Fraud, Air Power, Archaeology, Antiseptics, Monopolies

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How To Get Away With Fraud

Dan Davies | Guardian | 28th June 2018

“Most white-collar crime works by manipulating institutional psychology. That means creating something that looks as much as possible like a normal set of transactions. The drama comes later, when it all unwinds. One point that comes up again and again, when looking at famous and large-scale frauds, is that everything could have been brought to a halt at a very early stage if anyone had taken care to confirm all the facts. But nobody does. There are just too bloody many of them” (4,360 words)

An Expensive Way To Fight ISIS

William Langewiesche | Atlantic | 28th June 2018

Deadpan, action-packed account of one night last year when America sent three B-2 stealth bombers to flatten 100 ISIS fighters in the Libyan desert. “The plan was for the B-2s to drop a 500-pound bomb on every one of those fighters. The idea of using Air Force heavy bombers prevailed because of their ability to deliver dozens of self-steering, individually targeted bombs; then to linger in the vicinity, waiting for surveillance assessments from the drones; and if necessary to deliver more bombs” (5,650 words)

From The Ashes Of Vesuvius

Jo Marchant | Smithsonian | 28th June 2018

Particle physics is enabling scholars to recover text from charred scrolls of papyrus found in Herculaneum. We may yet read Greek and Roman works lost for millennia. “Most classical texts we know today were copied, and therefore filtered and distorted, by scribes over centuries. But these works came straight from the hands of Greek and Roman scholars. The volcanic heat spewed by Vesuvius carbonised the scrolls, turning them black and hard like lumps of coal” (5,050 words)


Sarah Perry | LRB | 27th June 2018

On the career of Joseph Lister, 19C surgeon, pioneer of antiseptics, and, by his own account “the only man who ever stuck a knife in Queen Victoria.” In Lister’s day, a maverick doctor was free to experiment. “Treating a child whose leg had been shattered by a cart, he faced a choice: whether to amputate to forestall the inevitable gangrene, or to test his theory that carbolic acid could prevent infection. Lister put carbolic acid to the test. Some weeks later the boy walked out of the hospital” (2,600 words)

Taming Tech Monopolies

Allison Schrager | Quartz | 27th June 2018

Interview with economist Jean Tirole. “We need to distinguish between statics and dynamics, or between a transient monopoly and a permanent one. Large economies of scale as well as substantial network externalities imply that we often have monopolies or tight oligopolies in the new economy. The key issue is that of contestability. Monopolies are not ideal, but they deliver value to the consumers as long as potential competition keeps them on their toes” (2,100 words)

Video of the day When Freud Met Jung

What to expect:

Their first conversation, in 1906, lasted 13 hours. The schism, seven years later, was permanent (4’02”)

Thought for the day

We all have strength enough to endure the misfortunes of others
François de La Rochefoucauld

Podcast Twelve Rules | Revisionist History

Malcolm Gladwell, riffing on Jordan Peterson’s “Twelve Rules For Life”, asks whether life has any rules
(44m 30s)

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