How long was China Communist?
"I’ve been reading a lot about the Soviet Union lately, and there are indeed these two large, multiethnic, Communist states have many things in common. But I’m starting to think that the most important difference might be a very simple one: the fact that Russia and the other Soviet republics were Communist in the strict economic sense–central planning and controlled prices–for much longer than China was."
"The two psychologists — whom C.I.A. officials have called architects of the interrogation program, a designation they dispute — are defendants in the only lawsuit that may hold participants accountable for causing harm."
"War and violence decoupled from strategy and policy—or worse yet, mistaken for strategy and policy—have contributed to perpetual war, or what has seemed like 15 years of “Groundhog War.” In its wars since 11 September 2001, the United States has arguably cultivated the best-equipped, most capable, and fully seasoned combat forces in remembered history. They attack, kill, capture, and win battles with great nimbleness and strength. But absent strategy, these victories are fleeting. Divorced from political objectives, successful tactics are without meaning."
"I have a rule of leaving the party, or social space as soon as I see five white people drunk, because the only person who will remember that moment when everybody got hella racist will be me. I have a self-imposed curfew of when to ride my bike home, when to leave the park. I would rather risk my life riding late at night on the empty and mostly dark greenway, than riding on the street with Police officers looking for whoever matches a description. I go out of my way to avoid police, because I don’t know how to physically act around them. Do I hold my hands in the air and get shot, Do I kneel and get shot? Do I reach for my ID and get shot? Do I say I’m an English teacher and get shot? Do I tell them everything I am about to do, and get shot? Do I assume than seven of them will still feel threatened by one of me, and get shot? Do I simply stand and be big black guy and get shot?"
"But unlike most places in Mexico that have been ravaged by the drug war, what happened in Allende didn’t have its origins in Mexico. It began in the United States, when the Drug Enforcement Administration scored an unexpected coup. An agent persuaded a high-level Zetas operative to hand over the trackable cellphone identification numbers for two of the cartel’s most wanted kingpins, Miguel Ángel Treviño and his brother Omar.
Then the DEA took a gamble. It shared the intelligence with a Mexican federal police unit that has long had problems with leaks — even though its members had been trained and vetted by the DEA. Almost immediately, the Treviños learned they’d been betrayed. The brothers set out to exact vengeance against the presumed snitches, their families and anyone remotely connected to them."
"Though Kobach received the authority to prosecute fraud cases after warning that voting by “aliens” was rampant, the nine convictions he has won since 2015 have primarily been citizens 60 and over who own property in two states and were confused about voting requirements. Only one noncitizen has been convicted. A state representative, John Carmichael, a Democrat from Wichita, told me these cases were “show trials to try and justify his prosecutorial authority,” and he has introduced a bill to repeal Kobach’s prosecutorial power.
While Kobach searched for fraud cases, his SAFE Act had blocked the registrations of 35,000 Kansans by September 2015."
"With mortgages, people could turn in the keys to their house and walk away. But with auto debt, there is increasingly no exit. Repossession, rather than being the end, is just the beginning.
“Low-income earners are shackled to this debt,” said Shanna Tallarico, a consumer lawyer with the New York Legal Assistance Group."
"With the exception of family planning and antibiotics, the vast edifice of twentieth century healthcare has generated little more than tools to suppress symptoms of the degenerative diseases which have emerged due to our failure to maintain mid-Victorian nutritional standards."
"While the Trump administration withdraws from the Paris accord, the Dutch are pioneering a singular way forward. It is, in essence, to let water in, where possible, not hope to subdue Mother Nature: to live with the water, rather than struggle to defeat it. The Dutch devise lakes, garages, parks and plazas that are a boon to daily life but also double as enormous reservoirs for when the seas and rivers spill over. You may wish to pretend that rising seas are a hoax perpetrated by scientists and a gullible news media. Or you can build barriers galore. But in the end, neither will provide adequate defense, the Dutch say"
"The Egyptians used to believe that literacy was divine, a gift from baboon-faced Thoth, the god of knowledge."
"The algorithm is applied to hundreds of thousands of arrested subjects, and helps prioritize limited resources to focus on those at highest risk. It does not create separate risk scores for who will shoot or be shot; the research is supposed to focus on victimization because estimating a person’s chances of being a perpetrator creeps eerily close to the movie “Minority Report.”"
"Academic studies and countless anecdotes make it clear that being interrupted, talked over, shut down or penalized for speaking out is nearly a universal experience for women when they are outnumbered by men."
