Big numbers, immortality, and Jimbo Joyce’s hell

Graham’s Number, folksily abbreviated to “g64,” was long famous as the largest number ever used in a serious mathematical proof. I quote here from Tim Urban’s nerdy, obsessive, but excellent blog post explaining (or trying and failing to explain: what else is there?) how big Graham’s Number is: Weirdly, thinking about Graham’s number has actually …

“Did someone really write a whole book on the meaning of the term ‘bulls**t’?”

Yes! One of the characters in Ghosts in the Machine mentions this, and it’s true! Princeton philosopher Harry Frankfurt’s On Bullshit is a fascinating analysis of what makes liars different from bullshitters. In brief: liars care about steering people away from the truth; bullshitters don’t care one way or the other about truth, but only …

“You used to teach philosophy. What IS philosophy?”

In my very first philosophy class, the professor said: “Philosophy asks two questions. ‘What can we know? And what should we do about it?’” American philosopher Wilfred Sellars was apparently (but not really) leaning more towards the first of those questions when he wrote the definition philosophers themselves like best. Sellars described philosophy as the …

The pen is mightier: “GRAPHIC MASTERS” at the Seattle Art Museum

Such riches, all in half a dozen rooms. These, with apologies for my cell phone, are a few top picks. A famous masterpiece by Dürer, breathtaking in its depth, skill, assurance and complexity: Two square inches of back-of-the-envelope genius by Rembrandt (a self-portrait). A series of darkly mannered, cruel social skewerings by Hogarth, in The …