Nation States on the Web

An interesting, and sometimes terrifying, thing to do is to visit websites of nations that are isolated from the world community, or doing bad things, or simply otherwise troubled.

First stop, The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, otherwise known as North Korea. Don’t forget to check out the section on becoming a member of the Korean Friendship Organization. In this section you can also watch the video (with lyrics) of the Song of National Defence (sic).

Next stop, Uzbekistan. The site is still being worked on and is less exciting than the North Korea site. Still, one can learn a thing or two. The section on the Status of the President can provide, at least, an Orwellian chill down the spine. Read the account on the website first, then check this report from Human Rights Watch. Most charming Karimov quote? Perhaps its “I’m prepared to rip off the heads of 200 people, to sacrifice their lives, in order to save peace and calm in the republic…If my child chose such a path, I myself would rip off his head.” How nice that the US counts such proud allies in the War on Terror.

Moving from the brutal to the outright bizarre, we would be remiss not to include Turkmenistan on the tour. There is no official government website, though the Embassy of Turkmenistan in DC has a rather extensive site. The message from President Niyazov Turkmenbashy includes the claim,
“Turkmenistan has undertaken the first and, therefore, most difficult steps on its way of revival, virtually re-formation of its own sovereign history and state system. It is ancient and event-wise exuberant. But today given the past, we continue it from the scratch.”
Niyazov’s cult of personality has become legendary especially with his recent re-naming of the months of the year in homage to himself. He is also fond of publishing his own works. Here’s what the State Information Agency of Turkmenistan has to say about his Great Book, the Ruhmana.

Next stop, Albania, one of the most isolated countries in the world during the dictatorship of Enver Hoxa. So far, it has been a difficult legacy to emerge from with any great stability. There is an official website here.
This Photographer’s Diary by David Brauchli is worth looking at.

Finally, for now, a look into Africa. The Zimbabwe official site is here. Not much there, really. An admirable piece by Samantha Power on the disaster of Mugabe’s regime is here.

And a brief glance at Sudan, about which there have been many posts in recent weeks here at 3quarksdaily. The restructuring of Sudan Airways seems to figure more prominently on the site than Darfur.

Probably this little tour would have the wrong ‘mood’, as it were, without the inclusion of this site. While no fan of moral equivalency, it is difficult to stomach the following.

“I do not avoid women, Mandrake, but… I do deny them my essence.”

Arriving Friday at Film Forum is Stanley Kubrick’s most overtly comic film, “Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.” If, as is likely, you’ve already seen it, you may be surprised at how precisely calibrated its satire once again appears. Perhaps this is because the political thrust of our times perfectly suits the movie’s gleeful skewering of both the American cowboy ethos and the diastrous results that ensue from its boneheaded application to international relations (all phallic puns intended). In three roles, Peter Sellers is in absolute peak form, particularly when his Lt. Mandrake tries to get the recall code from a suicidally deranged Sterling Hayden (“And I can swear to you, my boy, swear to you, that there’s nothing wrong with my bodily fluids. Not a thing, Jackie!”) and during Strangelove’s climatic speech, but the two phone calls Sellers’ President makes to Dmitri Kissoff, the Russian premier, rise to the level of historical greatness. The utter genius of the film’s comedy extends its relevance far beyond the merely topical – by comparison, see the deadly serious “Failsafe,” made in the same year. And, as with all of Kubrick’s work, I defy you to find a lighting scheme that is less than painterly, a cut that is less than essentially motivated, a composition that is less than photographically brilliant, a form that is less than art.

Nemesis by Shazia Sikander, a traveling exhibition

Shazia Sikander, a friend of 3QD, we proudly boast, never fails to impress us with her talent, insight, and reserve; others are similarly affected. A recent New York Times article on her travelling exhibition Nemesis article begins:


“DEXTEROUS and clever, Shahzia Sikander continues to surprise with an exhibition at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Conn. In addition to a suite of 51 drawings, a wall painting and a dazzling digital animation, there is video documentation of a collaborative performance with the Indian dancer Sharmila Desai. How does she find the time to do all this?”

And ends:

“If Ms. Sikander were still cranking out her glitzy miniature paintings, you could probably dismiss her as a victim of the art market merry-go-round. But she is not, and that takes some courage. This show suggests that she is a far more sophisticated and ambitious artist than her previous fare has led some to believe.”

