Nigeria, US Army, Game Theory, Multiculturalism, James Baldwin, Uber

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Killing In A Media Blackout

Phil Hazlewood | AFP Correspondent | 30th January 2015

Journalist's notes on trying to report Boko Haram atrocities in Nigeria. In the countryside it's all but impossible: You can't even get there. "If an attack happens in a city such as Kano or Maiduguri, it's usually more straightforward – assuming the mobile phone network holds. But even then, any official statements usually downplay death tolls. Sometimes, the only option is to go to the hospital mortuary and count the bodies" (1,850 words)

Why The World’s Biggest Military Keeps Losing Wars

Tom Streithorst | Pieria | 14th January 2015

Four reasons why the US army underperforms. It spends too much on support: "Three-quarters of Americans in Iraq didn’t fight." It doesn't know its enemies: "Don’t invade a country if you are too lazy to learn the language." It fears casualties: "Only go to war if it is worth sacrificing your children." There is no existential threat: "The fundamental reason America’s military can’t win wars is that it doesn’t need to" (1,900 words)

Greece Is Playing To Lose

Anatole Kaletsky | Project Syndicate | 17th February 2015

Which is not say that there will be any winners. "Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s new finance minister, is a professor of mathematical economics who specializes in game theory. But his negotiating technique is the opposite of what game theory would dictate. Varoufakis’s idea of strategy is to hold a gun to his own head, then demand a ransom for not pulling the trigger. German and European Union policymakers are calling his bluff" (1,060 words)

The Failure Of Multiculturalism

Kenan Malik | Pandaemonium | 17th February 2015

"Multicultural policies accept as a given that societies are diverse, yet they assume that such diversity ends at the edges of minority communities. They seek to institutionalize diversity by putting people into ethnic and cultural boxes – into a Muslim community, for example – and defining their needs and rights accordingly. Such policies have helped create the very divisions they were meant to manage" (5,700 words)

Letter From A Region In My Mind

James Baldwin | New Yorker | 17th November 1962

Awe-inspiring essay on race in America. "The American Negro has the great advantage of having never believed that collection of myths to which white Americans cling: that their ancestors were all freedom-loving heroes, that they were born in the greatest country the world has ever seen, or that Americans are invincible in battle and wise in peace. Negroes know far more about white Americans than that" (22,000 words)

Replacing Middle Management With APIs

Peter Reinhardt | 15th February 2015

Offputting headline, but an important argument about the organisation of software-driven companies — Uber, Lyft, Homejoy etc. Such companies comprise two quite separate workforces: The professionals who run the systems; and the casual hands who deliver the services. There is no human contact between the two groups; certainly no upward career path; and the abstract relationship is, if anything, adversarial (800 words)

Video of the day: Dubai Flow Motion

What to expect: Dizzying time-lapse promotional video (3')

Thought for the day

All the basic situations in life occur only once
Milan Kundera (

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