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This Word Does Not Exist




  1. a parrot’s or rabbit’s long, slender double-breasted plumage with long eyelids
    “her black and white striped paranoid”
  2. a word that does not exist; it was invented, defined and used by a machine learning algorithm.

How the Far-Right Is Radicalizing Anti-Vaxxers

Far-right extremists and anti-vaxxers have increasingly found that they are natural bedfellows, sharing anti-government beliefs and indulging in a range of conspiracy theories. The boom in anti-vaccine movements since the emergence of COVID-19 has provided an opportunity for far-right groups to latch onto protests and rallies, creating a pipeline from vaccine hesitancy to outright conspiracies and extremism. 

Happiness and Life Satisfaction - Our World in Data

Georges Simenon: Paris Review Interview

Adjectives, adverbs, and every word which is there just to make an effect. Every sentence which is there just for the sentence. You know, you have a beautiful sentence — cut it. Every time I find such a thing in one of my novels it is to be cut.

‘It is also November. The noons are more laconic and the sunsets sterner… November always seemed to me the Norway of the year.’

— Emily Dickinson to E.H, 1865

It’s time to call the housing crisis what it really is: the largest transfer of wealth in living memory

True, this article is about Blighty – but it is certainly true of many other places:

The result is a world which is rather different to that described in economics textbooks. Most of today’s ‘wealth’ isn’t the result of entrepreneurialism and hard work – it has been accumulated by being idle and unproductive. Far from the positive sum game capitalism is supposed to be, we have a system where most wealth is gained at the expense of others.

Why Tokyo Works

“A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transportation,” says Colombian politician Gustavo Petro. His quote rings especially true when considering Tokyo’s trains. Its rail system is an equalizer between rich and poor. It’s usually the fastest way to get from A to B within the city, it’s affordable and everyone uses it. There is no stigma attached to riding the train, it’s simply the standard.

“The most tragic form of loss isn’t the loss of security; it’s the loss of the capacity to imagine that things could be different.”

— Ernst Bloch

Interview with Yosi Horikawa

Max Cole speaks to the Chiba-residing sound designer and Academy alum Yosi Horikawa, who demonstrates a keen ear for capturing distinct field recordings and evocative percussive soundscapes that chart the poetry of nostalgia as much as they play with our sense of aural perception.

12 Predictions for the Future of Music - by Ted Gioia

Exciting new music trends will continue to emerge, but increasingly they will arrive from outside the major Anglo-American urban centers that previously determined what songs people heard. We have already seen the first signs of this with the global spread of K-Pop and the vitality of the Eurovision competition, but these are merely a start in the power shift away from Los Angeles, New York, and London. So get ready for A-Pop from Africa, I-Pop from India or Indonesia, and a whole host of competing sounds and styles from Latin America, China, Eastern Europe, etc.

Animals Keep Evolving Into Crabs, and Scientists Don't Know Why

Wolfe and Bracken-Grissom’s area of study aims partly to find out whether crab-like evolutionary forms can be predicted. Thankfully, neither of them thinks that humans are likely to turn into crabs any time soon.

Oh. And I just had this idea for a sci-fi story.

“I was a history major,” Kennedy explained. “Retrospectively, I think the history major provides much better training for a novelist. So much of what I do in my own fiction is observational; is looking at behavior. By studying human history you really see how human folly endlessly repeats itself. In my work—in whatever form it takes—I am very much grappling with what it means to be American in this way.”

Douglas Kennedy

The absolute best way to cook french fries, according to so many tests

Welcome to AirSpace

We could call this strange geography created by technology “AirSpace.” It’s the realm of coffee shops, bars, startup offices, and co-live / work spaces that share the same hallmarks everywhere you go: a profusion of symbols of comfort and quality, at least to a certain connoisseurial mindset. Minimalist furniture. Craft beer and avocado toast. Reclaimed wood. Industrial lighting. Cortados. Fast internet. The homogeneity of these spaces means that traveling between them is frictionless, a value that Silicon Valley prizes and cultural influencers like Schwarzmann take advantage of. Changing places can be as painless as reloading a website. You might not even realize you’re not where you started.

It’s possible to travel all around the world and never leave AirSpace, and some people don’t. Well-off travelers like Kevin Lynch, an ad executive who lived in Hong Kong Airbnbs for three years, are abandoning permanent houses for digital nomadism. Itinerant entrepreneurs, floating on venture capital, might head to a Bali accelerator for six months as easily as going to the grocery store. AirSpace is their home.

How Many Americans Work From Home?

