Religion & War, Starting Start-Ups, Clive James, Loud Noise, Eccentric Aristocrats

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Is Religion To Blame For War?

John Gray | New Statesman | 1st October 2014

Another rich review of Karen Armstrong's Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence (Ferdinand Mount's review is here ( ). Gray argues that "religion" is a misleading category; belief is what matters. "The potential for violence exists in faith-based movements of all kinds, secular as well as religious ... Conventional distinctions between religious and secular belief pass over the role that belief itself plays in our lives" (2,230 words)

Before The Startup

Paul Graham | 2nd October 2014

Venture capitalist's lecture to Stanford students. "Do not start a startup in college. How to start a startup is just a subset of a bigger problem you're trying to solve: how to have a good life. And though starting a startup can be part of a good life, age 20 is not the optimal time to do it. There's not even a tradeoff here. You're not sacrificing anything if you forgo starting a startup at 20, because you're more likely to succeed if you wait" (4,095 words)

Clive James on His Late Flowering

Douglas Murray | Spectator | 2nd October 2014 | Metered paywall

Conversation with the poet and critic, stricken by leukaemia but still writing. His essay collection, Poetry Notebook, is published this month. He hopes to complete a final volume of memoirs, and to see a new edition of his Collected Poems published next year. "At the moment I am in the slightly embarrassing position where I write poems saying I am about to die and I don’t. My wife is very funny on that subject" (1,460 words)

The Sound That Circled The Earth

Aatish Bhatia | Nautilus | 29th September 2014

The noise from the volcanic explosion at Krakatoa near Java in 1883 was not only the loudest sound ever made on Earth; it was as loud as any sound on Earth possibly could be, given the laws of physics. It did not travel through the air, but pushed the air before it, in a shock-wave that shattered the ear-drums of sailors 40 miles away. Three thousand miles away it was heard "like distant guns". (1,260 words)

Ménage à Quatre

Alexander Waugh | Literary Review | 1st October 2014

If you have a thing for eccentric British aristocrats, then this review of Sofka Zinovieff's new book, Mad Boy, Lord Berners, My Grandmother And Me is a joy throughout. Sample sentence: "He rode in the Grand National; he peed from a first-storey window onto his headmaster at Stowe; he punched Cecil Beaton so hard on the nose that the photographer was forced to withdraw from public life and died in loneliness and pain a few years later" (960 words)

Video of the day: Inside Out

What to expect: Short sweet trailer for forthcoming Pixar film

Thought for the day

My job is making windows where once there were walls
Michel Foucault (

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