Giraffe Edition 17
The State Of The American Dog
Tom Junod | Esquire | 14th July 2014
In defence — yea, in praise — of pit bull terriers. They are widely hated, feared, demonised. Yet there is nothing in their DNA to distinguish them from other dogs. Any dog can behave badly if it has been neglected or exploited. If you have a fondness for pit bulls, prepare to be enthralled. If not, then this may come across as an outrageous piece of special pleading. Either way, it will stir you in the way that good writing should (6,500 words)
How To Flawlessly Predict Anything
Andy Baio | Medium | 15th July 2014
It's easy. So long as you are predicting an event with a limited number of outcomes, you predict all possible outcomes and then take credit only for the prediction that comes true. On the internet you can delete the wrong predictions, leave the correct prediction in place with timestamps, and make your claim even more plausible. Which leads to a rule of thumb: "Never trust a prediction revealed after its outcome" (900 words)
The Elephant In The Discotheque
Bob Stanley | Paris Review | 14th July 2014
Can you have genius, yet no taste? Consider the Bee Gees. They were prodigies; hit-makers for 34 years, rivalled only by The Beatles. In 1978 the songs from Saturday Night Fever accounted for 2% of worldwide music industry revenues. But they were never chic, often ridiculed, not without reason. "Forgive them. They wrote a dozen of the finest songs of the twentieth century. The Bee Gees were children of the world" (2,840 words)
No Church in The State Of Nature
Joseph Len Miller | Pop Music And Philosophy | 14th July 2014
Jay-Z and Kanye West, in No Church In The Wild, relate Hobbes's state of nature to Plato's Euthyphro dilemma. "They seem to think that without a belief in a God that creates rules there would be no morality. So for them the state of nature is like a world in which there is no God to create or enforce moral rules. This leads us to the Euthyphro dilemma: Is something good because God loves it? Or, does God love it because it's good?" (950 words)
What’s So Funny?
Mary Beard | Chronicle Review | 14th July 2014
Is laughter a biological phenomenon or a cultural one? Does all laughter have something in common, or are there distinct kinds? Science acknowledges three main theories of laughter: It preserves the ancient triumphalism of bare-teethed hunters; it is a modern response to the illogical or unexpected; it is the release of nervous energy or suppressed emotion. But where does tickling come in? (3,100 words)
The Good Tsar Bias
Xavier Marquez | Abandoned Footnotes | 16th July 2014
19C Russians proverbially believed that the Tsar was good but his underlings let him down. Many Germans felt similarly about Hitler. This delusion seems to be common in, and peculiar to, authoritarian regimes. Why so? Perhaps because, when a leader successfully captures the sense of national identity, to blame him for bad outcomes undermines one's own identity; more comfortable to scapegoat underlings (1,870 words)
Video of the day: Flowers Opening
What to expect: Stop-motion short showing flowers opening. What's not to like?
Thought for the day
"Value judgments are destructive to our proper business, which is curiosity and awareness"
— John Cage