Monthly Archives: January 2018

50 Art Deco Works of Art You Should Know by Lynn Federle Orr (2015)

Books & Boots

This is a new addition to Prestel publishing’s successful ’50s’ series (cf 50 Women Artists You Should Know, which I read a month or so ago) and it does just what it says on the cover.

First there’s a ten-page introduction to Art Deco – then 50 double-page spreads showcasing works from nearly every artistic medium, from paintings and photography to furnishings and film, with the work of art on the right and a page of introduction/commentary/analysis on the left – all topped off by a page of recommended further reading.

Exactitude by Pierre Fix-Masseau (1932)Exactitude by Pierre Fix-Masseau (1932)

Some of these one page commentaries are really interesting. The one on the Bugatti poster starts with a fascinating overview of the phenomenal spread of cars, and the way they created an entire sub-culture of new roads, motels, gas stations, along with ads for all the necessary accessories, petrol, tyres, motoring gloves, goggles and…

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Leisure fascism: Vegan says that a carnivore can’t eat tofu because it’s “cultural appropriation”

Banned for eating tofu? Because it is cultural appropriation? Is the world going mad?

Why Evolution Is True

Well, yes, this is from The Sun, but it does give names and I suspect it’s true (it’s reported at multiple places, including msn) .  Click on the screenshot for the LOLs:

The relevant bit of their exchange (in case you didn’t know, “tofurkey” is a turkey substitute made out of tofu, intended for consumption at Thanksgiving):


How well the termites have dined—or have not dined! I’m crying and shaking now. I can’t even. . .

Read the original article for more fun, including to see how the carnivorous tofu-eater was temporarily banned from her Facebook group.

h/t: Cindy

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Political evolution of USA senate 1789 – 2018

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Conversations with Dan: eudaimonia, Stoicism, and “the good life”

Footnotes to Plato

Monty Python Meaning of LifeWhat does it mean to live the good life? I’m positive Donald Trump, or Jeff Bezos, would give you very different answers from the one you’d get from me. But they are wrong and I’m right. After all, they are just rich and powerful people, I’m a philosopher…

Okay, kidding aside, “what is the meaning of life?” is the quintessential philosophical question, though one that these days is more likely to be satisfactorily answered by Monty Python than in the halls of a philosophy department (please make sure you get to the very end of the song). That is part of the reason why my friend Dan Kaufman and I do our occasional Sophia video series. The latest installment takes the question on directly by exploring the various meanings of the Ancient Greek word eudaimonia, often translated into English as happiness (which is not, really), or flourishing (close, but…

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Life behind the Berlin Wall | The Economist

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E. O. Wilson: confused about free will

I have written an essay here arguing that we do have free will. https://yandoo.wordpress.com/2013/10/25/determinism-free-will-and-compatibilism/

 

Why Evolution Is True

An article in the September 14 Harper’s, “On Free Will (and How the Brain is like a Colony of Ants”, gives an excerpt from Wilson’s book released that year, The Meaning of Human Existence.  In the piece and the passage below, Wilson appears to be a sort of compatibilist, but I find his discussion so confusing that I’m not quite sure what he’s trying to say. But his message is pretty clear: we can act as if we have a kind of free will, and those who deny it are doomed to insanity and a “deteriorating mind”.  The main bits:

The power to explain consciousness, however, will always be limited. Suppose neuroscientists somehow successfully learned all of the processes of one person’s brain in detail. Could they then explain the mind of that individual? No, not even close.

. . . Then there is the element of chance. The…

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PinkerGate: The last word

Why Evolution Is True

Two days ago I wrote about how some social-media folks had distorted an eight-minute remark by Steve Pinker made at the Spiked event at Harvard: “Is political correctness why Trump won.” Pinker spoke about how certain facts had been censored or deemed taboo by the Left, and how the suppression of truth in that way simply drives people into the arms of the Right or the “alt-right” (whatever the “alt-right” is). If you listened to Pinker’s whole set of remarks, it was clear that he was against the alt-right and was calling for a degree of honesty by progressives that would not drive people rightward.

In my post, I showed how many people had willfully distorted Pinker’s remarks to make him seem a fan of the alt-right, something that anybody with a few neurons could have discerned had they listened to the whole eight-minute talk. But people kept excerpting just…

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Surprise! Pinker smeared again by those who distort his words

Why Evolution Is True

There is no end of the kind of cherry-picking people will go to if they want to smear New Atheists. This post gives a prime example, with the target being Steve Pinker. (It’s always either Pinker, Sam Harris, or Richard Dawkins.)

On November 6, Spiked Magazine held one of its “Unsafe Space” events at Harvard, called “Is political correctness why Trump won?

Here’s the event description, the participants, and, below that, an 8-minute clip of Pinker giving his take on the issue.

The shock election of Donald Trump has sent many looking for answers. Why didn’t his outlandish statements, his ‘locker-room talk’ and his out-there views sink his candidacy in the way it would have sunk others? While many have chalked his win up to racism, xenophobia and misogyny – others suggest it was a revolt precisely against those who so casually throw around those labels. In short, the…

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Karl Popper, Science, and Pseudoscience: Crash Course Philosophy #8

Some good points here about the differences between science and pseudoscience.

Utopia - you are standing in it!

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Between holism and reductionism: a philosophical primer on emergence

Footnotes to Plato

A few years ago I was asked by the editor of the Biological Journal of the Linnaean Society to write a short paper introducing biologists to the philosophical literature on emergence, given recurrent, and sometimes confused, talk of “emergence” in biology. The result was “Between holism and reductionism,” published in 2014, the full version of which you can download here.

‘Emergence’ is a controversial concept with a convoluted history, in both science and philosophy. It is therefore not surprising that it has been misused and vilified, as well as more often than not misunderstood. Typically, the idea of emergence is brought up by researchers who are — for one reason or another — unhappy with an ultra-reductionist scientific program, preferring instead some kind of holism or interactionism in the way they approach their research questions (think of the always current debates on gene–environment interactions). Just as surely, biologists who…

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