Frederick Of Prussia, Academic Publishing, Voyeurism, Bosnia, Training, Trackers


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The Change Agent

John Steele Gordon | Commentary | 16th March 2016

Entertaining sketch of Frederick The Great of Prussia, who survived his “monstrous” father’s brutality to emerge as both “homoerotic” and “a passionate practitioner of realpolitik“. He thought all religions “equally misguided”. A “prodigious” builder of palaces and theatres, “he did not sit in the royal box, as he preferred the first row of the orchestra, right behind the conductor, where he would keep a close eye on the score” (1,300 words)

Sci-Hub And The Scarcity Mongers

Jacon Silverman | Baffler | 1st April 2016

Academic publishing “lurches towards reform” thanks to the open-access movement and to the high-minded (and high-cost) piracy of Aaron Swartz. “The Leibniz to Swartz’s Newton might be Alexandra Elbakyan, the Kazakhstani researcher behind Sci-Hub, an online repository which now hosts practically the whole corpus of peer-reviewed scientific research; and it allows the public to download this research for free” (2,030 words)

The Voyeur’s Motel

Gay Talese | New Yorker | 4th April 2016

Behind the metered paywall, but mind-boggling enough to merit any quota you may have. Gerald Foos, “a married man and father of two”, bought a motel near Denver “in order to become its resident voyeur”. He cut spyholes through the ceilings of a dozen rooms. He kept a diary. Then came the day in 1977 when he saw, “for the first time, more than he wished to see. What he saw was a murder. It occurred in Room 10” (12,900 words)

Islamic State in Bosnia

Walter Mayr | Spiegel | 5th April 2016

The black flag of ISIS flies over Bosnia, where remote villages under Sharia law offer “sanctuary for Islamic State fighters” in the heart of Europe. Recruit learn decapitation in Bosnia, to practise it in Syria. “Those who fought at the front and who are suddenly allowed to return home are under intense suspicion of having received orders to carry out a deadly assignment. Indeed, there are not many other reasons to return home” (2,300 words)

Don’t Shoot The Dog

Fiddlemath | Tend The Fire | 7th August 2013

Notes on training animals which are all too clearly valid for training humans too. “A reinforcer is anything that tends to increase the probability that the act will occur again. You can make an action more frequent with positive reinforcement; you cannot reinforce behavior that isn’t happening. Reinforcing too late is one of the most common difficulties – actions happen quickly, and you might be reinforcing the wrong things” (2,900 words)

Trackers

Jacques Mattheij | 10th March 2016

What if advertisers were to pursue us in real life, as they do on the internet? “After doing my shopping I went home. To my surprise they expected to come into the house with me and stay there. They forced the back door and installed themselves at my table. One of them had found my mobile phone and was going through my list of contacts. They assured me that all of this was entirely legal” (1,290 words)

Video of the day: Dubai Opera

What to expect:

Time-lapse of the Dubai Opera under construction (1’00”)

Thought for the day

Punctuality is the thief of time
Oscar Wilde

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