Rankings and Ratings in Our Lives


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I am guilty of this and so are most people these days. Our reliance on ratings and stars to make a decision or a judgment is progressively increasing. Today’s needull looks a little deeper into how the ratings are generated and should we blindly trust them.

On Zomato, a 29-year-old who is a ’13 connoisseur’ (having hit 20,000 points) says, “I am not a food critic. I am a food influencer.” He adds, “When we bloggers and microbloggers go to a restaurant, we are treated like gods. We get 15 dishes on the table, in the hope that we will like one. I am equivalent to five reviewers, so my rating matters more.” In the last year-and-a-half, he has been to more than 600 restaurants in NCR and says that he has two meals out nearly every day.”

The complete article

Nandini Nair — OPEN

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WHICH AMERICAN DREAM?


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There are two versions of the American Dream – one a rising standard of living for all and the the other the ability to achieve success through hard work and talent. Which dream do you live?

It is downright dangerous to identify the American Dream with intergenerational mobility, with progress defined as the children of janitors and store clerks becoming lawyers or doctors or professors. The number of job openings for vocations that require little or no training beyond high school will continue to exceed job openings in elite professions. It would be a social disaster if many janitors and store clerks are overqualified for the work they do and resentful of the society that promised too few high-status jobs to too many ambitious citizens.

A nation in which most citizens are told that they can achieve anything they want and that if they fail to do so the fault is purely their own, will be a society with a majority of embittered failures. In contrast, one in which the standard of living goes up constantly over time, for the less educated and less able as well as the highly educated and talented, is likely to be a happier nation.

The complete article

Michael Lind — The Smart Set

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In Search of Islam


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“Among the Believers” was written by Naipaul in 1981. Today’s needull is a a review of the book. Many do not agree with Naipaul’s views but almost all agree that he is a great writer.

All four of them, like so many others they stand for, bring to their religion and tradition modern demands and anxieties. This creates pressures, for today’s needs are great. The outside world at once tempts and threatens Moslems. Many of them enter that world, but they can enter it only partly. When they fail to deal with it, they retreat into their shell. When they surrender to it, guilt seizes them. In Naipaul’s words: ”In the fundamentalist scheme the world constantly decays and has constantly to be re-created. The only function of intellect is to assist that re-creation. It reinterprets the texts; it re-establishes divine precedent. So history has to serve theology, law is separated from the idea of equity. …”

This theme comes close to being Naipaul’s central theme, and in dealing with it he lets his personal feelings get in the way of his presentation. He chides Moslems for being ”made” by the Western world they reject. Instead of trying to understand these people, Naipaul is ready to judge them. In his desire to discover their hidden vulnerabilities and point out their contradictions, their need for outside goods and outside approval, he tends to miss the drama and the real meaning of their situation. He forgets that it is part of the painful process of history that people are always made by the world they reject and that the rage at it they express is in large measure rage at themselves.

The complete article

Fouad Ajami — The New York Times

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A surprisingly good place to die


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A heart warming story about how Mongolia is doing well in palliative care.

The hospital also offers patients what is known as “dignity therapy” – which my interpreter translated as “reputation treatment” – encouraging them to tell their life story before they pass away. It began as a way of dealing with patients suffering severe depression, she says, but then they found that other people wanted to tell their stories, to set the record straight. “We had a patient recently who asked his ex-wife to visit, so he could apologise for his past behaviour, and he gave her money too.”

Some palliative care patients have responded by drawing up ‘bucket lists’. During my visit, I met a woman with terminal cancer who had recently returned from a visit to Lake Baikal (the world’s deepest lake) in Siberia, just the other side of Mongolia’s border with Russia. With her week’s prescription of morphine tablets, she had been able to make a journey that had been “a lifetime ambition”.

The complete article

Mosaic

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The Ideological Threat to Islam


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Ayaan Hirsi Ali was a refugee from Somalia. Through sheer grit she has transformed herself into a forceful critic of what is wrong with Islam.

In her latest book, Hirsi Ali urges the governments of the West—and the Trump Administration in particular—to take sides in this battle for the soul of Islam. She wants Washington to develop, with some urgency, an ‘anti-dawa strategy’ that will ‘tackle the menace of dawa’. Since the ultimate goal of dawa is ‘to destroy the political institutions of a free society and replace them with sharia’, should we not, she asks, neutralise the dawa activists first? She invokes Karl Popper, the philosopher, who wrote in 1945: ‘If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.’ America has the right, she says, to be intolerant of the intolerant in order to safeguard its primordial tolerance.

The complete article

Tunku Varadarajan — OPEN

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Wall Street Made Charles Murphy Successful and Rich, but Happiness Eluded Him


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One of the many successful but not happy stories from Wall Street.

The next day, Mr. Murphy sat down for breakfast with his wife and children. As he left for work, the nanny took notice of Mr. Murphy’s suit and crisp shirt.

“You look good,” she said, according to a close family friend.

“I feel great,” Mr. Murphy responded.

That morning, Mr. Murphy worked in Paulson’s Midtown Manhattan office.

Later, he headed to the Sofitel New York hotel a few blocks away, checked into a room and jumped from the 24th floor.

The complete article

The Wall Street Journal

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When Pixels Collide


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This is one of the interesting experiments which showcase the power of creation and destruction playing out simultaneously at the hands of people. The end result is beautiful.

This was recommended by Ankit.

Last weekend, a fascinating act in the history of humanity played out on Reddit.

For April Fool’s Day, Reddit launched a little experiment. It gave its users, who are all anonymous, a blank canvas called Place.

The rules were simple. Each user could choose one pixel from 16 colors to place anywhere on the canvas. They could place as many pixels of as many colors as they wanted, but they had to wait a few minutes between placing each one.

Over the following 72 hours, what emerged was nothing short of miraculous. A collaborative artwork that shocked even its inventors.

The complete article

Sudoscript

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