China, Bullfighting, Laundry, Musicology, Uber


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What Is Changing In China?

Andrew Batson | 5th April 2018

By declaring himself China’s absolute ruler, President Xi Jinping is “taking a confusing structure inherited from history, and redrafting it in a more straightforward way”. Xi runs the Communist Party; the party runs China. China’s claim to have a government separate from the Party was always mere window-dressing. “Xi is a believer in China’s system, and he takes its logic seriously. He is not overthrowing the fundamental principles of Chinese politics, but trying to apply them more systematically” (1,300 words)

The Woman Who Fought Bulls

Susan Orlean | The Stacks | 21st March 2018

“The bull stared at her. For ten minutes or so she seduced him toward her, and, just as he thought he was about to kill her, she diverted him with dizzying, rippling, precise swings of her cape. As the bull passed her, Cristina’s back was as arched as a scythe. When the bull was swooning, she stood right in front of him, rubbed his forehead lightly with the flat of her sword, and then spread her arms, yelled something, and dropped down on one knee. The bull looked like he might faint” (6,400 words)

How Laundry Gets Done At The Olympics

Hilary George-Parkin | Racked | 15th February 2018

“Performance fabrics typically have special qualities like moisture-wicking and water-repellency, which can be impeded by oil buildup. The average adult sweats out 1 liter of sweat per day, for athletes, that number is more like 2 to 4 liters. Hockey gear is a particular bugbear. In addition to the vile and rank smell that hockey gear is known for, pads retain an unholy amount of bacteria. Figure skating dresses, meanwhile, should be hand-laundered” (1,730 words)

Beyond Blurred Lines

Andy Hermann | Rolling Stone | 4th April 2018

Since the ‘Blurred Lines’ court case, which awarded millions to the estate of Marvin Gaye, demand for the service of forensic musicologists is booming. “Forensic musicology specifically relates to comparing two pieces of music; first of all, to figure out their objective similarity, and secondly to attempt to infer the likelihood of copying. Since the ‘Blurred Lines’ case, there has been an increase in calls to lawyers from clients along the lines of: This sounds a little like this [other song]. What do you think?” (1,750 words)

Good Luck Leaving Less Than Five Stars

Alison Griswold | Quartz | 5th April 2018

Of course you give your Uber driver five stars. Nobody wants to put somebody else out of a job. “In the early days, riders left a range of reviews, but it didn’t take long for the default to become five stars, with anything else reserved for extreme cases of hostile conduct or reckless driving. These ratings systems ask customers to make tough decisions about whether workers are fit to be on the platform, and live with the guilt if they’re not. Put another way: Five stars for all!” (820 words)

Video of the day The Statue Experiment

What to expect:

If human form were made out of melting seaside rock (1’48”)

Thought for the day

No book is worth reading that isn’t worth re-reading
Susan Sontag

Podcast of the day The Writing on the Wall | A Piece of Work

Abbi Jacobson asks how Sol LeWitt could make his art by telling other people how to make his art
(21m 17s)

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