Illness, Colours, Clothing, Liberalism, Westboro Baptist


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Sick But Not Sick

Jerome Groopman | New York Review Of Books | 30th January 2017

Physicians typically spend about one-quarter of their time dealing with patients whose symptoms “appear to have no physical basis”. But is an illness in the mind any less of an illness? “Every week I tell somebody that their disability has a psychological cause. When they ask me how I have come to that conclusion, all I can provide is a list of test results. When a person is paralyzed or blind, it is not difficult to see why they find that a very unsatisfactory explanation” (3,200 words)

Red Versus Blue

Goethe Etc | 29th January 2017

Human culture divides into red and blue. Red was “the basic colour of all ancient peoples”, the colour of blood and fire, used in the first cave paintings 30,000 years ago. Blue came into general use only in the 12th century AD, but “now outdistances red in everyday life and private space”. Blue is the modern consensus colour, associated with peace and tolerance. “The reversal of red and blue in prestige from the Paleolithic era to the present suggests a pacification of Western sensibilities” (680 words)

Money Talk

Elizabeth Suzann | 2nd January 2017

Clothing manufacturer explains in detail the difference between a $240 pair of trousers and a $10 pair of similar-looking trousers. “Nobody invented a magical, cheaper way to make clothing, and fabric didn’t drop in price. We just started exploiting developing countries and caring less about the damage we did along the way. We’ll accept that the $240 pants are made with better fabrics, in better conditions, etc, etc. But still, it’s a ridiculously large gap. The baseline has been falsified” (5,400 words)

Is Liberalism To Blame?

Branko Milanovic | Global Inequality | 29th January 2017

“I am writing this in Vienna, in Prater, overlooking a giant Ferris Wheel which inevitably makes one think of Harry Lime. One can see liberalism as having set the Ferris Wheel in motion, with each car moving at first slowly and then faster and faster. The ride brought immense joy at first, but eventually, it seems, somebody turned on the switch to super-fast, locked the control room, and most of us are now in these cars that no one can stop, wondering how and when the crash will come” (1,140 words)

A Friendly Welcome To A Hate-Filled Church

Rebecca Barrett-Fox | Chronicle Of Higher Education | 29th January 2017

Sociologist’s notes from a field study of the Westboro Baptist church. “Members truly believe that loving your neighbors means condemning them, and that war casualties are the result of a wrathful God punishing America for tolerating homosexuality. One moment, they might be picketing a military funeral with ‘God Hates Fags’ signs. The next, they’ll be back in the van talking about school, pop culture, and what kind of sandwiches they’re going to get for lunch at Subway” (1,030 words)

Economic Geography And Basic Income

Steve Randy Waldman | Interfluidity | 30th November 2016

Cities are efficient places to do many kinds of business — but this may help them to capture wealth, rather than to create it. “For an individual, immigration to high productivity cities will lead to higher wages even for lower productivity workers. But it’s a fallacy of composition to imagine that can scale. How much of the apparent productivity effect is due to improved collaboration in production, and how much of it is due to improved collaboration in contesting for economic rents?” (2,100 words)

Video of the day: The Battle Of Maiwand

What to expect:

Animated introduction to the film, “My Name Is Malala”. By Jason Carpenter and Sean Buckelew (2’16”)

Thought for the day

Prejudice is never easy unless it can pass itself off for reason
William Hazlitt

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