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This Week

World Falling Apart, Hope Unavoidable

Mayan Calendar via Shutterstock

Every Friday we take a look back at the week’s headlines, centering on a theme we’ve singled out as particularly important. 2012 is commencing with the reminder that no matter what goes down this year, hope can be strongest in dark places.

Jupiter’s heart is dissolving:

Does the fact that Jupiter’s heart is dissolving sadden Wilson? Quite the opposite, he says. “It’s kind of a sign that Jupiter is still forming—it hasn’t yet settled down into a steady state.”

Summary of the year’s events in particle physics:

Higgs has been finally cornered and we think we’re seeing the tip of his hat.

Long critical appraisal of Steven Pinker’s asking the crucial question of modern history:

Even if each generation is brighter than the last, as Pinker believes, being smart is not the same thing as being just. To have an account of ethics, one needs to begin from ideas of right and wrong, not simply from mental habits that happen to be widespread in one’s own milieu and moment.

Taliban to set up political office, possibly in Qatar—a “gesture of good faith” to resume negotiations:

It is the US and Germany that have been pushing for this. Earlier preconditions that the insurgents would have to lay down arms before any such representation appear to have been dropped. The push for a peace process, with a reluctant President Karzai falling in line, appears to be under way.

Story of the couple that came apart while publishing the soft-porn sensation Jacques:

“I’m not going to lie,” Danielle said. “If I cannot have this magazine to focus on, I’d be sitting in the corner crying. So I decided I’m going to take a really awful situation and turn it into a good one, take the magazine back and give my subscribers issues that they need. I just hope that they can still be supportive and bear with me on this transition.

Roger Ebert’s six reasons why movie revenue is declining:

The myth that small-town moviegoers don’t like “art movies” is undercut by Netflix’s viewing results.

Overview of Moscow’s new protesters: professionals who want change, not cash:

It has been so long since Russians went out in the streets in large numbers demanding political change that the crowd — an estimated 50,000 people, calmly watched over by the police — resembled a natural wonder, like the aurora borealis.

The Cartography and Geographic Information Society’s 38th annual Best of Show award went to “a dude working in an Oregon farmhouse”:

This object—painstakingly sculpted by a lone, impractical fellow—is a triumph of indie over corporate. Of analog over digital. Of quirk and caprice over templates and algorithms. It is delightful to look at. Edifying to study. And it may be the last important paper map ever to depict our country.

The very good USA Today explanation of why you don’t have free will:

True “free will,” then, would require us to somehow step outside of our brain’s structure and modify how it works. Science hasn’t shown any way we can do this because “we” are simply constructs of our brain.

Everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy.”

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