Berfrois

February 2011

Sex Please, We’re Russian

Sex Please, We’re Russian

Final of Miss Russia 2010. In Soviet times, beauty contests were unknown. Ideologists considered such public displays of the female body as decadent bourgeois behavior. by Elena Fanailova A couple of years ago I was part of a group of young female writers on an Oxford University course called...

Read More

No Archaic/Modern Divide; or, Behavioural Variability in Premodern Humans

No Archaic/Modern Divide; or, Behavioural Variability in Premodern Humans

Refuting a Myth About Human Origins | by John J. Shea

American Scientist

For decades, archeologists have believed that modern behaviors emerged among Homo sapiens tens of thousands of years after our species first evolved. Archaeologists disagreed over whether this process was...

Read More

Mario Carpo: Post-Authorial Creation

Mario Carpo: Post-Authorial Creation

A Cobbler’s Workshop (Schusterwerkstatt), Max Liebermann, 1881-82 by Mario Carpo The main thesis of The Alphabet and the Algorithm is simple–symmetrical, almost.  In the beginning it was hand-making.  Most handmade things, even when made sequentially, are different from one another, because that’s the way human hands function.  Think of a signature: most...

Read More

‘You can French kiss yourself’

‘You can French kiss yourself’

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask), United Artists, 1972  From Guernica: The first time I successfully masturbated I was eleven and my older brother and his girlfriend were watching Woody Allen’s Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to...

Read More

Deep Cleaning and Other Cosmic Issues

Deep Cleaning and Other Cosmic Issues

by Claire B. Potter Clutter Busting: Letting Go of What’s Holding You Back, by Brooks Palmer, California: New World Library, 232 pp. One of the reasons that self-help books are so successful is that they introduce complex thinking to people who aren’t normally exposed to it, or who are...

Read More

Information Flood

Information Flood

Moore’s Law original graph From The New York Review of Books: According to Gleick, the impact of information on human affairs came in three installments: first the history, the thousands of years during which people created and exchanged information without the concept of measuring it; second the theory, first...

Read More

Good-bye to the straw feminist

Good-bye to the straw feminist

Eflon  by Cordelia Fine “This was not a permissible hypothesis”. That was social psychologist Jonathan Haidt’s recent explanation of the outrage that followed Lawrence Summers’ speech at a conference on the under-representation of women in science and engineering, in which he suggested that women are on average intrinsically less...

Read More

‘Captain America carries, after all, not a sword but a shield’

‘Captain America carries, after all, not a sword but a shield’

America’s heroes | by Nick Harkaway

Prospect

We don’t have superheroes in Britain the way they do in the US. John Constantine, the brutal magus anti-hero of DC Comics’ Hellblazer, once observed that Britain is a country where no one would have...

Read More