“Stacked up, the Stasi’s complete files reached 125 miles. They weighed fifty tons per mile; in total, 62,500 tons.”

Tina Rosenberg: The Stasi complex on Normannenstrasse in the Lichtenberg district consisted of 41 brown concrete buildings. In addition, the Stasi possessed 1,181 safe houses, 305 vacation homes, 98 sports facilities, and 18,000 apartments for meetings with spies. The Stasi had a budget of 4 billion East German marks. It had 97,000 full-time employees—after the […]

“The current system of airport security all over the world represents an overreaction to the September 11, 2001, hijackings.”

Robert J. Gordon: The current system of airport security all over the world represents an overreaction to the September 11, 2001, hijackings. There was only one weakness in the U.S. airline security system on September 11, and this was that the cockpit doors were flimsy. Within days, they were replaced by completely secure doors that […]

“The offshore world is not a bunch of independent states exercising their sovereign rights to set their laws and tax systems as they see fit.”

Nicholas Shaxson: …the offshore world is not a bunch of independent states exercising their sovereign rights to set their laws and tax systems as they see fit. It is a set of networks of influence controlled by the world’s major powers, notably Britain, the United States, and some jurisdictions in Europe. Each network is deeply […]

“Bad news sells because the amygdala is always looking for something to fear.”

Peter H. Diamandis & Steven Kotler: The amygdala is an almond-shaped sliver of the temporal lobe responsible for primal emotions like rage, hate, and fear. It’s our early warning system, an organ always on high alert, whose job is to find anything in our environment that could threaten survival. Anxious under normal conditions, once stimulated, […]

“We’re moving 1 billion bottles of water around a week in ships, trains, and trucks in the United States alone.”

Charles Fishman: Americans spent $21 billion on bottled water in 2009. It doesn’t seem like an astonishing sum of money – about $65 per person, $1.25 a week. But in the context of water, $21 billion is huge. Consider, for instance, what Americans spend for all the water delivered to their homes – 350 gallons […]

“Any fool can make a fortune. It takes a man of brains to hold on to it after it is made.”

Arthur T. Vanderbilt II: Within thirty years after the death of Commodore Vanderbilt in 1877, no member of his family was among the richest people in the United States, having been supplanted by such new titans as Rockefeller, Carnegie, Frick, and Ford. Forty-eight years after his death, one of his direct descendants died penniless. Within […]

“Jews believe that they are bearers of a unique covenant with God.”

Sam Harris: The gravity of Jewish suffering over the ages, culminating in the Holocaust, makes it almost impossible to entertain any suggestion that Jews might have brought their troubles upon themselves. This is, however, in a rather narrow sense, the truth. Prior to the rise of the church, Jews became the objects of suspicion and […]