Best of the Moment
Julian Barnes | London Review Of Books | 26th November 2013
Essay based on two books: Man with a Blue Scarf by Martin Gayford, and Breakfast with Lucian by Geordie Greig. "There is the male gaze in art; and then, beyond that, there is the Freudian gaze. His pictures of naked women are not in the least pornographic; nor are they even erotic. It would be a very disturbed schoolboy who successfully masturbated to a book of Freud nudes. They make Courbet’s Origin of the World look suave"
Simon Hoggart | The Guardian | 26th November 2013
One hundred years after the invention of the crossword, its greatest exponent — John Graham, alias Araucaria — dies at 92. His skill "was not in creating a grid full of words, but in producing clues cryptic enough to baffle the puzzler, yet constructed so honestly that they could be solved by any intelligent person who knew the conventions. Solving crosswords is like riding a bike; almost anyone can do it, but you do need to learn the knack"
Tijuano | Borderland Beat | 24th November 2013
Gripping republication of NPR interview with Mexican-born American lawyer telling how he built a business defending drug traffickers in San Diego, then got sucked into the business himself. "The Arellanos are very amicable people, very fair people. If you let them know you're going to bring a load, they'll even help you bring the load in. However, if you don't and they find out, they'll probably kill you or kill someone of your family"
Clive Thompson | Wired | 25th November 2013
Interview with Vaclav Smil, geographer and polymath with a gift for plain talk. Main theme: Innovation. It comes from manufacturing, so countries with strong manufacturing bases, such as China and Germany, are pulling ahead, while America falls behind. Bonus tips: If you want to save energy, add more insulation to your house and drive a Honda Civic. If you eat meat, eat it as Asians do — chopped up with rice. It goes much further
Julian Sanchez | Cato | 26th November 2013
Overview of what we should have learned about US surveillance from the Snowden leaks. Government gets a record of the time, date, and duration of nearly every call an American makes, which it stores for at least five years. A bulk location-tracking program has been tested. Legal restraints on the NSA don't work, and might have been designed not to work. There is no evidence that surveillance has foiled terrorism
Thought for the day:
"Fact is richer than diction" — J.L. Austin