Each week, the Sunday Post highlights a few articles we enjoyed this week, good for consumption over a cup of coffee (or tea, if that's your pleasure). Settle in for a while; we saved you a seat. You can also look through the archives.
Hungarian philosopher G. M. Tamás writes passionately, furiously, and without sentiment (will make sense when you read it) of the world’s inexcusable behavior toward refugees: not only our failure to offer assistance to those who flee violence and brutuality, but our cowardly eagerness to make demons of those who have been injured — for fear of becoming powerless ourselves.
Who is feared and who is hated in this Europe where it is my fate — you might say, my good fortune — to live?
It is precisely the few who manage to escape from various locations of hell, yesterday called Aleppo, now called Afrin and Ghouta, tomorrow who knows. It is not victorious armies or fearsome insurgents, but terrified refugees driven insane by pain and mourning and by the cruelty of armed men. It is not the cruel armed men who are hated, but their victims.
It is not the torturers but the tortured.
Lili Loofbourow on the problem of accurately perceiving art, when our gazes are tilted to quickly confirm our bias — women’s stories are domestic, emotional, shallow; men’s are complex and deserving of attention — and move on.
The male glance is the opposite of the male gaze. Rather than linger lovingly on the parts it wants most to penetrate, it looks, assumes, and moves on. It is, above all else, quick. Under its influence, we rejoice in our distant diagnostic speed. The glance is social and ethical the way advice columns are social and ethical, a communal pulse declaring — briefly, definitively, and with minimal information — which narrative textures constitute turgid substance, which diastolic fluff. This is the male glance’s sub rosa work, and it feeds an inchoate, almost erotic hunger to know without attending — to omnisciently not-attend, to reject without taking the trouble of analytical labor because our intuition is so searingly accurate it doesn’t require it.
Deborah Copaken outlines, one move at a time, the game of financial and then sexual chess that Ken Kurson at the New York Observer pulled her into. The story is almost absurdly Victorian: he promises full time work, she resigns a position elsewhere, he denies the offer was ever made. Now financially insecure, she attempts to extract some kind of return on his promise. Until one day the terms of the negotiation become too clear to ignore.
As we all try to hash out a taxonomy of abuses of power, this kind of clear and honest self-reporting is invaluable; Copaken is brave, and the response from the New York Observer is the absolute worst sort of weak sauce.
29. Write an email to your new editor. Now that the Big Important Male Editor is gone, you say, you’d love to start writing your column again. Are told that the paper is not looking to pick up your column again for the time being. Ask why. Get no response.
30. Forward the “How come you never asked me out?” email to your new editor and write a brief summary of everything leading up to it. Are told, in part, that it doesn’t feel like any of her business. 31. Give up. Just give up.
Andrew Anthony profiles Nick Brown, the amateur mathematician who took on the happiness establishment and won (sort of). This is a delightfully useless argument and just everything that’s best about the ivory tower, from the assigning of a number (2.9013) as a measure of joy, to the avidity with which the digital life-improvement machine picked up the idea, to the infighting that ensues with the maths are called into question. Yes!
"The Lorenz equation Losada used was from fluid dynamics," says Sokal, "which is not the field that I'm specialised in, but it's elementary enough that any mathematician or physicist knows enough. In 10 seconds I could see it was total bullshit. Nick had written a very long critique and basically it was absolutely right. There were some points where he didn't quite get the math right but essentially Nick had seen everything that was wrong with the Losada and Fredrickson paper."
Sokal did a little research and was amazed at the standing the Fredrickson and Losada paper enjoyed. "I don't know what the figures are in psychology but I know that in physics having 350 citations is a big deal," he says. "Look on Google you get something like 27,000 hits. This theory is not just big in academia, there's a whole industry of coaching and it intersects with business and business schools. There's a lot of money in it."
We thought it was roaches that would survive us. Turns out it might be stinkbugs — and they might not wait for us to vacate. Kathryn Schulz tracks the their ascendancy in a wide-ranging and sometimes horrifying story about a polyphagic beetle that’s found a predator-free paradise in the suburban and rural United States.
The brown marmorated stinkbug has made a name for itself by simultaneously threatening millions of acres of American farmland and grossing out the occupants of millions of American homes. The saga of how it got here, what it’s doing here, and what we’re doing about it is part dystopic and part tragicomic, part qualified success story and part cautionary tale. If you have never met its main character, I assure you: you will soon.