Tim Maly | Quiet Babylon | 3 March 2013
Thoughts on the Keep Calm t-shirts, object spam, Amazon as Borgesian retailer, and algorithms as alibis. "Part of what tips the algorithmic rape joke t-shirts over from very offensive to shockingly offensive is that they are ostensibly physical products. Intuitions are not yet tuned for spambot clothes sellers. Better tune those intuitions fast"
Zev Chafets | Vanity Fair | 5 March 2013
Extracts from biography of Fox News boss. On Newt Gingrich: “Newt’s a prick.” On Joe Biden: “He’s dumb as an ashtray.” On making television: “Let CNN buy the new stuff and test it out, and when the technology is right I’ll come in like a ton of bricks”. On himself: "I’m old, fat, and ugly, but none of those things is going to kill me immediately"
Graham Allison and Robert Blackwill | Atlantic | 5 March 2013
Interview. Every sentence worth your attention. "Competition between the United States and China is inevitable, but conflict is not. This is not the Cold War. The Soviet Union was contesting with the United States for global supremacy. China is acting purely in its own national interests. It is not interested in changing the world"
Evelyn Lamb | Scientific American | 5 March 2013
Notes on, and corollaries to, the four-colour theorem, which holds that you need only four colours in order to colour a map such that no adjacent countries share the same colour. "We know that the map as a whole, including the ocean, is 4-colourable, so we also know that we can colour everything that touches the ocean with the remaining 3 colours"
Efraim Halevy | New Republic | 5 March 2013
Optimistic portrayal of developments in Israel-Palestine, from former head of Mossad. Highlights working-level parallel talks between Israel-Egypt and Egypt-Hamas: "The quiet service that Egypt is rendering in brokering between Hamas and Israel may prove to be more important for the cause of peace than anything that President Mubarak did"
Jon Lee Anderson | New Yorker | 5 March 2013
Obituary of Venezuelan leader. Protegé of Fidel Castro. Bolivarist. Turned to socialism after reading Les Miserables. "It was Fidel who noticed Chávez’s discomfort on a visit to Havana in 2011, and insisted that he see a doctor—who promptly discovered Chávez’s cancer, a tumor described as the size of a baseball somewhere in his groin area"
Kerry Dolan | Forbes | 5 March 2013
Forbes falls out with Saudi tycoon, accuses him of exaggerating his wealth, strongly suggests that he ramps up the shares of his public company. Calls him a bigger egomaniac than Donald Trump, and a mediocre investor. By Forbes's reckoning Alwaleed is still the richest man in the Arab world — but $20bn rich, not, as he claims, $30bn rich
Thought for the day:
"Most of what they call humility is successfully disguised arrogance" — Nassim Nicholas Taleb