Cold Remains in Greenland

Edward Rackley in Warscapes:

ScreenHunter_1030 Feb. 26 19.30Urban development in the High Arctic can be a drab affair. Buildings are inelegant steel boxes fit for lunar colonies, clustered against withering winds and inhumanly low temperatures—”post-industrial morgue” might be the cynic’s take. Walking the dusty gravel of Kangerlussuaq, a town of 512 inhabitants in western Greenland, I stopped before the improbable “King Kong Bar.” In simple green letters on peeling white plywood, the sign hung above a cave-like entrance carved directly into the steel shell of a faded red shipping container.

That so remote and hardscrabble a place was a cast-off artifact of an obscure but busy political and literary lineage was unknown to me as I wandered the town. I connected these remarkable threads much later, on the heels of a brief but intoxicating immersion in Greenland’s fjords, icecap, and rolling verdant hills. Groundbreaking Arctic exploration and the high-stakes military gamesmanship of Cold War geopolitics—parallel dimensions of recent Greenlandic history— coexisted but rarely intersected during much of the twentieth century. Now as I walked this ghostlike town these two paths collided before me, offering a very different angle on the famous “eighth continent.”

More here.

john aubrey and the art of literary biography

3bc4bfc2-bce9-11e4_1131715hStuart Kelly at the Times Literary Supplement:

It is a curious phenomenon that while fictional narratives of lives have constantly, even aggressively, sought new forms in which the idea of how lived life might be conveyed and understood in prose, literary biography has been stuck, for the most part, with Maria in The Sound Of Music: “Let’s start at the very beginning / A very good place to start”. Even she had to try something more innovative fairly quickly after that. Chronological tied shoelaces aside, there are few biographies that interrogate certain questions which writers of fiction and writers of philosophy have had to confront: is the self a discontinuous phenomenon? Since memory is always reconstructive, what value do we give to any recorded memory, either by the subject or another? – Ulric Neisser’s “Snapshots or Benchmarks?” made this an issue over three decades ago. Likewise, many of the clichés of the Creative Writing Industry – what is your character’s motivation? what’s their backstory? what are they struggling against? – miss the point by a country mile. Fictional characters are held to far lower ethical and philosophical ideals than we shambling actualities.

It is against this background that Ruth Scurr’s extraordinary John Aubrey: My own life shines so brightly. As an experiment in the art of biography, it illuminates both its subject, himself a biographer, and the unquestioned presumptions behind biography itself. Antiquarian, astrologer, scientist, toponymist, playwright, folklorist, educational theorist, hint-keeper, snapper-up of unconsidered trifles, assiduous collector, Aubrey is a figure of frustrating brilliance.

more here.

The man behind Willie Nelson

08b282bed88832c9197a25b1ea22b623_XLJoe Nick Patoski at The Oxford American:

Paul English was talking about breaking someone’s legs, cheerily using the threat as a means to get to the punch line of a story. The four men listening to him in the back of the touring bus hung on every word—because it was Paul, because it was very difficult deciphering his nasal mumble filtered through a twang, and because whatever he said was likely to be true.

“I told Lana we could do something,” Paul was saying. “We could break his legs. We have to do something to him. We cain’t go and leave him walking. We’d of done that to him. That’s nothing.”

He was discussing the shoot-out at Ridgetop back in 1970, just outside of Nashville, when Willie Nelson and Paul English defended a house full of family against Willie’s daughter’s husband and his gun-toting brothers, one of many larger-than-life incidents that have been burnished into legend over the course of the career of Paul English’s boss and best friend, Willie Nelson. In this particular story, Willie’s daughter Lana’s husband, Steve, had hit her, prompting Willie to go over to their house and slap Steve, pissing off Steve so much that he and his brothers drove over to Willie’s house and started shooting. The altercation ended with Paul firing .380-grain bullets from his M1 rifle into the bumper of Steve’s car to “get him to go on, goodbye.”

more here.

A newly discovered trove of unknown fairy tales

9780143107422_large_The_Turnip_Princess_and_Other_Newly_Discovered_Fairy_TalesMichael Dirda at The Washington Post:

In 2012, in the municipal archive of Regensburg, Germany, scholar Erika Eichenseer discovered 30 boxes containing more than 500 hitherto unknown fairy tales. A high-ranking civil servant named Franz Xaver von Schönwerth (1810-1886) had spent much of his spare time collecting the oral and traditional stories of Bavaria. This unexpected find rocked the fairy-tale establishment.

