Sumo, Enrichment, Reproduction, Bernanke, Virginia Woolf


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The Great Sumo Matchup Across Centuries

Benjamin Morris | Five Thirty Eight | 13th May 2016

Mongolian-born Hakuho is the dominant sumo wrestler of the past decade in Japan and perhaps the greatest sumo wrestler of all time, having won 85 percent of his upper-division matches, a modern record. How would he fare if sent back in a time machine to the late 18C and pitted against his only real peer in sumo history, Raiden, known as “The Thunderbolt”, an “absolute monster among men” who won 96 percent of his matches using fighting moves that were later banned? (4,100 words)

Social Justice And The Great Enrichment

Will Wilkinson | Niskanen Center | 10th May 2016

Why did the human race suddenly work out how to get rich after thousands of years just scraping by? The Great Enrichment is “the deepest puzzle of the social sciences”. Some cite breakthroughs in science and technology, others the formation of inclusive political institutions, others the triumph of bourgeois values. The debate goes on. “But it’s not wrong to sum it up bluntly like this: humans rather suddenly got immensely better at cooperating and now a lot of us are really rich” (2,800 words)

Is This The End Of Sex?

Philip Ball | New Statesman | 15th May 2016

Probably not. But when you consider how many ways you can make a baby using known technologies, it seems clear that old-fashioned conception should be seen as one option among many. In “uniparenting”, eggs and sperm made from the somatic cells of a single person are used to create a child. In “multiplex parenting” an embryo is mated with another embryo in vitro, thus reproducing without first being born. “Even the experts concede that their imagination is boggled by the possibilities” (2,400 words)

The Courage To Act

Noah Smith | CFR / International Finance | 14th May 2016

Highly intelligent discussion of Ben Bernanke’s big book about the 2008 crisis and its aftermath. Bernanke foresaw the dangers of a banking crash better than anyone around him because he had spent a working lifetime studying the Great Depression. He bailed out the big banks to prevent a second depression. “Basically, Bernanke wants the world to understand why he did what he did, and in order to understand we have to know everything. The book succeeds” (PDF) (5,100 words)

Indiscretions

Virginia Woolf | Vogue | 9th May 2016

From the archives (obviously). Readers cannot help but feel emotions towards writers. “George Eliot is a case in point. Her reputation, they say, is on the wane, and, indeed, how could it be otherwise? Her big nose, her little eyes, her heavy, horsey head loom from behind the printed page and make a critic of the other sex uneasy. Praise he must, but love he cannot. However absolute his devotion to the principle that art has no truck with personality, it is not George Eliot he would like to pour out tea” (1,690 words)

Video of the day: Partita Number 3 in E Major

What to expect:

Daniil Trifonov, hailed as the most original Bach interpreter since Glenn Gould, plays a Rachmaninov transcription (3’59”)

Thought for the day

To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries
Aldous Huxley

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