Sunday, December 14, 2014
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Sunday, December 21, 2014
Jared Downing in Roads and Kingdoms:
Today, Fred Stockwell, a white-haired Englishman, is the only Westerner out on the landfill, patrolling the garbage in a dusty pickup. The squatters, migrants from Myanmar, just across the border, come out of their bamboo and steel shacks and make hand signs for the boots, batteries, and medicine stacked in the truck bed. Stockwell tells me last week a woman gave birth in the truck; the next morning he filled it with kids and drove them to school.
“No smile from you, huh?” Stockwell says to a man in rubber boots who pauses to scowl while rummaging the trash for recyclables. “He doesn’t like me because he didn’t get any rice the other day.” A group of volunteers from Australia had handed it out by the sack-full, but Stockwell got stuck with the blame for the villagers who missed out. He’s been growling about it all morning. “They’ll come in, throw out rice, throw something out, shoot photographs, lots of dirty kids. They want to see misery,” he sighs. “They ruin everything I’ve set up here.”
When he came to Thailand seven years ago, Stockwell’s community-based organization, Eyes to Myanmar, was the only one serving the roughly 400 migrant squatters settled on the mountain of trash. Decades of strife in Myanmar had already made the border city a philanthropic boomtown, but only in the last few years has the city’s landfill caught the attention of the smattering of NGOs, community-based organizations, religious ministries, and volunteer teams who come bearing rice, shoes, toys and, of course, their own cameras.
They all encounter Stockwell—or as they sometimes call him, the King of the Dump. The 70-year-old is a key figure in a philanthropic turf war that began when first newcomers planted their flags in the garbage. The trash heap a notorious graveyard of failed humanitarian projects.
Christina Jordan insists that Piglets for Progress, which supplied young pigs to village families, isn’t the dump’s latest causality, but it’s hard not to think of it that way. When she told her local consultant that the project wouldn’t continue, “He just sort of smiled and said, ‘They never do.’”
Read the rest here.
Alyssa Rosenberg in The Washington Post:
The #CancelColbert kerfuffle earlier this year never seriously threatened either Colbert’s current job at Comedy Central or his move up the ladder to one of broadcast television’s prized late-night spots. But the incident, in which Colbert was criticized for a bit that invoked anti-Asian animus to mock Washington football team owner Dan Snyder’s attempts to buy off opposition to his team’s name, signaled a shift. “The Daily Show” (once Stewart arrived at the anchor’s desk) and “The Colbert Report” became hugely popular precisely because they were insurgent voices, aiming Rube Goldberg-style verbal slingshots at the George W. Bush administration, conservatives in Congress and on the Supreme Court, and emerging powerful right-wing donors such as the Koch brothers. Whatever differences existed on the left (or in the frustrated center), viewers could unite around the genius of a concept like “truthiness.” But as the Obama years have faded into frustration and obstructionism, the left has turned inward. #CancelColbert grew out of the idea that no matter how much Colbert had done to target racism on the right, he didn’t have standing to employ anti-Asian sentiment, even in jest and even in service of a larger point about the continuing cultural and material discrimination against Native Americans.
This is a difficult environment for a satirist of good will to operate under, though the turn toward sincerity has produced plenty of other pieces of great pop culture. One of the biggest hits of 2014 has been the breakout podcast sensation “Serial,” in which Sarah Koenig struggles to be fair in her assessment of an old murder case. In superhero movies, the wisecracks of Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) have given way to the moral meditations of Captain America (Chris Evans) and the unabashed enthusiasm of Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), who goes by the decidedly unselfconscious moniker Starlord. Lorde’s achingly direct album “Pure Heroine” continued to be a refuge from the wearisome posturing of rapper Iggy Azalea. And rather than be rendered irrelevant, Colbert is in a strong position to fit right in.
