Rafia Zakaria | Guernica | 17th April 2013
Why do three deaths in Boston move us more than hundreds of civilian deaths in Pakistan or Iraq? "It is this greater poignancy of attacks in America that begs the question of whether the world’s allocations of sympathy are determined not by the magnitude of a tragedy — the numbers dead and injured — but by the contrast between a society’s normal and the cruel aftermath of a terrorist event"
Atul Gawande | New Yorker | 17th April 2013
Every casualty of the Boston bombings who was found alive, survived. A remarkable feat. A legacy of 9/11. "Talking to people about that day, I was struck by how ready and almost rehearsed they were for this event. A decade earlier, nothing approaching their level of collaboration and efficiency would have occurred. Where before we’d have been struck dumb with shock about such events, now we are almost calculating about them"
Adam Shatz | London Review Of Books | 17th April 2013
Book review, of James Buchan's Days of God, on the causes and contradictions of Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution. "The Iranian Revolution was a revolt against Western-imposed modernisation in favour of an enchanted path to modernity. It had a spiritual aim, but the attempt to infuse governance with divine authority ended up expanding – and ultimately sanctifying – the authoritarian state the clerics inherited from the shah"
Rachel Nuwer | Smithsonian | 9th April 2013
New York's long nightmare is over. "For years, people in Eastern Europe’s Balkan region have known that kidney bean leaves trap bedbugs, like a natural fly paper ... In 1943, a group of researchers studied this phenomenon and attributed it to microscopic plant hairs that grow on the leaves’ surface, entangling bed bug legs." Knowledge lost in World War II. The method works. Now scientists are developing synthetics with the same properties
Katie Manderfield | The Credits | 16th April 2013
It's all about attention to detail, and to customers. “We over-manage guest experiences so that there are no apologies”. Park staff are trained never to say No outright. "The quality of your response is what matters. You need to think: what are they really asking?" The parks pump out a vanilla scent on Main Street, because the smell triggers fond memories. Disney invented its own confetti for optimal flutter. “Our guestology is performance theming”
Justin Fox | Harvard Business Review | 17th April 2013
If you follow economics closely, you will know this story already. If you don't follow it at all, you may not even be interested. But if you fall between the two, here is a short, accessible presentation of the current cause celebre: a research paper which has encouraged policies of austerity, particularly in Europe, was based on a very limited range of countries, questionable weighting, and a spreadsheet error
Thought for the day:
"There are two commodities, paper money and gold, whose price permanently exceeds fundamental value. But only two" — John Kay