Eugenics, Poker, Philanthropy, Book-Binding, Mosul, Big Business


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Philippa Levine On Eugenics

Cal Flyn | Five Books | 18th October 2016

Interview. Bad eugenics is what the Nazis did — killing children who didn’t fit their stereotype. Not-bad eugenics is what we are going to do much more of in the future — using every scientific edge to produce children who do fit our stereotypes. “Look at the way sperm banks advertise: you pay more for donors who are athletic, or intelligent, even though there’s no scientific evidence that you’re going to get the baby that you want. It is perfectly legal to charge more for different kinds of sperm” (5,700 words)

Fuller House: High-End Poker Cheating

Elie Bursztein | Elie | 21st October 2016

How to cheat at poker using a customised smartphone and marked cards — or, why you should never play with the other person’s deck. “I decided to see if people were indeed cheating at poker using devices that would fit naturally into a James Bond movie. Without spoiling too much of the rest of this post, let’s just say that the high-end cheating device that I was able to get my hands on far exceeded my expectations and it really is an outstanding piece of technology” (2,300 words)

Two Faces Of Facebook Philanthropy

Evgeny Morozov | Guardian | 15th October 2016

Mark Zuckerberg’s philanthropy is a strategy, not a sacrifice — an extension of his business model designed to distract attention from Facebook’s tax avoidance and to nudge the world in Facebook’s direction. “We should be careful not to fall victim to a perverse form of Stockholm syndrome, coming to sympathise with the corporate kidnappers of our democracy. That we can no longer differentiate between philanthropy and speculation is an occasion to worry, not celebrate” (1,400 words)

A Book By Its Cover

Megan Rosenbloom | Lapham's Quarterly | 19th October 2016

On the legend and reality of books bound in human skin. “Scratching the surface of the history of any real human-skin book usually reveals a doctor was the one wielding the knife. At a time when physicians were climbing social classes and enjoying the trappings of their new wealth and status — including becoming collectors of fine art and books — at least a few chose to preserve the hides of deceased indigent patients to bind copies of their own work or of those that they admired” (2,300 words)

On The Ground In Mosul

Christoph Reuter | Der Spiegel | 22nd October 2016

“A thundercloud, heavy and dark gray. The closer you get to Mosul from the south, the bigger and darker this cloud becomes. It grows out of the ground, swallowing entire villages, making them disappear into the darkness. Driving to Mosul is a drive into the apocalypse. Or at least that’s what it feels like, with the gigantic clouds of smoke coming from burning oil wells, reservoirs and ditches — laid out by Islamic State over the last two years and now set alight one after the other” (2,040 words)

Why Big Business Couldn’t Stop Trump

Jerry Davis & Johan Chu | Quillette | 22nd October 2016

If corporate money controls American politics, how did the Republican Party – the reputed party of business – manage to nominate a candidate whom almost no one in Big Business supports? Because, to mobilize a movement, you need a social network, and CEOs can no longer afford to network overtly, at least since Sarbanes-Oxley. “For the corporate network as a whole, by 2012, only one director sat on five major boards, compared with about 100 who sat on that many or more in 1974” (1,400 words)

Video of the day: Borrowed Time

What to expect:

Pixar short. “A weathered Sheriff returns to the remains of an accident he has spent a lifetime trying to forget” (6’45”)

Thought for the day

Go and do the things you can’t. That is how you get to do them

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