Maria Tatar, chair of the program in folklore and mythology at Harvard, explains why in the introduction to her English translation of “The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales.” Schönwerth’s narratives, she tells us, exhibited “a compositional fierceness and energy rarely seen in stories gathered by the Brothers Grimm or Charles Perrault, collectors who gave us relatively tame versions of ‘Little Red Riding Hood,’ ‘Snow White,’ ‘Cinderella,’ and ‘Rapunzel.’ Schönwerth gives us a harsher reality.” While the Grimms polished their transcriptions to an almost Gallic brilliance, Schönwerth preserved more fully the rough vigor and even crudeness of the oral originals.

more here.

A history of the world in funny puns

From The Telegraph:

Socrates_3180934kFor many of us, it's a punderful life (pun: a joke exploiting the different possible meanings of a word or the fact that there are words which sound alike but have different meanings) and to mark the UK Pun championships, we present a history of the world in puns.

It didn't end too well for SOCRATES,the man credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy. The Greek philosopher was sentenced to death in the form of drinking a hemlock-based liquid (above, an engraving by French painter Jacques-Louis David, 1748-1825) when he was 71.

Who was Socrates' worst student? Mediocrities

Who was Socrates' busiest student? The one with a lot on his Plato

What do you call a fliratatious philosopher: A Socratease

What relative did Socrates need after his trial? An Aunty dote

More here.

Junk the phrase ‘human capital’


Branko Milanovic in Al Jazeera America (image Meriel Jane Waissman, Getty Images):

Among many services both great and small that Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the 21st Century” has rendered to economics is his skeptical view of the terminology of human capital. That coinage was one of the biggest mistakes in economic nomenclature in the last 50 years. It was ideologically motivated and has contributed to conceptual confusion.

Since Adam Smith, economists have known that there is a difference between more and less skilled labor. Under skill, we include education (measured by years of formal schooling), experience (measured by the years one has worked) and, less precisely definable, knowledge. Whether using Marxian or neoclassical economic theory, people with greater skills are supposed to be paid more because they produce greater value.

It is this combination of education, experience and knowledge that economists Jacob Mincer and Gary Becker decided in the early 1960s to term “human capital.” There is nothing new in the phrase nor anything harmful as such. We can call a more skilled person a person with greater human capital or use any other term, as long as we know and agree on what we mean. Calling it “human capital” appears a mere terminological quirk: We could just as well say that a more skilled person has greater “skilz” or whatever we decide to call it.

So if the name that we give to more skilled labor, whether “human capital” or “skilz,” does not matter, why is “human capital” such a disastrous turn of phrase? There are two reasons. First, it obfuscates the crucial difference between labor and capital by terminologically conflating the two. Labor now seems to be just a subspecies of capital. Second and more important, it leads to a perception — and sometimes to the argument used by insufficiently careful economists — that all individuals, whether owners of real capital or not, are basically capitalists. Even if you have human capital and I have financial capital, we are fundamentally the same. Entirely lost is the key distinction that for you to get an income from your human capital, you have to work. For me to get an income from my financial capital, I do not.

More here. A follow-up can be found here.

Elegies in the letters of Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell

Typewriter-BethanPhillipsAustin Allen at Poetry Magazine:

One January evening 50 years ago, Elizabeth Bishop wrote from Rio to her beloved friend and fellow poet Robert Lowell. Into their usual mix of personal and literary tidbits—an upcoming trip to Ouro Prêto, the premiere of an Edward Albee play, the completion of a jigsaw puzzle (“took four evenings!”)—she dropped a solemn note:

I am sure you feel very badly about Eliot; and I’m very sorry, too. [I won]der why on earth he was still in London at this time of year? And [the] picture I saw of him at the time he received that medal showed him [loo]king very sick, I thought. Poor Valerie.

The unfortunate Londoner, of course, was T.S. Eliot, who had died of emphysema three days before.

Humble as this squib is, it conjures up a wealth of biographical context: the assumption of shared mourning for their famous acquaintance, whose death was being reported worldwide; the common reference point of “that medal” (the Presidential Medal of Freedom, an extraordinary honor for a poet); the intimacy implied in the clucking over Eliot’s choice of winter residence—and yet the difference in formality accorded “Valerie” and her husband “Eliot,” who was 38 years older and already a legend.

more here.

