a blog full of magic

Saudi Arabia

Although it strictly speaking shouldn’t be surprising to someone with my predictable lefty political views, I did find the content of two recent Intercept articles, here and here, vaguely surprising. I think what surprises me is not the fact that U.S. officials have given public, positive recognition of the Saudi regime, but rather the apparent enthusiasm with which they express this recognition.

I wasn’t going to post about this, but then Glenn Greenwald tweeted this link to the Department of Defense website, and I couldn’t help myself. (Along with the link Greenwald simply remarked, “The Pentagon should host regular essay contents to honor the lives and values of all brutal US-backed despots.”)

The hard problem

Here is a nice instance of “popular” writing on philosophy, in The Guardian.

Last June, several of the most prominent combatants in the consciousness debates – including Chalmers, Churchland and Dennett – boarded a tall-masted yacht for a trip among the ice floes of Greenland. This conference-at-sea was funded by a Russian internet entrepreneur, Dmitry Volkov, the founder of the Moscow Centre for Consciousness Studies. About 30 academics and graduate students, plus crew, spent a week gliding through dark waters, past looming snow-topped mountains and glaciers, in a bracing chill conducive to focused thought, giving the problem of consciousness another shot. In the mornings, they visited islands to go hiking, or examine the ruins of ancient stone huts; in the afternoons, they held conference sessions on the boat. For Chalmers, the setting only sharpened the urgency of the mystery: how could you feel the Arctic wind on your face, take in the visual sweep of vivid greys and whites and greens, and still claim conscious experience was unreal, or that it was simply the result of ordinary physical stuff, behaving ordinarily?

Cancer research

“…many scientists are reluctant to disembowel their curriculum vitae…”

From quote in this interesting piece in Discover Magazine.

Torture report

A predictably enjoyable interview with Glenn Greenwald in Salon on the torture report.

Greenwald on Posner

[I]f Judge Posner really believes what he’s saying about privacy, and if it’s really true that he personally has nothing to hide – he just has some cat videos and some pictures of his grandkids – then he should prove that with his actions. Every day, he should publicly post online all of the emails he sends and receives, along with transcripts of his telephone and in-person conversations. Or just put a recording device in his office and on his person, and upload the full audio every day. He should also put video cameras in all the rooms in his home and office, and stream it live on the internet 24 hours a day. If there’s a specific reason for excluding a particular conversation – say, something relating to attorney/client privilege – he can post a log identifying the metadata of the withheld communications. If he agrees to this framework, I’d work hard on a campaign to raise the funds to do this, and have no doubt the money could be raised very quickly.


Interview with James Risen

At the Intercept.

Technological regress

This article on the resurgence of anachronistic technology is just like one of the premises of Battlestar Galactica!

“Playful, sociopathic chuckling”

Attributed to Hilary Clinton, in this.

Reuvin Rivlin in The New Yorker

Here is a very interesting profile/article on Israel’s current president, Reuvin Rivlin, by David Remnick in The New Yorker.

Conservative Catholic demoted

Here. What’s most interesting about this story is that “Patron of the Order of the Knights of Malta” sounds way cooler than “head of the Apostolic Signatura.”


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