Alcoholism, Crimea, Schubert, Swindling, China

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The Irrationality Of Alcoholics Anonymous

Gabrielle Glaser | Atlantic | 16th March 2015

The case against AA: It doesn't work. Alcoholism is a disease but AA isn't a treatment, it's a set of arbitrary rules. "Although few people seem to realize it, there are alternatives, including prescription drugs and therapies that aim to help patients learn to drink in moderation. Unlike Alcoholics Anonymous, these methods are based on modern science and have been proved, in randomized, controlled studies, to work" (8,320 words)

I Served The Russian Federation

Dmitry Pashinsky | Meduza | 16th March 2015

Conversations with Russian soldiers who took part in the annexation of Crimea. "As soon as we got out on to the shore, we were told to take any symbols and insignia off our uniforms. We were all given green balaclavas, dark sunglasses, and knee and elbow pads. I think we were some of the first to be called 'polite people'. We were allowed to wear insignia with the Russian flag again only after the referendum" (3,950 words)

The Magic In Schubert’s Songs

Ian Bostridge | New York Review Of Books | 16th March 2015

Discussion of Franz Schubert: The Complete Songs, by Graham Johnson, a "vast encyclopaedia" which constitutes "one of the great modern monuments of practical musicology". In his lifetime Schubert was compared unfavourably with Beethoven, and his song-writing considered a minor genre. But as the stature of song rose has risen, so Schubert's reputation has risen with it. His songs are understood now as masterpieces (3,325 words)

We Buy Broken Gold

Clancy Martin | Lapham's Quarterly | 16th March 2015

How to buy jewels and swindle people: "The fact is, they’re already weakened: that’s what they’re doing in your store in the first place. They need the money. It’s not quite stealing gold fillings out of the pulled teeth of weary soldiers, but it’s the same principle. Use your expertise to exploit the weakness of someone who doesn’t know any better, and do it in a situation in which he believes he has reason to trust you" (3,860 words)

China: Friends Like These

Gabriel Wildau & James Kynge | Financial Times | 18th March 2015 | | Read with 1Pass

China's bid to sponsor new international financial institutions may signal a policy change; it suggests that China has grown wary of lending large sums to troubled countries in the hope of buying political influence. If so, a good thing for China and for the world in general. But bad news for countries such as Venezuela that rely heavily on China for cash. "Somewhere in Latin America or Africa, one of these countries is going to default" (2,580 words)

Video of the day: Asinas, By Jennifer Townley

What to expect: Hard to say, but imagine rows of long white dominoes rotating on a spit. Art (2'31")

Thought for the day

Philosophy is the attempt to find good reasons for conventional beliefs
John Gray (

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