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We Are A Camera

The Brownie of the YouTube era is a tiny, robust camera called GoPro, invented by a California surfer. “The short video synonymous with GoPro is a kind of post-literate diary, a stop on the way to a future in which everything will be filmed from every point of view. GoPro, like Google Glass, has the insidious effect of making the pervasiveness of cameras seem playful and benign when it may one day be anything but” (6,530 words)

The Scottish Independence Bill

The first chapter of this document is the draft constitution for an independent Scotland. The people of Scotland will be “sovereign”, but the Queen (as in, Queen of England) will be head of state. Anyone “habitually resident” in Scotland on independence day, or born in Scotland, will automatically receive Scottish citizenship; others with “a prescribed connection to Scotland” may apply for it (Big PDF) (20,000 words)

Death, Justice, And The Talmud

Is death a punishment? If so, why is it handed out to everybody? Perhaps because we all deserve it. The Talmud says that “even those who seem most innocent of sin have done something to deserve punishment”. Where there is error, there is remedy: “If Miriam was supposed to live until 70 and she died at 40, what becomes of those 30 missing years? They are donated as a reward to Torah scholars for meritorious behaviour” (1,400 words)

Ants Can Teach Us Nothing

A great entomologist writes: “I’ll start with the question I’m most often asked: ‘What can I do about the ants in my kitchen?’ My response comes from the heart: Watch your step, be careful of little lives. Another question I hear a lot is: ‘What can we learn of moral value from the ants?’ Here again I will answer definitively: Nothing. Nothing can be learned from ants that our species should even consider imitating” (1,150 words)

Covering The Islamic State

Sensible practice note for writers and editors on how to cover the Islamic State without giving militants the blood-curdling publicity they evidently crave. Rule of thumb: Tell, don’t show. Don’t republish beheading videos, do make use of the information they contain. Preserve the dignity of the victim. “We do not broadcast staged scenes of violence”. Is that censorship? No. People can find the images easily elsewhere (1,880 words)

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