Die Zeit, Car Insurance, John Kay, Innovation, Indian Loos, Appeasement, Jurassic World


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We Need More German Thinking

Simon Kuper | Financial Times | 19th June 2015 | | Read with 1Pass

Read Die Zeit or Der Spiegel and you glimpse a better world, or at least a better world-view. These days the Germans tend to get things right. But German public debate doesn't echo very far beyond Germany because most of the world does not speak German. "If we anglophones had listened to them we could have avoided the creation of exciting new derivatives, extreme inequality, and the war in Iraq. We need German thinking" (755 words)

Driverless Cars And Motor Insurance

Neha Jain et al | Bank Underground | 19th June 2015

In Britain roughly one-sixth of car insurance claims arise from one car hitting another while reversing into a parking space. With driverless cars that just won't happen any more. Accidents in general will happen much less often. So what will become of car insurance companies? Their traditional business will dry up. Their actuarial skills will be obsolete. Basically, they have five years in which to find new lines of business (1,250 words)

Other People’s Money

John Kay | 16th June 2015

Extract from John Kay's forthcoming book on finance. "What is it all for? What is the purpose of this activity? And why is it so profitable? Common sense suggests that, if a closed circle of people continuously exchange bits of paper with each other, this activity leaves the value of the traded assets little changed, and cannot, taken as a whole, make money. What exactly is wrong with this commonsense perspective? Not much, I will conclude" (2,580 words)

Same As It Ever Was

Martin Wolf | Foreign Affairs | 16th June 2015 | | Read with 1Pass

The technological and industrial revolution from the late 18th to the early 20th century persuaded Americans to think of the future as their golden age. Some optimists still think that way, arguing that Internet and robotics will change the world for the better as profoundly as steam-power, electricity and the automobile once did. Not so. Today's inventions are trivial and even frivolous by comparison (3,500 words)

Patriarchy And Toilets In India

Aashish Gupta & Nikhil Srivastav | The Wire | 7th June 2015

"The chief reason why open defecation is so rampant in India is that rural Indians do not want pit latrines, because of anxieties related to emptying pits once they fill up. These anxieties are driven by notions of purity and pollution, rooted in India’s centuries-old caste system". The government promotes indoor toilets as a form of social control for women — as one less reason for a woman to go outside the house (1,550 words)

On Cooling The Mark Out

Erving Goffman | University of Chicago | 19th June 1952

Classic essay by sociologist Erving Goffman on techniques for dealing with disappointed customers, perfected by confidence tricksters when dissuading victims from going to the police. "After the blowoff has occurred, one of the operators stays with the mark and makes an effort to keep the anger of the mark within manageable and sensible proportions. The mark is given instruction in the philosophy of taking a loss" (9,200 words)

A Facilities Manager Considers Jurassic World

Jacob Bacharach | 15th June 2015

"Capital building assets are easily damaged by the regular and routine operations of the attractions. This suggests either a) these systems are, despite claims to the contrary, under-engineered, or b) despite good engineering, construction does not follow industry best practices. Given that our observations indicate the park ownership acts as its own general contractor/construction service, the latter seems more likely" (515 words)

Video of the day: Jimmy Page: Stairway To Heaven

What to expect: BBC documentary. Led Zeppelin guitarist explains how he wrote the rock classic (8'15")

Thought for the day

All poets write bad poems. Bad poets publish them
Umberto Eco

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