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Le Carre is our greatest living author because he gets humans

‘A quarter of a century after the end of the Cold War, it seems, we cannot get enough of its most famous chronicler.Finally, we in Britain may have realised what that great American writer Philip Roth understood in 1986, when he described A Perfect Spy as “the best English novel since the war”. Is John le Carré, author of enormously popular novels since 1961, when he published Call for the Dead, our greatest living writer?…’

Source: 3quarksdaily

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Martha Nussbaum: Anger is the emotion that has come to saturate our politics and culture. Philosophy can help us out of this dark vortex

‘Anger is both poisonous and popular. Even when people acknowledge its destructive tendencies, they still so often cling to it, seeing it as a strong emotion, connected to self-respect and manliness (or, for women, to the vindication of equality). If you react to insults and wrongs without anger you’ll be seen as spineless and downtrodden. When people wrong you, says conventional wisdom, you should use justified rage to put them in their place, exact a penalty. We could call this football politics, but we’d have to acknowledge right away that athletes, whatever their rhetoric, have to be disciplined people who know how to transcend anger in pursuit of a team goal.

If we think closely about anger, we can begin to see why it is a stupid way to run one’s life. A good place to begin is Aristotle’s definition: not perfect, but useful, and a starting point for a long Western tradition of reflection. Aristotle says that anger is a response to a significant damage to something or someone one cares about, and a damage that the angry person believes to have been wrongfully inflicted. He adds that although anger is painful, it also contains within itself a hope for payback. So: significant damage, pertaining to one’s own values or circle of cares, and wrongfulness. All this seems both true and uncontroversial. More controversial, perhaps, is his idea (in which, however, all Western philosophers who write about anger concur) that the angry person wants some type of payback, and that this is a conceptual part of what anger is. In other words, if you don’t want some type of payback, your emotion is something else (grief, perhaps), but not really anger…’

Source: 3quarksdaily

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Fukushima in New York? This Nuclear Plant Has Regulators Nervous.

‘Could what happened in Fukushima happen 35 miles (56 kilometers) north of New York City?That’s what many activists and former nuclear regulators fear for the Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear power plant that has operated in Westchester County for more than four decades. The plant provides a good chunk of the energy needs for the surrounding area, but it has come under fire in recent years for safety and environmental concerns, including its warming of the Hudson River and a recent case of bolts missing in one of its reactors. Two of the plant’s three reactor units are currently operating on expired licenses, with the state of New York having denied parent company Entergy’s extension requests due to suspected violations of the federal Clean Water Act…’

Source: Fukushima in New York? This Nuclear Plant Has Regulators Nervous.

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George Lakoff: Understanding Trump

‘There is a lot being written and spoken about Trump by intelligent and articulate commentators whose insights I respect. But as a longtime researcher in cognitive science and linguistics, I bring a perspective from these sciences to an understanding of the Trump phenomenon.

This perspective is hardly unknown…Yet you will probably not read what I have to say in the NY Times, nor hear it from your favorite political commentators. You will also not hear it from Democratic candidates or party strategists. There are reasons, and we will discuss them later I this piece. I am writing it because I think it is right and it is needed, even though it comes from the cognitive and brain sciences, not from the normal political sources. I think it is imperative to bring these considerations into public political discourse. But it cannot be done in a 650-word op-ed. My apologies. It is untweetable.

I will begin with an updated version of an earlier piece on who is supporting Trump and why — and why policy details are irrelevant to them. I then move to a section on how Trump uses your brain against you. I finish up discussing how Democratic campaigns could do better, and why they need to do better if we are to avert a Trump presidency…’

Source: Blog « George Lakoff