Baked Possum, Happiness, High-Frequency Lawyers, Fear And Loathing, Central Banking , Aleppo

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Baked Possum

Chris Offut | Oxford American | 13th January 2016

Recipe with digressions. “Ideally you will trap a possum and keep it alive for a week, feeding it a steady diet of roughage to clean out its system. They’re not easy to trap. They like trees, and have the habit of changing dens every few days to foil predators. Before we begin preparing the possum for baking, I’d like to relate two highly personal stories about possums. One is quite sentimental and the second has a squeamish element, so I will lead with the sweet and kind” (2,500 words)

Shopping For Happiness

Jacob | Put A Number On It | 10th May 2016

Tongue-in-cheek, but far from foolish. Yes you can buy happiness, if you don’t try to over-think what happiness should mean. Notice what makes you happy and buy more of it. Using things is generally more fun than owning them. “People strongly undervalue the happiness to be had from excellent products in cheap categories.” Good soap, for example. “I’m using the soap for only 4 minutes each day, so I spend the entire 4 minutes thinking how great the soap smells and feels” (3,000 words)

Get Ready For High-Frequency Lawyers

Noah Smith | Bloomberg View | 10th May 2016

Thirty years ago stocks were traded by humans waving sheets of paper in crowded rooms. Today they are traded thousands of times a second by computer algorithms relying on data sets too big to be comprehended by the human mind. That is the future of all commoditised transactions — a robot-to-robot, always-on, economy. “Imagine high-frequency lawyers, adjusting contracts to reward contractors appropriately for tiny improvements in efficiency” (750 words)

Fear And Loathing On The Campaign Trail

Hunter S. Thompson | Rolling Stone | 5th July 1973

A treasure from the archives. Excerpts chosen “more or less at random” from Thompson’s “massive” book on the 1972 presidential campaign. It begins: “One afternoon about three days ago the Editorial Enforcement Detail from the Rolling Stone office showed up at my door, with no warning, and loaded about 40 pounds of supplies into the room: two cases of Mexican beer, four quarts of gin, a dozen grapefruits, and enough speed to alter the outcome of six Super Bowls” (15,540 words)

School For Central Bankers

Tom Fairless | Wall Street Journal | 10th May 2016

The Deutschemark disappeared in 2002 but the Bundesbank still keeps itself busy. It employs 10,000 professional staff — three times as many as the ECB does — and runs its own university to teach the virtues of sound money. The Deutsche Bundesbank University of Applied Sciences offers a single degree, in central banking. Anybody can apply, but kibitzers beware. “Aspiring investment bankers aren’t especially welcome. Guys that are very money-oriented should leave” (990 words)

A Sense Of War

Janine de Giovanni | Harper's | 5th May 2016

A war correspondent’s notes from Aleppo. “What does the war smell of? It smells of carbine, of wood smoke, of unwashed bodies, of rubbish rotting. On every corner there is a destroyed building that may or may not have bodies still buried underneath. Your old school is gone; so are the mosque, your grandmother’s house and your office. Your memories are smashed. Remember that beautiful house, what it looked like when someone lived there? Your beautiful life from before is now dead” (690 words)

Video of the day: Pixar And The Story

What to expect:

Kristian Williams explains how Pixar crafts the storylines of its films (5’14”)

Thought for the day

Happiness is an imaginary condition attributed by adults to children and by children to adults
Thomas Szasz

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