Sunday, April 20, 2014


  1. Sasha Sagan in New York Magazine: Lessons of Immortality and Mortality From My Father, Carl Sagan

    One day when I was still very young, I asked my father about his parents. I knew my maternal grandparents intimately, but I wanted to know why I had never met his parents.

    “Because they died,” he said wistfully.

    “Will you ever see them again?” I asked.

    He considered his answer carefully. Finally, he said that there was nothing he would like more in the world than to see his mother and father again, but that he had no reason — and no evidence — to support the idea of an afterlife, so he couldn’t give in to the temptation.


    Then he told me, very tenderly, that it can be dangerous to believe things just because you want them to be true. You can get tricked if you don’t question yourself and others, especially people in a position of authority. He told me that anything that’s truly real can stand up to scrutiny.

    As far as I can remember, this is the first time I began to understand the permanence of death. [...]

  2. Robert Frank in NYTimes: When Diamonds Are Dirt Cheap, Will They Still Dazzle?

    ... [What] will happen to the lofty prices of such goods if there is an inexhaustible supply of inexpensive perfect copies? Economic reasoning can help answer this question. It can also shed light on how new technologies might alter traditional ways in which people demonstrate their wealth to others, or might change what society embraces as tokens of commitment and other gifts.