Thursday, June 23, 2016


Once upon a time, before the boys were killed and when there were more horses than cars, before the male servants disappeared and they made do…

“I love the advice [about handling hawks] given by Nicholas Cox in his 1674 The Gentlemen’s Recreation: ‘You must by kindness make her gentle and familiar with you.’ I think it was this wisdom, passed down the centuries, which made hawks so appealing to me, this insight that an intransigent hawk, whose wildness is never lost and always resides just beneath the surface, can be reached, not by force, but by gentleness and kindness.”

Sometimes I wonder if when I’m dead I’m destined to be looking still. Turned into an owl and flying over the fields at night, swooping over crouching hedges and dark lanes. The smoke from chimneys billowing and swaying from the movement of my wings as I pass through. Or will I sit with her, high up in the beech tree, playing games? Spying on the people who live in our house and watching their comings and goings. Maybe we’ll call out to them and make them jump.
~Richard Hines, author

PEW: Public Trust In Government, 1958-2015. “Just 26% of Democrats and 11% of Republicans say they can trust the federal government just about always or most of the time.”
Note the huge decline that coincides with the onset of the Great Society.
  For nearly 40 years, Arthur Conan Doyle contributed countless stories toThe Strand. No relationship between writer and magazine was more fruitful 


Once upon a Bondi time ... Kuba's 25 most powerful film series ...

Between Friends with Christopher Cieslak as well as James Baldwin and Margaret Mead’s forgotten conversation about forgiveness and the vital difference between guilt and responsibility, philosopher Martha Nussbaum on anger and forgiveness, and Plato’s abiding ideas on free will, moral agency, and how to negotiate our capacities for good and evil

Social media overtakes TV as young people's main source of #news : @Reuters Institute for the study of #Journalism Also via BBC
International Journal of Business Administration – Syntactic Complexity of Reading Content Directly Impacts Complexity of Mature Students’ Writing. Received: April 2, 2016 Accepted: April 26, 2016 Online Published: May 4, 2016 doi:10.5430/ijba.v7n3p71 URL:

What Learning Systems do Intelligent Agents Need? Complementary Learning Systems Theory Updated. Kumaran, Dharshan et al. Trends in Cognitive Sciences , Volume 20 , Issue 7 , 512 – 534
“We update complementary learning systems (CLS) theory, which holds that intelligent agents must possess two learning systems, instantiated in mammalians in neocortex and hippocampus. The first gradually acquires structured knowledge representations while the second quickly learns the specifics of individual experiences. We broaden the role of replay of hippocampal memories in the theory, noting that replay allows goal-dependent weighting of experience statistics. We also address recent challenges to the theory and extend it by showing that recurrent activation of hippocampal traces can support some forms of generalization and that neocortical learning can be rapid for information that is consistent with known structure. Finally, we note the relevance of the theory to the design of artificial intelligent agents, highlighting connections between neuroscience and machine learning.”

Fact-checking fail
No, Katy Perry is not moving to Maine; a bunch of drunken British lads did not accidentally board a boat to Syria; and "Game of Thrones" can't be blamed for ruining your sex life. But some media people fell for those stories. Not you, of course
“Dear parents,
Last night I visited a club in Montparnasse where the men dress as women and the women as men. Papa would have loved it. And Mama’s face would have crinkled in that special smile she has for Papa’s passion for everything French.
The place is called the Chameleon Club. It’s a few steps down from the street. You need a password to get in. The password is: Police! Open up! The customers find it amusing.”  LOVERS AT THE CHAMELEON CLUB, PARIS 1932
chipmunk links
Is “none” singular or plural?

Lew Taishoff, THE FRAUDSTER’S TOOLBOX. A case where preparer fraud left the client return open to examination beyond the normal statute of limitations

 Q.   "A Mensch on the Bench: A judicial temperament involves many qualities; For Merrick Garland '77, patience is one of them." This article appears in the Spring 2016 issue of the Harvard Law Bulletin.

Wealthier people are healthier and live longer. Why? One popular explanation is summarized in the documentary Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making us Sick?
The lives of a CEO, a lab supervisor, a janitor, and an unemployed mother illustrate how class shapes opportunities for good health. Those on the top have the most access to power, resources and opportunity – and thus the best health. Those on the bottom are faced with more stressors – unpaid bills, jobs that don’t pay enough, unsafe living conditions, exposure to environmental hazards, lack of control over work and schedule, worries over children – and the fewest resources available to help them cope.

