Best of the Moment
America’s Artificial Heartland
Venkatesh Rao | Aeon | 11th July 2013
"The modern system of retail — distant large-scale production facilities coupled with local human-scale consumption environments — was the first piece of what I’ve come to think of as the ‘American cloud’: the vast industrial back end of our lives that we access via a theatre of manufactured experiences. If distant tea and coffee plantations were the first modern clouds, A&P stores and mail-order catalogues were the first browsers and apps"
What’s In It For Obama?
Stephen Holmes | London Review Of Books | 10th July 2013
Review of The CIA, a Secret Army and a War at the Ends of the Earth, by Mark Mazzetti, on targeted killing and drones. "The administration doubled-down on what look suspiciously like extrajudicial executions after shuttering Bush’s black sites and deciding not to send anyone else to Guantánamo, where a third of the hundred detainees on hunger strike are receiving a macabre form of Obamacare through tubes in their noses"
Currency Controls Confuse Cyprus
Andrew Higgins | New York Times | 9th July 2013
By imposing currency controls, Cyprus has, in effect, already left the eurozone, but without saying so directly. A euro in Cyprus is not the same thing at all as a euro in Frankfurt, they merely share a name. As you would expect, the interest rates are diverging. Loan rates in Cyprus are twice those in Germany — if you can get a loan, which you probably can't. “It is a peculiar situation,” says the Cypriot president (Metered paywall)
The Moral Decline Of America
Pratap Bhanu Mehta | Financial Times | 7th July 2013
More about spying, I'm afraid, but the subject is provoking the most penetrating writing on American governance in decades. "Two things are disappointing about this conjuncture. The first is how weak the institutional safeguards for which the US is famous have proved in demanding more robust justification for indiscriminate surveillance. The second is the muted political opposition to this surveillance" (Metered paywall)
A Job Of Work
Luc Santé | New York Review Of Books | 10th July 2013
Another, irresistible, 50th-anniversary staff reminiscence. "The scale of the office was intimate and I sat right in the middle of it, generally invisible to the great and the good who passed by. I imagined an early scene in some novel, maybe by Dreiser: the young clerk at his desk, his pen suspended in midair as he observes this or that eminence on parade: Isaiah Berlin, Lincoln Kirstein, Joan Didion, the debonair Murray Kempton, V. S. Pritchett"
Video of the day: Surveillance Camera Man 4
Thought for the day:
"The ideal scientist thinks like a poet and works like a bookkeeper" — E.O. Wilson