100 Years Since Her Execution, Was Mata Hari a Sexy Spy or a Sexy Scapegoat?


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The enduring mystique.

In her own words, she was an international woman. She spoke several languages, she traveled around Europe constantly, she had lovers in every country, it seemed. With the advent of war, borders were secured, passports required, questions asked. Ambiguity and mystery were no longer assets, but instead brought her rapidly to the attention of the authorities. She was a woman with no fixed home, no husband, no steady source of income.

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Ellen Hampton — The Daily Beast

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From prison to PhD


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A real life feat of rehabilitation.

In a breathtaking feat of rehabilitation, Jones, now 45, became a published scholar of American history while behind bars, and presented her work by videoconference to historians’ conclaves and the Indiana General Assembly. With no internet access and a prison library that skewed toward romance novels, she led a team of inmates that pored through reams of photocopied documents from the state archives to produce the Indiana Historical Society’s best research project last year. As prisoner No. 970554, Jones also wrote several dance compositions and historical plays, one of which is slated to open at an Indianapolis theater in December.

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The Marshall Project

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Hugh Hefner (1926–2017): A literary legacy of sex-supported fiction publishing


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An obituary. Many of us don’t realize this, but Playboy has published some solid literary pieces from great writers.

Early on, as Josh Lambert reported in Tablet in 2010, Hef was frustrated and disappointed by anti-semitism and stifled by the hiring practices at Esquire. In response, he happily hired some of the country’s top Jewish editors: Nat LehrmanSheldon WaxArthur Kretchmer, and August Comte Spectorsky. But Playboy didn’t become a prestigious venue for literary writing until the sixties, under the eye of editor Robie Macauley, who attracted bylines from some of the greatest science fiction writers of the day — Arthur C. ClarkeRay BradburyIsaac Assimov, and many others. With numerous Nebula nominations and wins, Playboy became synonymous with quality sci-fi.

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Peter Clark — Melville House

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Hillary Clinton Looks Back in Anger


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How do you deal with the fact that you get “more votes for President than any white man” in American history and still loose?

It’s true that, throughout the campaign, Clinton was described—by Trump, by his surrogates, and by countless people on social media—in the ugliest terms: weak, sickly, a criminal, physically repellent. Clinton, in her book, tells of how, during the second debate, just two days after the “grab ’em by the pussy” tape, she wanted to wheel around at Trump, who was “breathing down my neck,” and say, “Back up, you creep, get away from me, I know you love to intimidate women but you can’t intimidate me, so back up.” Instead, she bit her tongue and kept going.

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David Remnick — The New Yorker

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Why Spinoza Was Excommunicated


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It is quite interesting to know that Spinoza was excommunicated from his community even before any of his books were published.

The document concludes with the warning that “no one should communicate with him, not even in writing, nor accord him any favor nor stay with him under the same roof nor [come] within four cubits in his vicinity; nor shall he read any treatise composed or written by him.”

Among the boldest elements of Spinoza’s philosophy is his conception of God. Spinoza’s God, as presented in the Ethics, is a far cry from the traditional God of the Abrahamic religions. What Spinoza calls “God or Nature” (Deus sive Natura) lacks all of the psychological and ethical attributes of a providential deity. His God is not some personal agent endowed with will and understanding and even emotions, capable of having preferences and making informed choices. Spinoza’s God does not formulate plans, issue commands, have expectations, or make judgments. Neither does Spinoza’s God possess anything like moral character. His God is neither good nor wise nor just. It is a category mistake to think of God in normative or value terms. What God is, for Spinoza, is Nature itself—the infinite, eternal, and necessarily existing substance of the universe. God or Nature just is; and whatever else is, is “in” or a part of God or Nature. Put another way, there is only Nature and its power; and everything that happens, happens in and byNature. There is no transcendent or even immanent supernatural deity; there is nothing whatsoever outside of or distinct from Nature and independent of its processes.

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Steven Nadler — Humanities

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Click Bait


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Wiki – Diane Arbus (/dˈæn ˈɑːrbəs/; March 14, 1923 – July 26, 1971) was an American photographer and writer noted for photographs of marginalized people—dwarfsgiantstransgender people, nudistscircus performers—and others whose normality was perceived by the general populace as ugly or surreal.

Walker Evans called her a huntress—and she was as matter-of-fact about her predilections as her biographers are flustered. “She told me she’d never turned down any man who asked her to bed,” recalled one confidante at the time. “She’d say things like that as calmly as if she were reciting a recipe for biscuits.” Friends remembered her confessing compulsively or weeping while recounting these episodes. Others said she appeared dignified, coolly unafraid. They might all have been telling the truth. Her adventures were probably a combination of the desperate, dull, thrilling, numbing, humiliating—aren’t yours? But they’ve only ever been interpreted as tragic, as a symptom of depression and hideous loneliness, as proof that she was, in Schultz’s words, “a living suicide algorithm.”

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Parul Sehgal — Bookforum

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A Mark Zuckerberg Presidency Isn’t Ridiculous—It’s Terrifying


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Another needull on Mark Zuckerberg’s potential run for presidency. I don’t necessarily agree with the article but important issues are to be discussed.

Trump’s hate-mongering and vulgarity are likely to make whoever occupies the White House after him seem innocuous by comparison, but a Zuckerberg presidency would be dangerous in far more subtle ways. The benign public face of the Obama administration masked an unprecedented program of privacy invasion and surveillance, all carried out in the alleged interests of “national security.” Who’s to say whether “innovation” and “fresh thinking” under a Zuckerberg administration wouldn’t serve as euphemisms for an even broader campaign of observation and analysis, implemented not just to protect us from enemies abroad, but to surreptitiously shape and manage our society at home? If we do find Zuckerberg tossing his hat in the ring come 2020, we should take care to remember what he built at Facebook—and, more importantly, how—and ask ourselves whether elevating a quasi-progressive boy genius is worth the significant costs to our privacy and our freedom.

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Jake Bittle – The Nation

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