Archive for June 13th, 2011

June 13, 2011

Rudolf Hess

rudolph hess

Rudolf Hess (1894 – 1987) was a prominent Nazi politician and official acting as Adolf Hitler’s Deputy in the Nazi Party during the 1930s and early 1940s. On the eve of war with the Soviet Union, he flew solo to Scotland in an attempt to negotiate peace with the United Kingdom, but instead was arrested and held in captivity for the rest of the war. Hess was tried at Nuremberg and sentenced to life in prison at Spandau Prison, Berlin, where he died in 1987.

Hess’ 1941 attempt to negotiate peace and subsequent lifelong imprisonment have given rise to many theories about his motivation for flying to Scotland, and conspiracy theories about why he remained imprisoned alone at Spandau, long after all other convicts had been released. Precise and detailed information on many aspects of Hess’ situation either has been withheld in confidential archives in several nations, or has disappeared outright; this has made accurate historical conclusions very problematic.

read more »

June 13, 2011

Born Secret

h-bomb secret

Born secret‘ refers to a policy of information being classified from the moment of its inception, usually regardless of where it was being created, usually in reference to specific laws in the United States that are related to information that describes the operation of nuclear weapons. It has been extensively used in reference to a clause in the Atomic Energy Act of 1946, which specified that all information about nuclear weapons and nuclear energy was to be considered ‘Restricted Data’ (RD) until it had been officially declassified. The ‘born secret’ policy was created under the assumption that nuclear information could be so important to national security that it would need classification before it could be formally evaluated.

Whether or not it is constitutional to declare entire categories of information preemptively classified has not been definitively tested in the courts. When it was directly challenged in a freedom of the press case in 1979 (United States v. The Progressive) where a magazine attempted to publish an account of the so-called ‘secret of the hydrogen bomb’ (the Teller-Ulam design) which was apparently created without recourse to classified information, many analysts predicted that the Supreme Court would, if it heard the case, reject the ‘born secret’ clause as being an unconstitutional restriction of speech. The government, however, dropped the case as moot before it was resolved.

June 13, 2011

Art for Art’s Sake

autotelic index


Art for art’s sake‘ is the usual English rendering of a French slogan, from the early 19th century, ‘l’art pour l’art,’ and expresses a philosophy that the intrinsic value of art, and the only ‘true’ art, is divorced from any didactic (educational), moral or utilitarian function.

Such works are sometimes described as ‘autotelic,’ from the Greek ‘autoteles,’ ‘complete in itself,’ a concept that has been expanded to embrace ‘inner-directed’ or ‘self-motivated’ human beings. A Latin version of this phrase, ‘Ars gratia artis,’ is used as a slogan by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and appears in its logo.

read more »

June 13, 2011


srinivasa ramanujan by david levine

Autodidacticism [aw-toh-dahy-dak-tuh-siz-uhm] is self-education or self-directed learning. In a sense, autodidacticism is ‘learning on your own’ or ‘by yourself,’ and an autodidact is a person who teaches him or herself something. Self-teaching and self-directed learning are contemplative, absorptive processes. A person may become an autodidact at nearly any point in his or her life. While some may have been educated in a conventional manner in a particular field, they may choose to educate themselves in other, often unrelated areas.

In the field of mathematics, Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887 – 1920) was an Indian autodidact who, with almost no formal training, made substantial contributions to number theory.

read more »

June 13, 2011



Didacticism [dahy-dak-tuh-siz-uhm] is an artistic philosophy that emphasizes instructional and informative qualities in literature and other types of art. The primary intention of didactic art is not to entertain, but to teach. Didactic plays, for instance, teach the audience through the use of a moral or a theme. An example of didactic writing is Alexander Pope’s ‘An Essay on Criticism’ (1711), which offers a range of advice about critics and criticism. An example of didactism in music is the chant ‘Ut queant laxis,’ which was used by Guido of Arezzo to teach solfege syllables.

The term ‘didactic’ is also used as a criticism for work that appears to be overly burdened with instructive, factual, or otherwise educational information, to the detriment of the enjoyment of the reader. Edgar Allan Poe called didacticism the worst of ‘heresies’ in his essay ‘The Poetic Principle.’