Malls, Espionage, Lids, Tulips, Guns


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Malls Saved The Suburbs From Despair

Ian Bogost | Atlantic | 17th February 2018

The shopping malls of America were social centers for suburban life. We will miss them when they are gone. “Strange as it may sound, the mall allowed people to leave commercialism behind, after they were through with it. Consumerism ran rampant, but it had a safe haven in which to do so. Malls are prisons for commerce, but at least the commerce stays inside them. You can leave again. Like a casino is designed to contain and focus risk, so a mall is designed to do so for expenditure” (2,400 words)

The Spy Who Changed His Mind

Jason Fagone | Washingtonian | 18th February 2018

KGB Colonel Vitaly Yurchenko defected to America, spent three months spilling secrets to CIA, outed two Soviet moles inside US intelligence — then got on a plane back to Moscow, telling his American handlers that he was homesick, and telling Soviet media that CIA had drugged and kidnapped him. What had just happened? “The agency had either been completely taken in by a brilliant Soviet intelligence officer, or allowed one of its top Soviet defectors to slip out of its hands” (5,470 words)

Peel, Pucker, Pinch, Puncture

Louise Harpman & Scott Specht | Cabinet | 3rd September 2005

A critical history of disposable coffee-cup lids. Lids fall into four basic categories: the peel, the pucker, the pinch, and the puncture. The earliest sip-through cup lids were designed for cold drinks; but the spread of coffee-shops in the 1980s spurred inventors to devise more ingenious lids that could cope safely with hot liquids. “A quick survey of the US patent registry reveals nine patents for specialty drink lids in the 1970s, jumping to twenty-six individual patents in the 1980s” (1,770 words)

Tulip Mania

Anne Goldgar | The Conversation | 12th February 2018

Debunking of myths about tulip mania in 17C Holland, most of them spread by 19C historian Charles Mackay. The market in tulip bulbs was small, and consisted mainly of merchants who could well afford such indulgences. Very few bulbs — a few dozen at most — sold for the price of houses. Trading was never frenzied, and often among friends. There is no evidence that the collapse of prices in 1637 caused any bankruptcies or suicides. The Dutch economy was completely unaffected. (1,410 words)

I Like Guns

Anastasia Bernoulli | Engineering And Parenthood | 15th February 2018

“We manage cars, we manage drugs, alcohol, exotic animals and fireworks. We have a whole system of permitting for just about any activity a person wants to conduct since those activities could affect others, and we realize, as a society, that we need to try to minimize the risk to other people that comes from the chosen activities of those around them in which they have no say. Gun ownership is the one thing our country collectively refuses to manage, and the result is a lot of dead people” (1,950 words)

Video of the day Be Olympic

What to expect:

Ian Pons Jewell questions Olympic ideals, to the music of Dido’s Lament by Henry Purcell (1’00”)

Thought for the day

He who laughs last has not yet heard the bad news
Bertolt Brecht

Podcast of the day Jordan Peterson | Under The Skin

Russell Brand talks to Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson about power and kindness
(1h 36m 58s)

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