Read the whole thing.

The continuing debate on Che as hero

A while ago, in a post on Che Guevara and Regis Debray, I made the obvious point: “There has been a lot of reflection on the life and legacy of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara,” adding, “The release of the movie of The Motorcycle Diaries, I suspect, will help add to it.”

The blogosphere has been abuzz with a debate on Che. Brad DeLong has entitled the virtual seminar “The Concept of the Hero in Twenty-First Century Civilization” and has taken the trouble of summarizing and linking to the major posts on the topic.

The (old) Dictionary of the History of Ideas is now online

Via Three-Toed Sloth, one of the smartest and best blogs around with posts like this: the Dictionary of the History of Ideas (Philip P. Wiener, ed., 1973/1974) is now online. (Read Cosma Shalizi’s take on the Dictionary of the History of Ideas, as well.) A new “updated and rethought” edition, entitled New Dictionary of the History of Ideas, edited by Maryanne Cline Horowitz, is in the works.

The Dictionary of the History of Ideas has some excellent, albeit by now outdated, entries; for example:

Kenneth Arrow on Formal Theories of Social Welfare; Isaiah Berlin on The Counter-Enlightenment; George Boas on Macrocosm and Microcosm, on Primitivism, and indeed on Idea; Dietrich Gerhard on Periodization in History; Sidney Hook on Marxism;Stuart Kauffman on Biological Homologies and Analogy; Frank Knight on Economic History; Richard Lewontin on Biological Models; Oskar Morgenstern on Game Theory; J. P. Nettl on Social Democracy in Germany and Revisionism; John Plamenatz on Liberalism; Judith Shklar on The General Will; and Rene Wellek on Periodization in Literary History.

The Critic

“Contemporary British and American writers are in love with what might be called irrelevant intensity.”

“Writers and literary academics have never been closer, and never further apart.”

“There used to be something thought of as ‘a Booker novel’ – a big, ambitious balloon sent up to signify seriousness and loftiness of purpose.”

The literary critic James Wood, responsible for all three of the above quotations, is nothing if not a serious book reviewer. He lectures at Harvard and writes mainly for the LRB and The New Republic. The first sentence comes from his unkind outing at the expense of Zadie Smith’s second novel. The second is from a rather more thoughtful review of The Oxford English Literary History, Vol. XII: 1960-2000: The Last of England? The third is from his mixed-bag musings on D.B.C. Pierre.

So, Wood is serious – and, refreshingly, not coy about being learned. (“Shakespeare would probably have read earlier versions of the psalm, such as those of Miles Coverdale and the Geneva Bible, which the King James translators adapted very closely and in places word for word,” Wood notes in this New Yorker piece about the making of the King James Bible.) A serious man who is seriously concerned about the state of contemporary letters.

But is he on the right track? Two views:

A very flattering piece on Wood by Adam Begley of the New York Observer, entitled “Lit Crit as It Ought to Be: Open-Eyed, Recklessly Committed.” Begley argues that Wood is “the most promising young critic around, but now that he’s pushing 40, let’s drop the qualifiers and say it loud and clear: He’s the best.”

A case against Wood from John Reuland, the Editor of Bridge Magazine Online:

“Wood is a critic in the wilderness. He’s unconcerned with things of this world, and his spiritual authenticity gives us faith in his judgments. Those judgments, we presume, issue from a belief system that’s transhistorical, never anachronistic because it doesn’t belong in time. Yet Wood’s problem as a critic is exactly that he is so principled. Just as some theologians claim we have a priori knowledge of God, one could easily claim that Wood had a priori knowledge that things don’t get any better than the nineteenth-century novel. Wood wants novels that chant the creed of his orthodoxy. He dismisses the art that shakes his faith, which raises the troubling question of whether faith that admits so little doubt is faith, or mere prejudice.”

Reuland’s full essay is here.

The Age of Nonfiction?

