Culture Jammer Reverend Billy faces jail time for protesting JPMorgan’s fossil fuel investments. via ThinkProgress
The Ship of Theseus and the Question of Identity
In ancient Greece, there was a legendary king named Theseus who supposedly founded the city of Athens. Since he fought many naval battles, the people of Athens dedicated a memorial in his honor by preserving his ship in the port. This “ship of Theseus” stayed there for hundreds of years. As time went on, some of the wooden planks of Theseus’ ship started rotting away. To keep the ship nice and complete, the rotting planks were replaced with new planks made of the same material. Here is the key question: If you replace one of the planks, is it still the same ship of Theseus? This question about a mythical ship is the poster child for one of the most interesting problems in all of philosophy, namely the problem of identity. What is a physical object? How do things stay the same even after they change? At what point does an object become different? When we talk about a certain object and say that “it changed,” what exactly is “it”?
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Resources for Finding Great Essays
Essayist William Bradley shares his favorite journals and websites for creative nonfiction.
While the United States’ congressional machinery was busy shoveling sugar into its own gas tank last month, politicians in Germany pressed forward on their ambitious drive for sustainability.
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Body-Checked by a Beep
I’ve been having a hard time reading books and finishing movies. I click through websites, vacantly aware that things are going on in the world, accustomed to the placid, oceanic motion of clicking, scanning, and window-resizing. I browse Wikipedia entries, looking through section headers to get an idea of something I know nothing about. I’ve gotten so caught up in the romance of the news cycle, in the ability to have infinite access to infinite information that the cache of my mind dumps out, leaving me empty-headed and forgetful.
Infinite surface knowledge equals infinite anxiety—it circulates above us groundless and impossible to synthesize. We’ve been provided the tools to do great things, yet we rarely use them in the right ways. Given this wonderful virtual tool set that we were told would eventually save the world, what do we do? Look at cartoons and YouTube videos, create virtual pets, and set the “I Can Has Cheezburger?” meme loose on the world.
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With Homeland Security training border guards and patrolling checkpoints in more than 100 countries, the edges of empire are getting harder to find.
Wikipedia’s Balancing Act
Wikipedia’s standards have never been higher, but the site needs to attract a new generation of editors to survive.
Marijuana: Annie's in Central City gets first recreational pot sales license anywhere -
Central City is used to making history. The Rush to the Rockies got its start in May 1859, when John Gregory made the first lode discovery on Clear Creek. The town sprang up right above that find and grew so fast that it almost became the state capitol; today it’s home to the historic Teller Opera House, Victorian buildings and casinos made possible by Colorado voters. And now Central City has made more history, as home to the first business granted a recreational marijuana retail sales license not just in Colorado, but the world.
The eight-hour day and five-day week presumed that the worker was a man supported by a woman in the home, and it shaped expectations that his work was important and should be decently paid, while women’s work was not really work at all. — Sarah Jaffe, “Women at Work.”
Plague of Frogs in Farm Country
While walking a piece of North Dakota landscape under a withering August sun, one’s thoughts turn to moisture—or rather, the lack of it. So when I and other participants in a farm tour kicked up signs of cool, shady places while traipsing across a hay field, it seemed like a mirage. Green-and-black leopard frogs were zigzagging out of our way, adding life to a field that had not gotten a decent rain in eight weeks. This part of south-central North Dakota is prairie pothole country, but no wetlands were in sight as wheat and corn stretched to the horizon.
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