In times of deep distress I’ve often found the brutal, unsparing candor of Friedrich Nietzsche a strange comfort. While wholly enamored of the aristocratic, Hellenistic past of literary invention, the often bilious German philosopher nonetheless had no illusions about the nature of power, which does as it will and is not held in check by what we take for common values. In Nietzsche’s diagnosis, no set of values—or what he calls in The Genealogy of Morals “moral prejudices”—is ever disinterested, transcendent or “disconnected.” Instead, wrote Nietzsche, the language of traditional morality is generally synonymous with the language of power, thus:

What is the current state of jazz, you ask? You might ask genre-bending musician/producer/rapper Stephen Ellison, aka Flying Lotus, who also happens to be the nephew of John and Alice Coltrane. In a recent interview, Ellison lamented “it’s all gone quite stale over the past 20 years” and imagined that if Miles Davis “came back to Earth and heard a lot of these jazz cats, he’d be mad. He’d literally be mad, and he’d just go back to where he was dead at.” Given Miles’ infamous temper and disdain for the conventional, this isn’t hard to imagine at all. But whether you could call today’s jazz “elevator music” is a point I leave to others to debate.

Re-imagining higher education

Learning takes place in the heart, the hands and the home, not just in the head. What does that mean for the universities of the future?


Students from Red Crow Community College visiting Omahkakihtakssin (MajorvilleMedicine Wheel) in southern Alberta, Canada.  Credit: Narcisse Blood. All rights reserved.

marquez ransom
Gabriel García Márquez’s notes for The General in His Labyrinth (1989) via The Ransom Center & The New York Times

Darwin Tree of Life

The Darwinian theory of evolution is an amazing scientific idea that seems, at least to a layperson like me, to meet all the criteria for what scientists like Ian Glynn praise highly as “elegance”—all of them perhaps except one: Simplicity. Evolutionary theory may seem on its face to be a fairly simple explanation of the facts—all life begins as single-celled organisms, then changes and adapts in response to its environment, branching and developing into millions of species over billions of years. But the journey Darwin took to arrive at this idea was hardly straightforward and it certainly didn’t arrive in one eureka moment of enlightenment.


“Ebola” is the Top Name of 2014 and  “Hands Up, No Shoot” is the Top Phrase of the Year of 2014 (see below)   Documenting the year 2014 through English-language word usage Global Language Monitor’s 15th Annual Survey of Global English  AUSTIN, Texas  November 26, 2014  — The Emoji  ideograph for Heart and Love  is the Top Word

Data mining the way we use words is revealing the linguistic earthquakes that constantly change our language.

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