Saudi Arabia, Charles Dickens, Tyson Fury, Window Tax, Cancer Research, Andy Warhol


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The West And Saudi Arabia

Gideon Rachman | Financial Times | 8th December 2015 | | Read with 1Pass

The rise of Isis is forcing Western governments to distance themselves from Saudi Arabia — recognising that the "Isis world view" is in large part the self-same Wahhabi philosophy promoted by the Saudi religious establishment. But it's hard to see how the status quo in Saudi Arabia might be changed for the better. “Get rid of the House of Saud and you will be screaming for them to come back within six months” (885 words)

Autopsy On A Marriage

Charles Dickens | Lapham's Quarterly | 7th December 2015

In a letter to a friend, Charles Dickens describes the collapse of his marriage: "Mrs. Dickens and I have lived unhappily together for many years. Hardly anyone who has known us intimately can fail to have known that we are in all respects of character and temperament wonderfully unsuited to each other. No two people ever were joined together who had a greater difficulty in understanding one another" (885 words)

Tyson Fury

Barney Ronay | Guardian | 7th December 2015

Profile of Tyson Fury, world heavyweight boxing champion, a "deeply menacing figure", a "male nightmare of rage and exclusion", and a "religious zealot". Fury attributes his "more controversial beliefs" to his reading of the Bible, including his view that "the correct punishment for paedophiles" would be "to let them in a room with me and two hammers, I’ll smash them to pieces" (1,900 words)

The Window Tax: An Open And Shut Case

Tim Harford | Undercover Economist | 8th December 2015

In 1696 the British government began taxing houses according to the number of windows they possessed, wrongly assuming that architecture did not respond to tax incentives. By the time the tax was abolished 155 years later, thousands of windows had been bricked and boarded up in houses across the country, light and air were luxuries indoors, and the poor lived in darkness (888 words)

Regulatory Problems With Cancer Research

Sarah Constantin | Otium | 6th December 2015

Why aren't we making better progress towards curing cancer? Perhaps because the increasingly heavy regulation of clinical trials is shutting out new players and new ideas. "For very severe diseases, the risk of not trying a drug that might work is higher than the risk of trying a drug that doesn’t work ... Cancer in general, being both common and deadly, is an especially good area for looser drug regulation" (2,230 words)

The Rise Of Andy Warhol

Robert Hughes | New York Review of Books | 18th February 1982

"It scarcely matters what Warhol paints; for his clientele, only the signature is fully visible. What the clients want is a Warhol, a recognizable product bearing his stamp. Hence any marked deviation from the norm, such as an imaginative connection with the world might produce, would in fact seem freakish and unpleasant: a renunciation of earlier products. Warhol’s sales pitch is to soothe the client by repetition" (5,700 words)

Video of the day: Simulacra

What to expect: Dizzying digital transformations of aerial landscapes, with music by Moby (3'56")

Thought for the day

Figure out what it is that you don’t do well, and then don’t do it
Douglas Coupland

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