I’m not sure if it’s due to sunspots or historical circumstances, and I know my friends who write fiction and poetry will be unhappy that I’m saying this, but it seems to me that nonfiction is sometimes more exciting than fiction right now. Certainly the stastistics show a decline in fiction sales even while publishers are putting out 17% more titles. (Bowker has the full story.) Biography, history and religion showed double-digit increases for 2003. Some account for this as a post-September 11 reaction – unprecedented American interest in the outside world. It is also possible to view the trend aesthetically and suggest that perhaps fiction hasn’t been keeping pace with current events. (Indeed, how can it?) If this turns out to be the Age of Nonfiction – for talent follows the money – then this could explain the increasing interest in what is detestably called “Creative Nonfiction.” (Detestable because all writing ought to be “creative,” and because “creative” is a cruel term for good writing, so that the phrase “Creative Nonfiction” is doubly appalling from an artistic point of view.) recently posted a link to an essay called “The Age of the Essay” by Paul Graham. Graham, famous for his work on Spam and Spam filters, has this to say about writing essays:

“What should you think about? My guess is that it doesn’t matter – that anything can be interesting if you get deeply enough into it. One possible exception might be things that have deliberately had all the variation sucked out of them, like working in fast food. In retrospect, was there anything interesting about working at Baskin-Robbins?”

Read the whole essay here.

Space Ship One wins the Ansari X-Prize

“On October 4, 2004, SpaceShipOne rocketed into history, becoming the first private manned spacecraft to exceed an altitude of 328,000 feet twice within the span of a 14 day period, thus claiming the ten million dollar Ansari X-Prize.

In addition to meeting the altitude requirement to win the X-Prize, pilot Brian Binnie also broke the August 22, 1963 record by Joseph A. Walker, who flew the X-15 to an unofficial world altitude record of 354,200 feet. Brian Binnie’s SpaceShipOne flight carried him all the way to 367,442 feet or 69.6 miles above the Earth’s surface.”

In related news, “Sir Richard Branson hopes his new company will be the first to send adventurous tourists into space.

The high-flying entrepreneur announced Monday that the Virgin Group, his amassing of airline, entertainment and telecommunications companies, has entered into a technology licensing agreement with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s Mojave Aerospace Ventures. Under the deal, Branson’s Virgin Galactic plans to become the first business venture to carry commercial passengers on space flights.

“We’ve always had a dream of developing a space tourism business, and Paul Allen’s vision, combined with (aircraft designer) Burt Rutan’s technological brilliance, have brought that dream a step closer to reality,” Branson said in a statement.

Virgin Galactic will privately fund the building of spaceships and related equipment, as well as operate the tourism company. The company is expected to open early next year, with the first flights operating in 2007.

Space tourists, who are expected to receive at least three days of preflight training, will pay approximately $190,000 each to travel toward the stars in a two-hour trip aboard the “VSS Enterprise.” The company said it plans to begin taking deposits early next year and is now accepting registrations for prospective astronauts.”

Click here for full text.

What Is Life – and How Do We Search for It in Other Worlds?, purveyors of “Space news as it happens”, on the surprisingly knotty problem of determining what counts as life on other planets:

“The obvious diversity of life on Earth overlies a fundamental biochemical and genetic similarity. The three main polymers of biology—the nucleic acids, the proteins, and the polysaccarides—are built from 20 amino acids, five nucleotide bases, and a few sugars, respectively. Together with lipids and fatty acids, these are the main constituents of biomass: the hardware of life (Lehninger 1975, p 21). The DNA and RNA software of life is also common, indicating shared descent (Woese 1987). But with only one example of life—life on Earth—it is not all that surprising that we do not have a fundamental understanding of what life is. We don’t know which features of Earth life are essential and which are just accidents of history…

…The practical approach to the search for life is to determine what life needs. The simplest list is probably: energy, carbon, liquid water, and a few other elements such as nitrogen, sulfur, and phosphorus (McKay 1991). Life requires energy to maintain itself against entropy, as does any self-organizing open system. In the memorable words of Erwin Schrödinger (1945), “It feeds on negative entropy.” On Earth, the vast majority of life forms ultimately derive their energy from sunlight. The only other source of primary productivity known is chemical energy, and there are only two ecosystems known, both methanogen-based (Stevens and McKinley 1995; Chapelle et al. 2002), that rely exclusively on chemical energy (that is, they do not use sunlight or its product, oxygen). Photosynthetic organisms can use sunlight at levels below the level of sunlight at the orbit of Pluto (Ravens et al. 2000); therefore, energy is not the limitation for life.”

Full article can be found here.

