Trump Noir, Prosperity Gospel, Antonin Scalia, Peak Paper, Memory Athletes, Gore Vidal, Antonin Scal


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The Whale That Nearly Drowned The Donald

Michael Crowley | Politico | 14th February 2016

Fabulous yarn. Donald Trump lures a billionaire Japanese gambler to his Atlantic City casino — where the gambler wins $6m at baccarat and leaves. Trump engineers a return match and hires a Rand Corporation mathematician to maximise the house advantage. This time Trump wins $10m — but the cheque bounces and the gambler disappears; two years later his body is found near Mount Fuji, hacked to pieces with a samurai sword (2,900 words)

Death, The Prosperity Gospel And Me

Kate Bowler | New York Times | 14th February 2016

The Prosperity Gospel is a distinctive American take on Christianity which holds that God grants wealth and health to those with faith: “Jesus died that we might live an abundant life". Prosperity is the Gospel of megachurches, TV evangelists, Oprah and the self-help industry. What can it do for Kate Bowler, who wrote a book about the Prosperity Gospel, when she is diagnosed with terminal cancer? (Metered Paywall) (2,490 words)

Justice For Scalia

Robert Post | New York Review of Books | 11th June 1998

On the late Antonin Scalia's theory of law. "Textualism is a theory of the way judges ought to interpret legal documents. Scalia uses the theory to support a number of highly consequential and controversial propositions. He believes that judges who interpret statutes should avoid all reference to legislative history. He also believes judges should interpret the Constitution strictly according to the original meaning of its language" (4,930 words)

The Economic Lesson Of Peak Paper

John Quiggin | Aeon | 12th February 2016

The world hit 'peak paper' in 2013, and production is now falling. The paperless office is becoming a reality twenty years or so after it became a meme. Demand for paper has peaked so much later than first forecast, because our production of information has risen more rapidly than our propensity to print information has declined. Every seven hours we create more information than existed in total in 2003 (1,400 words)

Memory Athletes: Total Recall

Madhavankutty Pillai | Open | 12th February 2016

Tales from the Indian National Memory Championships. Omkar Kibe, the "second-highest ranked memory athlete in India", has "25 Memory Palaces in his head at an average of 50 journey points, making 1,250 places where he can store images". He can also memorise 1,400 digits in an hour and solve a Rubik Cube blindfold. "You remember a particular arrangement of cube colours before being blindfolded and then you solve it" (2,550 words)

Gore Vidal, The Art of Fiction No. 50

Gerald Clarke | Paris Review | 1st September 1974

Another magical interview from the Paris Review archive, conducted forty years ago in Rome. "Gore Vidal stands six feet; his chest is broad and deep (a legacy of Alpine ancestors); the once flat stomach is now reorganizing itself as a most definite paunch. He regards his own deterioration with fascination: 'After all, in fifteen months I shall be fifty', he declares, apparently pleased and disturbed in equal parts" (9,700 words)

In Conversation: Antonin Scalia

Jennifer Senior | New York | 6th October 2013

Remarkable interview. Interesting throughout. Topics include the Supreme Court, originalism, gay rights, and Scalia's belief in the Devil. "You’re looking at me as though I’m weird. Are you so out of touch with America? Jesus Christ believed in the Devil. It’s in the Gospels. Most of mankind has believed in the Devil for all of history. Many more intelligent people than you or me have believed in the Devil" (6,300 words)

Video of the day: Public Key Cryptography

What to expect: Encryption explained using blotches of paint. You can mix them, but you can't unmix them (5'23")

Thought for the day

I have acquired new wisdom; or, to put it more critically, I have discarded old ignorance
Antonin Scalia

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