Tyler Cowen asks the question, “What are the odds that the best chess player in the world has never played chess?” It’s a great human capitalization question. But I have a related question, that Chuck Klosterman noted (I forget where this is): It’d be perfectly plausible for me to assert that the world’s best band is an as-yet unheard-of band playing in the rundown bars of Detroit; it would be somewhat less plausible but still believable that the world’s greatest writer is still an unpublished guy still trying to hack it; but it would be totally implausible for me to assert that the world’s best quarterback is not in the NFL.
On China and the pace of change.
This article on a mosque in Marseille is pretty good on the French, but this quotation is good for a face-palm:
In 2004, France banned the head scarf (and other signs of religious affiliation) in public schools. It is now debating a ban on the burqa, by which the government seems to mean any full facial covering, including the niqab, which shows the eyes. That controversial measure is caught up in a government-sponsored debate over national identity, led by the ministry that also handles immigration.
Both measures have been widely criticized as political maneuvers by President Nicolas Sarkozy, capitalizing on social fears to unite the center-right and co-opt the far-right National Front before regional elections in March. He has tried to play down the religious element in the debate, but he has also urged Muslims to show “humble discretion” and avoid “ostentation and provocation”; a junior minister, Nadine Morano, said young Muslims should dress better, find jobs and stop using slang and wearing baseball caps backward.
This slideshow of NBA coaches from the 70s and, especially, their fashion, is incredibly hilarious.
Did the aughts really suck? A good case as to why you’d think that (America-specific).