Nisbet, Krugman, Poland, Poker, Cats

Things Fall Apart

Jill Lepore | Guardian | 25th November 2021 | U

Suitably topped and tailed, this discursive essay about political conceptions of society is best approached as an introduction to the ideas of the mid-20C American proto-Thatcherite sociologist Robert Nisbet, who blamed government welfare programmes for ending a supposed golden age when “family, church and local community drew and held the allegiances of individuals” (4,800 words)

The Strange Career Of Paul Krugman

Michael Lind | Tablet | 23rd November 2021 | U

Lively if tendentious critique of Paul Krugman as a Pied Piper of free trade who led America down the primrose path of globalisation in the 1990s, predicting greater prosperity for all, before conceding recently that things had not worked out quite as he had hoped. Krugman's capacity to change his mind from time to time is seen here as a vice, though Keynesians might consider it a virtue (3,100 words)

The Half-Empty Glass

Eugeniusz Smolar | American Purpose | 19th November 2021 | U

Perceptive and persuasive account of how Poland’s nationalist-conservative ruling party, PiS, has been steadily remaking Poland into a one-party state. Unable to change the constitution, as Viktor Orban did in Hungary, PiS has been packing the Polish courts and civil service with party loyalists, "re-Polonizing" the media, and crusading for anti-liberal values in tandem with the Catholic Church (7,400 words)

The Suicide King

Dave Hickey | Bookforum | 1st April 2014  | U

From the archives: Expert review of Colson Whitehead's poker book, Noble Hustle. "Forget the cards. There are too many of them, and too many sets of pairs, suits, and sequences. The cards just happen, and you deal with them on the fly. Doyle Brunson claims he can win without looking at them. I look at my cards, but I play the constants: my nine opponents and the optimum positions" (1,760 words)

Magical Cats Of Japan

Zack Davisson | Zocalo | 10th September 2020 | U

Many animals have magical attributes in Japanese folklore, but cats are "somewhat unique in the myriad powers they can manifest". In the Edo period, old cats were thought liable to become bakeneko — shapeshifters that killed their owners and took their place. A scarcely lesser fate awaited unwary owners of a kasha, a cat which, having once smelled a corpse, became a "demon from hell" (2,300 words)

Audio: Max Tegmark | People I Mostly Admire. Economist Steve Levitt talks to cosmologist and physicist Max Tegmark, co-founder of the Future Of Life Institute, about the existential threats facing humanity (30m 21s)

Video: Making A Bowling Ball | All Process Of World | YouTube | 11m 51s

Absolutely what it says on the box.If you have no conceivable interest in how bowling balls are made, look no further. But if you might be open to a surprise or two in that department, this is probably as good as it gets.

"Three o'clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do"
Jean-Paul Sartre

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