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Larry Summers On China: Regression Ahead

Larry Summers and Lant Pritchett argue in a new academic paper that China’s 36-year record of “super-rapid” economic growth is probably unique in world history; and that reversion to more a modest rate of long-term growth is both inevitable and imminent. Tyler Cowen calls this “One of the best and most important economics papers I have seen all year”. An ungated PDF draft of the original paper is here (930 words)

Billy Joel: Thirty-Three Hit Wonder

Billy Joel plays Madison Square Garden: “Close your eyes and it’s 1982″. His last new album was 20 years ago, but the old songs are what the audience wants, the shows sell out, and Joel is enjoying late middle age perhaps even a little more than he should. “I’m with the Jack Nicholson school, that it’s this flat-belly shit that’s ruining America. I don’t think there’s anything more pathetic than a man on a diet” (10,400 words)

Ada Lovelace, Tech Innovator

Some innovators are so far ahead of their time that they seem to possess a separate category of genius. As with Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, who wrote “the first examples of working software ever published” in 1842-43. These were “instruction sets” to control the intricate counting machines built by her friend Charles Babbage. It was another century before the true value of her work was understood (2,387 words)

A Company Man

Extract from Héctor Tobar’s book, Deep Down Dark, about the 2010 Chilean mine collapse which trapped 33 underground. The miners knew the pit was dangerous well before its collapse — and that the owners had stopped seismic monitoring. But they worked on. “Mining is an inherently dangerous occupation, and those who have decades of experience working underground take pride in facing its risks” (3,930 words)

The Syria We Don’t Know

With each American sortie against ISIS, Bashar Al-Assad’s prospects improve. Damascus is enjoying “a respite of sorts from war”. The peaceful pro-democracy protestors have given up; they fear ISIS more than Assad. The Free Syrian Army holds some outlying areas of Damascus, and fights on in Aleppo, but its grip is weakening. “People are exhausted. Even those who fought the regime are moving toward reconciliation” (2,980 words)

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