Martin Wolf, Parrot Language, Paris, Umberto Eco, Mosquitoes

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Martin Wolf On The Cheap Oil Curse

Martin Wolf | Financial Times | 2nd December 2015 | | Read with 1Pass

The problem is not that the world is running out of oil, but that we have too much oil — far more than we can burn while limiting the increase in global temperatures to the UN-recommended limit of 2°C. Known reserves have grown faster than consumption. Worse, governments go on subsidising supply and use of fossil fuels even when prices are relatively low. Nothing good will come out of Paris (950 words)

Hilary Benn’s Speech In Favour Of Air Strikes

Hilary Benn | Spectator | 2nd December 2015

The early consensus is that this was one of the most effective Parliamentary speeches of modern times, from Labour's foreign affairs spokesman, in support of immediate British air strikes against Islamic State. "They hold our values in contempt. They hold our belief in tolerance and decency in contempt. They hold our democracy, the means by which we will make our decision tonight, in contempt" (1,900 words)


Drew Hinshaw | Wall Street Journal | 2nd December 2015

A parrot sells for $60 in Nigeria. A talking parrot sells for $100. But in a country of 520 human languages, what language should the pet-shop owner teach the parrot to mimic? Parrot-languages are a separate question: "There are untold hundreds of different parrot dialects. Birds that grow in bilingual forests, where multiple parrot dialects are spoken, are also good at code switching between groups" (1,095 words)

A Letter From Our Paris Editor

Antonin Baudry | Paris Review | 2nd December 2015

Notes on Hemingway, Houellebecq, Poe, and the Paris attacks. "The most undisputable fact is that these were the worst murders ever committed in Paris during peacetime. In Poe’s day, even the most depraved of human beings would not commit a murder that was so excessively outré, at least not in a work of literature. That was the province of animals. What went wrong with us?" (1,530 words)

Umberto’s Echoes

Terry Eagleton | Times Literary Supplement | 3rd December 2015

Review Of Umberto Eco's novel, Numero Zero, which centres on a journalist called Braggadocio, "a man of paranoid proclivities who believes that all cars have been specially designed so that he can’t buy them, and that Mussolini was never actually killed, but was spirited away in a vast right-wing conspiracy that lasted as late as the deaths of Roberto Calvi and Pope John Paul I" (927 words)

The Ethics Of Genetically Modified Mosquitoes

Jonathan Pugh | Practical Ethics | 2nd December 2015

Scientists using Crispr gene-editing technology can embed mosquitos with anti-malarial genes heritable by their descendants, leading to the eventual eradication of malaria. The mosquito may not "be morally significant", but we are still "playing God". Is that OK? Yes. But if we are going to eradicate diseases, we must plan for a faster-rising global population, which raises moral and economic questions of its own (2,220 words)

Video of the day: Plastic Injection Molding

What to expect: Bill Hammack explains the history and practice of plastic injection molding. And it's enthralling (9'30")

Thought for the day

Nobody ever got famous predicting that things would stay pretty much the same
Bob Hoffman (

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