computer scientist looks back on scientific discoveries during his lifetime, and wonders which of our current ruling theories will be falsified in the century ahead. His short list of possible disruptive discoveries in cosmology: “There is no dark matter. The Universe is not expanding. The big bang was wrong”. And in physics: “There is a big additional part of quantum mechanics to be understood. String theory is bogus. The many worlds interpretation is decided to be confused, and discarded” (1,520 words)

The Space Between Our Heads

Mark Dingemanse | Aeon | 4th August 2020

Philosophical consideration of how brain-to-brain interfaces, if they are ever perfected and adopted, could collapse human relations. “The very possibility of social life depends on there being some separation of private worlds, along with powers to interact on our own terms. In other words, we need something like language in order to be human. When we directly connect one individual’s mental life to that of another, individual agency might slip through our fingers. Biology offers plenty of examples” (3,200 words)

Herodotus’s Wheel

Barry Strauss | New Criterion | 1st November 2008

Herodotus and Thucydides have “set the agenda of Western historiography” for 2,500 years. We think of them as a double act, a balancing act: Herodotus the historian of the Persian Wars, Thucydides of the Peloponnesian War. Herodotus chronicles the rise of Greece, Thucydides its decline. Thucydides is the “hard-nosed proto-political scientist”, Herodotus the “softer, more open-ended proto-anthropologist”. Herodotus “recognises the terrible complexity of things”, and wants to understand them (3,100 words)

Video: How To Structure A Fight Scene | Accented Cinema. Essay explaining how extended fight scenes are choreographed in martial arts films to hold the audience’s attention (11m 29s)

Audio: Tomorrowland | Last Archive. Jill Lepore ends her series about truth and propaganda by arguing that we have come to overvalue data and undervalue facts (53m 39s)

“There are no right answers to wrong questions”
— Ursula K. Le Guin

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