In Depth

Instant Opinion: Bloomberg ‘busts’ in Democratic debate

Your guide to the best columns and commentary on Thursday 20 February

The Week’s daily round-up highlights the five best opinion pieces from across the British and international media, with excerpts from each.

1. Frank Bruni in The New York Times

on a disastrous night for the newcomer

Despite his billions, Bloomberg busts

“Making his first appearance alongside other contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, Bloomberg knew that he would be under furious attack and had clearly resolved not to show any negative emotion. But that meant that he often showed no emotion at all. Or he looked vaguely bemused, and that didn’t communicate the coolness that he intended. It signaled an aloofness that he very much needed to avoid. He made a groaner of a joke about his wealth, saying that he could hardly use a plebeian instrument like TurboTax to ready his tax returns for public consumption. He made light of past harassment-related complaints from female employees.”

2. Peter Garrison in the Los Angeles Times

on the perils of instrument flight rules

To understand the Kobe Bryant crash, it helps to know what it’s like to fly in iffy weather

“Pilots tend to move along, imperceptibly accustoming themselves to worsening conditions. Their impulse is always to go a little farther. They want to reach the destination. And they hope the weather is going to get better somewhere ahead. Gradually, they may begin to accept downward visibility in place of forward visibility. Flying low, as helicopters often do, they can see the ground below even when they can barely make out what’s straight ahead. People watching from below see them pass overhead and vanish into cloud; but the pilots can still see the ground, and they think to themselves, ‘So far, so good.’ Then they start to lose sight of the ground, and they realize that this is not going to work. What now?”

3. Natasha Amar on HuffPost

on what makes a woman

My sister died during her pregnancy. Stop asking me when I’ll have kids

“A decade has gone by and I’ll never know why my sister was adamant about having kids even though she was told it could cost her life. But I always wonder if it was society’s obsession with motherhood that made my sister feel like she had to have a child despite what doctors told her. I fear I lost my sister to this idea that women’s lives are incomplete until they’ve been through childbirth. Until they’ve become mothers. Why does society tell us that having children and being mothers is what completes a woman’s life?”

4. Meagan Francis on NBC Think

on the agony of budget air travel

Airplane seat recline rage misses the point: the airlines, not passengers, are at fault

“The fact is, airline seats are (mostly) made with a recline function. If it’s rude to take advantage of that built-in feature, then perhaps airlines should stop offering reclining seats, or give passengers more instruction on the proper way to use them? Or, here’s a really novel concept: Maybe airlines can work to create an atmosphere in which people are just a little less aggravated and pissed-off from the get-go. I don’t think most people mean to be rude; I think we’re usually just confused and trying to get through a flight with the least possible damage to ourselves. Unfortunately, being shuffled through a dehumanizing security line, nickel-and-dimed over every baseline ‘perk’ and crammed into tiny spaces with complete strangers doesn’t do much to create a sense of community and cooperation.”

5. Daniel Moss in the Japan Times

on self-fulfilling fearmongering

COVID-19’s economic hit is all in your mind

“Hindsight can be an asset during an epidemic: Lessons from the past help steer public decision-making and avoid repeating mistakes. Unfortunately, rearview mirrors appear to be in short supply these days. For all the stimulus measures that officials are rolling out to combat the economic impact of the coronavirus, lower interest rates and bigger budgets are unlikely to make people feel immune. And it is consumer behavior that will influence the magnitude of any hit. The gap between how people perceive the risk of becoming ill and the likelihood of actually contracting the virus can be vast, driven wider by feelings from past experiences, vivid images or simply fright.”

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