A cliché almost as common as the Parable of the Phone Call in genius journalism is what we might call the Delirious Apprehension of the Eclectic, in which the writer is simply amazed by the overwhelming diversity of the fields that have been honored. “They’re historians and scientists and one of them is a stringed-instrument bow maker,” as a gee-whiz NPR story from 2012 had it. “A neurologist who studies dementia. A jazz drummer who celebrates Latin rhythm. A remedial-reading teacher who writes poetry,” begins a Chicago Tribune account from 2011. And were those geniuses somehow to get together in one place—wow! Thomas Frank on the MacArthur "genius" grants.
With the possible exception of the Nobel awards, physicists seem to get all the press these days, whether they're doing quantum level work at the LHC, or cosmology via the latest satellite data. Biologists, not so much. It's too bad, because Richard Lenski is running one of the great evolutionary experiments of our time, and it's producing interesting results. [more inside]
Will Allen, the founder of Growing Power, an urban farm in Milwaukee, has won a MacArthur Genius grant. Growing Power uses aquaculture, vermiculture, and sustainable agriculture to raise food in an urban environment. Chefs of the region have taken notice, but that's not Growing Power's main purpose. Congratulations to only the second farmer to win a Genius Grant. [more inside]
2008 MacArthur Foundation "Genius" grants announced. Probably the biggest name is the New Yorker's music critic Alex Ross. [more inside]
MacArthur Foundation genius grants -- I didn't get one this year, but Ben Katchor did. So did some other astonishing people, such as Patricia J. Williams, of whose column "Diary of a Mad Law Professor" in The Nation I am a particular fan.