Smart Picks 22 September

Human beings are social animals that make choices; and that is why solitary confinement is so devastating to the brain. 

Aeon -- Twilight in the Box

The suicide statistics, squalor & recidivism haven’t ended solitary confinement. Maybe the brain studies will.

What I’m listening to. Benedictus- Movement 1: 'Benedictus' by J.B. Lully 

… but what about the consumption taxes and bilingualism? 

New York Times -- The New Conservative Love Affair With Canada

You may remember your liberal friends threatening to move to Canada after George W. Bush was re-elected.

Can Labour love England.  Thanks to David of London.

Spectator -- The left cannot be an anti-English movement

During the referendum campaign nothing astonished me and Labour campaigners more than left wing English intellectuals embracing Scottish nationalism.

Editor’s note: England and the United Kingdom are not synonymous.

Not the beginning of the end, but perhaps, the end of the beginning. 

New York Review of Books -- The Pillars of Arab Despotism

Not long ago, I spent an afternoon in a half-empty Cairo café with Ziad el-Elaimy, a left-wing Egyptian lawyer and one of the core group of young activists who helped plan the protests that led to the fall of Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

We are like so much smarter. 

Financial Times -- Why graduate trainees are often a company’s biggest brains

Last week I talked to a graduate who had just started working for one of the most prestigious employers in the world. How’s it going, I asked him.

But what about democracy. Thanks to Sean of Victoria. 

Economist -- Divide and rule

AFGHANISTAN has been held hostage by political stalemate for months.

Toff tales. 

Guardian -- Posh Britain: will they always lord it over us?

In new film The Riot Club, based loosely on the antics of the notorious Bullingdon boys, a gaggle of toffs trash restaurants for larks.

Editor’s note: Toff: In British English slang, a toff is a derogatory stereotype for someone with an aristocratic background or belonging to the landed gentry, particularly someone who exudes an air of superiority. Origins include the abbreviation of "toffee-nosed". This originates from the 19th century, where it was common for men of a higher class to use snuff. The use of snuff often caused the man's nose to leak a toffee-like nasal mucus. The men are thought to have tilted their heads slightly upwards to counteract this. By elevating the chin and looking down the nose at someone else gave off the instinctive human body-language signal of dominance.

The Riot Club 

No thanks, not eating for next week and half. 

Straits Times -- India's Modi to observe strict fast during maiden trip to US

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will observe a strict religious fast during his maiden trip to the United States, aides said on Monday, in a test both of the 64-year-old leader's stamina and of protocol in the Obama White House.

Editor’s note: Navratri 

Just a touch heavy handed. 

Asia Sentinel -- China Gets it Wrong

Beijing’s soft power hasn’t worked in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang

China is in the unique position of laying claim to three regions directly outside its borders, at least according to the people who live there, whose citizens mostly would like nothing more than to have China leave them alone.  They are Hong Kong, Taiwan and Tibet, at least the Tibet that existed prior to the 1950 invasion. 

Sign up or leave. 

CBC -- Justin Trudeau's abortion policy keeps people talking

First announced last May, the Liberals hope the policy distances them from socially conservative ex-MPs.


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Twin Virtues: Inequality of Outcomes & Equality of Opportunity©

Twin Virtues

Ultimately, the most successful societies find the balance between the twin virtues of inequality of outcomes and equality of opportunity.

The new politics must marry the twin virtues of unequal outcomes and equality of opportunity.

When too few get too much everybody loses.

Feminism is about women living their lives on their own terms, marshalling the resources of the society to make that possible, and men embracing this as vital to a successful society and their own liberation.

Can it be that striving for equality of opportunity however imperfect the process not only benefits the individual but also creates benefits for the society that are unintended but wonderful?

Economics must be a 'moral enterprise' as much as politics claims to be. Economic outcomes need to be framed in terms of right and wrong not just efficiency if only because these often align in surprising ways that are good for society and the economy.

My vision of Canada is that any Canadian child from a family of limited circumstance can expect to have a chance at lifetime of unlimited opportunities.

Free trade is a wonderful thing. Time and time again economists have proven that free trade creates enormous wealth for each country 'on the whole'. Historians have shown that free trade is usually associated with rising political, social and cultural liberty. The perennial problem is that free trade always creates tremendous disruption for thousands even millions of individuals often concentrated in one geography, and where the state is idle, not investing in best in class instruments of social justice, free trade can be a permanent ticket out of the middle class, down, not up.

Tax policy should be founded on the principle of generating steady tax revenues sufficient to maximise environmentally sustainable economic growth in order to fund fair government.

Public policy should be designed to decrease inequality before the law and increase equality of opportunity.

Capitalism is not the problem; the problem is what we do with capitalism.

Content is always more difficult to argue than conspiracy.

Let the state regulate and the market operate (most things).

Welfare strategies are best designed as a hand up, not as a hand out.

Political debate should not be fact free fighting.

Explanation lasts longer than eloquence.

Always favour empowerment over dependency.

The most enduring public figures are embraced for the causes they fought for and not the concept of themselves they hoped others would remember them by.

Find your voice and don't be the echo of somebody else.

It is possible to operate on two different levels: the practical, cautious and conservative; and the realm of ideas, open, free, and radical.