Politics, Ideas and Religion Today

There was a wonderfully heartening discussion at Trinity Church in Boston on Friday evening, Oct 8th. Taking place immediately before the 2nd Bush-Kerry debate, the crowd was energized, excited, and keenly receptive.

“MIT professor and author Noam Chomsky and Boston Globe columnist and author James Carroll discussed the domestic and international consequences of US foreign policy, and its relation to traditional American values, including religion. The session was moderated by Amy Goodman, host of National Public Radio’s DEMOCRACY NOW!”

Here are some details about the most recent writings of all three:

James Carroll:
“With the phrase “this Crusade, this war on terror,” President George W. Bush defined his purpose in the immediate aftermath of 9-11. And just as promptly, James Carroll, Boston Globe columnist, son of a general, former antiwar chaplain and activist, as well as recognized voice of ethical authority, began a week-by-week argument with the administration over its actions. In powerful, passionate bulletins, Carroll dissected the president’s exploitation of the nation’s fears, his invocations of a Christian mission, and his efforts to overturn America’s traditional relations — with other nations and its own citizens.

Crusade, the first collection of Carroll’s searing columns, offers a comprehensive and tough-minded critique of the war on terror. From Carroll’s first post 9-11 rejection of “war” as the proper response to Osama bin Laden, to his prescient verdict of failure in Iraq, to his never-before-published analysis of the faith-based roots of present U.S. policy, this volume displays his rare insight and scope. Combining clear moral consciousness, an acute sense of history, and real-world grasp of the unforgiving demands of politics, Crusade is a compelling call for the rescue of America’s noblest traditions.”

Noam Chomsky:
“From the world’s foremost intellectual activist, an irrefutable analysis of America’s pursuit of total domination and the catastrophic consequences that could follow.

For more than half a century, the United States has been pursuing a grand imperial strategy with the aim of staking out the globe. Our leaders have shown themselves willing — as in the Cuban missile crisis — to follow the dream of dominance no matter how high the risks. Now the Bush administration is intensifying this process, driving us toward a choice between the prerogatives of power and livable Earth. In Hegemony or Survival, Noam Chomsky investigates how we came to this moment, what kind of peril we find ourselves in, and why our rulers are willing to jeopardize the future of our species.

Amy Goodman:
“In The Exception to the Rulers, award-winning journalist Amy Goodman, with the aid of her brother David, exposes the lies, corruption, and crimes of the power elite — an elite that is bolstered by large media conglomerates. Her goal is “to go where the silence is, to give voice to the silenced majority.” As Goodman travels around the country, she is fond of quoting Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Jacques Derrida, 1930-2004

Jacques Derrida died on Friday of pancreatic cancer at the age of 74. The progenitor of deconstruction, the man who delivery the elegy for structuralism, and author of Of Grammatology, Derrida was probably France’s most-famous living philosopher, albeit a very controversial one.


“Derrida, who was born into a Jewish family in Algeria, published his ground-breaking work in the 1960s and went on to achieve enormous influence in academic circles, especially in America.

But in 1992, staff at Cambridge University in the UK protested against plans to award him an honorary degree, denouncing his writings as ‘absurd doctrines that deny the distinction between reality and fiction’.

Derrida also campaigned for the rights of immigrants in France, against apartheid in South Africa, and in support of dissidents in communist Czechoslovakia.

He was so influential that last year a film was made about his life – a biographical documentary.”

Here is the Le Monde obituary (in French). Here’s one of his last interviews (also from Le Monde and in French).

UPDATE: The New York Times has a long and interesting obituary.

Auden’s “The More Loving One”

Continuing with recorded poetry, here’s Auden reading his poem “The More Loving One”, a relatively recent Poetry in Motion choice.

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.

Making sense of Foucault on the Iranian Revolution, 26 years later

The French philosopher Michel Foucault’s writings on the Iranian Revolution remain his most troubling. Foucault welcomed the “spiritual politics” ushered in by the revolution.

In a 1978 Nouvel Observateur article on Khomeini and an Islamic state, he wrote:

“One thing must be clear. By ‘Islamic government,’ nobody in Iran means a political regime in which the clergy would have a role of supervision or control. . . . It is something very old and also very far into the future, a notion of coming back to what Islam was at the time of the Prophet, but also of advancing toward a luminous and distant point where it would be possible to renew fidelity rather than maintain obedience.”

