Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Things that struck me

1. Local councils in the UK know how to buy Turkish bath services and machine guns.

2. "Should You Be Eating LSD for Breakfast?" Maybe.

3. "We have at least to consider the possibility that the scientific establishment behind the global warming issue has been drawn into the trap of seriously overstating the climate problem—or, what is much the same thing, of seriously understating the uncertainties associated with the climate problem—in its effort to promote the cause. It is a particularly nasty trap in the context of science, because it risks destroying, perhaps for centuries to come, the unique and hard-won reputation for honesty which is the basis for society’s respect for scientific endeavour." That's Matt Ridley quoting an Australian climate scientist.

4. You've probably come across the question: would you rather be a rich person in the past or a slightly less rich person now (what with all the brilliant things we have nowadays like selfies, Oyster cards and those blue bicycle superhighways)? Someone has pointed out that old people were alive in the past and they seem to like the old stuff, so maybe this new stuff isn't so great after all. (This is how science progresses.) All of which is leading up to this question: "Which would you prefer: (a) a doubling of your income right now, or (b) a world with driverless cars, internet chips implanted in your brain, and vacation flights to the moon? For a lot of people, this would not be an obvious choice at all." I wonder about that. It seems like an easy one to me.

5. Here's James Fenton on pleasant enough meandering form, but I don't recommend it for that. However, he ends with this. "My own feeling about the Rothschilds is that they score highest when you can tell that they see the point of being Rothschilds. They see the point, in a way that, let’s say, the Windsors don’t always see the point of being Windsors, or the Marlboroughs Marlboroughs." There's something to that, isn't there? 

6. "There are genuine bloodstains on the [Turin Shroud] and we even know the blood group (AB, if you're interested)."

7. "Foreigners, even those who teach Japanese literature at a university, cannot read novels written in Japanese with any ease." And does this sound like Japanese in translation to you: "That is my only conclusion. I have no advice to give, no remedies to suggest, because I do not believe there is anything anyone can do about it. I am simply lamenting the sad fact of it all"? More on translating Japanese here.

8. Here is "On Cooling the Mark Out". 'Cooling the mark out' means calming down someone who has been conned so that they don't make too much of a fuss about it, seeking revenge or police involvement for example, so "The mark is given instruction in the philosophy of taking a loss." Now, there are a lot of marks out there who need cooling. The article ends as follows: "perhaps the most important movement of those who fail is one we never see. Where roles are ranked and somewhat related, persons who have been rejected from the one above may be difficult to distinguish from persons who have risen from the one below. For example, in America, upper‑class women who fail to make a marriage in their own circle may follow the recognized route of marrying an upper‑middle class professional. Successful lower‑middle class women may arrive at the same station in life, coming from the other direction. Similarly, among those who mingle with one another as colleagues in the profession of dentistry, it is possible to find some who have failed to become physicians and others who ‑have succeeded at not becoming pharmacists or optometrists. No doubt there are few positions in life that do not throw together some persons who are there by virtue of failure and other persons who are there by virtue of success. In this sense, the dead are sorted but not segregated, and continue to walk among the living."

9. Finally, a bit of law. The judgment starts: "This is by any standards a bizarre case." The judgment could be part of a Julian Barnes story. 

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