Most people extend the presumption of mind to many other animals– especially furry, charismatic types like apes, monkeys, dogs, Administrative Law professors, etc. At some point, however, an animal seems sufficiently distinct from humans that most would no longer count it as a member of the tribe of the mental (e.g., Civil Procedure professors).

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Dear anyone who uses a household metaphor to describe government finances:

if you just took out a 30-year mortgage, you are now carrying about two to four times the debt:income ratio that the federal government is right now. Also, your interest rate is literally infinity times higher: the federal government is paying an inflation-adjusted -0.8% on most of its debt.

Andreas C. Schou

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Greatest letter to the editor ever? (From The Economist, via reddit)

SIR – You were mistaken in thinking that California once elected a “cyborg as governor” (“Just a little local difficulty”, August 10th). A cyborg is an organism augmented with mechanical elements. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator was an android, a machine designed to replicate a human.

Although the two may seem interchangeable, Mr Schwarzenegger would have been hard pressed to portray the level of humanity needed to pass for a cyborg.

Michael Scott
Great Falls, Virginia

* Letter appears online only

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“This puts the choice in the hands of the poor, and not me,” Michael Faye, one of GiveDirectly’s co-founders told me. “And the truth is, I don’t think I have a very good sense of what the poor need.” – Is It Nuts to Give to the Poor Without Strings Attached? –