Microaggressions, Nature, Richard Posner, Ada Lovelace, Terrorism, Mormons


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Liberal Intolerance

Edward Luce | Financial Times | 30th November 2015 | | Read with 1Pass

The revival of political correctness among students on American university campuses is part of a broader trend that argues badly for the future of democracy. "Anyone with ambition in US public life has long since learnt the value of self-censorship. A word out of context can ruin your chances of being confirmed by the US Senate. Risk-taking is penalised. Blandness is key to career advancement" (870 words)

Nature Has Lost Its Meaning

Ross Andersen | Atlantic | 30th November 2015

Interview with Duke law professor Jedediah Purdy, whose "dazzling" new book, After Nature, considers how views of the natural world have changed through history, and might change in the future. "Capital-N Nature is a religious holdover. It’s a monotheistic idea, as if the universe had a single meaning because it’s the work of a single mind ... It isn’t the sort of thing that has a meaning. It just is, in all its variety" (4,860 words)

Same-Sex Marriage: A Re-Review

Richard Posner | Yale Law Review | 23rd November 2015

Judge Posner revisits his writings of twenty years ago to see how his views then about homosexuality and same-sex marriage stand up in today's changed legal and cultural climate. "Law is not a science, and judges are not calculating machines. Federal constitutional law is the most amorphous body of American law because most of the Constitution is very old, cryptic, or vague" (3,700 words)

Cracking Coder

Emma Duncan | Intelligent Life | 30th November 2015

As Lord Byron's daughter, Ada Lovelace was, "royalty aside, London’s most famous child". A gifted mathematician, she collaborated with Charles Babbage to produce the first known computing algorithms. "She was also — blood will out — one of the best writers about computing ever". She said of Babbage's Analytical Engine that it “weaves algebraic patterns, just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves” (1,140 words)

Is It Worse If Foreigners Kill Us?

Tyler Cowen | Marginal Revolution | 30th November 2015

Why do Americans seem to think that a murder by a foreign terrorist is so much worse than a murder by a "domestic nutcase"? American society is usually "pretty robust to a bunch of people getting shot". The fear of being killed by a foreigner appears to be irrationally exaggerated, but perhaps it is not. "It really may be worse if we are killed by foreigners, but don’t we need to set some parameters on that judgment?" (460 words)

Mormons Are People With A Different Story

Jacob Hess | Open Democracy | 30th November 2015

A Mormon explains his church's opposition to same-sex marriage. Mormons see God as "as a literal Father and Mother" from whom all humanity inherits a “divine potential”. The possibility of "growing up like Mom and Dad" is central to Mormon life. "Even if you think Mormons are dead wrong, maybe this will help you see how hard it is for us to ‘simply accept’ the identity of non-heterosexual couples" (1,320 words)

Video of the day: Amazon Prime Air

What to expect: Jeremy Clarkson narrates a coming-soon advertisement for Amazon drone delivery (2'16")

Thought for the day

For life to be really fun, what you fear should line up with what you desire
Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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