Tennis, Medicine, Doomsday, Elites, China


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Michael Joyce’s Second Act

Sam Riches | Racquet / Longreads | 17th January 2017

Catching up with an older and generally happier Michael Joyce, whose early life as a rising tennis pro was captured by David Foster Wallace in one of the most celebrated pieces of sports writing ever published, String Theory. “A wrist injury will end his career early but not his successes. He will coach Maria Sharapova for six years and two Grand Slam titles and become a known commodity as a coach and mostly forgotten as a player, a fact that will annoy him greatly” (4,900 words)

Death And Doctors’ Fears

Bert Keizer | Threepenny Review | 3rd October 2016

A doctor reflects on euthanasia and palliative care. “Protestants think one shouldn’t overdo the alleviation of suffering. God doesn’t like it; even when you are dying you are not meant to have a good time. The very young doctor is quite as bad, but for a different reason. He is afraid that the patient might die a couple of minutes sooner due to the morphine. I advised my friend to opt for 10 mg of morphine every four hours, but between you and me, my personal preference is 20 mg” (1,900 words)

Fear And Time

Will Boisvert | The Breakthrough | 1st October 2015

The Doomsday Clock is suffering from mission creep. Devised in 1947 to warn against nuclear weapons, now it warns against technology in general. “The Clock’s exact setting may not reflect anything more objective than the mood of the eminent scientific advisory board that sets it, but its larger purpose is clear: to spotlight existential menaces and spark a sense of urgency into panic about them. To convince ourselves to save the world, we must first convince ourselves that the end is nigh” (2,600 words)

Why Elites Always Rule

Hugo Drochon | New Statesman | 18th January 2017

The economist Vilfredo Pareto first used the term “elite” in its modern sociological sense a century ago to describe those with power. “There is always the domination of the minority over the majority. History is just the story of one elite replacing another”. He divided leaders into two categories: “foxes” and “lions”. Foxes use cunning, lions use force. “The relevance of Pareto’s theories to the world today is clear. After a period of foxes in power, the lions are back with renewed vigour” (3,100 words)

Can China Survive Trump?

Michael Pettis & Tom Orlik | Bloomberg View | 16th January 2017

Economists discuss how a more restrictive American trade policy would affect China, and other countries running big trade surpluses, including Germany and Japan. “Even if Trump did erect major trade barriers to Chinese goods, perhaps even the 45 percent tariffs he’s talked about, the costs to China wouldn’t be as great as many imagine. Bloomberg’s estimates suggest a trade war would reduce 2017 GDP growth to 5.6 percent from our baseline forecast of 6.3 percent” (1,090 words)

Video of the day: The Trolley Problem

What to expect:

Animated discussion of classic ethical problem. Should you take one life, to save five? (4’40”)

Thought for the day

Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable
Dwight Eisenhower

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