Why Amartya Sen remains the century’s great critic of capitalism


Every major work on material inequality in the 21st century owes a debt to Sen. But his own writings treat material inequality as though the moral frameworks and social relationships that mediate economic exchanges matter. Famine is the nadir of material deprivation. But it seldom occurs – Sen argues – for lack of food. To understand why a people goes hungry, look not for catastrophic crop failure; look rather for malfunctions of the moral economy that moderates competing demands upon a scarce commodity. Material inequality of the most egregious kind is the problem here. But piecemeal modifications to the machinery of production and distribution will not solve it. The relationships between different members of the economy must be put right. Only then will there be enough to go around.

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Tim Rogan — Aeon

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Have you ever felt an inexplicable sadness because you were alone? I felt such a sadness on a weekend when I was in London away from my family during Holi, one of the biggest festivals in India.

We live in a society that admires independence but derides isolation. Yet for many old people the two go hand in hand. Back in the summer of 1960, following the death of his wife, Joy, C.S. Lewis wrote of the agony of becoming a free agent. “I’d like to meet,” he wrote to Peter Bide, the priest who had married them, “for I am – Oh God that I were not – very free now. One doesn’t realise in early life that the price of freedom is loneliness. To be happy is to be tied.” This was exactly Barry’s experience. He finds it hard to say where grief ends and loneliness begins, but together he experienced them as “a penetrating hurt that doesn’t dissipate – a mental thing that becomes physical and robs you of all motivation. I got very near to losing the will to live: despair is always knocking on the door for the lonely.”

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Maggie Fergusson — 1843

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An epic search for football’s next superstars


The epic story of scouting.

The tale opens in 2007 as Josep Colomer, the scout who nurtured Lionel Messi at Barcelona, navigates the Niger Delta escorted by armed rebels. Supported by 6,000 volunteers across Africa, he aims to assemble a squad of the continent’s most promising 13-year-olds by testing half a million of them—every year.

Mr Abbot’s book focuses on a clutch of early candidates who are plucked from Ghana and Senegal and transported to unimaginable luxury in Doha. The motives of their benefactor, Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad al-Thani, are unclear. Ostensibly they are there to provide practice for local players in the hope of strengthening the national team, ahead of a bid to host the World Cup in 2022. Some think the real plan may be to make Qatari citizens of Africa’s finest.

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The Economist

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How Much Money Do People Have?


One of the key takeaways – MBAs have the highest net worth of all higher educational degrees, while doctors and dentists have the most cash (and debt).

On average, young professional men and women both have positive net worth. However, there is a large gap in net worth between men and women. Men have more than double the net worth of women, averaging $12,188 compared to the female average of $5,541.

Overall, men and women have similar cash balances: $9,512 for women and $9,565 for men. Women hold more money in their savings accounts than men, who keep more in their checking accounts. Are women more conservative with their cash?

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New Giant Viruses Further Blur the Definition of Life


For decades, descriptions of viruses have straddled life and nonlife, a divide that usually isn’t difficult to navigate. Their hallmark characteristics, namely their small size, tiny genomes and parasitic dependence on cellular hosts for replication, set them apart from all other living things despite their animation. But that story has gotten far more puzzling — particularly since the discovery of the first giant virus in 2003, which was so large that researchers initially thought it was a bacterium.

Several families of giant viruses are now known, and some of those giants have more than 1,000 genes; one has a whopping 2,500. (By comparison, some small viruses have only four genes.)

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Jordana Cepelewicz — Quanta

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Beyond ‘litti chokha’


Sunday special on Bihari cuisine.

“Bihar is very rich (in food), but it has been looked down upon due to multiple political reasons. Therefore, its cuisine got left behind as well. Look at Bengal, for example, whose food has really travelled,” says chef and food consultant Ajay Chopra, who has made some Bihari dishes on his show Northern Flavours on the Living Foodz channel. He calls the thekua, made during the annual festival of Chhath, no less scrumptious than a Scottish shortbread. In modern kitchens, fans of the fennel-flavoured thekua often bake it instead of frying it. Chopra went a step further to fashion a bold thekua millefeuille, putting a French spin on it, for a food event recently. Another favourite of his is the Bihari murmura mutton—cooked with a lot of mustard oil and turmeric, spooned over puffed rice and topped with chopped onion, green chillies and lemon.

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Neha Bhatt — Mint

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Jim Kay On Drawing The Boy Who Lived


For all Harry Potter fans from Google.

What has been the hardest thing to visualize in the project so far?

It’s always Harry, every single time. He’s based on a young boy from the Lake District, who is fantastic looking and has a really unusual face. But when you draw that truthfully, it doesn’t always look right on the page.

The fact everyone wears robes is also really difficult to draw. They’re so loose fitting, everything is a nightmare. You’re begging for someone to wear something a bit clingy. Then of course, when you draw people on brooms, it can look very rude. It’s very hard sitting someone convincingly on a broom – you just dread broomstick moments.

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Google Arts & Culture

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