A brief gallivant about the marketplace of ideas.

Month: June, 2014

Read — 2014/06/30

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. BNP Paribas’s Looming U.S. Settlement to Cap Troublesome Period“, by David Gauthier-Villars, Christopher M. Matthews, & Noémie Bisserbe (Wall Street Journal). At issue are $30 billion in transactions that the French bank secretly concluded with Sudan and Iran, two countries blacklisted by the U.S.
  2. Inequality Is Not Inevitable“, by Joseph E. Stiglitz (NY Times). The preeminent economist Joseph Stiglitz blames American policies and politics for “ersatz capitalism”, asking “why is America one of the advanced countries where the life prospects of the young are most sharply determined by the income and education of their parents?”
  3. Au Japon, la remarque sexiste de trop“, par Sylvie Kauffmann (Le Monde).
  4. Avec le maestro Seiji Ozawa, dans son école suisse“, par Marie-Aude Roux (Le Monde). À Rolle, le retour d’un roi.
  5. China Resumes Control of Hong Kong, Concluding 156 Years of British Rule“, by Edward A. Gargan (NY Times, 01 Jul 1997). On this day, 1997. Writes the journalist 17 years ago, the transfer “ushered a time of uncertainty over whether China would honor its pledge to maintain Hong Kong’s way of life largely unaltered for the next 50 years”. Echo the words of the last colonial Governor Chris Patten:

    Hong Kong’s values are decent values. They are universal values. They are the values of the future in Asia as elsewhere, a future in which the happiest and the richest communities, and the most confident and the most stable too, will be those that best combine political liberty and economic freedom as we do today.

Read — 2014/06/29

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Americans Think We Have the World’s Best Colleges. We Don’t.“, by Kevin Carey (NY Times). Driving the perceived gulf between America’s underperforming K-12 institutions and premier universities, Carey argues, are drastically different rating systems: for K-12, the focus is on education of the average student, whereas for universities, the focus is on research and publications at the top. Results from the OECD’s recent Piaac project (an adult version of their PISA exam) suggest that American university graduates rank near the bottom on educational measures.
  2. When a Health Plan Knows How You Shop“, by Natasha Singer (NY Times). Health information technology in general, and predictive health analytics in particular, hold the promise of improved outcomes — and higher profits for the unscrupulous provider.
  3. Why Teenagers Act Crazy“, by Richard A. Friedman (NY Times). Chalk it up to a precocious amygdala and a late-developing prefrontal cortex. Interesting finding: “adolescents show heightened fear responses and have difficulty learning how not to be afraid” (i.e. fear extinction). Beware the author’s logical lapse regarding the ubiquity of a trait and its evolutionary advantage (or lack thereof).
  4. Britain’s Strange Identity Crisis“, by Steven Erlanger (NY Times). Britain reassesses “Britishness” and its role on the global stage.
  5. Where Are the Hardest Places to Live in the U.S.?“, by Alan Flippen (NY Times). Super-neat graphic. One wonders whether the study controls for cost of living differences. Also, while subjective, it would be interesting to include a measure of “quality of life”.

Read — 2014/06/28

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. The War to End All Wars? Hardly. But It Did Change Them Forever.“, by Steven Erlanger (NY Times). A look at the legacy of World War I.
  2. Hong Kong’s Democracy Supporters Chafe at Inequality and Beijing’s Sway“, by Chris Buckley & Michael Forsythe (NY Times). Pro-democracy residents of Hong Kong push against mainland influence in business and politics.
  3. Droit à l’oubli : Google commence à retirer des résultats de recherche“, par Martin Untersinger (Le Monde).
  4. Egalité filles-garçons : le gouvernement abandonne les ABCD“, par Mattea Battaglia (Le Monde).

Read — 2014/06/27

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Supreme Court Narrows President’s Recess-Appointment Powers“, by Jess Bravin & Melanie Trottman (Wall Street Journal).
  2. BNP Paribas Expected to Plead Guilty and Pay $8.9 Billion Fine“, by Ben Protess & Jessica Silver-Greenberg (NY Times).
  3. Politicians’ Prescriptions for Marijuana Defy Doctors and Data“, by Catherine Saint Louis (NY Times).
  4. Google’s Grand Plans: A Conversation with Larry Page and Sundar Pichai“, by Farhad Manjoo (NY Times).
  5. The Tech-Savvy Supreme Court“, by Farhad Manjoo (NY Times).
  6. Creative destruction” (The Economist). Changes in higher education.
  7. The third arrow” (The Economist). The latest economic plan announced by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and why it will “hit the target”.
  8. Back from the edge” (The Economist). China’s suicide rate declines sharply.
  9. An Ode to the Tennis Ponytail: Wimbledon’s Most Winning Style Statement“, by Mackenzie Wagoner (Vogue).

Read — 2014/06/21

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. The Solstice Blues“, by Akiko Busch (NY Times). A eulogy on shadows and uncertainty.
  2. Google’s Nest to Acquire Dropcam for $555 Million“, by Steve Lohr (NY Times). Google — er, excuse me, Mr. Matt Rogers — Nest acquires another company with expertise in internet-connected smart devices for the home. You can also read Nest co-founder Matt Rogers’s post about the Dropcam acquisition.
  3. Yesterday“, by Murakami Haruki (The New Yorker). A shorter, less-striking version of Norwegian Wood.