Mark Brown in The Guardian:
The Pakistan-born British poet Imtiaz Dharker has been awarded the Queen’s gold medal for poetry, joining an illustrious roll call that includes WH Auden, Philip Larkin and Ted Hughes. Buckingham Palace announced on Wednesday that Dharker would be the 2014 recipient of a prestigious prize created in 1933 by George V at the suggestion of the then poet laureate John Masefield. The current poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, selected this year’s committee “of eminent men and women of letters” who selected Dharker; chosen on the basis of her new collection, Over the Moon, and a lifetime’s contribution to poetry. Duffy paid tribute. “Whether Imtiaz Dharker writes of exile, childhood, politics or grief, her clear-eyed attention brings each subject dazzlingly into focus,” she said. “She makes it look easy, this clarity and economy, but it is her deft phrasing, wit and grace that create this immediacy.” Dharker was born in Lahore in 1954 and grew up in Glasgow as what she calls a “Muslim Calvinist” before eloping with an Indian Hindu to live in Bombay. She later moved to Britain when she married the late Simon Powell, the founder of Poetry Live! Duffy said Dharker drew together her three countries, Pakistan, Britain and India, to create “writing of the personal and the public with equal skill”.
Of course! Who is not knowing this,
that after Happy Diwali comes Merry Kissmiss!
Impossible to miss, when allovermumbai,
Matharpacady to A to Z Market, rooftops
are dancing in chorus
is fully full with paper stars.
Hear! Horns are telling at midnight on every street,
Happy Happy Happy! We know very well
to make good festival, and Saint Santa is
our honoured guest in Taj Hotel.
We are not forgetting.
Murali Shanmugavelan in The Independent:
Roy has written an introduction to the seminal text The Annihilation of Caste - a critique on Hinduism and caste, penned by the great Indian social reformist Dr B.R. Ambedkar. He wrote the piece for a lecture in 1936 which was not delivered: the upper caste organisers found the text too radical to ‘permit’ him to speak.
In March 2014, her book was launched in India triggering controversy. Roy, who is usually praised for her efforts in trying to represent the marginalised in her writing, found herself in an awkward position as well-known anti-caste activists and Dalit (formerly Untouchables) writers rejected her introduction. A popular YouTube Channel, Dalit Camera uploaded a series of interviews and critiques on Roy’s introduction, including an open letter to her. By August, an online media portal dedicated to anti-caste issues called Round Table India (RTI) had published several articles by a range of authors.
“We object to Roy’s text not because of her non-Dalit origin but due to her poor grasp of the seminal text and even shallower and sensational out-of-context introduction to the original text at risk of maligning Ambedkar” says Anu Ramdas, Editor of RTI.
Roy, in her introduction to The Annihilation of Caste, has described Ambedkar as being Anti-Adivasis (tribals) and pro-eugenics. “This is like calling Steve Biko a racist”, said Ravichandran, founder of Dalit Camera.
The one book where we never lose out place
spreads it's cover to a gooseflesh Braille.
We are bookmarks slipped into each other.
In that book, we read each night of a couple
who go without touching for hours on end;
then, the dishes put away, the toddler
powered down and set to charge for tomorrow,
they thumb a lock and make a greenhouse
where once there was a master bedroom.
Orchids push open the drawers. Honeybees
bother the reading lamp.
The carpet threads itself with grass
twitching higher in a sunset-sunrise time-lapse
as the house regresses to a forest,
the plumbing to brooks, the chandeliers to stars
and "mommy" and "daddy" to the first lovers ever
under a glazed glass dome the size of the sky,
no duty save sensation,
the scar from her Caesarian
his Tropic of Capricorn. At last the throbbing
vine that roped them flush to the bed
slink back into the box spring.
The greenhouse shatters into mist
to reveal a plaster ceiling. They pull apart,
fall open like the covers of a book,
their years together pressed, preserved,
petals they can place on their tongues.
by Amit Majmudar
from The New Republic, Jan. 30, 2013
Chris Mooney in the Washington Post:
"Moonbird," they call him. Or sometimes, just "B95" -- the number from the band on his leg. Moonbird is the most famous, charismatic member of a group of mid-sized shorebirds called Rufa red knots, whose numbers have plummeted so dramatically in the past several decades that they just became the first bird ever listed under the Endangered Species Act with climate change cited as a "primary threat."
Rufa red knots are among the avian world's most extreme long range flyers (especially in light of their relatively small size). They travel vast distances -- some flying over 18,000 miles -- in the course of an annual migration that begins in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, and extends all the way up to the Canadian Arctic (and back again).
Which brings us to Moonbird's distinction: Because he is so old -- he is at least 21 -- he is believed to have flown as many as 400,000 miles in his lifetime. The distance to the moon varies, depending on where it is in its orbit, but the average distance is about 237,000 miles. Thus, Moonbird has not only flown the distance it takes to reach the moon -- he has also covered the bulk of the return voyage.