The piece was attacked at the time, notably by the Left. A leftist Iranian exile denounced the choice between “the SAVAK and religious fanaticism”. Maxine Rodinson, the great Marxist historian of the Middle East who saw in the Iranian revolution the beginnings of “a semi-archaic fascism”, practically called Foucault ignorant.

This brief article tries to make sense of the episode and see what lessons it holds for today.

“Two questions for today emerge from Foucault’s Iran writings. First, were these writings aberrations, largely the product of his ignorance of Iranian history and culture?. . . [The second] concerns the whole issue of religious fundamentalism, more important than ever to debates over the crisis of modernity since September 11, 2001.”


Did Daniel Dennett admit that there is a “higher purpose” to life?

Andrew Sullivan thinks that this interview with Daniel Dennett shows Dennett admitting that evolution has a larger purpose (higher than the propagation of genes to succeeding generations, that is). I didn’t see it that way, although I did see Robert Wright talking far more than he was conducting an interview.

Wright: “Is it inconceivable to you that . . . there is some larger purpose unfolding or that natural selection is the product of design? . . . that there was a designer of natural selection . . .”

Dennett: “I can imagine that in some loose sense? I don’t know if that’s a coherent idea, but it’s not obviously incoherent.”

Wright: “But you certainly don’t buy it, in any sense.”

Dennett: “I don’t buy it.”

Also check out the interviews with Freeman Dyson, John Maynard Smith, Steven Pinker, Robert Pollack, Francis Fukuyama, and others.

UPDATE: Dennett’s sent an email to Sullivan objecting to the characterization. I can’t find it on Sullivan’s website, but here’s a segment.

“Wright misinterprets his own videoclip (I am grateful that it is available uncut on his website, so that everybody can see for themselves). All I agreed to was that IF natural selection had the properties of embryogenesis (or “an organism’s maturation”), it would be evidence for a higher purpose. But I have always insisted that evolution by natural selection LACKS those very properties. And I insisted on that in the earlier portions of the videoclip.”

Sullivan does, however, provide a full link to Wright’s reply. Here’s the link to Wright’s original account of the interview, in which he begins, ” I have some bad news for Dennett’s many atheist devotees. He recently declared that life on earth shows signs of having a higher purpose.”


For a site called 3quarksdaily it would be remiss not to mention that quarks look more and more like they are composed, as is everything else, of strings. It is all strings baby. The five (maybe six) versions of string theory continue to look more and more like arms of a single unified theory of everthing. Right now people are calling it M-Theory. ‘M’ for mysterious maybe. Anyway it is amazing stuff. Brian Greene’s book, The Elegant Universe is a very very worthwhile read especially for those who can’t browse through Witten’s latest paper or follow the more insane permutations of Calabi-Yau mathematics. This is cutting edge mind-blowing science.

No Nobel, but “the Arab World” is the guest of honor at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair

Every October, old publishing/editing types shack up at the Frankfurter Hoff for a week and deal in foreign book rights, taking the first step in the decisive process of what foreign literature we get to see over here in culturally isolated America. These are people for whom cross-cultural communication is paramount, people who believe in a kind of utopian global culture of writing and reading (and selling books). How strange, then that the Fair has bizarrely decided to cite “the Arab World” as their guest of honor at this year’s fair. And has then decided to implement greatly increased security measures over those of the last few years. Naguib Mahfouz, Egypt’s nobel-laureate literary ambassador to the Western world, offered an anemic challenge to the idea of lumping some 20 countries and their distinct literatures under the same name while previous “guests of honor” have traditionally been single nations. “Did the West need to feel its security threatened so that it would engage in a rediscovery of Islamic civilization and Arab culture?” he asked. Probably. And as Edward Wyatt in his NY Times piece implies, the rediscovery of such non-specific, nebulous “culture” looks a lot more like an enlightened “fuck you” from a European nation to the US than it does a genuine literary nod.

More here.

Not Adonis, but Elfriede Jelinek wins the Nobel for literature


“Austrian feminist writer Elfriede Jelinek won the Nobel Prize in literature, the Swedish Academy said Thursday, citing her “musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays.”

The decision to award the prize to a woman, and a poet, was the first since 1996, when Wislawa Szymborska of Poland won. Since the prize first was handed out in 1901, only nine women have won it.” (Read on.)

Nobel watch (literature): is Adonis the odds-on favorite?

