A link round-up. I've been bookmarking these for a while, and forget where I saw most of them, but the majority are probably from Gerry Canavan, and most of the rest from Making Light, 3 Quarks Daily or Andrew Sullivan.
• Daniel Abraham, "A Private Letter from Genre to Literature". (This wins my personal "if you only read one of these links" vote, although obviously that will differ for everyone depending on your interests and tastes.)
• Terry Pratchett's short story "A Collegiate Casting-Out of Devilish Devices".
• Muppets, Avengers and Life in the Age of Fanfiction (AKA Everything is Fan Fiction Now.)
• Only the first Muppet movie was real; the others were the movies made by the troop assembled in the first one.
• Really awesome interview with Joss Whedon about his film of Much Ado About Nothing... done by some insanely talented (& insanely lucky) high school student.
• Alan Moore on the use of his V for Vendetta mask by the Occupy protesters.
• The rules of magic in diverse fantasy works.
• T. M. Scanlin (a philosopher whom I knew while I was in college, although I don't think I ever took a course with him) on libertarianism and liberty, with replies by Brad DeLong and Will Wilkinson.
• The errors of baseball umpires from various philosophical perspectives.
• "Octopuses," writes philosopher Godfrey-Smith, "are a separate experiment in the evolution of the mind." And that, he feels, is what makes the study of the octopus mind so philosophically interesting. Inside the Mind of the Octopus.
• Start at any Wikipedia page, then click the first link (ignoring any that are italicised or nestled in brackets), then repeat. For more than 93% of articles, you will end up at philosophy. Guardian article about this fact. Analysis which is the source of the 93% figure. Web application which will trace the path from any given Wikipedia page (or a random one) to Philosophy. Wikipedia's own article about this phenomenon.
• Presidential pick-up lines. (Only for those who like dirty jokes. And pictures of presidents.)
• Also from Tumblr: Shit Siri Says.
• How to speak Republican.
• David Frum (former speechwriter for George W. Bush) asks When Did the GOP Lose Touch With Reality?
• Genuinely horrifying and shocking story: American government censors a blog, denies due process for over a year.
• Daniel Larison (one of the more interesting conservative writers around) talks to Corey Robin about Robin's new book The Reactionary Mind.
• Ethnically-based nation states are a really dumb idea.
• Segregated buses in America -- in 2011.
• Cool digital colleges by Matt Wisniewski. My favorite:
• Mysterious sculptor leaves gorgeous artworks in the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh. (More)
• Irina Werning gets people to pose for recreations of old photographs (staring themselves as children, or at least much younger versions of themselves). They're quite astonishing. More here. (One or two in each set mildly NSFW).
• Paul Simon's Graceland at 25.
• Andrew Rilestone on Bob Dylan in concert.
• Elliot Carter at a concert in celebration of his 103rd birthday. Carter had "written five works this year [!!] that were included in the program... Never in the history of music has a major composer still been producing significant pieces at such an age."
Profiles and Lives
• Jackson Lears on Reinhold Niebuhr
• Louis Menand on George Kennan
• Stalin's daughter died recently; she had a bizarre and fascinating life, well worth reading about.
• This has been around for a long time, but I don't think I've ever linked before to this fun little biography of Samuel R. Delany by K. Leslie Steiner (who is, incidentally, Delany himself).
Relating to Universities
• Why are they so fucked up? (Latest in a very, very, very long series of speculations & analyses by diverse people)
• Marc Bousquet on working as an academic (and how little it pays)
• The militarization of campus police.
Things That From a Long Way Off Look Like Flies
• A lengthy & fascinating thread on Metafilter in which non-Americans are asked to identify what's weird or quirky about America/Americans.