This week, we’ve got the coolest/creepiest sculpture in the Louvre, stories about George Washington and morality, a sentence by , and more. Enjoy!
Why it’s brave to think like a coward – Chris Walsh – – “‘Fear,’ Beamish went on to say, ‘is perfectly natural. It comes to all people. The man who conquers fear is a hero, but the man who is conquered by fear is a coward, and he deserves all he gets.’ But things are not quite so simple as that: some fears are unconquerable. Aristotle said that only the Celts do not fear an earthquake or flood, and we are right to think them crazy. The coward, he said, is ‘a man who exceeds in fear: he fears the wrong things, in the wrong manner, and so forth, all the way down the list’.” Aeon
Rethinking One of Psychology’s Most Infamous Experiments – “But as with human memory, the study—even published, archived, enshrined in psychology textbooks—is malleable. And in the past few years, a new wave of researchers have dedicated themselves to reshaping it, arguing that Milgram’s lessons on human obedience are, in fact, misremembered—that his work doesn’t prove what he claimed it does.” The Atlantic
Are We Becoming Morally Smarter? – – “Since the Enlightenment, humans have demonstrated dramatic moral progress. Almost everyone in the Western world today enjoys rights to life, liberty, property, marriage, reproduction, voting, speech, worship, assembly, protest, autonomy, and the pursuit of happiness. Liberal democracies are now the dominant form of governance, systematically replacing the autocracies and theocracies of centuries past. Slavery and torture are outlawed everywhere in the world (even if occasionally still practiced). The death penalty is on death row and will likely go extinct sometime in the 2020s. Violence and crime are at historic lows, and we have expanded the moral sphere to include more people as members of the human community deserving of rights and respect. Even some animals are now being considered as sentient beings worthy of moral consideration.” Reason.com
Why Do Many Reasonable People Doubt Science? – “We live in an age when all manner of scientific knowledge—from the safety of fluoride and vaccines to the reality of climate change—faces organized and often furious opposition. Empowered by their own sources of information and their own interpretations of research, doubters have declared war on the consensus of experts. There are so many of these controversies these days, you’d think a diabolical agency had put something in the water to make people argumentative. And there’s so much talk about the trend these days—in books, articles, and academic conferences—that science doubt itself has become a pop-culture meme. “ National Geographic
America’s founding obsession: What we really talk about when we talk about the founding fathers – – “Many Americans and foreign observers have noted that we seem to be the only country whose citizens want to be in conversation with our founders, as though men dead for two centuries would still have much to tell us. There’s more than a little truth to that charge, to which some Americans reply that the United States is exceptional among nations and that our founders possessed uncanny sagacity that transcends time and space. Both sides are partly right. Neither the United States nor its founders hold a monopoly on wisdom, political or otherwise, and a quick look at a globe shows that there are many democracies no less functional and no more dysfunctional than ours. Furthermore, all countries have their heroes, their exemplars who appear on stamps and money, are the subjects of biographies and movies, get mentioned in political speeches, and become cast in bronze.” Salon.com
George Washington, Slave Catcher – – “Washington developed a canny strategy that would protect his property and allow him to avoid public scrutiny. Every six months, the president’s slaves would travel back to Mount Vernon or would journey with Mrs. Washington outside the boundaries of the state. In essence, the Washingtons reset the clock. The president was secretive when writing to his personal secretary Tobias Lear in 1791: “I request that these Sentiments and this advise may be known to none but yourself & Mrs. Washington.” The president went on to support policies that would protect slave owners who had invested money in black lives. In 1793, Washington signed the first fugitive slave law, which allowed fugitives to be seized in any state, tried and returned to their owners. Anyone who harbored or assisted a fugitive faced a $500 penalty and possible imprisonment.” NYTimes.com
What ISIS Really Wants – – “Our ignorance of the Islamic State is in some ways understandable: It is a hermit kingdom; few have gone there and returned. Baghdadi has spoken on camera only once. But his address, and the Islamic State’s countless other propaganda videos and encyclicals, are online, and the caliphate’s supporters have toiled mightily to make their project knowable. We can gather that their state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change, even if that change might ensure its survival; and that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world.” The Atlantic
The Brazilian Town Where the American Confederacy Lives On – “One day last spring, near an old rural cemetery in southern Brazil, a black man named Marcelo Gomes held up the corners of a Confederate flag to pose for a cell-phone photo. After the picture was taken, Gomes said he saw no problem with a black man paying homage to the history of the Confederate States of America. “American culture is a beautiful culture,” he said. Some of his friends had Confederate blood.” Vice
Connecticut Schools Pin Down And Restrain ‘Staggering’ Number Of Kids – – “Connecticut public schools are far too quick to restrain or isolate unruly children against their will, leaving hundreds with injuries and many others with unmet educational needs, a state report released last week found.The report cited “significant concern” that schools are overusing restraints and so-called seclusion, particularly on kids with emotional or intellectual disabilities. Over the past three years, Connecticut has recorded more than 90,000 instances of restraint and seclusion in public schools and more than 1,300 injuries – at least two dozen of them serious.” Digg
Sentence of the Week
“A throng of bearded men, in sad colored garments, and grey steeple-crowned hats, intermixed with women, some wearing hoods and others bareheaded, was assembled in front of a wooden edifice, the door of which was heavily timbered with oak, and studded with iron spikes.” –Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
Poem of the Week
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up — for you the flag is flung — for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths — for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
Art of the Week
This week’s piece comes to us from the Louvre in Paris and is one of the most interesting sculptures I’ve seen. Named the Femme Voilée, it was created by Antonio Corradini, a Venetian Rococo sculptor, sometime during the 1700s.