Quote of the day

"What matters is to know something that others don't know you know"
— Umberto Eco

The Confederate Cause Pick of the day

The Southern states seceded, and fought the North, to preserve slavery. Their leaders said so plainly at the time. The talk of states’ rights came later when the war dragged on and the South needed support abroad. The four million enslaved African Americans were central to the economy of the South and to its political philosophy of white supremacy. The Confederate flag honours that tradition, and dishonours America (4,000 words)

The Bronx Is Back

Before Detroit there was The Bronx. Charlotte Street was once called “the worst slum in America”. But now it is “an ordinary place”. The Bronx has come back. It is “sometimes squalid but rarely grim”. The South Bronx nips at Brooklyn’s heels. “Once in a while, you meet some scruffy artist who lives there. A crowd will gather around him at a party as if he’d recently escaped a North Korean prison camp. Everyone wants to know his rent” (3,100 words)

Listening To Your Eyes Move

A suggestion of Sir Thomas Browne in this unexpected note on the sounds of the human body. “For most people, sounds from inside the body are screened out, to make the outside world audible. For patients with medical conditions inducing autophony, the internal sounds are dramatically amplified. Patients may be able to hear their eyeballs moving from left to right, the pulsing of blood or the gurgles of digestion” (1,200 words)

I Chose A Life Without Breasts

“When in the name of health and awareness and courage do we stop lopping off our breasts and take a more realistic approach?” That was what Brown wrote about Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy; then Brown developed breast cancer herself, and faced a decision on having the same operation. “There is a wide gulf between a doctor’s study on survival rates and what a woman needs to do to feel like she can live” (3,300 words)

Andrew Curry: The Future

Futurist talks about what futurists do — it’s about pattern recognition, not prediction; how they have fared in the past; and the best books on futurism. “There’s three types of futures: possible futures, probable futures, and preferred futures. People tend to do one or the other. Preferred futures are the bit from the peace movement; possible and probable are the bit from the wartime systems analysis work” (5,579 words)

Revolutionary Methodological Preliminaries

If Noam Chomsky had published his masterpiece under a snappier title, its fiftieth anniversary this year might be getting more notice. Aspects Of The Theory Of Syntax set “three or four disciplines alight” with its first chapter alone, which introduced deep structure and universal grammar, separated competence from performance, and observed what a demanding feat it was for infants to acquire language at all (818 words)

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