My Saga, Part 1: Karl Ove Knausgaard Travels Through North America


Karl Ove Knausgaard in the NYT:

I lost my driver’s license over a year ago. I lose stuff all the time. Credit cards, passports, car keys, cash, books, bags, laptops. It doesn’t worry me, they usually turn up eventually. The last time I was in New York, I left my backpack in a taxi. I had taken three of my kids with me, so I was a little distracted when we got out. All of our passports were in the backpack, as well as my laptop, where everything I have written in the last 20 years is stored. I never talk to taxi drivers, but this one had been so friendly that I endedup questioning him a little. At a red light he even took out a photograph of his children, which he showed me. When we got back to the hotel that afternoon, I asked the receptionist what we could do. He just shook his head and said I could forget about seeing my backpack again. This is New York, he said. But the driver was from Nepal, I objected. And he had two kids. I’m sorry, the receptionist said, I don’t think that will help much. But of course you can report it missing. At that point the doorman came over, he had overheard our conversation and said he knew some Nepalis, should he call them for me? So he did, and I met them outside the hotel a while later. Based on my description, they identified the driver, and the next morning the backpack was waiting for me at the reception desk.

These things happen often; in my experience they always turn out fine. There is a saying in Norway that he who loses money shall receive money, and I think that’s true, because when you lose things, it means you’re not on your guard, you’re not trying to control everything, you’re not being so anal all the time — and if you aren’t, but allow yourself to be open to the world instead, then anything at all might come to you.

I know that’s true, but at the same time I also know that the reason I say it is to turn all my faults and weaknesses into strengths. It’s good that I’m afraid to speak on the phone with anyone except my closest friends. It’s good that I always put off paying bills. It’s good that I never cash the checks I receive. That means I’m a writer, I think I’m not so focused on worldly matters, which in turn means that some day I just might write a masterpiece.

So when my driver’s license stayed gone, the loss went into the same mental category; it became part of the stuff a writer is made of. I could drive without it anyway. Where I live now in Sweden, there are seldom any police checkpoints.

More here.

Things to Charm a Storyteller


Polly Dickson in 3:AM Magazine:

It speaks from within the home, with the voice of a guest. And, like a guest, ‘upon arrival, it is usually assessed just as quickly and as sharply’ (‘Reflections on Radio’, 1930-1). The voice of radio, unhampered by flesh or face, rings of unbelonging.

Radio Benjamin (2014), edited by Lecia Rosenthal, is the first book in English devoted entirely to Walter Benjamin’s work for radio. It artfully compiles some forty radio programmes and plays produced and broadcast between 1927 and 1933, most of them translated here for the first time into English by Jonathan Lutes, Lisa Harries Schumann and Diana K. Reese, and places them alongside a selection of his theoretical writings on radio.

Listener and broadcaster in these texts have a furtive, strained relationship. Inhabiting the same room – for ‘the radio listener, as opposed to every other kind of audience, receives the programming in his home’ (‘Reflections on Radio’) – the two are invisible to one another: to each other, they are Benjamin’s ‘dear invisible ones’. Theirs is a highly mediated intimacy that can be stifled immediately – an intimacy that lacks both touch and body. Benjamin’s broadcast is a space of compromise, where the valence of sound is afforded only by the conspicuous loss or suspension of sight and touch. As Rosenthal puts it in her introduction: ‘the impossibility of giving a complete account remains an essential component of the medium of sound broadcast and audio performance itself’.

There is a word to fit this necessary concession of the radio voice: acousmatic. ‘Acousmatic sound’ is sound that we hear with a cause that we cannot see; sound from an invisible source. Benjamin’s texts are already a curious group of creatures, with topics ranging from ‘True Dog Stories’ (1930) to the Borsig car factory (‘Borsig’, 1930), from ‘The Mississippi Flood of 1927’ (1932) to ‘What the Germans were reading while their classical Authors were writing’ (1932). There are drifting scenes lifted from childhood, bright accounts of tales of fraud and swindle and disaster, didactic ‘listening models’ (Hörmodelle) offering advice for the workplace, and a handful of raucous plays. And the texts are made more curious still for having undergone a double upheaval, twice removed from their sensory places of origin. First is the acousmatic loss: the compromise of the radio voice which can be heard only at the loss of its visual base. The second is the loss of sound itself – for, with the exception of a fragment from the play ‘Much Ado about Kasper’, no recordings of the texts remain. It is a fact that prickles, constantly, in reading them. In the face of what they may have lost, writes Rosenthal: ‘we must read and imagine what we cannot hear’.

