Links for January 26, 2018

Ursula K. Le Guin, Acclaimed for Her Fantasy Fiction, Is Dead at 88

Ursula K. Le Guin, the immensely popular author who brought literary depth and a tough-minded feminist sensibility to science fiction and fantasy with books like “The Left Hand of Darkness” and the Earthsea series, died on Monday at her home in Portland, Ore. She was 88.

Fantastic Beasts and How to Rank Them

So which seems more difficult: walking through a wall made of stone or a wall made of wood? Overwhelmingly, the subjects chose stone. They also determined that it would be harder to levitate a bowling ball than a basketball, and harder to grow an eye than a toe. Since levitation is categorically impossible, it shouldn’t matter that heavier objects, like bowling balls and cows, are harder to lift.... According to Shtulman and Morgan, that’s because our understanding of causation—our sense of which things make other things happen—is not a series of separate if-then statements but a vast interconnected web, which continues to govern our intuitions even when one particular strand snaps.

St. Vincent: Tiny Desk Concert

The singer performed at the Tiny Desk without a warmup or soundcheck, with just her acoustic guitar and un-amplified voice, letting the wordplay in her songs shine through.