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Putin: In It To Win It Pick of the day

How Vladimir Putin sees the world. America is the far enemy. Germany is the near enemy. Russia’s priority is to prevent Europe consolidating under German leadership. “He is betting on German failure, not on Russian success. The goal of Russian policy in Ukraine is not to conquer Ukraine, but to demonstrate that Germany cannot save Ukraine or organize Ukraine. It doesn’t have the money, the military culture or the political skills” (1,800 words)

Surviving Buchenwald

Republished from 1945. An Austrian Catholic liberated from Buchenwald tells of his eight years as a political prisoner: “A Concentration Camp is just another form of human existence. After the first shock one accepts it, just as one accepts the front line or the slum. And if you decide to survive and adapt yourself, you live just as fully in Buchenwald as anywhere else: though the chances of death are a good deal higher” (2,310 words)

Ancient Sea Rise Tale Told Accurately For 10,000 Years

Stories passed down orally through 400 generations of Aborigines describe accurately Australia as it was 10,000 years ago, before the end of the Ice Age and the flooding of Port Phillip Bay. “Some tribes can still point to islands that no longer exist — and provide their original names”. The “gobsmacking” details have survived because Aborigines observe “kin-based responsibilities to tell stories accurately” (1,100 words)

How Stupid Is A Davos Audience?

The definitive piece about the public programme at Davos. “A Davos panel discussion is an opportunity for CEOs to feel important, and for the audience to feel as though they’re learning from top-level thought leaders. The main purpose of the panel is generally simply to exist. The message is: these people are talking about this important issue, and they take it seriously. The actual substance of what is said? Not particularly important” (740 words)

The Dangers Of Saudi Succession

“National leaders do, on occasion, lose the plot when in office. But seldom do they gain top positions when their minds have already gone. The elevation of Crown Prince Salman to the Saudi throne, following the death of King Abdullah on Thursday, could prove a live experiment in whether such a scenario is viable … Still, as a survivor of the world’s first rectal suicide bomb, he at least has luck” (1,200 words)

The Art Of Mental Arithmetic

A.C. Aitken was the most gifted “mental calculator” of the 20C. In this talk he demonstrates and explains his genius: “At the end when all is done, the numbers come into focus. But mostly it is as if they were hidden under some medium, though being moved about with decisive exactness in regard to order and ranging. It is neither seeing nor hearing; it is a compound faculty of which I have nowhere seen an adequate description” (8,100 words)

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