Literary Tennis

What an essay from the NYTBR! One of the more inventive and imaginative pieces I’ve read in a while. Great reading for anyone interested in tennis and literature. Make sure also to follow the link to the David Foster Wallace (“the Federer of tennis writing”) piece he discusses: Federer as Religious Experience. A true classic.

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Speech by Salman Rushdie

A wonderful meditation on artistic freedom and tolerance (and intolerance) in India. Observations on the M. F. Hussain’s situation. Overall, an enlightening and thought-provoking speech, from the India Today Conclave. Scroll down past the introduction to read Rushdie’s speech.

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Interview with Chidambaram

A fascinating–and serious, and thoughtful–interview with the Indian Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, that recently ran in Tehelka. I’ve rarely seen such in-depth and engaged (and apparently sincere) conversation between a politician and a journalist in an Indian publication–or, in fact, any publication. It touches on many of the most serious problems confronting India at the moment.

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Fiscal stimulus: Indian economy doing less well than US?

Christina Romer, the head of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, defended the government’s stimulus plan by arguing that countries without substantial stimulus had done less well than those with a stimulus plan. She included India–along with France and Italy–on the list of countries that were doing less well. I’m confused. Isn’t India expected to grow by 6-7% this year (and isn’t the US’s GDP expected to shrink)?

Also, I wonder how she calculates the size of India’s stimulus. Although it’s true that the pure fiscal stimulus provided by the government is relatively small (around $4 billion last year), the country is also spending a fortune on the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), which, as many economists have argued, functions as a de facto stimulus, boosting income and consumption in rural areas.

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Why are so many writers drunks?

This fascinating piece from the Economist-affiliated Intelligent Life is full of interesting tidbits. Hemingway checking out books on liver damage from the library. Cheever, newly sober, finishing a book in a year. And a strange conclusion that “maximalist” writers should never get sober.

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Positively Orwellian

Kindle users beware: Amazon can make your books vanish from afar: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/07/18/amazon_removes_1984_from_kindle/

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Why Do Intellectuals Oppose Capitalism?

I’ve just stumbled across this article by Robert Nozick that tries to explain why “wordsmith” intellectuals are anti-market. I’m not sure I’m totally convinced, but his hypothesis–essentially, that they resent their low valuation in a capitalist economy–is nonetheless interesting reading. (I studied with Nozick as an undergraduate, in a course called something like “Socrates, Buddha, Jesus”!)

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