Best of the Moment
Don Watson | The Monthly | 30th August 2013
Written for September's Australian election, but applicable anywhere with minor edits: "There’s plenty to like and plenty to complain about – a perfect Australian quinella, if ever there was one. Relax and be comfortable again. I’m not going to worry you with any fancy stuff. I have my limitations, but so have you. That’s why I’m here. You have elected yourselves, you see, and you can’t get a more fair dinkum democratic outcome than that"
Brett Scott | Aeon | 28th August 2013
The rise of Bitcoin and other private currencies is helping to demystify how money works. "Financial instruments are analogous to high-level programming languages such as Java or Ruby: they let you string commands together in order to perform certain actions. By contrast, money itself is more like a low-level programming language, very hard to see or to understand but closer to gritty reality"
Anthony Dworkin et al | ECFR | 28th August 2013
The sceptical tone of this paper may incline you to think the British House of Commons was right to vote down military action. Main point: There's no good reason to think that a limited intervention would deter Assad; only a potentially unlimited intervention would do that. Subsidiary point: The logic of intervention is not so much that it would ensure a better outcome in Syria; it is more that America fears to look weak
William Kremer | BBC | 28th August 2013
Amazing tale. A young American goes in search of his mother — a Yanomami woman living in the Amazonian jungle. His father, an anthropologist, had lived with the tribe for 11 years and married the village headman's daughter. "When he set off for the Amazon in July 2011, David knew only two Yanomami phrases, remembered from childhood. One was ya ohi - I'm hungry. They other was ya bos si shiti - my bum itches"
Susan Schorn | McSweeney's | 29th August 2013
How to avoid getting locked in the trunk of a car, and what to do if it happens: Find the safety latch, all new cars have one and it's probably illuminated. "We also explored the options if a car doesn’t have a safety latch: How to feel around in the latch for the wires that spring the lock mechanism; how to search the spare tire well for tools or potential weapons; how to expose wiring near the taillight assembly and disable the light"
Oliver Burkeman | Guardian | 23rd August 2013
Review of Scarcity by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir. The more you have to worry about money, the worse your judgement. "Asking poorer people to contemplate a hypothetical £1,000 car repair impairs their performance on intelligence tests as much as missing a night's sleep – 13 or 14 IQ points. Wise long-term decisions and willpower require cognitive resources. Poverty leaves far less of those resources at our disposal"
Thought for the day:
"It is always a relief to the conscience if one can apportion some measure of guilt to the person one has betrayed" — Stefan Zweig