Best of the Moment
Adam Johnson | GQ | 3rd June 2013
Conversations with Kenji Fujimoto, who spent eleven years as Kim Jong-Il's personal chef, making him a unique authority on the late North Korean leader's extravagances. Which were considerable, if conventional. Girls, private planes, sushi, fine wines and Cognacs — and evenings discussing VHS tapes of Iron Chef. "When the Dear Leader craved McDonald's, it was Fujimoto who was dispatched to Beijing for an order of Big Macs to go"
Helena Lee | BBC | 4th June 2013
Because the government gives each expectant mother a cardboard box full of essentials for the newborn: mattress, baby clothes, cold-weather clothes, nappies. Box doubles as first crib. Thanks to this and other interventions Finland's infant mortality rate is one of the world's lowest. Egalitarian aspect is popular, too. Families that could well afford to buy these things appreciate the sentiment and the time saved
Ben Bernanke | Federal Reserve | 2nd June 2013
A gem of a commencement speech from Fed chairman Ben Bernanke. In brief: The world isn't fair, so count yourself lucky. Modest, funny, wry, not too long. "I am sure that, from this lectern, any number of distinguished spiritual leaders have ruminated on the lessons of the Ten Commandments. I don't have that kind of confidence — and, anyway, coveting your neighbor's ox or donkey is not the problem it used to be"
Jonah Blank | Foreign Policy | 3rd June 2013
When America reduces its troop presence in Afghanistan from 100,000 to 3,000, and cuts the budget proportionally, it may find that its useful influence grows. Why? Because America's huge footprint has trampled on local Pashtun leaders, turning them into rivals and enemies. Now, partnership becomes possible. "The United States may find that friendship is much less expensive than dominance — and a better basis for deal-making"
Michael O'Donnell | Barnes & Noble Review | 24th May 2013
Review of A Book of Voyages, edited by Patrick O'Brian. A joy to read. The review, I mean, which is beautifully written, every sentence sings. But the Book sounds pretty wonderful too, an anthology of excerpts from contemporary sources — mostly 17C and 18C travel diaries and letters — to which O'Brian turned when writing his Aubrey-Maturin novels. "Always carry a machine to secure the bedchamber doors at inns where you sleep"
Simone Gorrindo | Vela | 28th May 2013
Notes of an American soldier's wife. Enlistment, deployment in Afghanistan, return, reflection. Intelligent and moving. "Since joining the Army, politics, for him, had lost their sheen. He was dedicated now to more primal values and emotions: loyalty, protection, fidelity, love. As an enlisted man in the Rangers, he was not beholden to politics, as officers are. He was beholden to the men above him and the mission and that was all"
Thought for the day:
"If you think that the bad or indifferent results that too often come out of Washington are due to base motives and bad intentions, you are giving politicians and policymakers way too much credit for being effective"— Ben Bernanke