"Last Friday, at 10:30 a.m., ob-gyn Rebekah McCurdy was seeing patients in her office when she got the call. Hello, said the voice on the line. It’s us. We’re thinking of doing a C-section, and we’re ready to put her under anesthesia. Weird, thought McCurdy. She wasn’t covering deliveries that morning, and in any case, she didn’t have any C-sections scheduled. “Who is this?” she said.
“It’s the zoo,” said the voice. “It’s for Kira.”
McCurdy dropped everything and ran to her car. A few hours later, she was delivering a baby gorilla into the world."
"There are also more advanced moves. One of my favorites is the Question Sneak Attack. While your monologuer is talking, say over them “Jim (or whatever their name is), can I ask you something?” This often makes them stop, or at least wrap up their thought. Because there’s nothing better for an over-talker than you asking them a question. This makes it seem like they are not simply holding forth at length, but instead answering your questions. When they do stop, you don’t, in fact, ask a question. Instead, you make your point."
"I spend a lot of my day navigating the white people in my life that I love. I try to figure out when to offer comfort, encouragement, hard truths, or humor. I agonize over when to take time just for me, when to give up, when to take the risk and challenge someone I love who is hurting me."
"But the American woman is told she can do anything and then is knocked down the moment she proves it."
"Mathematical near misses show the power and playfulness of the human touch in mathematics."
"In the West, as in the rest of the nation, Native Americans are the racial group most likely to be killed by law enforcement, at a rate three times higher than whites."
"Indeed, reports of political involvement in drug trafficking, ivory poaching and corruption involving senior Government officials and businessmen closely related to the political elite (Gastrow 2011; Kahumbu 2014), make it clear that it may not be that beneficial for the country’s elite to have truly professional police that handle crime effectively: indeed they themselves might be targeted by police investigations. In sum, there is no real incentive for the powers-that-be to build a truly effective, professional, accountable police service."
"“Qatar used to be a kind of Saudi vassal state, but it used the autonomy that its gas wealth created to carve out an independent role for itself,” said Jim Krane, energy research fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute, in Houston, Texas. “The rest of the region has been looking for an opportunity to clip Qatar’s wings.”"
"In this session, Scott reflects on his intellectual precursors and his place in the landscape of academic disciplines; the significance of food and agriculture in his work; the tenuous future of peasant agriculture and agrarian societies; globalization and the rise of corporate agriculture and the food industries; poverty and the struggle for justice; and his own experiences with farming and farm land conservation."
"What destroyed Aleppo? It was not the sectarianism that is often held up as a key to the Syrian war. It was not just “terrorism,” the word used by regime apologists to fend off any share of blame. Those things played a role, but the core of the conflict in Aleppo, as in much of Syria, was a divide between urban wealth and rural poverty. It is not new."
"Luon Sovath, 37, is the most prominent member of a group of monks who have become citizen journalists, monitoring political events and human rights conditions in Cambodia on social media. Their efforts are part of a growing campaign by Cambodians who are using the internet to get around the government’s stranglehold on mass media and civic life."
"Now, new evidence is emerging suggesting the changes can go even deeper—to how our bodies assemble themselves, shifting the types of cells that they are made from, and maybe even how our genetic code is expressed, playing with it like a Rubik’s cube thrown into a running washing machine. If this science holds up, it means that poverty is more than just a socioeconomic condition. It is a collection of related symptoms that are preventable, treatable—and even inheritable. In other words, the effects of poverty begin to look very much like the symptoms of a disease."
"But to answer the question directly and tersely, the spelling of Arkansaw Territory was changed to Arkansas mainly due to the efforts of William Woodruff, who started the first newspaper in Arkansaw Territory but always published the name “Arkansas”. Congress didn't seem to care, or even realize, possibly, that they had named it Arkansaw but soon began spelling it Arkansas. As for why the spelling and pronunciation don’t match, it is because both come via the earlier French place names—the same reason the same is true for Illinois."
"To Gwen Beatty, a junior at the high school in this proud, struggling, Trump-supporting town, the new science teacher’s lessons on climate change seemed explicitly designed to provoke her."
"The Republican Party’s fast journey from debating how to combat human-caused climate change to arguing that it does not exist is a story of big political money, Democratic hubris in the Obama years and a partisan chasm that grew over nine years like a crack in the Antarctic shelf, favoring extreme positions and uncompromising rhetoric over cooperation and conciliation."
"The standard wedding ceremony changed rapidly. At the end of the Depression, 15 percent of marrying couples used two rings. By the late 1940s, 80 percent did. Today, it’s hard to imagine a ceremony in which only the bride gets a ring."
"“In English, Trump may not sound very intelligent, but when you translate that with context in Hindi, it makes him sound much better than he is,” Tiwari added."
