Bank Robbery, Afghanistan, Weather Forecasting, Russia & Germany, Buchenwald, Ancient Australia


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Boom: Inside A Bank-Bombing

Nick Summers | Bloomberg Business | 27th January 2015

Bank robbers hit on a new technique: Find a secluded cash machine, wait for a quiet moment, and blow it up. "The strongbox inside an ATM has a small slot in front that spits out bills to customers and a big door in back through which employees load cash. Criminals have learned to see this simple enclosure as a physics problem. Gas is pumped in, and when it is detonated, the weakest part — the large hinged door — is forced open" (4,800 words)

Getting Out Of Afghanistan

E.B. Boyd | Fast Company | 28th January 2015

Getting stuff out of Afghanistan has proved to be "one of the most difficult operations the US military has ever undertaken". In 13 years of war America piled up the equivalent of 62,000 shipping containers in arms and equipment which has be repatriated — not because it is all needed at home, but in order to deny it to the Taliban. "Every convoy has to be handled as a combat operation" (11,600 words)

Ask Not, “Will it Snow?”

Zeynep Tufekci | The Message | 27th January 2015

Instead, you should ask for the distribution of the forecast: How probable is a major blizzard? You also need to weigh the damage done by a false positives (you warn of a blizzard and it doesn't come) against the damage done by a false negative (you don't warn of a blizzard, and it does come). New York City probably made the right choice in preparing for a blizzard that didn't happen, but it would be nice to know more about the data (1,940 words)

Putin: In It To Win It

Walter Russell Mead | American Interest | 27th January 2015 | Metered paywall

How Vladimir Putin sees the world. America is the far enemy. Germany is the near enemy. Russia's priority is to prevent Europe consolidating under German leadership. "He is betting on German failure, not on Russian success. The goal of Russian policy in Ukraine is not to conquer Ukraine, but to demonstrate that Germany cannot save Ukraine or organize Ukraine. It doesn’t have the money, the military culture or the political skills" (1,800 words)

Surviving Buchenwald

Richard Crossman | New Statesman | 27th January 2015

Republished from 1945. An Austrian Catholic liberated from Buchenwald tells of his eight years as a political prisoner: "A Concentration Camp is just another form of human existence. After the first shock one accepts it, just as one accepts the front line or the slum. And if you decide to survive and adapt yourself, you live just as fully in Buchenwald as anywhere else: though the chances of death are a good deal higher" (2,310 words)

Ancient Sea Rise Tale Told Accurately For 10,000 Years

John Upton | Scientific American | 27th January 2015

Stories passed down orally through 400 generations of Aborigines describe accurately Australia as it was 10,000 years ago, before the end of the Ice Age and the flooding of Port Phillip Bay. "Some tribes can still point to islands that no longer exist — and provide their original names". The "gobsmacking" details have survived because Aborigines observe "kin-based responsibilities to tell stories accurately" (1,100 words)

Video of the day: 39 Cents

What to expect: Satire. Some strong language (2'50")

Thought for the day

Age doesn't matter, unless you are a cheese
Luis Bunuel

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