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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Erotics Of Mentorship, by Marta Figlerowicz, Boston Review

Probably for as long as there have been students and teachers, students have often felt a visceral thrill in their stomachs when fired up by a new passion that also happens to be exemplified by a powerful teacher. However, in recent decades it has become taboo to discuss the erotic dimension of mentorship.

Nonetheless it has a very long history of being both celebrated and thoughtfully interrogated. In perhaps the earliest written example, the Alcibiades I, Socrates adopts the guise of a lover to divert his student, the young Alcibiades, from going into an unfulfilling political career. Socrates claims to exercise over his student-lover an absolute power that the latter should willingly accept.

How California Turned Into A ‘State Of Resistance’, by James Fallows, New York Times

Positions like these amount to the “State of Resistance” of Pastor’s title, but the book’s argument is actually the opposite of what “resistance” might imply. Instead, Pastor, a sociologist at the University of Southern California, suggests that at just the moment California seems most out of sync with national trends, it is in fact regaining its role as bellwether and pioneer. “The country needs resistance to be sure,” he writes, “but it also needs a vision of what America can become.” In his book, which is concise, clear and convincing, he contends that the redemptive arc of modern California’s history offers both cautionary and constructive guidance on a vision for the country as a whole.

In This Space Race, Jeff Bezos And Elon Musk Are Competing To Take You There, by Walter Isaacson, New York Times

Musk won the bidding for Launch Pad 39A, but a few months later Bezos bought the nearby Launch Complex 36, from which missions to fly by Mars and Venus had been launched. The transfer of these hallowed pads represented, both symbolically and in practice, John F. Kennedy’s torch of space exploration being passed from government to the private sector — from a once-glorious but now sclerotic federal agency to a new breed of boyish billionaires who embodied the daring passion and imagination of history’s great pioneers, adventurers and innovators.

Two new books chronicle this fascinating transition. “The Space Barons,” by Christian Davenport, a Washington Post reporter, is an exciting narrative filled with colorful reporting and sharp insights. The book sparkles because of Davenport’s access to the main players and his talent for crisp storytelling. “Rocket Billionaires,” by Tim Fernholz, a reporter for Quartz, is not quite as vibrant a narrative and lacks some of Davenport’s memorable scenes, but it provides smart analysis of the New Space sector as well as historical context about NASA’s triumphs and failures.

Autonomous Weapons Would Take Warfare To A New Domain, Without Humans, by Ari Shapiro, NPR

"We do have the opportunity to shape how we use technology. We're not at the mercy of it," Schare says. "The problem at the end of the day isn't the technology. It's getting humans to cooperate together on how we use the technology and make sure that we're using it for good and not for harm."