It is incredible how international events can be driven by the electoral ambitions of some megalomaniacs. Israel’s prime minister Netanyahu has created all sorts of problems in his backyard just to be reelected. Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is now doing the same in Turkey after his party Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost the majority in recent parliamentary elections.
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In 2008 i was shocked to read that Lehman Brothers had accumulated a total debt of $613 billion: imagine what the world could do with that much money, money that just one firm managed to lose. At the time i was in Africa and i remember checking the GDP of African countries: i was amazed to realize that (in 2008) this amount was more than the GDP of any African country. It is hard to believe, but in five years the money spent to save Greece from bankruptcy amounts to 350 billion euros (as calculated by the Greek statistics agency ELSTAT)...
Algorithms increasingly guide our daily life: Google’s ranking algorithm pretty much decides which pages we visit, and therefore which information we access; Amazon’s algorithm influences which books we read; dating algorithms decide your sexual life and possibly your marriage; the smartphone’s navigation algorithm decides which streets we take; Yelp’s algorithm decides where we eat (and it is a simple average!)
One of the most important books ever published on Hinduism, Wendy Doniger’s 683-page “The Hindus - An Alternative History” (2010), still cannot be found in India.
The ultra-nationalist political agitator Dinanath Batra sued its publisher and the publisher withdrew the book from the Indian market. The lawsuit was based on a law (Hate Law Speech Section #295A, enacted in 1927 by the British under pressure from the Muslim community) that de facto allows courts to punish religious blasphemy.
First of all, someone needs to demystify the idea that Westerners have of India. There are two modern empires in Asia: Russia and mainland China. They are empires because they rule over subjects who, given a choice, would probably not want to be part of them and these are big chunks of territory with huge natural resources (Chechnya and other Muslim regions in the case of Russia, Tibet and Xinjang in the case of China). India is never listed alongside them because it used to be a colony. Somehow the colonial past deters people from seeing wh...
Every book on torture that i have browsed is mainly devoted to methods of torture and then to three topics: Ethical arguments against torture, Utilitarian arguments against torture, and History of the rejection of torture. I cannot find a neuroscientist or psychologist who thought of writing about the exact opposite: What were the ethical justifications for torture?, What were the utilitarian arguments for torture? and What is the history of the widespread adoption of torture?
"The Master Switch" is an intriguing history of radio, telephone, cinema and television business in the USA (note: "in the USA", which is not clearly stated in the introduction). The central theme of the book is the "oscillation of information industries between open and closed", a recurring pattern that he finds across those four industries… and that he projects into the age of the Internet. The pattern looks like this: scientific innovation creates an information technology, the information techno...
Fareed Zakaria's thesis is that the USA is moving towards an excessively democratic system in which polls are having a perverse influence on a system that was designed to be less about democracy and more about liberty. He doesn't quite offer a crisp definition of "liberty" but roughly it means individual freedom and protection from abuses of authority by the state. "Freedom" is a vague term, that has been used throughout history in different contexts (for most nations it meant "freedom" from foreign oppr...
Ryle thinks that Descartes invented a myth when he provided definitions for the mental and the physical, as if they were two different things; when he assumed that every human is both a body (that is in space and is subject to the laws of Physics) and a mind (that is not in space and is not subject to the laws of Physics); that a person lives two parallel lives, one as a body and one as a mind (one being a public history and the other being a private history because nobody can witness your inner thoughts).
A general rule that rarely fails is: “Be wary of books written by multiple authors”. Multiple authors tend to amplify each other’s crap instead of edit it down, and the results are often embarrassing ideological pamphlets, no matter how smart the premise.The premise here is interesting. The digital age has changed the world in which we live in not only from the point of the consumers but also from the point of the producers. We live in the age of Web platforms that were not designed top-down but sprung up bottom-up. The fut...