Chris Higgins | Mental Floss | 1st February 2014
Interview with four-time champion Arthur Chu. "There's a cultural bias to what they put in. US Presidents are very important. State nicknames they keep going back to. If they mention a 'Norwegian composer' it will be Edvard Grieg. If they mention a 'Polish Nobel Prize Winner' it's likely to be Marie Curie. Jeopardy! is aimed at the average TV viewer, so they focus on these cultural touchstones that we all know"
Anthony Lane | New Yorker | 3rd February 2014
Review of Claude Lanzmann's film Last of the Unjust, about Benjamin Murmelstein, a Viennese Rabbi who led the Jewish Council at the Theresienstadt concentration camp, and saw his role as one of buying time and preserving lives, "however degraded those lives became". The film is "stirred and enlivened by the tribute that it pays to pure survival, even if that of Murmelstein will strike some viewers as too dearly bought"
Julia Adeney Thomas | Times Literary Supplement | 29th January 2014
Ian Jared Miller’s history of Tokyo Zoo, The Nature Of The Beasts, is "a triumph" combining "archival richness, analytical dexterity and elegant writing". Founded at Ueno in 1882 as "the first zoo in the world not built under the sway of a Western imperial regime”, the collection rose and fell with Japan's own imperial project. Two-thirds of the animals died in WW2, many of them in the Great Zoo Massacre of 1943
Anatole Kaletsky | Reuters | 30th January 2014
Central bankers enjoy a moral dispensation unique in public life. They are expected to lie. And they do, especially when devaluation threatens. "Yet despite this historic record of broken promises and unfulfilled commitments, central bankers enjoy more respect and trust than any other public official. They are particularly trusted by the people they most frequently deceive — financial market investors"
Xavier Marquez | Abandoned Footnotes | 3rd February 2014
Franco was a man of “astonishing personal mediocrity". Yet he won a civil war and ruled Spain for three decades. How so? He was, like Cosimo Medici, a "sphinx without a secret". He committed to no permanent positions or convictions; he waited for others to act, and then undermined them. His use of divide and rule was all the more effective because his supporting coalition was "inherently contradictory"
Thought for the day:
"Knowledge is a public good that increases in value as the number of people possessing it increases" — John Wilbanks
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