Benjamin’s own dubiousness towards the (still relatively young) medium of radio is made obvious in excerpts from his letters to historian Gershom Scholem and others expressing disregard for the pieces and stressing his financial motives in producing them: ‘the series of countless talks… are of no interest except in economic terms’; ‘the work I do simply to earn a living’. But at moments, Benjamin’s tired scepticism reaches a more acute distaste for the strange power of the radio voice. Radio, after all – as it gives stage to the bodiless voice and invites it into the homes of the masses – was to gain quick, easy hold under Fascism.

More here.

Guantánamo Diary: Random American Justice


Anne Richardson on Mohamedou Ould Slahi's Guantánamo Diary, in The LA Review of Books:

MOHAMEDOU OULD SLAHI’S Guantánamo Diary is a page-turner. Unlike the Senate’s 500-page Senate Select Intelligence Committee Study, also known as the “torture report,” this one will keep you up at night. And it has something for everyone. For opponents of the use of the harsh interrogation practices that were approved after 9/11, it provides insight into why those techniques lead only to false confessions. For human rights advocates, it provides a dramatic firsthand account of the myriad reasons why civilized nations banned torture as set forth in the Convention Against Torture, adopted by the UN in 1984 and ratified by the United States in 1994. For prosecutors, it provides a nagging reminder that, when you torture, you lose not only your moral high ground but also your ability to prosecute, because you can’t prove whether the “confessions” are true. And for diplomats and politicians, it demonstrates just how much standing the United States has lost in the international community and how long it will take to rebuild our reputation as a leader of democratic ideals. We gave away much, in these dark holes of rendered suspects. Was it worth it?

Mohamedou Ould Slahi was a 30-year-old Mauritanian when Mauritanian authorities called him in, at the behest of the US government, in November 2001. He had fought with al-Qaeda in 1991 and again in 1992 against the communist-led government in Afghanistan, a cause supported by the West and the United States in particular. He eventually returned home to Mauritania and later spent time in Germany and Canada. He maintains that after 1992 he had no more commitment to al-Qaeda, although he remained in contact with some of his companions from Afghanistan. So it was that he was linked to known al-Qaeda fighters and leaders.

At times he was accused of masterminding the so-called Millennium Plot to blow up the Los Angeles airport. The Senegalese, Mauritanian, and American authorities questioned him in 2000 in connection with the Millennium Plot, but concluded there was no basis to believe he was involved. After September 11, 2001, FBI agents again detained and questioned him about the Millennium Plot. Once again, he was released.

But in November 2001, Mauritanian police came to his door and asked him to accompany them for further questioning. Thus launched Slahi’s 13-year continuing odyssey, from Mauritania to an interrogation chamber in Jordan, on to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, and finally to Guantánamo Bay, where he remains to this day. He has no charges pending against him. The District Court judge who heard his petition for habeas corpus ordered him to be released in 2010, but the Court of Appeals sent the case back for rehearing, and it is still pending.

More here.

Ben Lerner and the novel of detachment

Jon Baskin in The Nation:

ScreenHunter_1029 Feb. 25 13.32Although he has only published two books of fiction, Ben Lerner has already earned a reputation as a literary bellwether. His first novel, Leaving the Atocha Station(2011), was praised by James Wood for featuring a “convincing representative of twenty-first century AmericanHomo literatus,” while Gary Sernovitz pondered “What Leaving the Atocha Station says about America,” and Geoff Dyer proclaimed it a “comet from the future” of literature. Published by Coffee House Press, a small imprint in Minneapolis, and spurred by such reviews, Atochaachieved an unlikely success, which in turn helped secure Lerner a reported six-figure advance from Faber and Faber for a second novel, 10:04. Published last fall, Lerner’s newest effort has been serenaded by Christian Lorentzen in Bookforum for signaling “a new direction in American fiction,” and by Maggie Nelson in the Los Angeles Review of Books as “a near-perfect piece of literature, affirmative of both life and art.” On the jacket cover, Jeffrey Eugenides announces that “anyone interested in serious contemporary literature should read Ben Lerner.”