"As of September 6, 2016, the day I arrived, Nashiri was one of 61 detainees left at Guantanamo, down from an estimated 677 in 2003 (a total of 780 men have been held there). Twenty-one of those remaining had been cleared for release, another five were waiting to hear if they’d be cleared. Twenty-five were so-called “forever prisoners,” not charged with anything but deemed too dangerous to release. Only 10 were or had been before the military commissions, charged with war crimes."
"This political deal-making has yielded a welcome albeit superficial calm. A transactional electoral pact is a fragile base upon which to build a lasting peace. Kalenjin politicians repeatedly warn that Kikuyu elites plan to stop Ruto from ascending to power by backing a Kikuyu candidate in 2022. Failure by the Kikuyu side of the Jubilee coalition to endorse Ruto in 2022 almost inevitably would trigger major instability in the Rift Valley."
Long and interesting conversation, with questions along the lines of "it’s a common view heard anecdotally, though I’ve never seen it tested, that kindergarten teaching in this country became much worse once smart women had better labor market opportunities. Do you think that’s true?"
"Spiders appear to offload cognitive tasks to their webs, making them one of a number of species with a mind that isn’t fully confined within the head." Also featuring spiders on LSD.
"Ancient scholarly study of China’s rivers and waters reveals how far ahead of the West Chinese theory and practice were, not only in cartography but in an understanding of natural phenomena."
" In a 2000 report by Central California Legal Services, ninety percent of sheepherders reported that they weren’t given a day off over the entire year. When asked about their best experience as a sheepherder in the United States, many responded: “None.”"
"There are many more women like her, all around the country. Women who grew up in conservative Christian environments that push abstinence-only education, unwavering anti-abortion attitudes, and adherence to the Republican party line—and who, out of necessity, are secretly visiting Planned Parenthood clinics for pap smears, birth control, STD tests, and other reproductive health services, including abortions."
"Cultures without numbers also offer insight into the cognitive influence of particular numeric traditions. Consider what time it is. Your day is ruled by minutes and seconds, but these entities are not real in any physical sense and are nonexistent to numberless people. Minutes and seconds are the verbal and written vestiges of an uncommon base-60 number system used in Mesopotamia millennia ago. They reside in our minds, numerical artifacts that not all humans inherit conceptually."
"There is a difference between remembrance of history and reverence of it."
"Basic hieroglyphic vocabulary is the vocabulary of Arabic today. The words for death (mwt), breath (nfs), water (mw), food (akl, ak’), and light (dwa)—just to begin the list—are obvious cognates if not identical in the hieroglyphs of pharaonic Egypt and in contemporary Arabic. The sentence structure is the same. Hieroglyphs have other qualities that pervade Arabic like the charming doubling of sounds for emphasis—rufruf (flutter), wuswus (whisper), neshnesh (tear up), rekrek (creep)—and like Arabic hieroglyphs are a highly poetic language in which pervasive punning and deliberate ambiguity are made possible by the hidden variability of the vowels, which some have said are the hidden name of God, the seven pillars of wisdom, the breath of the hidden life of language."
On the dire state of sanitation in contemporary India.
Good overview of the London housing market, with a curious silence on the preferable long-term solution: building loads of additional high-density housing.
Fascinating history of leaded gas in the US.
"Though the Plains Aborigine [of Taiwan] s once numbered in the many thousands, it’s long been accepted wisdom that they more or less disappeared, the result of extensive intermarriage with Chinese settlers who came from the mainland between the 17th to 19th centuries. In recent years, however, political and social conditions have led to a resurgence of interest in, and recognition of, the Pingpu. What we’re about to be served for dinner comes with a side dish of identity politics that may have high stakes for the entire country."
"This is the real North Korean conundrum: The country has faced challenges it is hard to imagine any other regime surviving: famine, floods, droughts, economic collapse, energy shortages, sanctions, and leadership changes. This has left a North Korea that is a mass of contradictions."
Excellent debunking of Murray's racist claims about IQ.
"Bell arrived first at the telephone, despite the obvious advantages, in skill and experience as electrical inventors, held by his rivals. He arrived first, not because he had any special insight that they had missed – both thought of the telephone, but they thought it insignificant compared to the opportunities available to pursue an improved telegraph. Bell arrived first because he cared more about the human voice than about telegraphy, cared enough to defy the will of his partners until he could prove that his telephone would work."
How modern tourism grew out of the temperance movement.
"South Korea’s stable democracy and vibrant economy from 1988 onwards seem to have overridden any need to acknowledge the previous forty years of history, during which the North could reasonably claim that its own autocracy was necessary to counter military rule in Seoul."