Shylock & Greece, Ukraine, Geopolitics, Baking, Weight Training

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The Merchants Of Europe

Robert Applebaum | The Baffler | 24th February 2015

Shakespeare's Merchant Of Venice as a moral compass in the Greek debt crisis. "What about that deep and disturbing realm of affect, of personal motives and destructive driving factors that operate beneath Shylock’s aggressive behavior? Is there not something else that underlies the bureaucrats’ demand that Greece hand over its pound of flesh — even if that may end up killing the debtor? Is there no appealing to mercy?" (880 words)

The Ukrainian School Of War

Ivan Krastev & Stephen Holmes | Project Syndicate | 25th February 2015

"Putin remains involved in Ukraine for reasons that seem largely pedagogical. For the West, the message is that Russia will not tolerate meddling in its backyard. For Ukraine the message is that the country cannot survive without Russia's support. Putin also wants to show Ukrainians that, in the end, the West does not really care about them. Americans will not fight, and Europeans will not provide the money" (800 words)

The Road From Westphalia

Jessica Mathews | New York Review Of Books | 27th February 2015

Discussion of two new books about America in the world: World Order, by Henry Kissinger; and America In Retreat, by Bret Stephens. The Stephens book can be ignored: "To my knowledge, he is the only serious analyst ever to have explicitly advocated that the US act as the world’s policeman". Kissinger is far more intelligent, but his thinking is stuck inside an outdated framework of nation-state diplomacy (3,930 words)

Kitchen Rhythm

Frances Leech | Longreads | 26th February 2015

From the diary of an English baker working in a Parisian patisserie. "If the hot sugar hits your skin, you will hear a slight hiss — the hiss of a drop of water in a frying pan — before you really feel it. I have burned both cakes and myself. I wear my scars like badges: A thin line from a seven-liter bath of crème pâtissière, an isosceles from the first time I was allowed to make four trays of the cocoa sponge sans farine" (3,500 words)

I Was Exercised By Wolves

Zeynep Tufekci | The Message | 27th February 2015

News you can use. Strength-training is essential exercise. "Women, especially, need to lift weights, and the trick to lifting weights is stressing muscles. And that weight has to be a real weight. An average woman should not even bother with two pound weights because that won’t stress your muscles enough to benefit you. You need to lift weights because stronger muscles are going to make you healthy, less prone to injury and more fit" (3,320 words)

Video of the day: Frank Underwood Cares

What to expect: Satire. Political ad for House Of Cards anti-hero. Stay for the last line (0'53")

Thought for the day

Relativism thrives when people do not have to shoulder the burden of actually coming to a conclusion
Simon Blackburn (

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