So much of the media coverage throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has focused on the phenomenon of remote work and how it’s here to stay. For months, we were drowning in articles about ergonomic desk chairs, Zoom fatigue, and the comfiest teleworking sweatpants.

Or, in other words, the bias of the entitled classes that are still working from home, or the coffee shop, or the second home, is striking. Only so many ways to be a bus driver remotely. Sweat pants or not sweat pants.

London, probably 1978 (I remember a lot of regal souvenirs being sold). Rain, lots of rain. We stayed where we could afford it: a run-down hostel in Earls’s Court. Most of the other guests were, we found out, there for the long run. Eating in an all-you-can-eat pizzeria somewhere near Chelsea (before Chelsea became the current Chelsea). But buying records up and down Tottenham Court Road. Gawked at the punks: there was not a lot of them, but we had not seen that kind of thing back home, yet. I did see a girl with spiky black hair and weird piercings that fall, right here in Copenhagen. London before Cool Brittania. The homeless sleeping in doorways around Piccadilly Square (but perhaps they still do?) Gray and wet, closer to the postwar years than to the glitter that finance capital brought later. And now this book that I should probably buy: Souvernirs.

Why culture wars are an elite device

The problem is that right-wing populists reduce all conflicts to questions of belonging, and then consider disagreement with their view automatically illegitimate (those who disagree must be traitors; Trump’s critics were not so much wrong on merit as, according to his fans, “un-American”). Populism is not uniquely responsible for polarisation, but it is crucial to understand that its key strategy is polarisation. Right-wing populism seeks to divide polities into homogeneous groups and then insinuates that some groups do not truly belong or are fundamentally illegitimate.

One of life’s small pleasures: tick off an item in a list, pour more coffee, go to the next item, knowing that you will get there, eventually. And that you can step outside when your tasks are done.

The Literary Darwinists: The Evolutionary Origins of Storytelling

What’s odd about literature is that a mind immersed in fantasy appears ripe for fixing by natural selection, since it always leads to erroneous beliefs and distracts from reality. Wouldn’t a daydreaming hunter-gatherer be easy pray for a predator on the African Savannah? It turns out that our ability to invent and tell stories might be a key adaptation that significantly distinguished our species.

This resonates (at least in my warped mind) with the Great Danish Philisopher when he quipped:

Philosophy is perfectly right in saying that life must be understood backwards. But then one forgets the other clause—that it must be lived forwards.

The stories allow us to time-travel to that vantage point in the future. I guess.

"How To Be a Big League Critic"

State the opposite of the prevailing consensus view, e.g., “Derrida was not really a deconstructionist.” Quote an unintelligible sentence from Judith Butler to buttress your argument.

Spot on.

Many of what we call ‘conspiracies’ are the ruling class showing class solidarity.

– Mark Fisher

Workers Can't Wait to Return, but Delta Variant Upends Plans

Yes, it is interesting how the very vocal fans of working from home are heard very loudly - but the downsides are not really mentioned. True: in the American context, I can see that losing a long commute can be an upside, and so perhaps juggling chores when work culture demands unhealthily long hours is easier. However, the isolation has a price (and not the least one: workers who never meet and chat at the water cooler are surely not going to organize and make demands …):

While workers who want to stay at home forever have been especially vocal about their demands, a silent majority of Americans do want to get back to the office, at least for a few days a week. But as the latest coronavirus surge has led employers to delay return-to-office plans, that larger group is growing increasingly glum.

In a national survey of more than 950 workers, conducted in mid-August by Morning Consult on behalf of The New York Times, 31 percent said they would prefer to work from home full time. By comparison, 45 percent said they wanted to be in a workplace or an office full time. The remaining 24 percent said they wanted to split time between work and home.

The World Is All That Is the Case

Published a century ago this spring, the Tractatus is certainly one of the oddest books in the history of logic, structured in an unconventional outline of unspooling pronouncements offered without argument, as well as a demonstration of philosophy’s basic emptiness, and thus the unknowability of reality. All great philosophers claim that theirs is the work that demolishes philosophy, and Wittgenstein is only different in that the Tractatus actually achieves that goal.

Hundreds of Ways to Get S#!+ Done—and We Still Don’t

Zeigarnik found a quirk of the human mind: When a task is unfinished, we can’t seem to stop thinking about it. We perseverate. Psychologists still argue about why; possibly it’s a kind of constant refresh to keep whatever’s pending from vanishing from our short-term memory, like putting something by the front door at night so you don’t forget to take it with you the next morning.