An award-winning poet and translator, Lerner is a talented stylist, capable of artfully conveying what he sees of Manhattan from Brooklyn Bridge Park (“the liquid sapphire and ruby of traffic on the FDR Drive and the present absence of the towers”), what a hurricane looks like from space (“an aerial sea monster with a single centered eye around which tentacular rain bands swirled”) and his sense of alienation upon encountering artist Donald Judd’s iconic boxes in Marfa, Texas (it was “inscrutable in human terms, as if the installation were waiting to be visited by an alien or god”). But there are reasons that reviewers of his novels tend to begin and end by listing their favorite descriptive passages. Lerner’s two novels offer little in the way of plot or secondary characters, and their subject matter can seem incidental, even arbitrary.

More here.

Practicing Islam in Short Shorts

Thanaa El-Naggar in Gawker:

Y72rzcl5tpjefnygof42The scenario I'm about to describe has happened to me more times than I can count, in more cities than I can remember, mostly in Western cities here in the U.S. and Europe.

I walk into a store. There's a woman shopping in the store that I can clearly identify as Muslim. In some scenarios she's standing behind the cash register tallying up totals and returning change to customers. She's wearing a headscarf. It's tightly fastened under her face where her head meets her neck. Arms covered to the wrists. Ankles modestly hidden behind loose fitting pants or a long, flowy dress. She's Muslim. I know it. Everyone around her knows it. I stare at her briefly and think to myself, “She can't tell if I'm staring at her because I think she is a spectacle or because I recognize something we share.”

I realize this must make her uncomfortable, so I look away. I want to say something, something that indicates I'm not staring because I'm not familiar with how she chooses to cover herself. Something that indicates that my mother dresses like her. That I grew up in an Arab state touching the Persian Gulf where the majority dresses like her. That I also face East and recite Quran when I pray.

“Should I greet her with A'salamu alaikum?” I ask myself. Then I look at what I picked out to wear on this day. A pair of distressed denim short shorts, a button-down Oxford shirt, and sandals. My hair is a big, curly entity on top of my head; still air-drying after my morning shower. Then I remember my two nose rings, one hugging my right nostril, the other snugly hanging around my septum. The rings have become a part of my face. I don't notice them until I have to blow my nose or until I meet someone not accustomed to face piercings.

More here.

Why Satire Matters

Justin E. H. Smith in the Chronicle of Higher Education:

ScreenHunter_1028 Feb. 25 13.19As recently as a few months ago, the common wisdom seemed to be that the only people who raise concerns about illiberalism in academic life are the embarrassing old avuncular types. You know the ones: the men in Hawaiian shirts who want to know why they can’t call women “dames” anymore. There was little serious engagement with the real problem of the trade-off between freedom of expression and the concern not to offend.

Then came a turning point, when, in Paris, a death squad targeted some cartoonists, and the widespread reaction in the online and academic left (increasingly indistinguishable from each other) was: “Well, the cartoons were offensive.” This is when I found I could no longer contain my own dismay. I, an American academic based in Paris, came suddenly to feel as though my relocation to France were not simply a career move but a proper exile from the political culture of North American academe, which has become inflexible, unsubtle, and dogmatic. The issue was no longer the anti-PC griping of uncles. It was now a matter of life and death.

If I try, in the aim of cool-headed analysis, to contain that dismay, I find that my American colleagues’ quasi-rationalization of the assassination of caricaturists is rooted in a failure to distinguish between certain basic varieties of the exercise of the freedom of expression. In particular, there seems to be a broad misunderstanding of the social function, and therefore also the necessity, of satire.

More here.

Toni Morrison Refuses To Privilege White People In Her Novels

“Toni Morrison has always taken for granted the centrality of Blackness in her novels. She has refused throughout her writing career to privilege “Whiteness” in her literary works. In this clip, Toni Morrison discusses the way she felt when interview Bill Moyers asked her when she would write about white people, as if this was something she should be interested in doing. She refuses to accept the idea that writing about Black people is not “real writing,” and that Black writers must engage with White characters or the White world in order for their writing to be legitimate. She will not privilege White people, nor will she explain things to White readers.”

