Rifles, Torture, America's Wars, Matisse, Food Science, Fran Lebowitz


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Gun Trouble

Robert Scales | Atlantic | 29th December 2014

The Pentagon spends a trillion dollars on a new fighter jet, but won't give regular soldiers reliable rifles. The M16 was notorious for jamming during the Vietnam war, due to a weakness in the bolt assembly; its successor, the M4, has the same problem. Neither is a match for Russia's AK-47. "The American penchant for arming troops with lousy rifles has been responsible for a staggering number of unnecessary deaths" (2,200 words)

Our New Politics Of Torture

Hugh Eakin & Mark Danner | New York Review Of Books | 30th December 2014

Discussion of the US Senate report on the CIA torture program. "If this issue is raised in the Republican primaries in 2016, I’d expect that most politicians on that stage will declare themselves firmly in favor of 'enhanced interrogation techniques'. We may not torture now, but because torture has become a recognized policy choice, it is perfectly conceivable that our political masters might decide to do so in the future" (4,900 words)

Were The Wars Worth The Cost?

Andrew Tilgham | Military Times | 15th December 2014

As America ends its 13-year war in Afghanistan, a survey of soldiers and veterans finds a general sense of failure and fatigue, and a desire to be gone. According to one: "The men there, they buy women like they're goats. I think that we've got to get out of there. I think the people there have to figure it out themselves". Says another: "I don't think we learned anything because we are still fighting the same damned people" (1,812 words)

Matisse: His Stock Will Sky-Rocket

Ralph Flint | ARTnews | 29th December 2014

As Henri Matisse's Cut-Out exhibition closes at the New York Museum Of Modern Art, a look back to the artist's first major American show, at the same venue, in 1931: "His success is sure on both sides of the Atlantic. He has made a success of his art and an art of his success. His stock will be sent sky-rocketing, and those dealers lucky enough to have even an option on one of his canvases will be reaping their reward" (1,100 words)

Diets And Mass Murder

Richard Smith | British Medical Journal | 15th December 2014

Food scientists claimed 50 years ago to have found statistical evidence linking saturated fats to heart disease. They were probably wrong. The data was patchy. Later studies found no correlation. But the damage was done. Fat became the enemy. Food manufacturers, pressed to use less fat, substituted carbohydrates, including high-fructose corn syrup; thanks to which, at least in part, we have a worldwide obesity epidemic (2,400 words)

Fran Lebowitz, A Humorist at Work

George Plimpton & James Linville | Paris Review | 1st September 1993

Classic interview from the Paris Review archives. "I write so slowly that I could write in my own blood without hurting myself. I think if there were no such thing as men, there would be no word processors. Male writers like them because they have this sneaking suspicion that writing is not the most masculine profession. This is why you have so much idiotic behavior among male writers" (8,400 words)

Video of the day: The Boxtrolls

What to expect: Final minute of "The Boxtrolls", showing how the animation was done (1'15")

Thought for the day

Behind every apparent double standard is an unspoken single standard
Jonah Goldberg (https://twitter.com/jonahnro/status/549751769962934272)

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