Read — 2014/06/20

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. I Was a Digital Best Seller!“, by Tony Horwitz (NY Times). One author’s experience with the “new media and technology”.
  2. The Corporate Daddy“, by Timothy Egan (NY Times).
  3. How far can Amazon go?” (The Economist).
  4. Riding the rich, grey Chinese wave” (The Economist).
  5. Lupita Nyoung’o on Winning the Oscar, Becoming the Face of Lancôme, and Her First Cover of Vogue“, by Hamish Bowles (Vogue). A detailed article on her life and “breakout year”. “[I]t’s not about conforming to an already established idea of what is beautiful, and I like that.”
  6. How carrion and hooded crows defeat Linneaus’s curse“, by Peter de Knijff (Science).
  7. Quantum or not, controversial computer yields no speedup“, by Adrian Cho (Science).
  8. Solving the mystery of iodine uptake“, by Valda Vinson (Science). In its relationship with sodium, iodine is a (double) user.
  9. Gill-on-a-chip illuminates evolution“, by Guy Riddihough (Science). Mathematical models support that evolution has crafted optimally spaced lamellae in fish gills.

Read — 2014/06/19

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Premiums Rise at Big Insurers, Fall at Small Rivals Under Health Law“, by Louise Radnofsky (Wall Street Journal).
  2. Mormons Say Critical Online Comments Draw Threats From Church“, by Laurie Goodstein (NY Times). How to define appropriate settings for and limits of church discipline (and group discipline more generally)?
  3. ‘No Body Talk’ Summer Camps“, by Alyson Krueger (NY Times). Another article raising questions about appropriate limits. Look, people, if your friend suddenly starts stacking on the pounds, be a good friend and talk to him about it. No talk about clothes? Goodbye, fashion. And try going a month without once telling your significant other that he or she looks good. Hint: Don’t — you may not still have an SO by the month’s end. Noticing and talking about physical appearance is not shallow. Physical appearance is an important part of the world around us and who we are. It only becomes shallow if you forget that there’s a whole other, infinitely more-fascinating inner world beneath any (human) exterior.
  4. The Next-Generation Fitness Bands“, by Molly Wood, Rebekah Fergusson, Vanessa Perez, & Melanie Ruiz (NY Times). According to Coach Wood, the LG Lifeband Touch and Samsung Gear Fit need more time with their technology trainers.
  5. The Modern Man: Suited and Hirsute“, by Guy Trebay (NY Times).
  6. Celebrating the Tomboys of Summer from Coco Chanel to Daria Werbowy“, by Laird Borrelli-Persson (Vogue).
  7. 12 Statement Sunglasses Guaranteed to Turns Heads This Summer“, by Liana Satenstein (Vogue).
  8. Mighty Spain Goes Out of the World Cup Meekly“, by Juliet Macur (NY Times). If Spain’s 1-5 showing against the Dutch wasn’t bad enough, try 0-2 against Chile. “Adios ‘Spaña” indeed.
  9. Mondial 2014: le spray, la nouvelle arme de l’homme en noir“, par Robin Andraca (NY Times).

Read — 2014/06/18

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. How to Take Criticism Well“, by Sue Shellenbarger (Wall Street Journal). “All feedback has some truth in it…What is the nugget that I can pull out of this?”

Read — 2014/06/17

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. U.S., Iran Discuss Crisis in Iraq“, by Laurence Norman & Jay Solomon (Wall Street Journal).
  2. U.S. Is Exploring Talks with Iran on Crisis in Iraq“, by Michael R. Gordon & David E. Sanger (NY Times).
  3. How and Why to Ban the Silent Treatment from Your Relationship“, by Elizabeth Bernstein (Wall Street Journal). Breaking and avoiding the pernicious “demand-withdraw” cycle.
  4. Jonathan Ive on Apple’s Design Process and Product Philosophy“, by Brian X. Chen & Matt Richtel (NY Times). “Deep in the culture of Apple is this sense and understanding of design, developing and making. Form and the material and process — they are beautifully intertwined — completely connected.”
  5. The Structures of Growth“, by David Brooks (NY Times). A shallow article on the fascinating topic of expertise development, inspired by a post “Two Types of Growth” by Scott H Young. For more scholarly discussions, see the chapter titled “The OK Plateau” in Josh Foer’s book Moonwalking with Einstein, the video of Foer’s 2011 talk on the topic, or research by K. Anders Ericsson.
  6. Thomas Müller’s hat-trick and Pepe’s petulance sink bedraggled Portugal“, by Paul Wilson (The Guardian). In two words, “Portuguese disintegration”. Wilson also finds the perfect phrase for Pepe’s red card: “although it would hardly have been recognised as a headbutt on most streetcorners, Pepe clearly had to go”.
  7. Disruptive Genius“, by Craig Lambert (Harvard Magazine). Sustaining vs disruptive technologies. How to spot a disruptor? Keep your eyes out for “cheaper, simpler, smaller, and, frequently, more convenient to use” products. Then adjust your long-term investment strategy appropriately.
  8. Read Your Way to Fenway. Summer program sponsored by the Boston Public Library to encourage “Boston youth ages 5-17” to read. Great idea; even better if BPL raffled off multiple sets of three tickets.

Read — 2014/06/16

Today’s selection of articles includes:

  1. Starbucks to Provide Free College Education to Thousands of Workers“, by Richard Pérez-Peña (NY Times). According to the article, any Starbucks employee working at least 20 hours a week and adequate grades and test scores is eligible for tuition subsidy, up to 100%.
  2. Amid Stratospheric Valuations, Google Unearths a Deal with Skybox“, by Christopher Mims (Wall Street Journal).
  3. Les grévistes de la SNCF: «On tente de nous diaboliser»“, par François Béguin (Le Monde).
  4. A ball fit for Brazil“, by N.V. (The Economist). The science behind the “ball” in football.
  5. How I Fell for the World Cup“, by Megan O’Grady (Vogue).