Moldova, Rudyard Kipling, Genealogy, Isomorphism, Martin Shkreli, Greece

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Moldova’s Drama On The Dniester

Alexander Clapp | National Interest | 18th December 2015

Persuasive account of politics and money in Moldova, where control passed from a pro-Soviet president to a pair of opportunistic billionaires who "despise one another" but have bought up most of the political system. Moldovans call them "the Vlads": Vlad Plahotniuc runs the Judiciary; Vlad Filat the Customs Ministry. On their watch the banks have been looted, the ministries debauched. (4,017 words)

Iffy: Kipling Behind The Mask

Austin Allen | Poetry Foundation | 15th December 2015

We view Rudyard Kipling as an "icon of obnoxious wrongness", an "imperialist racist", an "aggressive militarist". And yet he has lasted. His best-loved poem, If — , has achieved "almost biblical status”. George Orwell called Kipling “morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting”; but Orwell also conceded that, whereas Kipling's critics came and went, "Kipling is in some sense still there" (2,220 words)

Everyone On Earth Is Your Cousin

Tim Urban | Quartz | 17th December 2015

"The widest point of the Ancestor Cone happens for most of us around 1200 AD, when our family tree is near the total world population at the time. From that point on, pedigree collapse becomes a stronger factor than the normal upward x2 multiplier, and the tree converges inwards. If breeding were mixed evenly across cultures and nations, the most distant relative you’d have on Earth would be a 15th cousin" (2,830 words)

Landmark Algorithm Breaks 30-Year Impasse

Erica Klarreich | Quanta | 14th December 2015

Mathematicians hail a new algorithm as a big step towards the eventual solving of a fundamental problem in computer science. The breakthrough by University of Chicago professor László Babai drastically simplifies the process of calculating whether two networks are identical. This may help to solve the "P Versus NP" problem, which asks: "If the answer to a problem is easy to check, is the problem itself easy to solve?" (2,300 words)

Martin Shkreli, Wall Street’s Most Visible Villain

Bethany McClean | Vanity Fair | 21st December 2015

Interview with the drug profiteer and alleged fraudster who may be "the most hated man in America", and who clearly relishes his notoriety. "Shkreli is unquestionably brilliant, and he has an almost cult-like group of true believers, both online and in the real world. But in his wake he has left a tangled trail of blowups, lawsuits, disillusionment, and outright hatred. 'Sociopath' is a not uncommon description of him" (4,740 words)

Syriza’s Struggle To Save Greece

Paul Mason | Nation | 18th December 2015

Enthralling account of the turmoil in Greece, assembled from real-time interviews with the principal actors. Syriza triumphed as a popular movement, then failed as a government. "Obama, Renzi, and Hollande assured the Greeks that they could bargain from a position where membership of the eurozone was inviolable. But Germany chipped away at all their allies using strong, quiet diplomacy" (6,400 words)

Video of the day: If Philosophers Read The News

What to expect: Satire. Nothing happened today. All human life is a rehearsal for the same final (2'12")

Thought for the day

Woe to the book you can read without constantly wondering about the author!
Emil Cioran

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