Whatever the cause, today this is known as the Zeigarnik effect, and psychologists who study task management say it’s part of why so many of us feel perpetually frazzled by the challenge of organizing work and life. When we face all that undone stuff—emails to write, calls to return, people to contact, friends to check in on, memos to draft, children to help—it’s like being a waiter serving a hundred tables at once. If you’ve found yourself in bed at 2 am with your brain screaming at you about that thing you didn’t do, that’s a Zeigarnik moment.

Yanis Varoufakis: Techno-Feudalism Is Taking Over

This is how capitalism ends: not with a revolutionary bang, but with an evolutionary whimper. Just as it displaced feudalism gradually, surreptitiously, until one day the bulk of human relations were market-based and feudalism was swept away, so capitalism today is being toppled by a new economic mode: techno-feudalism.

The Best Textbooks on Every Subject

Eternal peace

Rien faire comme une bête, lying on the water and look peacefully into the heavens, “being, nothing else, without any further determination and fulfillment” might step in place of process, doing, fulfilling, and so truly deliver the promise of dialectical logic, of culminating in its origin. None of the abstract concepts comes closer to the fulfilled utopia than that of eternal peace.

The veneration of Saint Jacinda

Arden represents modern progressivism with state power behind it. Highly unusually for a politician from the contemporary left (or right), she doesn’t denounce or cancel. She might at many stages in her career have turned on sexist opponents and highlighted their every micro-aggression and patronising sneer, yet she never rises to the bait. Like Obama, she has maintained her dignity, and by preferring explanation to denunciation taken people with her.

Michael Stipe Wants to Make Mistakes

As a photographer and artist, the former lead singer of R.E.M. has continued his struggle for imperfection

To be modern is to find ourselves in an environment that promises us adventure, power, joy, growth, transformation of ourselves and the world - and at the same time that threatens to destroy everything we have, everything we know, everything we are.

— Marshall Berman

How we got lost

On the other hand many of those who recognised the bankruptcy of Leninism fell into a libertarian swamp of lifestylism and total absorption in ‘identity politics’ etc. Meanwhile from Academia came a sophisticated attack on radical theory in the guise of radical theory. The libertarian critique of Leninism - that it is an attempt to replace one set of rulers with another set - was transformed into an attack on the very project of social revolution. While appearing in their discourse to be exceptionally radical, the political implications of the postmodernists and poststructuralists amount to at best a wet liberalism, while at worst a justification for nationalism and wars.

Fascism attempts to organize the newly created proletarian masses without affecting the property structure which the masses strive to eliminate. Fascism sees its salvation in giving these masses not their right, but instead a chance to express themselves. The masses have a right to change property relations; Fascism seeks to give them an expression while preserving property. The logical result of Fascism is the introduction of aesthetics into political life.

– Walter Benjamin

Adorno’s Dialectic: Freedom In Crisis

For Adorno, reality has become false to the extent that we are no longer able to recognize our participation in constituting it.

Critical Theory and the Newest Left

Indeed, indeed:

The result is a Kafkaesque affinity between the bureaucratic universe and the social justice universe. Both place their subjects in an opaque, hierarchically-ranked matrix, where jockeying for position involves bitter competition and intense focus on self-presentation; where the rules are ever changing and arbitrarily enforced; and where outcomes have, at best, only the appearance of fairness and rationality.

Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged’ has been completely unraveled by the pandemic

The pandemic is proof of the single inescapable fact that destroys Ayn Rand’s philosophy: We live in a society, and nobody is truly a self-made master of their own destiny. The sooner we understand the American ideal of sovereign individualism is the stuff of science-fiction, the faster we can get to work building a world that’s better for everyone.

For Literary Novelists the Past Is Pressing

Historical fiction, by contrast, has not been in fashion. Or, rather, it has been seen as its own fusty fashion, relentlessly uncontemporary and easy to caricature, filled with mothballed characters who wear costumes rather than clothes, use words like “Prithee!” while having modern-day thoughts, and occasionally encounter villains immediately recognizable by their yellow teeth or suspicious smell. What light could such novels possibly shed on the present day?

How the Internet Archive Has Digitized More than 250,000 78 R.P.M. Records: See the Painstaking Process Up-Close

The half-century of the “78” adds up to quite a lot of music, most of which has long been inaccessible to non-antiquarians. Enter the historically minded technologists of the Internet Archive, who since 2016 have been working with media preservation company George Blood LP to digitize, preserve, and make available, as of this writing, more than 250,000 such records.

Introduction to Philosophy: A Free Online Course from the University of Edinburgh

The course begins by asking “what philosophy is – what are its characteristic aims and methods, and how does it differ from other subjects?” Then the online course (offered on the Coursera platform) provides an overview of several different areas of philosophy, including: Epistemology, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Mind, Political Philosophy, Moral Philosophy, and Metaphysics.

