As an American living overseas, it can be difficult to keep in touch with the thinking and mood of my home country, and of what elsewhere in the world is attracting attention there. But the internet sure helps in this regard. My daily routine includes a scan of many more sources than are reflected below, not to mention a regular assortment of high-quality blogs. But these are some of the most striking examples of the value of the web I’ve found in the past several weeks:
The WSJ. The full paper is a daily online exercise, and one that is worth every engaging minute. Aside from the reliable news, disciplined analysis, and comprehensive viewpoints on offer, are many gems such as these:
- Speaking of living overseas, please see this terrific piece by Joe Queenan about the insufferably ephemeral patriotism of a certain, sadly prominent, class of American expatriots.
- As an earnest whistler alone in a culture that dismisses it as unserious, I found myself thoroughly in sympathy with this essay on the fading away of whistling even in the West.
- Speaking of frivolous behavior, did you know it’s actually productivity-enhancing? Please see this brief but thought-provoking piece on water-cooler power.
- Finally, speaking of being thankful, I certainly am that our country, of which we and others so often prematurely despair, still produces such as this young American soldier.
The Economist. The breadth of the reporting categories united by a brilliantly focused economic perspective makes this a weekly must-read. Always carefully-argued and well-written, you will find yourself benefiting from being challenged even where you don’t agree. Here are just a few examples of what has proven especially eye-catching recently:
- One of the greatest features of this magazine is the brilliant weekly obituary. This one is about the passing of Indian poet and publisher P. Lal – his life and work, how these enter into and emerge from context of his culture, and how this speaks to all of us in the contexts of our own.
- One of the benefits of a weekly magazine is the careful thinking that can be applied to conceiving a piece, the bias on analysis over simple reporting. Please see this eye-opener on why China may not be the indispensable economy after all.
- Speaking of China, while we contemplate the nature of the economic tectonics roiling the world today, and their meaning to the continued virtues and values of our own society, you may want to see this piece about the new global topography of demographics and entrepreneurial activity.
- And speaking of coming to grips with new understandings of the world, as if astrophysics wasn’t problematic enough, it turns out that the laws of physics may be local. This sort of insight speaks volumes about not only the facts of our lives, but the meaning as well. Take a look.
Here and there.
- The Harvard Business School on why star-power may not be portable. This is a no-brainer, but it seems that nothing is official, doesn’t it, until a source like this pronounces on the subject.
- Speaking of the arrogant assumption of insight, it turns out that bees have more computing power than even our best computers. And they also seem to be at the top of their game in the morning.
- As we’ve seen, some laws of physics may vary across regions of the universe. But, evidently, not those unearthed by Einstein. Popular Mechanics explains what some of these are and, just as interestingly, how they were tested.
- Here are a couple of NY Times pieces for you: This one argues for a return to “sound” money, instead of just the endless printing of it that seems to be in vogue lately. And here we learn that one key to a happy workplace is to fire unhappy employees.
America’s Finest News Source. It doesn’t, of course, report the actual news, but the Onion can be surprisingly and refreshingly insightful. Here are just two examples of how:
- Historians admit to inventing ancient Greeks, and
- I’m prepared to give my life for this or any country.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, from America or any country, wherever you may be. See you next week.
This article has been cross-posted on Managing Meanings.
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