Brancusi, Obama, Mail, Xinjiang, Infanticide

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The Beauty Of Brancusi

Hugh Eakin | New York Review Of Books | 28th July 2018

“Few artists encapsulate the story of the early twentieth-century avant garde more alluringly than Constantin Brancusi. The son of Romanian peasants, he arrived in Paris around the same time Picasso did, but on foot. Within a few years, he had managed to apprentice with Rodin. Then, throwing out the master’s methods, he redefined what sculpture was. For years, Brancusi made hardly enough money to eat. By his death in 1957 he was regarded as one of the century’s greatest sculptors” (1,600 words)

The Impermanence Of Importance

David Runciman | LRB | 26th July 2018

Interesting throughout. Review of “The World As It Is” by Ben Rhodes, Barack Obama’s foreign affairs adviser. Why was Obama so able and yet so cautious? Rhodes’s answer: “As an African American, he had an ingrained scepticism about powerful structural forces. He had priced in the shortcomings of the world as it is, picking the issues and moments when he could press for the world that ought to be. This illuminated his almost monkish discipline in trying to avoid overreach in a roiling world” (7,400 words)

What I Learned As A Mail Carrier

Stephen Meyers | City Lab | 24th July 2018

It’s a satisfying job, but hard work, “Receive an Instant Pot for Christmas? Yeah, so did your neighbor. My record was 18 delivered in one day—we saw that craze coming on well before Black Friday. The old-timers at my office remember the days they’d deliver, five, maybe, 10 packages a day. Now it’s more like 50 or 60 a day, from 40-pound bags of dog food (a particular pain in the ass) to furniture and food-in-a-box meal kits. The Postal Service wasn’t really built for the Amazon era” (1,740 words)

Xinjiang: Surveillance State

Bernhard Zand | Spiegel | 26th July 2018

“Nowhere in the world, not even in North Korea, is the population monitored as strictly as it is in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of China, an area that is four times the size of Germany and shares borders with eight countries, including Pakistan, Afghanistan Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. Oppression has been in place for years, but has worsened massively in recent months. It is targeted primarily at the Uighur minority, a Turkic ethnic group of some 10 million Sunni Muslims” (3,070 words)

Burying A Child

William Buckner | William Buckner | 27th July 2018

Notes on child mortality and infanticide in African and South American tribal cultures. Among the Beng farmers of West Africa, “if an infant learned to walk or talk before having their first tooth, they would be put to death. The Beng believed that in such cases the tooth was a premonition of early death for an elder, and that the only way to avert it would be to kill the baby”. One Beng woman reported having given birth to fifteen children, “fourteen of whom died as infants or toddlers” (2,090 words)

Video of the day Postwar Tokyo

What to expect:

Scenes of Japanese life from MacArthur’s departure in 1951 to the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 (2’55”)

Thought for the day

In science you need to understand the world; in business you need others to misunderstand it
Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Podcast Lives Of The Artists | Getty Iris

Getty Museum curator Anne Woollett talks about the life of Rembrandt
(46m 44s)

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