Dystopian Democracy: In The Unit, a newly reissued 2009 novel by Ninni Holmqvist, the dystopian setting comes not from autocracy but from the democratic expression of widespread extremist beliefs. And in Lost in America, a 1985 satirical film, characters who try to break out of their perceptual bubbles ultimately learn they have little hope of effecting change. But in the real world, scientists have a long history of successfully rallying public support in spite of politically hostile environments.
Happily, I’ll still have the brain I’m using right now, which is how I’ll be able to do the contemplating. The other one will be my second brain. About the size of a frozen pea, it will have been grown from a small lump of flesh that researchers at the Institute of Neurology of University College London recently dug from my arm. …
I have no idea yet how I will respond to my own “brain in a jar.” But it has set me thinking about how pervasive this cultural trope is, and how much is invested in it. There is something disturbingly intimate about seeing, perhaps even touching, the brain of another person, and it’s not surprising that the image features in tales of transgression both real and fictional. A heart preserved in formalin is often seen as mere inert offal, but we seem to suspect that within the soft clefts of the human brain the person themselves somehow resides—or at least clues to what made them who they were.
Keep reading here, as Ball explores the philosophical appeal of a disembodied brain as an avatar of identity.
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Just a few decades ago, Santiago’s Mapocho River was known for its terrible odor. Now, thanks to years of cleanup and pressure by citizen activists, it's getting one of Latin America’s best bike paths.
The right, especially, seems to be enamored with service in a way that both denigrates non-military service (either volunteer work like Peace Corps or Americorps, or government work of any kind) and creates a lacuna in their assessment of an individual or the policy they're promoting. The rise of retired brass being sought for high-ranking positions in lobbying, cable-news punditry, and other corporate positions suggests that however much the officer corps might resist politicization, it might be more a case of keeping that politicization just out of sight under the water line. That’s especially dangerous when coupled with the self-image we ingrain in those who serve that encourages dismissal of those who don’t.
A U.S. veteran who served in Kosovo pushes back:
Most soldiers will tell you that they just want to do their job and be allowed to make those decisions for themselves. That is why I actually appreciate that Trump has said Mattis can pretty much run the [Department of Defense] the way he feels it’s needed.
Should we be worshipped? No. We did our job. But there is nothing wrong with showing respect, especially considering the fact we now have an all-volunteer military. It has been lacking for a long time.
Happy birthday to Virginia (a year younger than It’s a Wonderful Life); to Indra’s best friend (twice the age of Pokémon); and from Louise to Aimee (a year younger than mass-produced personal computers).
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