Ego Depletion, I Ching, Conquistadors, Sibelius, Mormonism

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Everything Is Crumbling

Daniel Engber | Slate | 6th March 2016

A psychological theory which has influenced behavioural economics for almost 20 years is on the verge of collapse. “Ego depletion” holds that humans have a finite supply of willpower: the more we struggle against some temptations, the more vulnerable we are to others. The effect has been "confirmed" by hundreds of studies. But a closer look suggests that the studies merely confirm the bias of the researchers (3,000 words)

What Is The I Ching?

Eliot Weinberger | China File / NYRB | 25th February 2016

An ancient dragon with a human face used eight pictograms to describe everything in the universe. This was the first I Ching. Emperor Wen, founder of the Zhou dynasty, extended and glossed the pictograms in 1050 BC. Confucius added ethical commentaries. A 1950 English translation started a I Ching craze in the West. The commentaries are read as poetry; the hexagrams are combined randomly to predict the future (4,000 words)

Cry Of Machines

Kao Kalia Yang | Granta | 10th March 2016

"My life in America has been a series of days spent within the confines of factories. For the last twenty-two years, I have worked with machines. Since we came to this country I have worked for three different companies. There have been moments in each of these jobs when my supervisors said in different ways: 'Bee, you are not here to talk to me. You are here to talk to machines'. In America, my voice is only powerful within our home" (3,700 words)

My Own Personal Conquistador

Alex Mar | Oxford American | 8th March 2016

Enthralling blend of family history and early American history. How should one feel about having among one's ancestors Juan Ponce de Leon — explorer, conquistador, first governor of Puerto Rico, and deluded seeker of the fountain of eternal youth? "Nineteen and far from home, how does Juan Ponce conduct himself? This is undocumented. Let’s say he was humane and thoughtful. I’ll spin history to better serve myself" (7,400 words)

The Sound Of Silence

Sudip Bose | American Scholar | 26th February 2016

One winter day in 1940 Jean Sibelius carried a laundry basket filled with manuscripts into the dining room of his house near Helsinki and fed the pages into the blazing stove. "Afterward, a strange calm descended upon the composer. His mood lightened. He appeared strangely optimistic, no longer depressed, as if the fire had brought on some magnificent catharsis." The Eighth Symphony was no more. The Karelia Suite survived (2,600 words)

How The Mormons Conquered America

Michael Fitzgerald | Nautilus | 10th March 2016

Mormonism allows us to see how a religion evolves from first principles. It began in the modern era, and its "phenomenal" growth has required frequent adaptation. "Mormonism considers itself a faith of continuous revelation, where God may give new prophecies to the church’s leadership. That gives it a mechanism for doctrinal change, such as abandoning polygamy or opening the priesthood to non-whites" (3,100 words)

Video of the day: Time Of Flight

What to expect: Abstract and beautiful. "In which 3D scanned portraits are transformed and distorted" (3'31")

Thought for the day

During a carnival men put cardboard faces over their masks
Xavier Forneret

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