Being Fat, Reading, Musicology, Sarajevo, Santander, Harnoncourt

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That Fat Person On The Plane

Your Fat Friend | Medium | 5th March 2016

"I have to get on a plane. And I am fat. There is a common trope about this very situation, shown frequently on TV, in illustrations, in casually irritated conversation. Fat people are shown on planes all the time: loud, obnoxious, elbowing people, taking up space, getting cheetos crumbs all over ourselves and you, our whole existence designed to make you miserable. It couldn’t be further from my experience" (1,350 words)

The Trouble With Books

Nick Szabo | Unenumerated | 7th March 2016

A Whig history of reading. "Chinese printed works were vast but rare. European books were smaller but still too long. Internet works are the actual length a reader needs. Most readers don't want to spend most of their time reading verbose works by single author, when a greater variety of more relevant and thoughtfully concise works are available from a much larger pool of thinkers" (712 words)

Mathematics Meets Music

Lee Phillips | Ars Technica | 6th March 2016

Notes from a "particularly enjoyable" session on Mathematics and Music at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting. Professor Noam Elkies of Harvard University concluded his talk with "a baroque-style repeating arpeggiation" for piano based on the digits of π. "The result was an intriguingly disorienting congress of order with randomness, evoking something like an inebriated Buxtehude" (916 words)

The Book That Started World War One

Anthony Briggs | BBC | 2nd March 2016

The murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand at Sarajevo triggered World War One. But where did Gavrilo Princip and his fellow Bosnian revolutionaries learn their craft? If seems that they followed a "detailed blueprint" for assassination provided in a Russian short story called Seven Hanged, about an attempted murder of a government minister. Danilo Ilić, the Sarajevo ring-leader, translated Seven Hanged, then, in effect, re-enacted it (975 words)

The Portuguese Snowball

Matt Levine | Bloomberg View | 7th March 2016

If you bet against a bank, and the bank writes the terms of the bet, who do you think the odds will favour? Go ask the Portuguese train companies which entered into interest-swaps with Banco Santander — "a contender for the worst trade of all time" — and lost €1.3bn by the time their suit against Santander reached court. "If you are interested in how investment banks sell risk to customers, the judgement is a delightful read" (3,900 words)

Obituary: Nikolaus Harnoncourt

Telegraph | 7th March 2016

Conductor and pioneer of the period instrument movement, born Johann Nikolaus Graf de la Fontaine und d’Harnoncourt-Unverzagt in 1929, descended from Belgian nobility through his father and from the Holy Roman Emperors though his mother. "He was living in an apartment owned by the bee scientist Karl von Frisch, where Brahms had practised regularly, when von Karajan asked him to join the Vienna Symphony Orchestra"

Video of the day: Unfinished

What to expect: Introduction to an exhibition of unfinished artworks at The Met Breuer (1'43")

Thought for the day

The dispensing of injustice is always in the right hands
Stanislaw Lec

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