You can take Introduction to Philosophy for free by selecting the audit option when you enroll. If you want to take the course for a certificate, you will need to pay a fee.

The Translation Trap

While being translated might be a small victory for a writer working in English, it is a kind of consecration for a writer from the Global South. The market for foreign works is so slim that what gets translated is usually tailored to a particular kind of American reader — one who reaches for Latin American literature to encounter difference, or maybe to feel morally righteous for reading about the misfortunes wrought by an American government she doesn’t support. Such a reader is not looking for “universal” subjects, but for “authentic” representations of poverty, cartels, and border crossings. As a result, Latin American writers find themselves straining to cater to demand — putting on the poncho, adjusting the sombrero, and talking about the agrarian revolution or the narcos, as Mona puts it. Throughout its history, Latin American literature has been molded by translation, marketing, and distribution in the U.S. and Europe. Its waves of popularity in the mid-20th century crystallized a logic that persists today: Latin American literature can be popular overseas, but only if it closely tracks how an American reader sees, or does not see, the region’s political significance. 

I, myself, giggled a bit years ago when a Danish music reviewer threw a hissy fit over an Indonesian heavy metal band. The nerve: don’t they know it is only to be gamelan for them, for ever?

Feeling Blah During the Pandemic? It's Called Languishing

It wasn’t burnout — we still had energy. It wasn’t depression — we didn’t feel hopeless. We just felt somewhat joyless and aimless. It turns out there’s a name for that: languishing.

Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.

As scientists and physicians work to treat and cure the physical symptoms of long-haul Covid, many people are struggling with the emotional long-haul of the pandemic. It hit some of us unprepared as the intense fear and grief of last year faded.

The minimum wage would be $44 an hour if it had grown at the same rate as Wall Street bonuses

How to Live Without Google: Alternatives That Protect Your Privacy

More and more people are also realizing the risk of relying on one company for so many personal services. If you’re joining the ranks of people who’ve decided Google’s data collection has become too invasive, here are some suggestions for replacements with minimal switching cost. Most are free, though even those that are paid are worth it — the cost of not switching is a cost to your personal privacy, and the good news is we have a choice!

How a Language Dies.

That’s one of the best explanations I’ve seen of how language death happens (beyond the trivial “the last speaker died”), and it makes the inevitability (given the right circumstances) depressingly clear. I realize there are plenty of people who are indifferent to language death — or even welcome it as a step toward that glorious future when we will all speak one language, share the same sociopolitical system, and use the same detergents, and the lion will lie down with the lamb — but I am not one of them.

Learning COBOL: A Journey for the Modern Programmer

Last year, as a result of the pandemic, many legacy systems went over their capacity. Several news outlets reported that those legacy systems, programmed in COBOL, required urgent action. However, COBOL programmers are scarce and it doesn’t look like younger programmers are taking up the language (the average age of a COBOL programmer is around 60 years old). The news coverage included a plea for more COBOL programmers.

Mathematicians Settle Erdős Coloring Conjecture

Fifty years ago, Paul Erdős and two other mathematicians came up with a graph theory problem that they thought they might solve on the spot. A team of mathematicians has finally settled it.

Does Jamstack seem appetizing to you now?

Yesterday (2021-03-28) two malicious commits were pushed to the php-src repo [1] from the names of Rasmus Lerdorf and myself. We don’t yet know how exactly this happened, but everything points towards a compromise of the git.php.net server

'Mixture of Jane's trendy records!!!': discover readers' cherished mixtapes

Oy: mixtapes. So much more personal than playlists. But of course not as convenient. Also, I don’t have a cassette player anymore.

The Programming Historian

A cool and interesting place – says ye olde historian (who works in tech …):

We publish novice-friendly, peer-reviewed tutorials that help humanists learn a wide range of digital tools, techniques, and workflows to facilitate research and teaching.

A new generation of this site. (Almost) All running, fast, on Next.js. Still problems to solve — but as an MVP, I am content. Fun it was, too.

Pablo Casals: Bach Cello Suites

So very true. How he dances:

He practised them assiduously for another thirteen years before finally feeling able to perform them in public. To do so, he had to evolve new techniques and arrive at an understanding of this remarkable music. He came to espouse a philosophy of performance based upon the principle that no matter how abstracted, stylised and removed this music had become, it was still essentially the music of dance and as such required the performer to invest it with a Terpsichorean vigour, vitality, elegance and grace.