Recommended Reading (2010-02-14) – SUNDAY Edition

"The scariest unemployment graph this year."

It would appear that we have reached the limits of what it is possible to achieve with computer technology, although one should be careful with such statements, as they tend to sound pretty silly in five years.

John von Neumann, 1949

– Don Peck sees a grim future for the American economy. Persistent joblessness and relatively high employment will most likely continue to reign for at least the next decade. And the current generation of recent graduates? Yeah, we’re pretty much screwed. Get ready for depression, heavy drinking, and lifetime of mental scarring (via Sullivan).

– Are you an eccentric billionaire? If so, maybe you too can buy a former closed Soviet city in Latvia. And how much might this set you back? Only $3.1 million. Man, has the housing bubble burst (via Disinformation).

– The New York Times has a must-read piece about the battle between Christianity and secularism on the Texas School Board. It’s argued that “we’re a Christian nation,” etcetera etcetera. Religious lunatics are everywhere these days.

– Israel’s legitimacy is under attack everywhere (especially Britain). But even for those who support and defend Israel, and don’t question its right to exist, arguing on its behalf can be troublesome:

Anti-Semites will never be appeased and are not worth engaging on Israel. But to those people who simply care about basic human values, how do you answer “Why does Israel keep expanding its settlements into areas it knows it would have to evacuate in any peace deal?” How can any reasonable person see “Sudan has killed hundreds of thousands of people” or accusations of anti-Semitism against any critic of Israel as anything more than a feeble deflection. It is true that no matter what Israel does, some people will vilify it. Israel should not make movements towards peace to mollify them or anyone. It should do so because it is both the moral thing to do and a strategic necessity for Israel’s long-term survival.

– Change blindness: the more you see it, the more you don’t (via Isegoria).

– David Aaronovitch (new book just released) talks about the appeal of conspiracy theories, even for smart people. And don’t forget the one about IDF theft of organs in Haiti. At least Jenny Tonge got sacked.

– Tonge forgot that blood libel has a long and storied history. That general historical ignorance may soon be on the rise, as Britain’s historians – last of the outward-looking – face an inward, parochial turn.