Best of the Week
Jeremy Relph | Buzzfeed | 7 March 2013
"Her second day wasn't an improvement: Elsa got a call at home telling her the state police were there to arrest a student named Daniel, who had allegedly participated in the murder of a boy—they had cut off his ear and burned him alive". The life of a schoolteacher in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, where "every kid knows another kid who's killed someone"
Rachel Kolb | Stanford Magazine | 6 March 2013
On the limitations of lip reading. "Even the most skilled lip readers can discern an average of 30% of what is being said. How does one have a meaningful conversation at 30%? It is like functioning at 30% of normal oxygen, or eating 30% of recommended calories—possible to subsist, but difficult to feel at your best and all but impossible to excel"
Graham Allison and Robert Blackwill | Atlantic | 5 March 2013
Interview. Every sentence worth your attention. "Competition between the United States and China is inevitable, but conflict is not. This is not the Cold War. The Soviet Union was contesting with the United States for global supremacy. China is acting purely in its own national interests. It is not interested in changing the world"
Paul Horwich | New York Times | 3 March 2013
Useful primer for those (like me) who enjoy paddling in the shallows of Wittgenstein's thought, but fear to go deeper. "A decent approach to philosophy must avoid theory-construction, and instead be confined to exposing the irrational assumptions on which theory-oriented investigations are based and the irrational conclusions to which they lead"
Mark Hurst | Creative Good | 28 February 2013
All those Google Glasses will be reporting back to Google servers. The more popular Glasses become, the closer we get to a surveillance society in which we are all recording one another privately and secretly, with no control over what happens to the data. "The experience of being a citizen, in public, is about to change"
Harold McGee | Slate | 4 March 2013
Ignore the sell-by date: Even the humblest canned foods may improve with storage. And why wait? Heating the can will speed the ageing process. "At 120 degrees, you get a year's worth of change in six weeks." Sardines and cheese mature well. "Can-braised Spam takes on a softness that’s especially nice when you fry the surface to a crunchy crust"
Benn Steil | Foreign Affairs | 1 March 2013
Harry Dexter White, the architect — with John Maynard Keynes — of the Bretton Woods monetary system, was a Soviet mole, more valuable than Alger Hiss, passing information to Moscow about the Roosevelt administration for 11 years. Why did he do it? Newly discovered memo shows him as a misdirected idealist, who believed in the Soviet economic model
John Lanchester | Guardian | 2 March 2013
On the sociology and psychology of commuting. "I've never seen a film or television programme about the importance of commuting in Londoners' lives; come to that, I've never read a novel that captures it either. The centrality of London's underground to Londoners is strangely underrepresented in fiction about the city, and especially in drama"
Thought for the week:
"Most of what they call humility is successfully disguised arrogance"" — Nassim Nicholas Taleb