Distraction Free Reading

Weekly Round-up | June 2nd, 2017

This week’s round-up is a bit skewed towards essays and think pieces rather than the academic equivalent of cat pictures, which may or may not be a good thing, depending on how much you need to chuckle today. If you do find any more-diverting tidbits for our next round-up, please do pass them along to the editor.

Painting of vaqueros rounding up cattle in 1830s Spanish California

Actual image of our link round-up process (public domain, courtesy of Wikimedia)

  • One of the values of anthropology is that it can do a good job of putting abstract, theoretical conversations about things like technicity in contact with profoundly concrete things like stone tools and human brains. Sapiens’ recent piece on brain evolution and tool use was fascinating, but perhaps tilted towards the concrete: we read it with an idle, speculative dream of a four-fields anthropology of science.



  • In a charmingly and characteristically hyperbolic take on the WannaCry ransomware fiasco, The American Interest manages to sneak in some interesting thoughts about sovereignty and international relations in an age of simultaneous disintermediation and hyperconnectivity, albeit in the context of fear-mongering and grandiose comments on the threat posed by cyberpiracy to the Westphalian state system.


  • The last issue of e-flux had a bunch of great articles, from an essay on “Art, Technology, and Humanism” by Borys Groys to a snippet of some recently-published Simondon, on “The Genesis of Technicity.” For this Russianist editor’s money, however, the most interesting piece is Oleksiy Radynski’s “The Great Accelerator,” on the Ukranian conflict, Soviet cybernetics, and Viktor Glushkov.


  • We’ve been trying to keep this round-up relatively Trumpless, but the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement can’t go uncommented upon. However, this week’s Cultures of Energy podcast has a spoonful of sugar for the medicine, pivoting from an initial grapple with Paris and Exxon to a rewarding conversation with Amelia Moore about her fieldwork in the anthropocenic Bahamas.



  • Remember the Sokal hoax? That was, among other things, genuinely kind of embarrassing for science studies. This month saw another, more pathetic attempt at hoaxing gender studies. Many have been quick to point out the ridiculousness of the hoax’s content. Crooked Timber, though, has an interesting take on what the hoax can tell us about scientific publishing in a world where legitimate open access journals jostle shoulders with big-press-owned pay-to-publish vanity journals.

That’s it for this week. Until next time: stay frosty.

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