Arming ISIS, Radu Lupu, Chinese Jazz, Bathrooms, Gifts, Tony Soprano

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ISIS: The Munitions Trail

Ahmed Mhidi & Erika Solomo | Financial Times | 1st December 2015 | | Read with 1Pass

Black-market traders say Isis "buys like mad" in Syrian arms bazaars, where guns are plentiful, but ammunition is scarce. Most in demand are rounds for Kalashnikov assault rifles, medium-calibre machine guns and 14.5mm and 12.5mm anti-aircraft guns. "We could buy from the regime, the Iraqis, the rebels - if we could buy from the Israelis, they wouldn't care, as long as they got the weapons" (1,196 words)

Happy Birthday, Radu Lupu!

Kirill Gerstein | New York Review of Books | 30th November 2015

In praise of Radu Lupu, who is "far more than a great pianist". He no longer records; he does not allow radio broadcasts of his playing: he does not give press interviews. He reserves his art for live performances which verge on the transcendental. "As Lupu plays, the experience of the composers, earlier encoded into sounds and preserved on paper, seems to be revived from the deep freeze of notation" (960 words)

Twenty-Five Years In Chinese Jazz

David Moser | Anthill | 27th November 2015

Notes on the jazz boom in China. When China liberalised in the early 1980s the only jazz musicians were "fossils" from pre-Revolution days playing swing in hotel lobbies. Three decades later a generation of "awesome musicians" - "monsters" — holds the stage. They revere Miles Davis for his cool, understated style. "Davis used to tell his sidesmen: 'Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there'. If that’s not Daoism, what is?" (3,600 words)

Bathrooms And Brains

Sara Bergstresser | Somatosphere | 30th November 2015

Research round-up. "The public bathroom itself is a curious thing for its stark juxtaposition of the private and the public. It can be a (grudging) nod to biological necessity, a relaxing haven, a place to touch up makeup or smoke something, one of the only places where one can breastfeed in peace. One would, in fact, expect a place where defecation is a normal behavior to exist a bit outside of the usual rules for public spaces" (604 words)

Points Of Sale

Dan Piepenbring | Paris Review | 30th November 2015

Reflections on shopping and giving. "Everyone shops, but in the national imagination only women shop (men tag along when large appliances hang in the balance). Men are expected to age from the material lusts of boyhood into the rarefied condition of being 'hard to shop for'. Just as bacteria eventually eludes antibiotics, the man recedes into a resilient isolation in which every desirable object becomes ungiftable" (2,860 words)

Schrodinger’s Mob Boss

Bryan Appleyard | 16th September 2014

Tony Soprano is alive or dead, much as Schrodinger's cat is alive or dead. "The box in which Tony is locked cannot be opened. Unresolvable ambiguity is one of the supreme privileges of art. I am not saying David Chase doesn’t have his own view on the subject but, once the last episode was broadcast, it was out of his hands. Tony Soprano became his admirers, as Auden said of Yeats" (570 words)

Video of the day: The Law

What to expect: Nina Paley presents the sequel to the Golden Cow, in her animated Old Testament (3'57")

Thought for the day

If you don't feel that you haven't read enough, you haven't read enough
Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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