Poker, Autodidacts, Animals, Havana, Leonard Bernstein

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Dispatches From The Republic of Anhedonia

Colson Whitehead | Grantland | 19th May 2013

Colson Whitehead’s classic report from the World Series Of Poker. “You start with two cards. Instead of the ante you’ve heard of, only two people plop down an automatic bet without seeing their cards: the Big Blind and the Small Blind. Blind, because you’re in a dark mine probably about to step into the abyss. Everything begins and ends with these two cards. They can squeeze you like a vise. You have to learn which combos are worth engaging, and which are not” (19,200 words)

The Last Man Who Knew Everything

Matthew Walther | The Week | 25th April 2018

Sabine Baring-Gould’s 130 books included biographies of Napoleon I and the Caesars, a guide to surnames, a 16-volume collection of saints’ lives, dozens of novels, and histories of Germany, Iceland, North and South Wales, Cornwall, Dartmoor, the Rhine, and the Pyrenees. He wrote thousands of essays and magazine articles, two collections of verse, two memoirs, a vast correspondence, and thousands of pages of diaries. A late-19C clergyman, he was “the last man who knew everything” (2,090 words)

Animal Liberation

Peter Singer | New York Review Of Books | 5th April 1973

Peter Singer voices the ideas which will form the core of his highly influential book, “Animal Liberation”, two years later. “Moral equality is distinct from factual equality. Otherwise it would be nonsense to talk of the equality of human beings, since humans, as individuals, obviously differ in intelligence and almost any ability one cares to name. If possessing greater intelligence does not entitle one human to exploit another, why should it entitle humans to exploit nonhumans?” (5,950 words)

The Man Who Saved Havana

Tony Perrottet | Smithsonian | 29th April 2018

Fidel Castro was happy to let Havana crumble. But when the historic centre started to collapse in the 1980s, the city’s official historian, Eusebio Leal, persuaded Castro that Old Havana was worth preserving; and that the work could be funded by opening up the tourist industry to foreign investment. “Leal is credited with single-handedly bringing Old Havana from the brink of ruin to its current status as the most ravishing and vibrant architectural enclave in the Western Hemisphere” (6,400 words)

Wunderkind At 100

Joseph Horowitz | Weekly Standard | 27th April 2018

A tribute to Leonard Bernstein on the centenary of his birth. He failed brilliantly. “The trajectory of promises, fulfilled and not, is anything but simple. At the age of 40 Bernstein became the youngest music director in the history of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and — as every announcement stressed — the first Philharmonic music director to be American-born. It was his biggest, most glamorous, and most prestigious showcase. Ten years later, he would be gone, frustrated and fatigued” (5,700 words)

Video of the day Vladimir Cauchemar — Aulos

What to expect:

Man plays recorder. The strangeness begins 35 seconds in, and goes on getting stranger (2’51”)

Thought for the day

I am not able to begin. I simply skip what should be the beginning
Rainer Maria Rilke

Podcast Atul Gawande | Freakonomics Radio

Atul Gawande talks to Stephen Dubner about practical ways to improve the delivery of health care
(54m 18s)

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