Quote of the day

"Originality consists of trying to be like everybody else, and failing"
Raymond Radiguet

Death Is Optional Pick of the day

Enthralling conversation about the future between Harari, a historian of human life, and Kahneman, the father of behavioural economics. Begins with an exchange of pleasantries, then takes off: “The basic process is the decoupling of intelligence from consciousness. The military and economic and political system doesn’t really need consciousness. It needs intelligence. And intelligence is a far easier thing than consciousness” (5,950 words)

On Killing Virtual Dogs

If I make a dog in Minecraft, and it shares my adventures, should I develop some attachment to it? On the one hand, obviously not: It is not a real dog. But on the other hand, should I not feel some degree of attachment to it, whatever it is, even if much less than to a real dog? If I take my faithful old virtual dog and chop him into pieces for no good reason, is that an action without any moral significance? (1,540 words)

Who Is Eleni Haifa?

Virginia Woolf said that “on or about December 1910, human character changed”; she meant that Victorian story-telling conventions no longer captured what was interesting about modern life. Something similar has happened in our own time. Recent economic and technological changes have been so great that late-twentieth-century narratives no longer explain how younger people see the world (4,480 words)

Alpha Oligarch

Mikhail Fridman, the Russian tycoon who outsmarted BP twice and pocketed $14bn, is now confronting the British government, which wants him to divest his North Sea oil assets. He is by all accounts a daunting adversary: charming in person, brutal and brilliant in negotiation. But arguably his most remarkable talent is for navigating Russian politics. Alone among the oligarchs, he keeps his distance from the Kremlin (1,750 words)

Why I Actually Sort Of Like Westerns

A love-letter to the Hollywood Western. “So rarely are Westerns made any more, that one can count a decade’s worth on one hand. Clint Eastwood’s 1992 Unforgiven was probably the last truly great Western”. The genre is, seemingly, too plain for the modern taste, too stylised, too honest. “The Western demands, finally, too much silence and stillness, too much watching and waiting for the right moment” (6,200 words)

Russia, The Atom And The West

George Kennan’s second 1957 Reith lecture, on Communist Russia’s world-view: “They have systematically employed falsehood not just as a means of deceiving others and exploiting their credulity but also as a means of comforting and reassuring themselves. It has seemed to them at all times easier, and in no way improper, to operate on the basis of convenient falsehood than on the basis of awkward truth” (PDF) (4,000 words)

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