John Jeremiah Sullivan | Oxford American | 18th February 2014
Notes on the Jamaican ska renaissance of the 1960s, the early days of the Wailers, the rise of Bob Marley, and the genius of Clement 'Sir Coxsone' Dodd, the producer who "discovered and recorded half of Jamaica’s best singers, and robbed half of them blind". Dodd brought ska rhythms to the island on the records of the Memphis and New Orleans bluesmen — Fats Domino, Professor Longhair — that he imported for his sound system
Tom Streithorst | Pieria | 24th February 2014
For all the turbulence and tragedy of the past century, if you'd fallen asleep in February 1914 and just woken up you would find Europe's fundamentals little changed. Germany is prosperous and dominant; Russia is rude and authoritarian; Britain is uncertain about its European role. History cleaves to "profound processes of demographics, technology, culture and institutions" running deeper than events
Elizabeth Kolbert | New Yorker | 24th February 2014
On retaking the Scholastic Assessment Test as an adult. "I found the test more difficult than I had as a teen and more disappointing. Many of the questions were tricky; some were genuinely hard. But, even at its most challenging, the exercise struck me as superficial. Critical thinking was never called for, let alone curiosity or imagination. The SAT measures those skills — and really only those skills — necessary for the SATs"
Will Davies | Potlatch | 23rd February 2014
Why do CEOs pay themselves such ridiculous sums, and why does society more or less accept this? Blame, in part, the influence of Schumpeter. "His economic theory rests on the assumption that there are certain individuals who do not or will not operate according to the same rules as everyone else. They are exceptional and amoral, transcending the norms and standards which the rest of us allow to constrain us"
Nick Fraser | The Guardian | 22nd February 2014
The Act of Killing investigates the massacre of Indonesian leftists in the 1960s by having the ageing killers re-stage their crimes. Imagine if the producers had gone to Argentina in the 1950s and found old Nazis to re-enact the the Holocaust. Yet the Act Of Killing provokes praise, not outrage: Perhaps because the history it exploits "is so far away, and so little known, that the cruelty can pass uncriticised"
Dave Barry | Wall Street Journal | 21st February 2014
How modern living has diminished us — all of us, not only men. "If you hand a cashier a $20 bill for an item costing $13.47, both you and the cashier are going to look at the cash register to see how much you get back and both of you will unquestioningly accept the cash register's decision". Includes guides to the lost art of grilling a steak, and to jump-starting your car ("Obtain a working car from somewhere")
Thought for the day:
"Every proverb has an equal and opposite proverb" — Julian Baggini
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