Passports, Banknotes, Games, Gender, Haditha

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The Passport-Poor

Atossa Araxia Abrahamian | New York Review Of Books | 21st May 2018

Passports were invented not to let us roam freely, but to keep us in place and in check. They represent the borders and boundaries countries draw around themselves, and the lines they draw around people, too. But as printed papers and analogue technologies give way to intricate scans that can identify us by the patterns on our irises, the shape of our faces, and even maps of our veins and arteries, we no longer are our papers; rather, our papers become us (2,600 words)

A Tax On Banknotes

J.P. Koning | Moneyness | 24th May 2018

Don’t ban large-denomination banknotes; tax them. “Cash’s lack of a paper trail can be abused when it used to evade taxes. The resulting gap in government finances forces the honest majority to pay more than their fair share for government services. This state of affairs isn’t just. One way to fix this inequity is to raise the price of banknote usage high enough to include the costs that tax evaders impose on everyone else. A tax on banknotes, call it a financial privacy tax, can do this” (2,450 words)

Professional Sports Are Bad For Society

Lyman Stone | The Federalist | 21st May 2018

Possibly satire, but still thought-provoking. “If states begin legalizing sports betting, with legal bookies in stadiums, it will have another positive effect: it will reveal the longstanding moral depravity of American sports culture, and hasten the process of American families abandoning the decadence and shame of professional sports culture. The mob mentality, the cheering and jeering crowds of professional sports, are utterly incompatible with civic virtue” (1,380 words)

Sexual Double Standards

Martia Haselton | Edge | 24th May 2018

Martie Haselton, professor of psychology at UCLA, talks about gender differences — real, imposed, and imagined. “I’ve been studying for the last fifteen years the impact of women’s hormones on their behavior, and I’ve gotten a lot of pushback on that. If you study hormones on women’s behavior, the idea is that you’re going to be justifying this notion that women’s hormones make them irrational. Nobody ever said a male politician was disqualified for office because he had testosterone” (3,300 words)

Just Kills

Adam Linehan | Task And Purpose | 23rd May 2018

During one short house-to-house search in 2005 a squad of US Marines killed 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians, including women and children in bed. Was this a war crime? You might think so. But of the four soldiers charged with murder, three were given immunity, and the fourth, a staff sergeant, served 90 days in jail for dereliction of duty, and that was the end of it. “I told [my Marines] to shoot first and deal it with later. They did what I told them to do and they did a good job” (11,990 words)

Video of the day AI Therapy

What to expect:

After a century of progress, AI bots become too human for their own good (2’18”)

Thought for the day

Where error is irreparable, repentance is useless
Edward Gibbon

Podcast Is Civilisation Crumbling?

Russell Brand talks to film-maker Adam Curtis about how power works, and why protest fails
(1h 17m 29s)

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