via 3 Quarks Daily: Craig Raine at The New Statesman
Here are some chairs I noticed. An empty chair at the natural optical centre of Degas’s Dance Foyer of the Opera at rue le Peletier (1872), occupied by a fan and a puddle of white cloth. It is waiting – and the viewer is waiting, subliminally – for its occupant to return and claim the fan. It is reserved. Someone has bagged it. Not a circumstance you often see painted, though common enough in real life. Nor is the violinist playing. He is pausing, his bow at rest on his trouser leg. Degas has painted a pause. A thing that hasn’t been painted before. In the same picture, a dancer to the right, in the foreground, is sitting on another chair, her legs stiffly out front – ungainly yet graceful, resting. The upright back of the chair is invisible because it is under her unmanageably stiff tulle skirt, lifting the skirt up and slightly out of alignment. All her fatigue is there in the mistake, the carelessness of her plonking down. (The tulle in this picture, by the way, is a miracle: done not in the easier pastel, with its naturally smudgy, suggestive cloudiness, but in oil paint, using the texture of the fine linen canvas.)
via Prospero by R.L.G.
Last week’s Johnson column celebrated “National Grammar Day” with some thorny grammatical issues: the uses of which versus that, the plural of words borrowed from foreign languages and how to handle one of those things that drive(s) me crazy. All defy attempts to impose hard-and-fast rules, because perfectly good grammar (as practised by the best English writers) points in more than one direction.
25 Fictional Books That Will Change Your Outlook
via Lifehack by Jacob Cashman
There is one in the list that I love (Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) and one I tried but could not get into at all (The Alchemist). The rest I haven’t even tried! Perhaps I should instead of wallowing in fantasy.
Read the list for yourself
A glorious finale
via Prospero by C.W.
It begins with the most famous gong in jazz. A few seconds later, the double bass takes up a four-note “Love Supreme” motif. John Coltrane starts a blistering saxophone solo. And 30 minutes later it is all over. But it still sounds as fresh as it did 50 years ago.
Continue reading and listening on YouTube
What neuromyths do you believe in?
via Big Think by Simon Oxenham
Why "neurobonkers"? The name of this blog was originally a comment on the widespread and blatant abuse of neuroscience to lend credibility to spurious claims about psychology. This is something we see all the time in the newspapers and something that goes on every single day in our schools. The issue is a big part of an excellent new lecture by Dr. Christian Jarrett, who quotes Nate Cornell's recent comment that:
You need to know how brains work to teach. Just like dogs need to know physics to catch a frisbee.Continue reading
A visit to Harvard’s Holden chapel, where William James once asked the question, “Is life worth living?”
via 3 Quarks Daily: John Kaag in Harper’s
Harvard University’s Holden Chapel always struck me as the proper home of a crypt-keeper: an appropriate place to die, or at least to remain dead. The forty-foot brick structure has no front windows. Above its entrance are four stone bucrania, bas-relief ox-skull sculptures of the sort that pagans once placed on their temples to keep away evil spirits. In 1895, when William James was asked to address a crowd of young Christian men at the Georgian chapel, it was already more than 150 years old, a fitting setting for the fifty-three-year-old philosopher to contemplate what he had come to believe was the profoundest of questions: “Is life worth living?”
16 optical illusions more fun than that damn dress
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder
View the rest for yourself
8 Retro Gaming Gadgets For Geeks
via MakeUseOf by Dave Patrick
Gamers are a funny bunch. Not so much in the ha-ha sense, but more in the slightly weird sense. Give them a video game and they’ll greedily consume it, regardless of how old or new it is, as long as it’s good. Or great. Or absolutely essential.
This means that retro games and the gadgets that go with them are just as likely to thrill and enthrall gamers as the latest Triple-AAA titles. Especially if the gaming geek in question is of a certain age and has a healthy touch of nostalgia attached to the bygone era of gaming.
It’s a Small Train: 1951
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive – Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
“Walt Disney oiling parts of the locomotive of his scale model steam railroad, the Carolwood Pacific Railway, in the backyard of his house in Los Angeles”
Medium-format nitrate negative by Earl Theisen for the Look magazine assignment “Walt Disney's Giant Little Railroad”
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I’ll be Frank with you
via Prospero by A.M.B.
Frank Sinatra, who would have been 100 this year, was a headline act on the Las Vegas Strip for four decades. During that time he was closely associated with the Sands Hotel, in whose presidential suite he often stayed, and in whose Copa Room nightclub he had a three-week stint with the legendary Rat Pack – Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Joey Bishop and Peter Lawford – in 1960. It was there that he recorded his first live album with Count Basie and his orchestra, and he eventually went on to become a co-owner.