Interrupting, Whitehall, Britain, Heart Surgery, Gaza, Depiction

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About Interruption

Rose Eveleth | Last Word On Nothing | 12th June 2017

How to interrupt like a pro — a talk-radio pro. And how not to be interrupted yourself. “There are no pauses in talk radio, no long moments of thinking, no silences while you try to formulate a thoughtful response. Think of this conversation like a rock climbing wall. Each breath and micro-pause is a foothold. Your interlocutor will grab every single one and climb to the top. Let me be clear: No pauses means literally no pauses. Start your sentence just before your partner has ended theirs” (1,200 words)

Unrecognised Simplicities Of Effective Action

Dominic Cummings | 12th June 2017

Political fixer’s diatribe against Whitehall. Self-serving but well-informed. “Ministers have little grip of departments and little power to change their direction. They can’t hire or fire. They are almost never in a job long enough to acquire much useful knowledge and they almost never have the sort of management skills that provide alternative value to specific knowledge. They have little chance to change anything, and officials ensure this little chance becomes almost no chance” (3,500 words)

Some Things I Learned From GE2017

Andrew Curry | Next Wave | 12th June 2017

Observations on the recent British general election, in which “an astonishing number of people voted for state socialism”. People with higher education tended to vote Labour, people with poor health to vote Conservative. Age and place are the new political markers: “Manufacturing can move fairly easily, but service and knowledge businesses are firmly located in particular places. A new type of class composition has finally started to emerge from the end of the manufacturing era” (2,025 words)

Pump Action

Gavin Francis | New Statesman | 10th June 2017

Thomas Morris’s new history of heart surgery, Matter Of The Heart, is “lively, enthusiastic and brimming with detail”, if not for the squeamish. The 17C polymath Robert Hooke proposed using a machine to pump the blood while the heart was offline, but this became a reality only in the 1950s, prior to which “children undergoing surgery sometimes had their hearts plumbed into their mother’s or father’s circulation” — the only surgical procedure with “a potential mortality of 200 per cent” (1,380 words)

In Gaza

Sarah Roy | London Review Of Books | 8th June 2017

Society is collapsing. The divorce rate is soaring. The price of cigarettes has tripled. Begging and prostitution are becoming common. “Need is everywhere. But what is new is the sense of desperation, which can be felt in the boundaries people are now willing to cross”. Most young people are unemployed. Few have ever left Gaza. Six babies are born every hour. “The distance between Gaza City and Tel Aviv is 44 miles. What will Israel do when there are five million Palestinians living in Gaza?” (3,100 words)


John Hyman and Katerina Bantinaki | Stanford Encyclopedia Of Philosophy | 8th June 2017

By no means an easy read, but if you wonder how words have meaning, then you may want to wonder how pictures have meaning. “Resemblance theories of depiction may be unconvincing, but the challenge for such a theory is to specify the respect or respects in which pictures resemble their objects, and this is not a simple task. As Descartes pointed out, it is unclear how the 2-D shape of a mark on the surface of a painting or drawing can resemble the 3-D shape of an object it depicts” (13,900 words)

Video of the day: Martin

What to expect:

Cartoon. One man with a metal-detector unwittingly unleashes Armageddon

Thought for the day

When a thing is funny, search it carefully for a hidden truth
George Bernard Shaw

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