Social Mobility, National Character, Edward Albee, Bowling


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The Downside Of Upward Mobility

Branko Milanovic | Global Inequality | 17th September 2016

Elites tend to praise social mobility in theory, but to obstruct it in practice, because mobility implies movement down as well as up, and the people at the top want their children to stay at the top. It takes a revolution to produce great social mobility, and then it tends to be of age rather than class. The purging of an old establishment opens up “incredible vistas” for the young. When the Nazis took power in Germany Hitler was “by far the oldest at 43. Goebbels was 35, Himmler 32” (1,140 words)

Do Europeans Exist?

Peter Turchin | Euromind | 16th September 2016

You cannot change the character of a people in a generation or two. The European Union worked well in its early years because it was built on shared values among member countries instilled over centuries if not millennia. “France, Germany, Italy, and the Benelux were also the core of Charlemagne’s empire. This is not a coincidence”. When the EU grew to encompass groups of countries with different traditions, the model began to fracture. A confederal model might well have worked better (580 words)

Three Short Essays On Air Travel

Connie Porter et al | Literary Hub | 16th September 2016

On pat-downs, passports — and peeing. “Five beers and thirty minutes later, I heard the last call for my flight. There wasn’t enough time to find the ladies’ room. The flight was only 45 minutes long. And anyway, there would be a bathroom on the plane. It was on takeoff that I realized my mistake. It was a small plane; there were less than fifty seats available and each passenger had their own row. I looked to the back. There was no sign of a bathroom. I began to pray for prevailing winds” (3,040 words)

Edward Albee: The Art Of Theatre

William Flanagan | Paris Review | 18th September 1966

“I don’t begin with an idea for a play — a thesis, in other words — to construct the play around. But I know a good deal about the nature of the characters. I know a great deal about their environment. And I more or less know what is going to happen in the play. It’s only when I sit down to write it that I find out exactly what the characters are going to say, exactly how they are going to behave within the situation to produce the predetermined result” (8,600 words)

The Rise And Fall Of Professional Bowling

Zachary Crockett | Priceonomics | 21st March 2014

In the “golden era” of the 1960s and 1970s professional bowlers made twice as much money as football stars and signed million-dollar endorsement contracts; there was always a game on network television. But in the 1980s and 1990 the sport collapsed. Now pro bowlers earn peanuts, take second jobs, and share motel rooms on tour. Perhaps advances in technology made the sport seem easy: “During the 1968-69 season, 905 perfect games were rolled; the 1998-99 season saw 34,470” (3,200 words)

Video of the day: L’Acrobate Des Toits De Paris

What to expect:

Parkour on the Paris rooftops. Brilliant special effects, or terrifying live action (1’45”)

Thought for the day

To say that an idea is necessary is simply to affirm that we cannot conceive the contrary
T.H. Huxley

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