The ‘Trickery’ of Robots

Maggie Koerth-Baker reports on a case of supposed trickery–(‘How Robots Can Trick You Into Loving Them‘, The New York Times, 17 September 2013)–that has come to light as robots become more ubiquitous and enter an increasing number of social spaces: In the future, more robots will occupy that strange gray zone: doing not only jobsContinue reading “The ‘Trickery’ of Robots”

Manil Suri on the Beauty and Beguilement of Mathematics

Manil Suri has an interesting Op-Ed on math–How To Fall In Love with Math–in The New York Times today. As befitting someone who is both a mathematician and a novelist, there are passages of writing in it that are both elegant and mathematically sound. The examples he provides of mathematical beauty–the natural numbers, n-sided regularContinue reading “Manil Suri on the Beauty and Beguilement of Mathematics”

Is Economics a Science?

Eric Maskin, 2007 Nobel Prize winner in Economics, responds to Alex Rosenberg and Tyler Curtain’s characterization of economics: They claim that a scientific discipline is to be judged primarily on its predictions, and on that basis, they suggest, economics doesn’t qualify as a science. Prediction is certainly a valuable goal in science, but not theContinue reading “Is Economics a Science?”

Skyler White, The Anti-Muse?

Yesterday I wrote a short response to Anna Gunn‘s New York Times Op-Ed about the negative reaction to the Skyler White character on Breaking Bad. I want to add a couple of points to that today. Some of the adverse reaction to Skyler finds its grounding in her instantiation of an archetype that I alluded toContinue reading “Skyler White, The Anti-Muse?”

Skyler the Shrew?

Anna Gunn has an interesting Op-Ed in The New York Times today, detailing her response to the almost universally negative, vitriolic, misogynistic response that her character on Breaking Bad—Skyler, the wife of Walter White–has evoked. In it, she writes: My character, to judge from the popularity of Web sites and Facebook pages devoted to hatingContinue reading “Skyler the Shrew?”

Reflections on Translations-VI: The Advantages to Philosophy

Over at The New York Times‘ The Stone, Hamid Dabashi writes: Though it is common to lament the shortcomings of reading an important work in any language other than the original and of the “impossibility” of translation, I am convinced that works of philosophy…in fact gain far more than they lose in translation. Consider Heidegger.Continue reading “Reflections on Translations-VI: The Advantages to Philosophy”

A Smoking Career, Suspended

A New York Times article that wonders, ‘Why Smokers Still Smoke‘ set me to thinking: Why did I smoke? For as long as I did? I smoked my first cigarette in my teen years. My father smoked, as did many of the men–all Air Force pilots–that I idolized. There was glamour and masculinity written allContinue reading “A Smoking Career, Suspended”

General Petraeus at CUNY: Poor Judgment Under Fire

General David Petraeus‘ $200,000 deal with CUNY is no longer on; he will now teach in the fall at CUNY’s Macaulay Honors College for the princely sum of $1. Yesterday, I participated in a Huffington Post Live segment–along with Cary Nelson, former president of the American Association of University Professors and Kieran Lalor of the NewContinue reading “General Petraeus at CUNY: Poor Judgment Under Fire”

Don’t Tell Me What You Think of Me

Over at the Anxiety blog at The New York Times Tim Kreider gives voice to a common fear, that of finding out what other people really, really think of us: I’ve often thought that the single most devastating cyberattack a diabolical and anarchic mind could design would not be on the military or financial sectorContinue reading “Don’t Tell Me What You Think of Me”

The NSA Needs Better Apologists than Charles Shanor

Professor Charles Shanor of Emory university thinks that ‘liberals and civil libertarians’ are making a mountain out of a digital molehill. Apparently, we should be reassured by the fact that the NSA‘s data collection was legal under the terms of the Patriot Act (you know, that civil liberties disaster), that FISA judges approved it, that selectContinue reading “The NSA Needs Better Apologists than Charles Shanor”