Birdwatching, Personal Investment, Bread, Mathematics, Jean Cocteau

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The Face Of A Falcon

Richard Mabey | New Statesman | 2nd December 2016

Birdwatcher’s diary. A sighting on the Norfolk coast. “The consensus now was that the bird was not a saker but a tundra peregrine. We had missed the first act of the drama, in which the bird had ambushed a marsh harrier twice its size and forced it to abandon its prey. It was now earthbound, mantled over its dinner on the far side of a lagoon. It was bigger than a standard peregrine, and in the low sun its back looked almost charcoal, flaring into unusually high white cheeks behind its moustachial stripes” (650 words)

Be Your Own Investment Manager

John Kay | 2nd December 2016

If you invest £1,000 for 40 years at a 5% return you end up with £7,000. But if you pay 2% each year in fees and charges you end up with just £3,250. So manage your money yourself. “The least risky method of improving investment returns is to pay less to the financial services industry.” Buy things that you understand, and hold on to them. It’s that simple. “Modern financial markets are complex, but much of the complexity is for the benefit of providers rather than consumers of financial services” (2,500 words)

A Guide To The Breads Of India

Michael Snyder | Lucky Peach | 2nd December 2016

“Bread traditions vary along a North-South, wheat-rice axis, with other grains like sorghum, millet, amaranth and semolina making appearances. The diversity of India’s breads also reflects a long history of trade and invasion, of cultural and culinary syncretism. It would be virtually impossible to capture the full diversity of India’s breads, or even to say what, in India, counts as bread. But we’ve given it a go. I went about it like this: If it’s starchy and used as a utensil, it’s bread” (2,900 words)

What Does It Feel Like To Do Maths?

Andrew Wiles | Plus Magazine | 1st December 2016

Andrew Wiles, who proved Fermat’s last theorem, talks about the inner life of a mathematician. “It’s bad to have too good a memory if you want to be a mathematician. You need to forget the way you approached a problem the previous time. It’s a bit like evolution. If you remembered all the failed attempts before, you wouldn’t try them again. Because I have a slightly bad memory I’ll probably try essentially the same thing again and then I realise I was just missing this one little thing” (1,800 words)

Jean Cocteau, Enfant Terrible

Kevin Jackson | Literary Review | 5th December 2016

If Jean Cocteau had only ever made films, he would still have a rich claim on posterity. Tarkovsky, Antonioni, Bertolucci and Almodóvar owed much to him. But Cocteau came late to cinema after winning fame as a poet, a playwright, a set designer, a theatre director, a novelist, a travel writer, a librettist, a jewellery maker, an actor and an autobiographer. Ezra Pound called him “the best writer in Europe”. He stands comparison with Picasso, Stravinsky and Proust as a maker of modernism (1,400 words)

Video of the day: An Economist’s Christmas

What to expect:

“We’ve been thinking about gift-giving. And now, Alex and I are going to ruin Christmas” (5’18”)

Thought for the day

Victor Hugo was a madman who thought he was Victor Hugo
Jean Cocteau

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