Best of the Moment
Ben Judah | Standpoint | 14th November 2013
Superb. Highly recommended. Notes on life among London's 500,000 East European immigrants. "Stas in his ten years working in London had learned only 12 words of English, most of them swearwords. He was a living dictionary of farming obscenities that should be preserved by the Polish Academy for post-industrial generations. He liked nothing better than ripping out windows and spitting long distances"
Andrew Hill & Gill Plimmer | FT Magazine | 14th November 2013
Profile of troubled British security contractor operating "on a scale and scope rarely seen in the private sector since the 18th century, when the East India Company ran its own army". 620,500 staff in 115 countries. Huge managerial challenges. "When uniformed staff are placating violent prisoners, tackling pirates or fingerprinting drunks, the situation will occasionally get out of hand. Sometimes people will be hurt or could even die"
Charles Homans | Pacific Standard | 12th November 2013
A study in bureaucratic madness. Soviet whaling fleets secretly slaughtered 180,000 humpback whales in the 1950s and 1960s, even though the Soviet economy had very little need or use for whale meat or by-products. Why? Because that was what the Soviet five-year plan demanded. "The progress of the whaling fleets was measured by the same metric as the fishing fleets: gross product, principally the sheer mass of whales killed"
David Thomson | The New Republic | 14th November 2013
TV criticism of a high order. "In three seasons, Homeland has slipped from brilliance to chaos, and Claire Danes has surrendered bipolar frenzy for the forlorn look of a producer who regrets too many wrong turns. Carrie Mathison was made for a single disaster. Maybe the same could be said for her America. In which case, have the courage of your own despair and give up the vanity that dreams of seven seasons"
Edith Hall | Times Literary Supplement | 13th November 2013
Tom Holland has produced "unquestionably the best English translation of Herodotus to have appeared in the past half-century ... fast, funny, opinionated, clear and erudite. As I read it straight through, cover to cover. I frequently forgot that I was supposed to be evaluating the translation and became swept away by the vertiginous forward thrust of Herodotus’ own storytelling. I am in awe of Tom Holland’s achievement"
Thought for the day:
"There is no a priori reason for believing that the truth, when it is discovered, will necessarily prove interesting" — Isaiah Berlin