We know Moonbird's age, explains nature writer Phillip Hoose (who has written an eponymous book about him), because he was originally banded in 1995. And even then, he was an adult bird, meaning he was at least 2 years old. Since then, the same bird, with the same tag, is still being spotted, most recently in May 2014 in New Jersey. That would make Moonbird at least 21 years old, a true Methuselah for his species.
Saturday, December 20, 2014
In a 1964 interview between The New Yorker’s Calvin Tomkins and Duchamp, the latter remarked, “The artist produces nothing until the onlooker has said, ‘You have produced something marvelous.’ The onlooker has the last word in it.”
This is also a tidy summary of Duchamp’s short lecture “The Creative Act,” given in Houston in 1957, in which he calls the artist a “mediumistic being,” one whose “decisions in the artistic execution of the work … cannot be translated into a self-analysis.” Analysis is the work of the spectator, who “brings the work in contact with the external world.” Posterity decides if an artist’s works are deserving enough of an extended solo show at the Whitney, or should be reprinted in every iteration of the Norton Anthology until the end of time. The “creative act” is a transaction between artist and onlooker, and in it, again, the onlooker has the last word.
This is literally true in Joe Milutis’s new conceptual project Marcel Duchamp’s The [Creative] Act, released last month via Gauss PDF. Milutis’s text is a free fourteen-page PDF file that takes Duchamp’s 1957 lecture and turns it into a sort-of Dadaist Mad Libs:
Millions of artists [verb]; only a few thousands are [passive verb] or [passive verb] by the [noun] and many less again are [passive verb] by [noun].
Alvin Powell in the Harvard Gazette:
Current models hold that the stuff we know about — ourselves, our cars, our houses, the solar system, interstellar dust, etc. — makes up just about 5 percent of the universe. A big chunk of the rest, 27 percent, is something called dark matter, whose gravitational effects astrophysicists see as they peer into the skies, but whose nature remains a mystery. The remainder — roughly 68 percent — is dark energy, about which scientists understand even less. (Chris Stubbs, the Samuel C. Moncher Professor of Physics and of Astronomy, is one of the number who are on the case, albeit at the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope in Chile rather than the LHC.)
Other mysteries include how gravity is related to the other three main forces in the universe: electromagnetism and the strong and weak forces that operate in the atomic nucleus. Today they’re explained by separate theories. A theorized particle, the graviton, that might carry the gravitational force, has never been seen. There’s also the question of whether supersymmetry — thought to include a whole new family of particles — is real. And then there’s the possibility that the Higgs boson hasn’t been fully described.
William Smith in Raseef22:
But while people may publically express their aversion and opposition to Internet pornography, their private viewing habits suggest something quite different. Put simply, porn is BIG in the Arab world. According toGoogle AdWords, the 22 Arab states account for over 10% of the world’s searches for “sex”; A total of 55.4 million unique monthly Google “sex” searchers in the 22 (ignoring a further 24 million searches for “sex” transliterated into Arabic) that matches both the United States and India, two countries often cited as world leaders in porn consumption.
What is even more striking is that, when these numbers are adjusted to reflect people’s ready access to the Internet (which ranges from 85% of the population in the UAE to just 1.4% in Somalia) Arab Google searches for “sex” outweigh those from almost anywhere else worldwide. As per AdWords, for every 100 Arab Internet users, an average of 52 searches are made each month, compared to 21 in the United States, 36 in India, 45 in France and 47 in Pakistan.
It also seems to be the case that viewing porn in the region is not simply big in absolute terms, but also relatively to all other things people search. Data obtained from the Internet analytics company Alexa shows that adult-themed sites account for seven of the 100 most visited websites in the US, a figure that is trumped by at least six Arab states – Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen. Meanwhile, Google Trends, which shows how many searches for a particular keyword are made relative to all searches on Google, suggests that people in the region are more likely to search for “sex” than almost anywhere else in the world, with the exception of the Indian Sub-Continent.
Ali Minai in Brown Pundits:
"If you want to change the world, make your bed first thing in the morning." —Admiral William H. McRaven
To this philosophical skepticism about modernity, Calasso has contributed a bracing genealogy of ideas, which transcends many contemporary conceits about literature and philosophy: Proust becomes a Vedic seer, and Prajapati, the Vedic deity of procreation, emerges as the predecessor of Kafka’s K in his form-defying books. Their ostensible range of subjects — from Talleyrand and Tiepolo to Greek and Indian myths — disguises a continuity of themes and preoccupations: the power and sovereignty of the mind and its relationship to the world, the basis of political and social order and the inescapable role of violence. He also has a reputation for mining arcane texts, which will no doubt be enhanced by his deployment in “Ardor” of the Satapatha Brahmana, a notoriously dense eighth-century B.C.E. commentary on Vedic rites.
