On the Back of a Tablet

More than half the displaced from crises including Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia were children, UNHCR said in its annual Global Trends Report.


This is bad, not because it’s too high (as the article seems to imply), but because it’s too low. The places people are fleeing from are not known for their single child family tradition. Assuming data are correct, this  might mean that most of the children are left behind.

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Books that can be read more than once.

Some books are so well written, they are a great read even if you know what happens. This is a partial list from my Kindle. These are for entertainment, most – but not all – are fiction, and do not include books that I intend to reread. You never know.

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson

The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson

Anathem by Neal Stephenson

Zero History by William Gibson

The Commonwealth Saga by Peter F. Hamilton

The Complete Sherlock Holmes

The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them by Elif Batuman

Consider the Lobster: And Other Essays by David Foster Wallace

Ilium series by Dan Simmons

A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments by David Foster Wallace

Ticker by Lisa Mantchev

Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (free on the web, and amazing read)

The Big U by Neal Stephenson

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Putin shouldn’t “invest”.

The Guardian:

Until Putin faces up to the country’s economic challenges and invests in a modern manufacturing sector, low oil prices will always tip it into turbulence, recession and

There lies a problem. Putin ought not invest in anything besides the rule of law; other people should be able to, without fear of repercussions, and with faith in the system. Injection of money by decree serves only agents (Putin and, forgive the expression, his circle of corruption,) not the principals (honest businessmen, consumers, and country as a whole). Until a healthy economic (and, in Russia, this means primarily political) climate takes place, nothing is going to change. Taking away the power to “invest” from Putin is the only way to improve the situation in a sustainable way.

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I wonder where would they get that idea?

“In a few years Ukraine will turn into a poor and hungry country with an anti-Russian government that will teach its population to hate Russia. They will be armed to the teeth and Ukraine and US reluctance to recognize the Russian Federation within its current borders would always provoke conflicts,” the MP said.


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Merkel about Putin

After Putin’s speech at the Bundestag, Merkel told a colleague, “This is typical K.G.B. talk. Never trust this guy.” Ulrich, of Die Zeit, said, “She’s always been skeptical of Putin, but she doesn’t detest him. Detesting would be too much emotion.”

When Putin and Merkel meet, they sometimes speak in German (he’s better in her language than she is in his), and Putin corrects his own interpreter to let Merkel know that nothing is lost on him. Putin’s brand of macho elicits in Merkel a kind of scientific empathy. In 2007, during discussions about energy supplies at the Russian President’s residence in Sochi, Putin summoned his black Lab, Koni, into the room where he and Merkel were seated. As the dog approached and sniffed her, Merkel froze, visibly frightened. She’d been bitten once, in 1995, and her fear of dogs couldn’t have escaped Putin, who sat back and enjoyed the moment, legs spread wide. “I’m sure it will behave itself,” he said. Merkel had the presence of mind to reply, in Russian, “It doesn’t eat journalists, after all.” The German press corps was furious on her behalf—“ready to hit Putin,” according to a reporter who was present. Later, Merkel interpreted Putin’s behavior. “I understand why he has to do this—to prove he’s a man,” she told a group of reporters. “He’s afraid of his own weakness. Russia has nothing, no successful politics or economy. All they have is this.”

New Yorker

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It’s a fiver! #Boston

From Boston Globe…

As a woman in a fuchsia raincoat and sparkling pink headband who gave her name only as Daisy made her way across the park, she steered clear of the places where the homeless congregate. A Beacon Hill resident, Daisy does not like the city, or the Common, or the way she says the homeless sometimes shout at her.

But she absolutely adores the squirrels. She buys them special nuts in Allston, she said.

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Phobia for Dessert

From M-W Unabridged:

pho·bia /⁠’fōbēə⁠/ noun -s
Etymology: New Latin, from Late Latin -phobia
Etymology: fear of something, from Greek, from phobos fear, flight + -ia -y; akin to Greek phebesthai to flee, be frightened, Lithuanian bėgti to run, flee
: an exaggerated and often disabling fear usually inexplicable to the subject, having occasionally a logical but usually an illogical or symbolic object, and serving to protect the ego against anxiety arising from unexpressed aggressive impulses — compare COMPULSION, OBSESSION

From Wikipedia:

This article is about the clinical psychology. For other uses, see Phobia (disambiguation).
In clinical psychology, a phobia is a type of anxiety disorder, usually defined as a persistent fear of an object or situation in which the sufferer commits to great lengths in avoiding, typically disproportional to the actual danger posed, often being recognized as irrational. In the event the phobia cannot be avoided entirely, the sufferer will endure the situation or object with marked distress and significant interference in social or occupational activities.[1]

From “Is ‘Islamophobia’ Real?” in Atlantic

“Islam is not a race, ethnicity, or nationality: It’s a set of ideas,” Harris told me. “Criticism of these ideas should never be confused with an animus toward people. And yet it is. I’m convinced that this is often done consciously, strategically, and quite cynically as a means of shutting down conversation [on] important topics.”

I get very anxious in a crowded situations. I want to escape the situation, but I’m not about to go and destroy elevators, let alone people. Or advocate banning public transportation. Phobic? Yes. Anti? No.

Now for dessert:

Is atheism anti-theistic or theophobic? Extend to other beliefs. (Ignore anti-believing and belief-phobic atheists, they are harmless.)

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