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Building the Insanity In: Ex Machina

This is not a movie review. This is me thinking about empathy. Last night, lonely little ol’ me sat in a hotel room in Laramie, Wyomig (inauspiciously named for Jacques LaRamie, a French or French-Canadian trapper who disappeared in the Laramie Mountains in the late 1810s and was never heard from again–nice choice, Laramie). I […]

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The Tragedy of Influential (White Supremacist) Liars: Distorting the Commons (Against Fair Housing and Civil Rights)

How can we measure the influence of bad ideas? If there is anything to learn from the “system” of social media it’s that bad news travels and expands exponentially while the “good news” is always sentimental and local (seems a “one-off”). Humans are perhaps best characterized by their affinity for gossip (what is the “gospel” […]

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Serving the Word

It might have been but a deception of the vapours, but, the longer the stranger was watched, the more singular appeared her manoeuvres. “Benito Cereno” by Herman Melville In a recent scholarly biography of Louis Agassiz, Christoph Irmscher, in a chapter on Agassiz’s notorious “race science,” notes that Agassiz is in no way the lone […]

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Energy and Doom

The future is incompatible with human thinking. That’s not to say we cannot imagine “tomorrow” but that what we imagine will always be cobbled together out of “pastness.” Further, the very same thinking that is assertively addicted to narratives of repetition (the sun rises, the sun sets, the sun rises, the sun sets)–I think we […]

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Living in the Futurist Dream (1913)

How does this sound as a description of our world? Aside from #17 below which makes no sense in this list, I’d say this pretty much describes the present. 1. Acceleration of life to today’s swift pace. Physical, intellectual, and sentimental equilibration on the cord of speed stretched between contrary magnetisms. Multiple and simultaneous awareness […]

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Against the Real Creationists

I just finished reading “The New Synthetic Biology: Who Gains?” by Richard Lewontin in the New York Review of Books. I believe this article makes clear that there are tremendous amounts of insight and ingenuity in the ways that humans try to be creators and fixers. Or rather, to create fixes for errors of human […]

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Just a Shot Away

Oh, a storm is threat’ning My very life today If I don’t get some shelter Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away War, children, it’s just a shot away It’s just a shot away War, children, it’s just a shot away It’s just a shot away (The Rolling Stones) my wild shot– demanding simply that the […]

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The Tatters of Pragmatism

I just reread the section of Louis Menand’s The Metaphysical Club  where Chauncey Wright is introduced and his importance to the major thinkers of the time is noted. Menand begins this introduction with what seems most humanly interesting to know about Chauncey Wright. Wright was unmarried. He lodged, after 1861, in the home of Mary […]

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In Dark Dispersal

What is truer of Man’s believing than revelation; A complicated problem is only further complicated by being simplified. A state of confusion is never made comprehensible by being given a plot. Appearances do not deceive if there are enough of them. The truth is always laid out in an infinite number of circles tending to […]

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The Custom House: Louis Agassiz with Christoph Irmscher

Episode 2 is now available for download: Agassiz, Inc. Please share far and wide, early and often. Thanks! This week I speak with biographer Christoph Irmscher about the legacy of Louis Agassiz, one of the most influential men in the development of the practice of science in America.  Irmscher’s book is called Louis Agassiz: Creator […]

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Building the Insanity In: Ex Machina

This is not a movie review. This is me thinking about empathy. Last night, lonely little ol’ me sat in […]

Dislodged Giant: Can We Use Stevens to Interpret Dickinson?

You tell me. “I thought that nature was enough” by Emily Dickinson I thought that nature was enough Till Human […]

By Metaphor Alone

Motivation matters. If the scientific method (which we make into the massive all-encompassing abstraction of SCIENCE to compete with the […]

By Force of Law

Nothing new under the sun. Why do you suppose a “Sanders” presidency would change what is described below in Chapter […]

Now You Know What A Horse Is: Views On Education in the 19th Century

Schools are scenes of extreme manipulation and coercion. Our national and state interest in them is less than benign, or […]

A Rule of Storytelling and Unhappiness

As my friend began reading William Morris’s News From Nowhere, or, An Epic of Rest, I thought I might take […]