More here. (Note: One post throughout February will be dedicated to Black History Month.)

The Brain’s Way of Healing

Lisa Appignanesi in The Guardian:

BrainDr Michael Moskowitz, an American psychiatrist specialising in treating pain, had long been his very own laboratory rat. After breaking his femur jumping from the turret of an army tank, he made an important discovery: the brain could be taught to turn off even screaming pain, once the body had sent the necessary alarm signal. Years of chronic pain linked to a neck injury sustained in a waterskiing accident meant Moskowitz already knew that neurons can misfire, becoming hypersensitive. The initial cause of pain may have gone, but the injured area still seems to hurt. Once habituated to pain, the smallest thing can set it off. But if repeated bodily experience or movement leads to structural changes, so can mental experience and exercise. Treatment that involved visualizing the affected brain areas when pain struck and imagining them shrinking (engaging in “neuro-stimulation” and creating “competitive plasticity”) cured Moskowitz’s long-standing neck problem. Having systematised the practice for his patients, he went on to improve the lives of many suffering from a range of chronic pain conditions, from back discomfort to multiple sclerosis.

Norman Doidge, a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and author of the bestselling book The Brain that Changes Itself, says such treatments are neither hypnosis, self-hypnosis nor due to a placebo effect. All of those may have some beneficial impact on certain chronic sufferers, but what is at play is a (re)modelling of the brain, a change in the way its neurons fire. Important among Moskowitz’s findings and those of many others in the field is the suggestion that, after a short time, the opioid narcotics used for pain treatment cease to work. The plastic brain’s own opioid receptors grow saturated. It produces new ones less sensitive to the medication, rendering the patient more and more dependent on higher and higher doses. For Moskowitz, weaning the patient away from opioid-induced brain sensitivity is one of the first tasks in a treatment process that engages the patient in relentless mental effort.

More here.

Miles Davis & John Coltrane – Kind of blue

Miles Dewey Davis III (May 26, 1926 September 28, 1991) was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. Widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, Davis was at the forefront of almost every major development in jazz from World War II to the 1990s: he played on various early bebop records and recorded one of the first cool jazz records; he was partially responsible for the development of hard bop and modal jazz, and both jazz-funk and jazz fusion arose from his work with other musicians in the late 1960s and early 1970s; and his final album blended jazz and rap. Many leading jazz musicians made their names in Davis's groups, including pianist Herbie Hancock, saxophonist John Coltrane, saxophonist Kenny Garrett, and guitarist John McLaughlin. As a trumpeter, Davis had a pure, round sound but also an unusual freedom of articulation and pitch. He was known for favoring a low register and relatively sparse playing that served the song rather than display flashy playing, but Davis was also capable of highly complex and technically demanding trumpet work.

More here. (Note: One post throughout February will be dedicated to Black History Month.)

Michael Shermer and the moral arc of libertarianism

Massimo Pigliucci in Scientia Salon:

Img_0265Skeptic magazine publisher Michael Shermer has gotten onto the same “science can determine moral values” bandwagon as other scientistically-minded writers such as Sam Harris. But this commentary isn’t directly about Shermer’s latest book [1], and even less about Harris (about whose ideas I’ve written more than enough [2]). Rather, it concerns a more specific claim about science-driven moral progress made by Michael in a recent article that appeared in the libertarian Reason magazine, entitled “Are We Becoming Morally Smarter? The connection between increasing IQs, decreasing violence, and economic liberalism” [3]. The piece is an interesting mix of good points, good reasoning, bad points, and bad reasoning. I am going to try to sort things out in the interest of stimulating further discussion.

Shermer begins by talking about the famous (and still poorly understood) “Flynn effect” [4] the observation that IQ test scores, when non standardized to the population average, have increased by two standard deviations throughout the 20th century: we have become “smarter.” Of course, one has to buy into the idea that IQ tests actually measure “intelligence,” or that the latter is even a sufficiently coherent concept to be quantified effectively. But for the sake of the argument, let’s say that cultural evolution (obviously, as Shermer himself readily acknowledges, this has nothing to do with biological evolution) has made it so that people are getting better at scoring high on a certain class of standardized test that has something to do with intelligence, at the least when the latter is understood in certain ways.

More here.