Web Summit, Castro, Bataclan, Robert Shiller, Peggy Noonan, George Osborne


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Watching The World Rot

Sam Kriss | Atlantic | 22nd November 2016

Bilious report from Europe’s big tech conference, the Lisbon Web Summit. “The game isn’t to build anything that might last, but to secure just enough money to land unharmed when the crash finally happens. Very few of the ideas are new; they’re just bits of other companies cobbled together: Yooture is ‘online dating for jobs’, wiPet is ‘Fitbit for your dog’, Mooringo is Uber for luxury yachts. Tech companies are roaringly productive, but they don’t need to produce anything in particular” (1,800 words)

Fidel Castro Is Dead

Glenn Garvin | Miami Herald | 26th November 2016

Wide-ranging obituary. “Few national leaders have inspired such intense loyalty — or such a wrenching feeling of betrayal. Few fired the hearts of the world’s restless youth as Castro did when he was young, and few seemed so irrelevant as Castro when he was old. Others had greater impact or won more respect. But none combined his dynamic personality, his decades in power, his profound effect on his own country and his provocative role in international affairs” (15,800 words)

You Will Not Have My Hate

Antione Leiris | Penguin Press | 21st November 2016

Parisian father’s account of losing his wife in the terrorist massacre at Bataclan, and comforting their 17-month-old son. “Melvil waits. He waits to be big enough to reach the light switch in the living room. He waits for me to make his dinner before I read him a story. He waits for bath time, for lunchtime, for snack time. And tonight, he waits for his mother to come home before he goes to bed. I wait too. I tell myself she will come through the bedroom door and join us for the last couplet” (2,500 words)

A Conversation With Robert Shiller

David Edmonds & Nigel Warburton | Pacific Standard | 24th October 2016

Discussion of behavioural economics. “Economic theory likes to reduce human behavior to a canonical form: the structure has been, ever since Samuelson wrote this a half-century ago, that people want to maximize their consumption. There’s neither benevolence nor malevolence. All they care about is eating or getting goods and they want to smooth it; they described it in terms of so-called ‘utility functions through their lifetime’. That is such an elegant, simple model, but it’s too simple” (1,570 words)

What To Tell Your Children About Trump

Peggy Noonan | 25th November 2016

“What a great thing it would be if Donald Trump would take a day off from the transition, go to a series of schools, speak to children, telling them that he has nothing in his heart but the desire to do good and help people. ‘I have children and even grandchildren’, he might say. ‘I love them. I will do my best, and I love you’. They need to see a little gentleness and good intent. Their parents would appreciate it. And it’s needed before the inauguration. Impressions will have hardened by then”

George Osborne Meets Yuval Harari

George Osborne & Yuval Noah Harari | Guardian | 26th November 2016

Lively conversation between futurist and ex-finance minister. Osborne: “My preoccupation was to show that I was on top of the job. I became the finance minister when I was 38, so there was, in my mind, a particular concern to show people that this young man could do the job. And over the six years of doing the job I came to understand – but maybe not enough – that I also had to go and explain what I was doing. I had to listen to people who did not think that I was doing the right thing” (3,200 words)

Video of the day: The One Moment

What to expect:

New music video from OK Go (4’12”)

Thought for the day

Nature is to zoos as God is to churches
Margaret Atwood

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