Quote of the day

"Some books are undeservedly forgotten, none is undeservedly remembered "
— W.H. Auden

Erik Satie: Velvet Gentleman Pick of the day

“There are many kinds of eccentric and Satie was most of them”. He ate only white food, wore priestly robes, joined the army, and tried to start his own religion. His lover was a former trapeze artist who fed caviar to her cats and artworks to her goat. He invented Impressionism in music, found fame, drank himself to death, and died in poverty. “He may not have been a great composer, but he was a great Satie” (4,900 words)

FIFA And Global Power

The move against FIFA is a test case of America’s continuing power to control global institutions. The outcome will carry lessons for the balance of power in more systemically important global institutions such as the IMF and the UN. So far, American authority is holding up well, due mainly to America’s grip on the world financial system. That could change if China’s renminbi becomes a major international currency (910 words)

The Education Myth

More and better education may be desirable for all sorts of reasons. But education doesn’t guarantee economic growth — at least, not the sort of education that happens in schools. “Most of the skills that a labor force possesses are acquired on the job. At most modern firms, fewer than 15% of the positions are open for entry-level workers, meaning that employers demand something that the education system cannot provide” (930 words)

Death Of The Death Penalty

Slowly and reluctantly, America will give up the death penalty, for practical reasons. The crime rate is falling. Killing people in court-approved ways is messy and difficult. And it isn’t even cheap, when the costs of trial and appeal are taken into account. “Seeing a death sentence through to execution costs at least six times as much as a life sentence”. California could save $200 million a year by abolishing capital punishment (3,790 words)

The World And His Or Her Wife

How should partners in a same-sex marriage refer to one another? Husband works well for men. But wife comes with a lot of ideological baggage. For centuries it has connoted the weaker partner, legally and practically. “Perhaps the extension of wife to lesbians, whose marriages are (at least in gender terms) reciprocal arrangements between equals, will help to shift the old view of married women as subordinates” (1,850 words)

The Hypocrisy Of The Internet Journalist

The business model for most online publications is invasive surveillance. Journalists are central to the process. They make their money luring readers to websites where spyware is implanted. “For years, as a writer at Wired, I watched more companies put tracking cookies and scripts in every article I wrote. Unlike most of the people I worked with at Wired, I understood the implications of what we were doing” (1,770 words)

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