Newsletter 988


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Best of the Moment

In The Dark

Alexander Fry | Aeon | 23rd April 2013

Scientist working on "dark matter" tries to explain in relatively simple and even lyrical terms what it's all about and what it implies. "We have gradually got used to the idea that nature’s true reality is one of uncertain quantum fields; that what we see is not necessarily what is. Dark matter is a profound extension of this concept. It appears that the majority of matter in the universe has been hidden from us"

A Poet On The Road

Charles Simic | New York Review Of Books | 23rd April 2013

Poet laureate's travel notes from decades of touring America, giving readings and classes. "Writing poetry is a solitary activity. The poems, even when they are published in literary journals, are read by people one very rarely hears from. Public readings assure poets that there is an audience for poetry in this country and that Americans not only can make sense of their poems, but appear to actually like them"

Slash: Not Just A Punctuation Mark Anymore

Anne Curzan | Lingua Franca | 24th April 2013

The punctuation mark " / " has morphed into the word "slash", meaning "and/or". Now the word "slash" is evolving into a conjunction, indicating an afterthought, particularly one that is also a topic shift. "The emergence of a new conjunction/conjunctive adverb is like a rare-bird sighting in the world of linguistics". And this one may have staying power, to judge from its common usage among young people

The Children Of China

Jiayang Fan | New Yorker | 24th April 2013

Reminiscences of growing up in China amid rural poverty and one-child population control. An aunt was sold, as a baby, for two bushels of rice. "My grandfather held his youngest daughter in one arm and his eldest with the crook of the other. When he handed over the baby, swathed in threadbare hand-me-downs, in exchange for the grain, his other daughter asked: 'When is it my turn to be sold?'”

What Is A Terrorist?

Fernando Teson | Bleeding Heart Libertarians | 23rd April 2013

"A terrorist should be defined by his advancement of an unjust cause, in addition to his targeting of civilians. A theory of evil must distinguish between opportunistic evil and principled evil. Most criminals are opportunistic: they act in self-interest ... We have stronger reasons to fight principled criminals than opportunistic criminals, both because their maxim is evil and because they cannot be easily bribed or persuaded"

Video of the day: Churnalism

Thought for the day:

"Essentially, we cheat up to the level that allows us to retain our self-image as reasonably honest individuals"— Dan Ariely

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