Assorted Links

Alain de Botton on TED on success and failure: snobs, envy, the dangers of meritocracy (think ‘loser’), tragedy and the worship of humans instead of something transcendent – 16 min. video

we can’t escape cognitive bias and blind spots

61 essential postmodern reads. The list is annotated with various supposed elements of a postmodern novel, such as  self-contradicting plot, plays with language, includes historical falsehoods, less than 200 or more than 1000 pages, etc.  I’m way behind in my pomo reading. I’ve read Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin,  Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter,  Kafka’s Metamorphosis, Steven Millhauser’s Edwin Mullhouse (which I loved), Hamlet, Stern’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, and Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five. That’s it, And the only ones on the list I have a hankering (decidedly not a pomo word) to read are Nicholson Baker’s The Mezzanine and J.G. Ballard’s The Atrocity Exhibition.

how to sign your email: “one may well wonder, does ‘Cordially’ ever mean anything other than ‘My hostility is only thinly veiled’? Is ‘Cheers’ too mock-Brit? Too alcoholic?”  Surprisingly common: xoxo

why is there peace? by steven pinker: “from the Middle Ages to modern times, we can see a steady reduction in socially sanctioned forms of violence.” He proffers explanations: the state steps in now to limit retaliation for wrongs and in this sense as “a monopoly on violence” (a very Girardian explanation);  life has become more valuable with a longer lifespan and more comfort; the incentive to cooperate (win-win) has increased; Peter Singer’s idea that evolution has expanded our “moral circles” so that we have empathy for more and larger groups.


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