French National Front, America's Rise, Obama & History, But, Science Fiction, Healthcare In Houston

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The French Far Right Are Not Far Wrong

Mathew Yglesias | Vox | 12th January 2015

The French National Front manifesto offers moments of "nuttiness and extremism", but also makes "excellent points about the fundamental architecture of European economic policy". It cites Milton Friedman in arguing that the Eurozone is not an optimal currency area. France could and should withdraw; which would not be easy; but the idea that a country thrives best with its own currency is "not all that radical" (920 words)

How America Became An Economic Superpower

David Frum | Atlantic | 24th December 2014

Adam Tooze’s "astonishing" economic history of World War I, The Deluge, argues that America emerged as the world's economic superpower in 1916, when its industrial output overtook that of the entire British empire; it was both the main supplier and the main financier of the Allied war effort. But America was not yet ready to assume an equivalent political leadership, so the chance to build a durable peace after WW1 was lost (3,700 words)

Historians Discuss Barack Obama’s Legacy

Jonathan Chait et al | New York | 11th January 2015

A lot of reading here; 53 historians offer opinions running to more than 1,000 words apiece. The consensus is that history will give Barack Obama an upgrade. He got most things right, but undersold himself. He will be remembered above all as the architect of Obamacare. His role as America's first black president will leave less of a mark; who remembers now that John F. Kennedy was the first Roman Catholic president? (50,000 words)

Jim’s Rule Of Buts

Jim Henley | Unqualified Offerings | 10th January 2015

Useful rule to remember when condemning the Charlie Hebdo massacre while expressing reservations about the newspaper's editorial line. The clause which precedes a but is dominated by the clause which follows it. “I don’t support violence, but you really shouldn’t be offending people”, is not OK. “You really shouldn’t be offending people, but I don’t support violence”, is probably what you want to say (370 words)

HAL, Mother, And Father

Jason Resnikoff | Paris Review | 9th January 2015

The writer reflects on his father's career as a computer scientist beginning in the 1960s when science was full of utopian dreams and 2001 was a vision of the future. "The message is clear: we are leaving. We are going somewhere better." But the dreams evaporated; the next film to define the future was Alien. "Looking back, I can only ask: What did these people think was going to happen? How could they have been so optimistic?" (3,000 words)

Taking Care Of Our Own

Ricardo Nuila | VQR | 9th January 2015

Houston's Ben Taub hospital provides undocumented immigrants with some of America's best health care, because giving sick people scheduled access to treatment works out cheaper than having them "flooding emergency rooms". The system works well — but play that down. “The fear of the board of managers is that if we do too good a job word will spread across the United States: Go to Houston for your compassionate care” (8,490 words)

Video of the day: For-Profit Online University

What to expect: Satire. Fake promotional video for online university (11')

Thought for the day

When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie
Yevgeny Yevtushenko (

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