Work, Antony Beevor, Thailand, Birdsong, Zoopolitics, Invading Iraq

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The Average Worker

John Kay | Financial Times | 20th May 2015 | | Read with 1Pass

British productivity is falling, and nobody quite knows why. Since 2008 employment has risen substantially and working hours have increased, but output has barely grown. The explanation seems to be that employment growth has been concentrated in low-skilled, low-productivity jobs. But if so, why are employers under-using workers' skills, and why are low-productivity firms doing so well? (600 words)

Antony Beevor: Things Too Horrific

Keith Lowe | Telegraph | 17th May 2015

Interview. For all the horrors he recounts in his histories of the Second World War, the stories that keep Antony Beevor awake at night are the ones he holds back as being too dreadful to inflict on even the well-prepared reader. His latest book, Ardennes 1944, a further investigation into "the logic of brutality", tells what happens when the SS brings "the fighting methods of the eastern front to the heart of Belgium" (1,980 words)

Thailand’s Banned ‘King’

Ian Buruma | New York Review Of Books | 19th May 2015

A pity that The King And I, newly revived on Broadway, is banned still in Thailand. It tells valuable truths about Thai history. The central character, King Mongkut, began a modernisation of the monarchy in the mid-19C. His son, Chulalongkorn, "abolished the custom of crawling at the monarch’s feet". The idolisation of Thailand's current king, Bhumibol, crawling included, "is largely a modern reinvention" (1,350 words)

When Birds Squawk, Other Species Listen

Christopher Solomon | New York Times | 18th May 2015 | Metered paywall

We humans may be the only ones excluded from the general conversation going on among animals in the forests and fields. Birds, mammals and fish "recognize the alarm signals of other species". Squirrels listen to birds, birds listen to squirrels, monkeys listen to starlings. Everybody listens to tufted titmice. "Other birds hold back from entering hazardous open areas in a forest if the titmice sound any alarm" (2,200 words)

Russia’s Zoopolitics

Volodymyr Yermolenko | ECFR | 20th May 2015

Brisk and perceptive critique of Russian policy and propaganda. "In the period since the Second World War the West has been trying to construct itself according to a 'win-win' logic. Russia operates according to a 'lose-lose' logic. This framework decrees that, in every relationship, you should not lose more than your opponent. The world is a battlefield, you are guaranteed to be wounded and to lose blood" (2,140 words)

Right And Wrong Questions About The Iraq War

James Fallows | Atlantic | 19th May 2015

There is no sense in saying to politicians: 'Knowing what we know now, would you have invaded Iraq?' It's like saying: 'Knowing what we know now, would you have bought a ticket on Malaysia Air flight 370?' The right questions are: 'How did you assess the available evidence at the time?' And, most important of all: 'How will the experience of Iraq shape your decisions on committing American force in the future?' (1,290 words)

Video of the day: The Well-Tempered Clavier

What to expect: A gently ballet of neon lights set to Bach's Prelude & Fugue (5'10")

Thought for the day

Property is not theft; but a good deal of theft becomes property
R.H. Tawney

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