Skywriting, Birdwatching, Trolls, David Hume, Evolutionary Feminism


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The Art Of Skywriting

Chase Purdy | Quartz | 8th May 2016

In 1932 a pilot called Andy Stinis wrote “Pepsi” in letters of smoke across American skies, and the Pepsi-Cola company liked it so much that they helped him buy 18 planes to spread the word. Andy’s son, Greg, still runs the business; but at 75 he is one of only five full-time skywriters left in the world. There are many cheaper ways to advertise. Greg’s son, Stephen, is hesitating. “I can look at it and say: It’s a dying art form, it died with my father — or I’ll take the torch and run with it” (1,700 words)

Can The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker Be Found in Cuba?

Mac McClelland | Audubon | 6th May 2016

Chronicle of an ill-assorted expedition to the eastern forests of Cuba in search of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, a “raggedy nightmare” of a bird allegedly sighted here twenty years ago and otherwise generally considered extinct. The sand flies are savage. The sun blazes down. The plumbing is non-existent. The water is undrinkable. The jeep dies. All of which would be supportable in the circumstances were it not for the crowning misfortune: the ornithologists are prize bores (7,100 words)

Aristotle, On Trolling

Rachel Barney | American Philosophical Association | 3rd May 2016

“That trolling is a shameful thing, and that no one of sense would accept to be called ‘troll’, all are agreed; but what trolling is, and whether there is an excellence of the troll, is unclear … The troll in the proper sense is one who speaks to a community and as being part of the community; only he is not part of it, but opposed. And the community has some good in common, and this the troll must know, and what things promote and destroy it: for he seeks to destroy” (1,180 words)

Who Was David Hume?

Anthony Gottlieb | New York Review of Books | 8th May 2016

Hume stressed the similarities between people and other animals. He treated religion as a natural phenomenon to be explained in psychological and historical terms. He argued that the study of the mind and of morals should be pursued by the same empirical methods favoured in natural science. He thus approached philosophy as something “not fundamentally different from science” — an approach widely shared and admired nowadays, but jarring to Hume’s contemporaries (3,700 words)

Raising Darwin’s Consciousness

Eric Michael Johnson | Scientific American | 16th March 2012

Interview with evolutionary theorist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy. “We need to expand evolutionary perspectives to include the Darwinian selection pressures on mothers and on infants. So much of our human narrative is about selection pressures but, when you stop to think and parse the hypotheses, they are really about selection pressures on males: hunting hypotheses or lethal intergroup conflict hypotheses to explain human brains. Well, does that mean that females don’t have brains?” (2,600 words)

Video of the day: The Present

What to expect:

Touching story of a boy and a dog. Don’t judge it too quickly (4’17”)

Thought for the day

Lawyers were children once
Charles Lamb

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