Calasso uses it to range broadly on the Veda, its “self-sufficient, self-segregated world,” and “the rigor of its formal structure.” The Vedic Indians did not build great empires or monuments. Rather they sought an intense “state of awareness” that “became the pivot around which turned thousands and thousands of meticulously codified ritual acts.” Calasso is aware that most of his readers would regard the ritual of sacrifice as barbarous. But he sees in this contemporary recoiling an uneasy confession: that “this world of today is detached from and, at the same time, dependent on all that has preceded it.” Sacrifice was the means to acknowledge and contain violence through religious ritual and practice.
This persistence of language in spite of its logic, in spite of itself, is not unique to Gass by any measure. In his essay on E. M. Cioran, “The Evil Demiurge,” Gass takes the aphorist to task for espousing a philosophy he considers nothing more than crude pessimism. For Gass, Cioran’s writings are “extraordinarily careless pieces of reasoning, travel[ing] from fallacy to fallacy with sovereign unconcern, deal[ing] almost wholly with borrowings.” But in his own fiction, Gass too falls prey to the same kind of indulgence in callousness and misanthropy: “You are a skull already—memento mori—the foreskin retracts from your teeth. Will your plastic gums last longer than your bones, and color their grinning? And is your twot still hazel-hairy, or are you bald as a ditch? . . . bitch . . . . . . bitch . . . . . . . . . bitch. I wanted to be famous, but you bring me age—my emptiness.” Gass’ rage against the world is made painfully obvious in his attempts to degrade it and its inhabitants. Like Cioran, his most venomous moments seem uncharacteristic and almost certainly gauche when measured against the care with which he’s chosen their language and pieced together its form. One can’t help but wonder to what degree they are self-conscious or even tongue-in-cheek, or if they’re simply unsophisticated spasms of dissonance, lapses into brute rage, stewing behind the veneer of otherwise masterful prose.
Gass does note that in spite of Cioran’s philosophical shortcomings, his poeticism manages to rise above, and this is why Cioran endures: “as Susan Sontag points out . . . there is nothing fresh about Cioran’s thought . . . except its formal fury. His book has all the beauty of pressed leaves, petals shut from their odors; yet what is retained has its own emotion, and here it is powerful and sustained.” It’s his style, the immediacy of his aphorisms and his language, not necessarily the logic behind them, that’s immortalized his work. Similarly Gass’ aesthetic trumps the adolescent angst that too often permeates his work and threatens to compromise its integrity.
…you will not expect any intimacy…
nor will you reproach me in any way…
She’s the physicist whose cabbage soup
And lint brush gave Einstein the time to solve
Time and also for Elsa and Miss S,
His stray eurekas in the dark, principles
He illuminated with apple-falling grasp
While she waited up with the clock like one
Of those observers on railroad platforms.
For her, the breakthrough came when he begged her
To meet him by train in the Alps before
They wed, overlooking her limp, her plain face,
His laughter fey in bed as his frizzy crown.
But now he pulled away and she preferred
The monotonous lecture of a child’s breathing
To his conception of where she stood
In his world, he an eponym for brilliance,
The new standard but also a barrier
Like the speed of light, what all things crawl
Relative to, she a dull lamp burning
Long into the night, proving him wrong
Again and again, though her discovery
Superfluous, the usual suffering.
by David Moolten
from 32 Poems, Fall/Winter 2013
Karen Armstrong in The New York Times:
At a time when religious faith is coming under intense scrutiny, “The Norton Anthology of World Religions” is presenting a documentary history of six major faiths with sufficient editorial explanation to make their major texts intelligible across the barriers of time and space. This second volume in the series is a textual overview of the three monotheisms — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — from the early scriptures to contemporary writings. It is presented as a journey of exploration, but any reader who hopes to emerge from this literary excursion with a clear-cut understanding of these religions will be disappointed — and that is the great strength of this book. First, the selected Jewish writings show that contrary to some popular assumptions, religion does not offer unsustainable certainty. The biblical story of the binding of Isaac leaves us with hard questions about Abraham’s God, and later, when Moses asks this baffling deity for his name, he simply answers: “Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh”, which can be roughly translated: “Never mind who I am!” The Book of Job finds no answer to the problem of human suffering, and Ecclesiastes dismisses human life as “utter futility.” This bleak honesty finds its ultimate expression in Elie Wiesel’s proclamation of the death of God in Auschwitz.
