Wine, Paul Krugman, Democracy, Somme, Children

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Jancis Robertson On Wine

Rupert Wright | Five Books | 30th June 2016

England’s greatest living wine writer discusses the best books in her field, and offers tips for spotting humbug: “I’m very sceptical of any tasting note that has more than four flavours in it.” The French make the best wine, the British make the best critics. “A grand French writer would not devote a book to wine. It would be like devoting a book to potatoes. There are one or two lovely books on Burgundy. But they are more workmanlike, something for a professional, rather than a great read” (6,100 words)

Money: The Brave Uncertainty Of Mervyn King

Paul Krugman | New York Review of Books | 3rd July 2016

Economic decisions are inevitably made in conditions of “radical uncertainty”, Mervyn King says in The End Of Alchemy, his book about the 2008 financial crisis. There will always be “ignorance about the future that cannot be quantified by probabilities, so that there is no such thing as optimizing behavior”. This argument, though not unknown in economics, is hardly one to be expected from an ex-governor of the Bank of England. King’s book is bold in its ideas but timid in its conclusions (3,800 words)

Erase And Rewind

Neville Morley | Sphinx | 2nd July 2016

In 428 BC the Athenians voted to massacre the population of a rebel city. The next day they reversed the vote. Should Britain feel as free to reverse on Brexit? Perhaps; but the Athenians “regularly changed their minds without worrying whether this was undemocratic”. Such was their system. Britain has no tradition of single-issue voting; the default presumption is that a referendum vote, like an electoral vote, expresses the “True and Irrevocable Voice of the People” (1,350 words)

The Somme And Modern Memory

Simon Heffer | New Statesman | 1st July 2016

The battle as recalled in the diaries and conversation of the writer’s father, James Heffer, who was an 18-year-old despatch rider on the Western front in 1916. “He talked of the Somme, like the rest of his war, with the detachment of a historian (he became a tax inspector) rather than with the emotion of one who had been up to his ankles in blood. Perhaps even for one so calm as he was, any detailed introspection was, even half a century afterwards, more than would be wise” (1,900 words)

The Price Of A Child

Alex Mayyasi | Priceonomics | 30th June 2016

Loss of a child was “a minor event” until the 20C. When parents of a toddler sued a US railway company for accidental killing of their child in 1896, the judge ruled that the child had no “earning capacity” and dismissed the case. Nowadays courts award huge sums for loss of a child, citing “emotional pain”. How and why did we change our view of children from “un-sentimentalized but economically useful little people to economically useless yet emotionally priceless treasures”? (1,060 words)

Video of the day: Twelfth Man

What to expect:

British football fans spar before a Sunderland-Newcastle derby. PG-15 for language. Directed by Duane Hopkins (5’40”)

Thought for the day

The principal task of civilisation is to defend us against nature
Sigmund Freud

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