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Is This The End Of Britishness? Pick of the day

My apologies if you feel I’m overdoing the Scottish stuff, but the independence vote is spurring much outstanding writing. In this magnificent essay Ian Jack admires the ability of the Scots, and especially the separatists, to take pride and find hope in their Scottishness; and he regrets that any strong notion of Britishness, by contrast, is absent from the debate — as it has been absent from British life, by and large, since the 1960s (5,360 words)

Survival Of The Sexiest

Sceptical account of the rise of evolutionary psychology, as dumbed-down Darwinism for a consumer age in which desire is king. Survival of the fittest becomes “survival of the sexiest”. As described here, the discipline is barely 30 years old, and consists largely of finding behavioural differences between men and women, particularly in matters of courtship and sex, and turning the results into newspaper articles (4,220 words)

Church Of U2

Fascinating. U2 are the world’s top Christian rock act. Religion inspires their music. They just don’t say so openly. “While secular listeners tend to think of U2’s religiosity as preachy window dressing, religious listeners see faith as central to the band’s identity. To some people, Bono’s lyrics are treacly platitudes, verging on nonsense; to others, they’re thoughtful, searching, and profound meditations on faith” (1,980 words)

Fall Of The House Of Boggs

Greed, power and money: an instructive tale. Washington lobbying firm Patton Boggs was desperate for business after the 2008 crash. It joined a class-action lawsuit against Chevron in Ecuador financed by a hedge fund as a for-profit investment. The plaintiffs were awarded $18bn in Ecuador; but a US court found their lawyer guilty of rigging the evidence and pressuring local judges; Patton Boggs was ruined (2,480 words)

Screen Time

Lessons learned from loading a search engine with onscreen language from 87,000 movies and TV shows. Think Google ngram, but for screenplays. Some striking results. References to “global warming” and “climate change” have plummeted since 2008. Swearing on television has declined recently, due in part perhaps to the ending of Wild West series Deadwood, where the word “f-king” was spoken more often than “of” (1,320 words)

The Case For Open Borders

Interview with libertarian economist Bryan Caplan. “Open borders allow people to move from the parts of the world where their labor pretty much goes to waste, to places where their skills can shine. The difference between the productivity of labor in poor countries and rich countries is so vast, it’s hard to wrap your mind around it. This isn’t just trickle-down economics. It’s Niagara Falls economics” (6,690 words)

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