Porn, New Testament, Zhukov, Silence, Descartes


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The Hush-Hush Norm

Shane Greenstein | Digitopoly | 12th December 2017

How can we formulate sensible norms for pornography online when most thinking people talk as though porn does not exist in their world? Porn goes public only as the object of periodic moral outbursts by populist politicians; otherwise it is a stealth economy. “If a new app or online site has a strong visual or video-sharing capability, and no religious branding, then sometimes the entrepreneur has built a sexual angle into the business. You just have to ask about it privately” (2,600 words)

A Mind-Bending New Testament

James Parker | Atlantic | 12th December 2017

David Bentley Hart’s “almost pitilessly literal” translation of the New Testament is “simultaneously a kind of feline, Nabokovian modernist project, a meta-text in a matrix of eccentric scholarship, and a wild rush at the original upset, the original amazement, the earthshakingly bad grammar of the Good News … No committee prose here, no compromises or waterings-down: This is one man in grim submission to the kinks and quirks of the New Testament’s authors” (1,585 words)

The Nature Of Operations

Sebastian Marshall | Strategic Review | 7th December 2017

Soviet Marshal Georgy Zhukov was a military genius. He thought things through and got things done. He understood strategy and tactics; he knew that logistics underpinned them both. His genius is best seen in his rout of the Japanese army at Khalkin Gol in August 1939, when Soviet and Mongolian troops encircled 30,000 Japanese troops, of whom only 400 escaped back to Manchuria. Zhukov’s onslaught deterred Japan from declaring war on Russia even after Germany’s 1941 invasion (5,400 words)

The Silence Of The Ottoman Court

Amelia Soth | JSTOR Daily | 13th December 2017

Silence and seclusion were the outward signs of the majesty of the Ottoman emperors from the mid-15C onward. Their immediate servants were deaf and communicated by means of signs which they taught to other palace officials. A visiting ambassador might be granted sight of the emperor, but not conversation; he would hand a letter to the Grand Vizier explaining his business. “The dignified silence was preserved with the aid of soldiers who shot the birds down before they could caw” (1,470 words)

The Ghost, The Machine, And The Princess

Anthony Gottlieb | Lapham's Quarterly | 12th December 2017

Beguiling account of correspondence between René Descartes and Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, in which the princess questions Descartes’ theory of mind and body, obliging Descartes to revisit and to some extent revise his arguments. “I ask you to tell me”, she begins. “how the soul of a human being (it being only a thinking substance) can determine the bodily spirits, in order to bring about voluntary actions … Physical contact appears incompatible with an immaterial thing” (3,200 words)

Video of the day Fallstars

What to expect:

As if Laurie Anderson were to narrate a short video in CGI about cushions and diamonds (1’34”)

Thought for the day

If it works, it’s obsolete
Marshall McLuhan

Podcast of the day Garry Kasparov | FT Tech Tonic

John Thornhill talks to Garry Kasparov about the balance of power between humans and computers
(24'12")

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