Stalin, Economics, Iraq, Hindutva, Iron Lungs

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Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941

Gary Saul Morson | New Criterion | 20th November 2017

The second volume of Stephen Kotkin’s planned three-volume life of Stalin shows the great dictator at his most psychopathic, masterminding famine in Ukraine, the Great Terror, and the pact with Hitler. He murdered most of his military leadership even as he knew that war with Hitler had to come: “In about a year and a half, Stalin arrested some 22,700 (of 144,000) officers, concentrating on the highest ranks: eight of nine admirals, three of five marshals, and thirteen of fifteen full generals” (3,400 words)

The Correct Use Of Economics

John Ioannidis | LA Times | 14th November 2017

Researcher famed for debunking research in the hard sciences turns his attention to economics — and finds that results reported in economics papers are not wholly fabricated, but greatly exaggerated. “The value of a statistical life, which measures how much people are willing to pay to reduce their risk of death, appears to have been exaggerated by a factor of eight. On average, the strength of the results may have been exaggerated by a factor of two. In a third of the studies, by a factor of four” (880 words)

After The Battle Of Mosul, An Orgy Of killing

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad | Guardian | 20th November 2017

Iraqi soldiers over-run the last Islamic State positions in Mosul. After which, they torture and kill suspected Isis fighters, along with anybody else who happens to be around. “The soldiers were killing for different reasons: because they had no trust in the judicial service, believing that detainees would be able to buy their way out, as they always had; in revenge for the atrocities committed by Isis; and because the chaos made it possible for them to cleanse the city of Isis fighters” (9,500 words)

Hindu Tradition

Tunku Varadarajan | Open | 15th September 2017

Conversation with Wendy Doniger, leading Western authority on on Hinduism, whose work is considered sacrilegious in India because she argues that Hindutva, the predominant modern form of Hinduism, was invented in the 18C as a version of Hinduism more palatable to India’s British colonial rulers. “This one thin strain of Hinduism got lifted out as the real Hinduism. It wasn’t nationalist at first, but it picked it up pretty soon, especially after the 1857 Uprising, and became violently anti-Muslim” (3,780 words)

The Last Iron Lungs

Jennings Brown | Gizmodo | 20th November 2017

American hospital wards used to be full of iron lungs — mechanical breathing machines to help victims palayzed by polio. When vaccines developed in the 1950s swiftly eradicated polio, iron lungs became obsolete: No more manufacturing, no more service engineers, no more spare parts. Half a century later, a last three aging elderly polio survivors rely on iron lungs to keep them alive. “What these iron lung users have in common are generous, mechanically skilled friends and family” (3,900 words)

Video of the day Jackson Pollock In 60 Seconds

What to expect:

Tim Marlow of the Royal Academy talks about the evolution of Jackson Pollock’s style from cubism to abstraction (1’06”)

Thought for the day

Riches should come as the reward for hard work, preferably by one’s forebears
Steven Runciman

Podcast of the day Angels In Medieval Philosophy | History Of Philosophy

Discussion of the problems posed by angels for scholastic philosophers. Were they material or immaterial?

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