Paris, Venezuela, Homo Deus, Prison, Referendums

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Plenty Of Sex, Nowhere To Sit

Kevin Jackson | Literary Review | 2nd March 2018

“For a book crammed with adulteries, alcoholism, betrayals, deportations, deprivation, drug addiction, executions, abortions, imprisonment, murder, Nazi atrocities, starvation, torture chambers (on the avenue Hoche, passers-by could hear the screams coming up from the cellars’ air vents), treason and worse, Agnès Poirier’s ‘Left Bank’ is a remarkably exhilarating read. It has a terrific cast, with, as leading players, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus and Maurice Merleau-Ponty” (1,343 words)

Caravan Of Misery

Alexandra Ulmer | Reuters | 2nd March 2018

Tales of hardship from travellers fleeing Venezuela. “By the time dawn rises over Caracas, hungry people are already picking through garbage while kids beg in front of bakeries. Come dusk, Venezuelans shut themselves inside their homes to avoid muggings and kidnappings. In a country with the world’s largest proven crude reserves, families cook with firewood because they cannot find propane. Food is so scarce and pricey that the average Venezuelan lost 24 pounds last year” (5,500 words)


David Berlinski | Inference | 1st March 2018

Perceptive and sardonic review of Yuval Noah Harari’s “Homo Deus”, about the future of humankind. “If he is skeptical about some things, he is credulous about others, and so reaches a point of equilibrium between believing too little and believing too much. Whatever is not forbidden by the laws of physics is possible. This dizzying sense of steadily expanding possibilities allows Harari to accept with solemn credulity the promise that death is a soluble technological problem” (6,700 words)

The Everyday Chaos Of Incarceration

Jerry Metcalf | Marshall Project | 2nd March 2018

A prisoner’s notebook. Does it have to be this way? “Prison is the very absence of normal. On day one, I was stripped of my clothes alongside a bunch of other men, marched around naked, and issued an ID number. Chaos is a norm, though it sounds oxymoronic to say so. I haven’t experienced a truly good night’s sleep in two decades. Violence is the ultimate norm. Over the years, I’ve been stabbed, cut, clunked, almost raped, and had the crap kicked out of me on numerous occasions” (1,062 words)

How To Run A Referendum

Peter Ungphakorn | Trade Beta | 2nd March 2018

How the Swiss make direct democracy work. Citizens vote up to four times a year on national and local questions, some proposed by the government, others backed by grassroots signature campaigns. Most people vote by post. Voters receive, along with ballot papers, booklets containing “clear, simple, comprehensive and impartial explanations” of the issues at stake, which can range from extending the government’s powers of taxation to resurfacing the local high street (1,600 words)

Video of the day Alien Hand Syndrome

What to expect:

Following brain surgery, a woman finds that her left hand has developed a mind of its own (2’45”)

Thought for the day

Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying them at the moment
C.S. Lewis

Podcast of the day Coffee And The Enlightenment | How It Began

Brad Harris on the correlation between coffee consumption and the rise of liberalism
(49m 30s)

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