Tomorrow, the Nobel prize for literature will be announced. The rumor mill has the Syrian poet Adonis (Ali Ahmad Said) as the frontrunner. But then, the rumor mill had him as the frontrunner last year as well. (Adam Shatz’s article on Adonis from a while ago in the New York Times is worth a read.) See here, here, and here.

“The Academy is secretive, leaving pundits to guess the winner based on whether the prize recently went to a novelist, poet or playwright and what was their gender, language and race.

Fredrik Lind of Hedengren’s book store in Stockholm is known for predicting whose works to have in stock. His tip this year is Ali Ahmed Said, the Syrian-Lebanese poet known as Adonis.

‘Arabic poetry is a tradition that has never got any prize and he is the greatest living Arabic poet,’ said Lind.”

Adonis is controversial in the Arab world. He’s been an opponent of Arab dictatorships (not that controversial), a reformer, and has raised the question of Arab attitudes towards Jews (controversial), while remaining critical of it. At once he’ll condemn Zionism and also indict Arab treatment of Jews.

“What is the difference between the position of the Serbian militias which ostracize the Muslim and annihilate him for being Muslim, and this ‘position’ which ostracizes the Jew for being Jewish?”

His near-pagan views of Arab poetry also elicit alarm. For example:

“For in its original, pre-Islamic sense, poetry is inspiration — which is to say prophecy — but without commandments, institutions or norms. However, starting with Islam — and this also deserves a separate study — poetry in Arab society has languished and withered precisely insofar as it has placed itself at the service of religiosity, proselytism and political and ideological commitments.”

We’ll see tomorrow.

Other contenders mentioned in the rumor mill of Nobel watchers include Joyce Carol Oates, Margaret Atwood, Thomas Transtromer, Doris Lessing, Hugo Claus, Milan Kundera, Philip Roth, Ismael Kadaré, Ko Un, Don DeLillo, and Mario Vargas Llosa.

Powell’s Book-a-Day versus Paid Online Subscriptions

I subscribe to a well-run and totally free service, Powell’s Book-a-Day at, which sends me a book review every day. The reviews come from The Christian Science Monitor, The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, The New Republic,, and the TLS. Powell’s does a good job selecting them. Yesterday I received an excellent review by Clive James about a new translation of Madame Bovary. (James had his problems with the book.) The review was originally published in The Atlantic. Out of curiosity, I went to see if I could find the essay in its original context on the Atlantic site. No such luck; you had to pay to see it ($2.95 per article). But at Powell’s, it is available for free.

What a curious state of affairs. The Atlantic is hoping it can sucker readers into paying for web content that it makes available for free elsewhere to promote itself. But the promotion backfires because the only thing I learn from this process is that I can get good book reviews every day from Powell’s for free.

What is the web for, anyway? I’d like it to be a kind of new 21st century encyclopedia, where information is exchanged freely, and where digital archives of great writing can endure. The Atlantic wants it to be an advertisement, essentially, for their “real” product. I think that in the end magazines like The Atlantic and The New Republic will lose out on their internet strategy, at least with readers like me. One reason why: savvy readers know that writers are not ever, ever paid a dime more for a story that is published online as well as in the print version of a magazine. So there is no guilt about not paying.

Obviously, magazines could not long endure if they made all their content available for free online and everybody stopped subscribing as a result. But would this really happen? If a magazine is worth subscribing to, it is worth having around the house; it is worth supporting and paying for. Did the e-book kill the book? I think the system of The New York Times makes a good compromise. Most everything it publishes is available via a free online registration while it is current, and then on a paying basis after its topical relevance has expired. I haven’t noticed that The Times has collapsed financially as a result. The Atlantic – and the most arrogant offender, The New Republic – should follow suit or risk losing increasingly web-savvy younger readers over the long haul. At any rate, the system of internet magazine archiving has not reached its philosophical bedrock yet.

IBM claims supercomputer speed record with “Blue Gene”

“The information technology firm IBM says it has developed the world’s most powerful computer.

The Blue Gene/L system performed just over 36,000 billion calculations a second during tests at IBM’s Rochester office in Minnesota, the company announced on 29 September. Although the claims are unlikely to be independently verified until November, when the next worldwide supercomputer league-table is published, experts have long predicted that Blue Gene/L was destined for the top spot.”

More here from Nature.