Humanities scholar Alexander Nehamas: “The major point is that morality is supposed to be impartial and universal. … Contrary to morality, friendship is a kind of value that is absolutely partial and preferential. In other words, it’s essential that I treat my friends differently from the way I treat everyone else. I will do favors for you and I will help you in ways that I will feel absolutely no obligation to do for someone else. And that doesn’t fit with our conception of morality, which says you should treat everyone the same.”
“One persistent critic, the City Club of New York, asks on its website: ‘Should private donors determine the future of public places?’ But noblesse oblige is no problem for budget-strapped officials like Mayor Bill de Blasio. ‘I know a good deal when I see one,’ he said.”
“Not everything has been a home run. Steingraber reckoned that of this season’s 48 shows, 10 didn’t quite deliver. Country music hasn’t been the draw he expected.”
“The study has generated widespread interest, receiving coverage from newspapers and websites around the world. The paper was also accompanied by an online interactive model that allowed users to explore exactly how words are mapped in our brains. The combination yielded a popular frenzy, one prompting the question: Why are millions of people suddenly so interested in the neuroanatomical distribution of linguistic representations? Have they run out of cat videos?”
“Now that luxury mind-body spas and juice bars are familiar totems of gentrification, and Fortune 500 corporations roll out “McMindfulness” seminars and on-site wellness centers, engaging in such practices can feel like an endorsement of a superficial, bourgeois mainstream — a mainstream against which many intellectuals define themselves.”
“Is there something unethical in contemporary criticism? This essay is not just for those who identify with the canaries in the mine, but for anyone who browses through current journals and is left with an impression of deadness or meanness. I believe that the progressive fervor of the humanities, while it reenergized inquiry in the 1980s and has since inspired countless valid lines of inquiry, masks a second-order complex that is all about the thrill of destruction.”
“If you can’t get enough of the myth of the mad genius, you’ll love the results of this new study: … Researchers suggest that creative individuals share more personality traits with psychopaths than their less creative peers do.”
“Gaudí and Mies remind us that there is no disputing matters of taste when it comes to assessing the value of simplicity and complexity in works of art. Einstein and Newton say that science is different – simplicity, in science, is not a matter of taste.”
“You listen to yourself all day long. Why would a recording of your voice make you feel uncomfortable? The unfamiliarity is quite literally all in your head, although you’re not imagining things.”
Yes, perseverance in pursuit of a goal seems to be a crucial ingredient of success. But it has its disadvantages – not least that you probably shouldn’t let people see you exercising it.
“Some researchers have viewed procrastination largely as a failure of self-regulation – like other bad behaviors that have to do with a lack of self-control, such as overeating, a gambling problem or overspending. Others say it’s not a matter of being lazy or poor time management, as many smart overachievers who procrastinate often can attest. They say it may actually be linked to how our brain works and to deeper perceptions of time and the self.”
“Coming up with how many people were born after that is certainly based on informed speculation. Plagued by low life expectancy (up to 10 years during the Iron Age) thanks to lack of medicine, food supply issues, climate changes, killing each other and other problems, human population grew at a slow rate. Early infant mortality was as high as 500 infant deaths per 1,000 births or higher.”
“Some people like to just observe. Some people prefer to read. Some people prefer to be told a story in a movie. So, in the department of exhibitions, we have people that think in all these different ways and we have to balance it out between all of us to get an exhibition that is attractive to everybody, and tells each one of these stories in the most compelling way.”
“In an era of celebrity chefs and recipe-kit delivery services developed by experts, a pasta dish by a Dallas dad who describes his heritage as ‘entirely Anglo-Saxon’ is quite possibly America’s most-cooked meal.”
“Green: Is it true that any professor who walks into a classroom wearing a bowtie is, in fact, a conservative?
“Shields: Absolutely. No question. They just scream conservative. You can’t find liberals who wear ties anymore, much less bowties.”