Early on in Francine Prose’s richly imagined and intricately constructed tour de force, Yvonne – the proprietress of the Parisian Chameleon Club –tells a story about her pet lizard, Darius. “One night I was working out front. My friend, a German admiral whose name you would know, let himself into my office and put my darling Darius on my paisley shawl. He died, exhausted by the strain of turning all those colors.”
History – and the people who compose it – is itself a chameleon, subject to multiple interpretations. Ms. Prose seems less interested in exploring “what is the truth” and more intrigued with the question, “Is there truth?”

DON’T QUESTION IT, BIGOTS: Biological male awarded girls high school all-state track honors.
Related: David Solway on “A Melancholy Calculation:” “The West is now busy at work across the entire field of social, cultural and political life promoting its own version of Lysenkoism, a misconceived exercise of supposedly vernalizing reality by transforming fact into fantasy and truth into lie for the purpose of creating the perfect society and the redeemed human being, transferable across the generations. Its assumptions about the world are guided not by common sense or genuine science but by the precepts of ideology and political desire.”
“She knows that she is the obvious — the inevitable — literary agent for this project. And there’s also one very obvious acquiring editor for the manuscript, a close friend who never met a conspiracy theory he didn’t like, no matter how ludicrous, no matter what level of lunatic the author. He used to have impressive success with this type of book, even by some of his less rational authors; there’s apparently a good-size book-buying audience out there that inhabits a space beyond the margins of sane discourse. He’ll be motivated to publish another. Especially this one, about these people.”  THE ACCIDENT by Chris Pavone

“Perhaps there is a line in everyone’s life that, once crossed, imparts a certain truth that one has not been able to see before, transforming solitude from a choice into the only possible line of existence.”  KINDER THAN SOLITUDE by Yiyun Li

That is a William Hazlitt essay from the Edinburgh Magazine of 1828, reprinted in Table-Talk (scroll to p.165), focusing on why the political uses of nicknames are so problematic.  It retains some relevance today:
The only meaning of these vulgar nicknames and party distinctions, where they are urged most violently and confidently, is, that others differ from you in some particular or other (whether it be opinion, dress, clime, or complexion), which you highly disapprove of, forgetting that, by the same rule, they have the very same right to be offended at you because you differ from them.  Those who have reason on their side do not make the most obstinate and grievous appeals to prejudice and abusive language.
…a nickname…is a disposable force, that is almost always perverted to mischief.  It clothes itself with all the terrors of uncertain abstraction, and there is no end of the abuse to which it is liable but the cunning of those who employ, or the credulity of those who are gulled by it.  It is a reserve of the ignorance, bigotry, and intolerance of weak and vulgar minds, brought up where reason fails, and always ready, at a moment’s warning, to be applied to any, the most absurd purposes…a nickname baffles reply.
…the passions are the most ungovernable when they are blindfolded.  That malignity is always the most implacable which is accompanied with a sense of weakness, because it is never satisfied with its own success or safety.  A nickname carries the weight of the pride, the indolence, the cowardice, the ignorance, and the ill-nature of mankind on its side.  It acts by mechanical sympathy on the nerves of society.
…”A nickname is the heaviest stone that the devil can throw at a man.”
There is more excellent analysis at the link, most of all on how the uses of nicknames avoids and runs away from the careful making and unpacking of specific charges.  Hazlitt notes the nickname can on the surface sound quite innocent yet nonetheless be a form of powerful invective.  For a while the Whigs were called “the Talents,” yet in a manner reeking of implicit scorn.
From Hazlitt, here is another scary part:
I have heard an eminent character boast that he had done more to produce the late war by nicknaming Buonaparte “the Corsican,” than all the state papers and the documents put together. Here is a brief summary of the essay.  Hazlitt remains under-read and underappreciated
The follies of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Lawrence Durrell was too erotic, Robert Frost too old. EnterPatrick Modiano, an artist of forgetting...  Failing Jozef Imrich 

"What It Is Like to Like: Art and taste in the age of the Internet." Louis Menand has this book review in the June 20, 2016 issue of The New Yorker.

In the mid-1950s, when Primo Levitraveled to Germany on business as a chemist, he relished awkward chitchat with the locals. “My name is Levi. I am a Jew, and I learned your language at Auschwitz”... Konzentrationslager

The first history of Nazi concentration camps appeared in 1946. Tens of thousands of studies have followed. Is it possible to say anything new? Yes... Nothing new under the sun 

What’s life at The Washington Post like in the Bezos era? A new report has the answers