At its best, religion helps people to live creatively and kindly with the inescapable sorrow and perplexity of human existence.
Pervez Hoodbhoy in Dawn:
THE gut-wrenching massacre in Peshawar’s Army Public School has left Pakistan aghast and sickened. All political leaders have called for unity against terrorism. But this is no watershed event that can bridge the deep divides within. In another few days this episode of 134 dead children will become one like any other. All tragedies provoke emotional exhortations. But nothing changed after Lakki Marwat when 105 spectators of a volleyball match were killed by a suicide bomber in a pickup truck. Or, when 96 Hazaras in a snooker club died in a double suicide attack. The 127 dead in the All Saints Church bombing in Peshawar, or the 90 Ahmadis killed while in prayer, are now dry statistics. In 2012, men in military uniforms stopped four buses bound from Rawalpindi to Gilgit, demanding that all 117 persons alight and show their national identification cards. Those with typical Shia names, like Abbas and Jafri, were separated. Minutes later corpses lay on the ground.
If Pakistan had a collective conscience, just one single fact could have woken it up: the murder of nearly 60 polio workers — women and men who work to save children from a crippling disease — at the hands of the fanatics. Hence the horrible inevitability: from time to time, Pakistan shall continue to witness more such catastrophes. No security measures can ever prevent attacks on soft targets. The only possible solution is to change mindsets. For this we must grapple with three hard facts. First, let’s openly admit that the killers are not outsiders or infidels.
Friday, December 19, 2014
I began learning the mathematical underpinnings of string theory during an intense period in the spring and summer of 1985. I wasn’t alone. Graduate students and seasoned faculty alike got swept up in the potential of string theory to be what some were calling the “final theory” or the “theory of everything.” In crowded seminar rooms and flyby corridor conversations, physicists anticipated the crowning of a new order.
But the simplest and most important question loomed large. Is string theory right? Does the math explain our universe? The description I’ve given suggests an experimental strategy. Examine particles and if you see little vibrating strings, you’re done. It’s a fine idea in principle, but string theory’s pioneers realized it was useless in practice. The math set the size of strings to be about a million billion times smaller than even the minute realms probed by the world’s most powerful accelerators. Save for building a collider the size of the galaxy, strings, if they’re real, would elude brute force detection.
Making the situation seemingly more dire, researchers had come upon a remarkable but puzzling mathematical fact. String theory’s equations require that the universe has extra dimensions beyond the three of everyday experience—left/right, back/forth and up/down. Taking the math to heart, researchers realized that their backs were to the wall. Make sense of extra dimensions—a prediction that’s grossly at odds with what we perceive—or discard the theory.
Every morning before breakfast, sketchpad in hand, Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947) went for a walk to observe and absorb his surroundings. This lifelong practice began early, when the artist launched his career in Paris in the tumultuous fin-de-siècle period, long before he left the urban sidewalks for the greener paths of Vernon and Le Cannet.1 These daily walks were his way of immersing himself, both visually and bodily, in the life of the city and – along with the radical perspectives and bold linear patterns of Japanese ukiyo-e prints2 – inspired many of his early works. Bonnard produced over one hundred paintings and prints in the 1890s that capture the bustling pace and brisk energy of Paris. He later referred to this subject as “the theater of the everyday,”3 and it is his particular vision of this sidewalk theater, and the viewer’s involvement in it, that I will investigate here, with particular attention to how his engagement with new media mattered to developing this vision. In particular, Bonnard’s use of color and his plays with space and figure-ground relations take advantage of the limits and potentials of printmaking as a medium, a medium that was more immediate and accessible yet less flexible than the painting for which he would become known. Playing off the chromatic constraints of lithography, Bonnard shuttles the viewer between foreground and background, intimate proximity and distance. In so doing he explores the duality of the street as a disorienting amalgam of schematic backdrops and looming intrusions into our personal space, both seemingly captured at the limits of our visual field.
