Worth Reading 182: Without a blink

Political Madness Gone Correct – Flying Rodent writes a post I was thinking of doing, on why the supposed threat to free speech on university campuses is anything but. “It’s worth noting that the loudest screamers about campus activism broadly use student dafties as stand-ins for their political foes, none of whom are thick enough to give them the kind of ammunition that only a bunch of painfully right-on 19-year-olds can supply.”
Today we left reality behind and entered David Cameron’s fantasy world – Again in ‘posts I don’t have to write because someone else has done them’, Tom King discusses the bizarrely fawning response to Cameron’s speech.
Tories to build thousands of affordable second homes – That awkward moment when the Daily Mash appears to have paid more attention to Tory policy, and can thus criticise it better, than the mainstream media.
They have seen the future and it works for them – Jamie explains how the current Chinese system echoes the Tory aim for Britain.
China’s Nightmarish Citizen Scores Are a Warning For Americans – And for everyone else too. Imagine a system that gave you a credit score-like rating for all your activities, based on how good they were for the country. That’s not Black Mirror, that’s what China now has.

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Worth Reading 60: In a minute

Lose your money in the best ever IPO, praise China, cry woe for Europe, then renounce scarcity and move into education.

Prospectus for Silicon Valley’s next hot tech IPO, where nothing could possibly go wrong – “Trust us: Once you invest in Ponzify, you’ll have a difficult time investing your money anywhere else ever again.”
British parliamentarians queue up up to suck up to Chinese tyranny – Jonathan Calder finds some disturbing behaviour from elected representatives.
The failure of European centrism: Towards a hypothesis of historical recurrence – Fantastic post from Nosemonkey, looking at the current crisis in Europe, historical roots and parallels for it, and the dangerous road this leads us all down.
The end of artificial scarcity – Fascinating post on the FT’s Alphaville blog, but I’m sure an economist will be along in the comments to tell me why it’s all wrong.
Back to basics? It’s time to start basing education policy on evidence, not fads and dogma – I do wonder sometimes if Tom Chivers is at the Telegraph on an exchange programme from somewhere much more sensible than their commentary usually is.

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But who will be eaten first?

The House of Lords by numbers – interesting data on how many Lords of different parties have been appointed in the last few years.
The Poisonous Drivel of Dr Denis MacShane MP – A Labour MP and the Daily Mail conspire in quoting something out of context to disparage the work of a feminist academic? Hands up anyone not surprised by this latest attempt to drag everyone down to the lowest common denominator. (via)
The People’s Pledge campaign: More lies, irrelevancies and distortions from the British EU referendum campaign – Luckily, Nosemonkey doesn’t get tired of pointing out all the times when people get things wrong about the EU. Contains more refutations of spurious factoids than you’ll find in most newspapers.
China used prisoners in lucrative internet gaming work – Welcome to the future. It’s written by Charles Stross, but just be glad they didn’t use that part of his work that features the Elder Gods.
Humor from historians – A fully peer-reviewed joke.

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Worth Reading 36: Square triangles

Around the world in five links:

America: The Grim Truth – “I am not writing this to scare you. I write this to you as a friend. If you are able to read and understand what I’ve written here, then you are a member of a small minority in the United States. You are a minority in a country that has no place for you.” (via)
New Account of a Russian Cosmonaut’s Death Rife with Errors – As I linked to an account of the death of Vladimir Komarov a couple of weeks ago, here’s a counterpoint, arguing that many of the claims in the book that article is based on are erroneous (via)
Why I have joined the Liberal Democrats – Blogger and lawyer David Allen Green (aka Jack of Kent) explains why he’s joined the party. “There is only one political force which is having an actual liberal effect in our polity as it is presently constituted, and it is the Liberal Democrats.”
AV is the voting system for non-fanatics – Jason O’Mahony gives an Irish perspective on the referendum, including a lovely takedown of a pointless opinion piece in the Telegraph. “By her own words, it took Melissa an hour to count eight votes. I’ll say no more on the subject.” (via)
The Grand Tour – A New Yorker journalist joins a group of Chinese tourists on a trip round Europe. (via)

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A History of China by JAG Roberts (2011 book #13)

My book-reading pace has slowed down a lot over the last few weeks for various reasons, and are likely to remain sluggish for the next few weeks with the growing pressure of elections. Still, I have been able to finish off the next part of my attempts to widen my knowledge of world history by completing Roberts’ short History of China.

For someone like me who knows very little of Chinese history, especially before the twentieth century, it’s a useful introduction. Obviously, given the size of the book (about 300 pages) and the scale of Chinese history, it’s only a skimming of the surface and can only deal with the broadest historical trends. However, Roberts is good at using his words sparingly and effectively to get the important points across. The blizzard of unfamiliar names and places can sometimes be a bit disconcerting and Roberts doesn’t really succeed in depicting the huge scale on which the history is written, but as an introduction and a base for further reading on more specialised areas in the future, it’s very good.