Best of the Moment
Walter Russell Mead | Wall Street Journal | 24th August 2013
Obama has misread Turkey and Egypt, alienated Israel and Saudi Arabia, missed the moment to intervene in Syria. "Just as Nikita Khrushchev concluded that President Kennedy was weak and incompetent after the Bay of Pigs, so President Vladimir Putin and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei now believe they are dealing with a dithering and indecisive American leader, and are calibrating their policies accordingly"
Armin Rosen | Your City Is A Wonder Town | 18th August 2013
Notes on transiting airports in the Middle East and Africa — among them, Aden Adde airport in Mogadishu: "You're immediately in what's probably the most dangerous place in the entire city. Every step of the process is laden with mortal urgency, or at least seems to be. Visas are issued without discussion and with the strictest alacrity. Considering there is no fiber optic cable network in Mogadishu, the departure terminal has amazingly fast wifi"
Don van Natta | ESPN | 25th August 2013
Gripping read. Did Bobby Riggs deliberately lose his landmark "battle of the sexes" tennis match with Billie Jean King in 1973, to erase a $100,000 gambling debt with a Mafia syndicate? So says a man who claims to have overheard the conversation in which Santo Trafficante Jr., the Florida mob boss, agreed to the deal. With Riggs going into the match as favourite, it was a "perfect fix" for the Mafia bookies
Tim Parks | New York Review Of Books | 24th August 2013
Silvio Berlusconi as political blackmailer. He has been sentenced to four years in prison for tax fraud; which has been commuted in effect, to one year of house arrest. But he cannot be arrested, thanks to his immunity as a Senator. The Senate is due to vote on his expulsion in September. If the vote goes against him, he will withdraw his party from the current coalition government and force new elections
Phil Ford | LA Review Of Books | 24th August 2013
Review of Loren Glass's Counterculture Colophon, a history of the Grove Press publishing house, which flourished in the 1950s and 1960s at the intersection of modernism, bohemia and pornography. "It’s a world furnished in Scandinavian blond wood, with Paul Klee prints and bullfight posters on the walls, Jacques Barzun and Carl Jung on the cover of Time, Bartók and Ornette on the hi-fi, Mailer on TV, and liquor at lunch"
D.K. | The Economist | 25th August 2013
Don't try this at home. You install Tor software to anonymise your web use. You get a Bitcoin account to anonymise your payment trail. Then you go to the Silk Road website, check the user reviews, and order the commodities that you want for delivery by regular mail — which is the point at which you might be arrested. Even so, that's probably less of a risk than buying drugs from crooks on the street
Thought for the day:
"To know all is not to forgive all. It is to despise everybody" — Quentin Crisp