“Sure, when we stop and think about it, we realize with a jolt that what we perceive is never the world directly, but rather our brain’s best guess at what that world is like … Still, we bank on the fact that our simulation is a reasonably decent one. If it wasn’t, wouldn’t evolution have weeded us out by now?” Rather the opposite, says Donald Hoffman: humans evolved as we did because our brains couldn’t process the world as it is (or not all of it).
It’s certainly possible: inventors have been working on ways to add aromas to telecommunications for 25 years or so. Yet the products have never caught on with the public. One part of the problem is “olfactory illiteracy”; another is for inventors to understand why and how users would use scents to communicate.
“Most of us are the products of people who survived in what was for a very, very long time, in our evolution as a species, a scarcity-oriented universe. … So we do have a very hard-wired tendency to be scarcity-oriented. … It is now being shown in quite a lot of studies that you actually perform better if you don’t put yourself under the scarcity mindset, if you don’t worry about the outcomes and enjoy the process of doing something, rather than the goal.”
Results of a meta-analysis of 124 studies on the purported benefits of mindfulness practice “show that many of these studies contained sample sizes that are too small to provide meaningful results – and they suggest that studies on mindfulness that have turned out negative results may have not been published.”
Dominic Frisby explains blockchain technology – and argues that it will likely revolutionize not only cash purchases, but also document authentication, land title and ownership, contract law, and even elections.
“Today’s physicists rarely debate what time is and why we experience it the way we do, remembering the past but never the future. Instead, researchers build ever-more accurate clocks. The current record-holder, at the Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics in Colorado, measures the vibration of strontium atoms; it is accurate to 1 second in 15 billion years, roughly the entire age of the known universe. Impressive, but it does not answer ‘What is time?’”
Working with constraints “allows a deeper exploration of fewer alternatives.” They “limit the overwhelming number of available choices to a manageable subset,” allowing us to “explore less familiar paths, to diverge in previously unknown directions.”
“What has the Facebook app and site become, if not a social network? The answer is rather obvious when you watch how people use it. It has become a personalized portal to the online world.”
“Napoleon would be trapped in the amber of time, in a big glass case, if not for one thing: Access to information.”
“Today the world’s top 20 richest cities have forged a super-circuit driven by capital, talent, and services: they are home to more than 75% of the largest companies, which in turn invest in expanding across those cities and adding more to expand the intercity network. Indeed, global cities have forged a league of their own, in many ways as denationalized as Formula One racing teams, drawing talent from around the world and amassing capital to spend on themselves while they compete on the same circuit.”
“Bottlenose dolphins have been observed chattering while cooperating to solve a tricky puzzle – a feat that suggests they have a type of vocalisation dedicated to cooperating on problem solving. … Importantly, the researchers were able to show that the increase in chatter was directly related to the canister-opening task as opposed to social interactions between the dolphins.”
“That term is hardly a household name among students, but say it to a college librarian, and he or she will know exactly what you’re talking about. It’s the feeling that one’s research skills are inadequate and that those shortcomings should be hidden. In some students it’s manifested as an outright fear of libraries and the librarians who work there. … ‘Why would anyone think we are intimidating?’ writes Michel C. Atlas. ‘What is intimidating about a master’s-prepared professional earning $35,000 a year?'”
“Even in cases where robots manage to act in ways similar to us (like playing chess), the way they go about performing these actions is very different from the way we do it. Both fish and submarines can travel distances underwater, but it is questionable whether it is appropriate to say they both swim.”
Frans de Waal: “We have trouble looking at animal intelligence by itself, always asking, ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the smartest of them all?’ Since there is only one answer that satisfies us, people watching [the chimp] Ayumu’s videotaped performance on the internet couldn’t believe it, saying it must be a hoax. … [Some] American scientists felt they had to go into special training to beat the chimp.” (They failed.)
“At the same time as an ever more bloated scientific bureaucracy churns out masses of research results, the majority of which are likely outright false, scientists themselves are lauded as heroes and science is upheld as the only legitimate basis for policy-making. There’s reason to believe that these phenomena are linked.”