‘We’re coming into a different state of materialism and pessimism right now. Philosophical topics about agency, animals, thinking machines, the hard problem of consciousness, and the ethics of just about everything look like they are up for grabs. We are living in a philosophical age, and it is not exactly clear if professionalized philosophy is up to the challenge. It’s maybe no wonder that people are looking back to modern philosophy’s heroic period, when Kant, Reinhold, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel et al. took on modern life in all its complexity and tried to fit it all together in a fully rigorous fashion. After all, Kant said that in the darkness of pure reason, it’s philosophy that gives us orientation, and that’s what people by and large seek from it. In large parts of the world outside of the USA and Europe, big chunks of everyday life are lived out in terms of philosophical questions such as “What would it mean for me to be leading my own life,” or even “What is it to be modern? Do I have to stop being me to be modern?” When people ask those questions, it’s not long thereafter that they start turning to the idealists to see what they had to say. The idealists believed that we had to look at things in a big holistic way, to ask our questions in terms of what Heidegger later called the “meaning of being.” We are always orienting ourselves in terms of the “whole,” even if much of it necessarily has to remain the background and defies full explicitation.’
‘Aramark is the largest U.S.-based food service company, running dining operations at thousands of locations across the country, including healthcare institutions, universities and school districts, stadiums and arenas, and businesses. Today, I’m proud the company is announcing that it will switch all 20 million pounds of liquid eggs it uses each year in the United States to cage-free by 2020, after working with us. This decision will improve the lives of roughly 750,000 chickens per year and it reinforces the larger food industry trajectory on this issue: cage confinement has no place in the future of the egg industry. I wrote recently that Sodexo had made a similar announcement, so now two of the largest food service providers have partnered with us to the benefit of an extraordinary number of birds.’
‘Technically, the headlines are not incorrect. Yet, to me and others, they imply something more radical than what was actually observed. To cut to the chase, an individual photon cannot be observed acting as both a pure particle and wave at the same time. But if you assemble a group of many different photons, you can observe some acting like particles and others acting like waves. Many stories did not make this clear.’
‘On the heels of one of the greatest findings in the field of ornithology, announced last month, bird researchers are now entering a new frontier in the study of what makes birds tick. A multinational project involving 200 scientists from 20 countries revealed that the bird species we know today in fact originated right after the dinosaurs became extinct. Science Magazine declared the news as one of the 10 biggest discoveries of 2014.’
‘Scientists working in Thailand’s Mae Klong River made a big find last week: an enormous stingray that they think is a contender for the largest freshwater fish ever documented by researchers.
The ray was caught and released in about 65 feet (20 meters) of water in the Amphawa District, about an hour outside Bangkok.
Nantarika Chansue, a veterinarian and professor at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, helped catch and measure what she calls the “big one.” The ray (Himantura polylepis or H. chaophraya) was 7.9 feet (2.4 meters) across and 14 feet (4.3 meters) long and weighed an estimated 700 to 800 pounds (318 to 363 kilograms), she said via e-mail.’
Torture as the Norm (WARNING: GRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS OF TORTURE CONTAINED IN LINK):
‘These questions rarely appear in the work of those analyzing torture through the lens of a state of exception. Instead, these scholars operate a level of abstraction that ignores U.S. history and contemporary punishment. After September 11th, the United States didn’t suddenly enact entirely new torture policies and radically depart from American practices (an assertion found in countless essays on torture and September 11th). Instead, the Senate report revealed variations on practices that have existed in U.S. history stretching back centuries. In some cases, U.S. torturers operated in a state of exception, but in others they received legal sanction. Today, torture occurs in a complex milieu that mixes law and untrammeled exercises of power. Most Americans will never confront the possibility that they will be tortured, but this is hardly true for many who are poor, mentally-ill or in some way marginalized from society. To understand and alleviate their plight, we receive no guidance from those adopting the work of Agamben and Schmidt to talk about states of exception. Perhaps it’s time to abandon such uninformed and one-dimensional approaches to torture.’