Is this the real Renee Zellweger?

Renee Zellweger has not acted in a film since 2010 but is now about to release a new one. She has thus re-appeared in the public eye and surprised many people because she looks different. Very different. It is not just that she has gone through the normal changes of aging over five years and is an older version of herself but that she looks so different that one might not have recognized her.
[Read more...]

Piketty on the growing wealth and income inequality

I bought the much talked-about book Capital in the 21st Century by economist Thomas Piketty but have not yet cracked open its 700-odd pages. His basic thesis apparently is that when r>g, where r is the rate of return on capital and g is the rate of growth of economies, that leads to greater wealth and income inequality. His book looks at the data over a long period and suggests way to get reduce the inequality. Of course, his prescriptions will not be popular among the elites in the US who see the inequality as reflecting the fact that they are so much more valuable to society than the 99%.
[Read more...]

Why does the pope hate America?

Pope Francis has come out with a statement condemning many practices.

“All Christians and people of good will are called today to struggle not only for abolition of the death penalty, whether legal or illegal, and in all its forms, but also to improve prison conditions, out of respect for the human dignity of persons deprived of their liberty,” the pope told delegates from the International Association of Penal Law.

“And this I connect with life imprisonment,” he continued. “Life imprisonment is a hidden death penalty.”
[Read more...]

The economics of reclining airline seats

One of the strangest developments in modern air travel are the fights that are breaking out over the issue of reclining seats, between those who try to recline and the people behind who feel that it encroaches on their already limited space. This has sometimes escalated to the point where people have poured water on another person or planes have had to make unscheduled stops and passengers have been ejected.
[Read more...]

New dinosaur fossils found

The discovery of the fossils on a new dinosaur has created quite a stir. This one looks very different from the other ones we are familiar with. Back in 1960, paleontologists had discovered the fossils of two huge dinosaur arms but not the rest of the animal and couldn’t figure out what the rest of the animal might have looked like. But in Mongolia two nearly complete fossils have been found that complete the picture. And it is pretty strange. (The Nature article on the discovery can be see here.)
[Read more...]

The appeal of ISIS

The sudden appearance of ISIS as a major force in the Middle East has taken many people, including me, by surprise. I had initially thought that this was just one more group to seize the headlines, the latest to claim the mantle of the leader of those forces whose aim is to rid the area of foreign military presence, like al Qaeda in the past, to be replaced by a new group in a year or so.
[Read more...]