35th Selected Links

Happy weekend! Here are some links to things I've been reading that you might also enjoy:

1. 'How Is Hamid Karzai Still Standing?', a 2013The New York Timesarticle by historian and former guest of the podcast William Dalrymple. The story behind the article: Karzai read Dalrymple's brilliant bookReturn of a King: The Battle for Afghanistanon a flight to Washington, D.C. and later invited him to the presidential palace in Kabul. They spent a week chatting for a couple of hours each night after iftar. The deal was that Karzai could quiz Dalrymple on the history of the First Anglo-Afghan war, and in return Dalrymple could ask Karzai any questions he liked. These conversations became this article.

2. 'An interdisciplinary model for macroeconomics', a 2017 working paper by Andy Haldane and Arthur Turrell. Figure 1 from the paper is below, showing that economists don’t seem to read much outside their own literature.

3. History of the Franks, by Gregory of Tours (c. AD 539-594). Written following the collapse of the Roman Empire in western Europe, it opens with one of the coolest and most honest lines in the history of history books: "With liberal culture on the wane, or rather perishing in the Gallic cities, there were many deeds being done both good and evil..." (See page 27 of the linked document.)

4. In the winter of 1653-54, Chevalier de Méré, an incorrigible gambler, sought out the esteemed mathematician Blaise Pascal for advice on ‘the problem of points’: that is, if a game of chance ends abruptly and is unfinished, how do you apportion the pot fairly? Pascal, in turn, reached out to an even more esteemed mathematician, Pierre de Fermat, and thus ensued the famous Pascal-Fermat correspondence: a series of letters between the two giants which, over the course of several weeks, laid the foundation for modern probability theory. Here is their full correspondence.

5. A brief excerpt from 'The Crowd Is Untruth', Søren Kierkegaard's very Girardian essay. An excerpt of the excerpt: "The crowd is untruth. Therefore was Christ crucified, because, although He addressed himself to all, He would have no dealings with the crowd, because He would not permit the crowd to aid him in any way, because in this regard He repelled people absolutely, would not found a party, did not permit balloting, but would be what He is, the Truth, which relates itself to the individual... [I]t is not so great a trick to win the crowd. All that is needed is some talent, a certain dose of falsehood, and a little acquaintance with human passions..."

Have a great weekend,