Finding Vivian Maier investigates the case of a provokingly secretive woman who took thousands of photographs but kept them locked away, never showing or selling them during her lifetime. The documentary features interviews with people who knew Maier, including those who employed her as a nanny or who as children were her charges. They construct a fascinating, contradictory, unsettling verbal portrait of the artist, complicating rather than simplifying our understanding of her. It seems she was conscious of being a puzzle, even gleefully so: one speaker quotes Maier calling herself “the mystery woman.”
Vivian Maier was a strange, difficult person, and those who knew her have spent a lot of time trying to understand her. But when people in the film say, “Why was a nanny taking all these photographs?” or “What’s the use of taking it if no one sees it?” they reveal less about Maier than about common assumptions of what art is for, and who artists are. Maier’s photographs, to which she devoted herself rigorously but for which she never sought recognition, illustrate the paradox of someone who wanted to stay hidden yet obsessively documented her existence, a solitary outsider who could form profound, fleeting connections with strangers.
Faisal Devji in The Hindu:
One of the peculiarities of Indian political debate is that everyone claims to be secular while accusing others of not being so. Secularism’s hegemony as an idea was made clear by L.K. Advani, when he coined the now famous term “pseudo-secular” to describe his political enemies. But if secularism is so dominant an idea, this is because it is and has always been deployed as a polemical category as much as a constitutional principle, and indeed its insertion into the Constitution by Indira Gandhi was itself a partisan act. In colonial times, for example, Congressmen identified secularism with nationalism, which was in turn held to be the real antonym of communalism. In other words it was the pluralism and popularity of the Congress, compared with the supposedly sectarian appeal of Hindu and Muslim parties, that was seen as defining its secular credentials, and this in a demographic rather than constitutional way.
Since Independence, however, secularism is increasingly opposed to communalism, with the nation no longer central to its definition. Is it therefore being separated from a strictly populist logic to assume a purely juridical character — and does this indicate the failure of the nation to demonstrate its plurality and therefore secularism, which must instead be sought in the pre-modern past? Even in the days of its alleged dominance under Nehru, secularism could hardly be said to possess its own history or even existential reality, given that its membership included both the religious and irreligious. Indeed, secularists had to lay claim to explicitly religious precedents, such as bhakti or Sufi forms of devotion, and the pluralistic festivals with which these were often associated. In other words, the condescending reference was invariably to the “folk” devotions that had never, in fact, been part of the “culture” of self-professed secularists.
And so both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) continue to invoke a populist and indeed majoritarian logic to define the secular, but the changing nature of the Indian polity has given this rhetoric a quite different meaning. For the folk elements of its demographic logic have been replaced by varieties of ostensibly high-culture religiosity that no longer needs to display any pluralism, as long as it is assumed to be “tolerant”, a term that in the nationalist past had been used for another kind of high culture, that of royalty and aristocrats like Asoka or Akbar. Nehru himself preferred this form of the secular, which also served as a historical mask for the Congress’s quasi-colonial vision of itself. Before Independence, after all, its claims to hold the demographic middle ground between religious extremes had mirrored British attempts to constitute the colonial state as a neutral third party between Hindus and Muslims, itself a classically liberal position, despite the fact that it was deployed in an illiberal political system.
Read the full article here.
Sean Carroll in Preposterous Universe:
I got to know Charles “Chip” Sebens back in 2012, when he emailed to ask if he could spend the summer at Caltech. Chip is a graduate student in the philosophy department at the University of Michigan, and like many philosophers of physics, knows the technical background behind relativity and quantum mechanics very well. Chip had funding from NSF, and I like talking to philosophers, so I said why not?
We had an extremely productive summer, focusing on our different stances toward quantum mechanics. At the time I was a casual adherent of the Everett (many-worlds) formulation, but had never thought about it carefully. Chip was skeptical, in particular because he thought there were good reasons to believe that EQM should predict equal probabilities for being on any branch of the wave function, rather than the amplitude-squared probabilities of the real-world Born Rule. Fortunately, I won, although the reason I won was mostly because Chip figured out what was going on. We ended up writing a paper explaining why the Born Rule naturally emerges from EQM under some simple assumptions. Now I have graduated from being a casual adherent to a slightly more serious one.
But that doesn’t mean Everett is right, and it’s worth looking at other formulations. Chip was good enough to accept my request that he write a guest blog post about another approach that’s been in the news lately: a “Newtonian” or “Many-Interacting-Worlds” formulation of quantum mechanics, which he has helped to pioneer.