China, Friston, Trauma, Riot, Chelsea

A Gunfight With China

T.S. Allen | Strategy Bridge | 2nd June 2020

How China thinks about conflict. Not as the West imagines. China is “more powerful and aggressive than at any time since Mao died in 1976”; but it gave up “exporting revolution” under Deng Xiaoping, and has evolved “from a rogue state that actively armed Maoist groups around the world” into a “reluctant stakeholder in the international order”; which is Xi Jinping’s default. China’s weapons of choice are inducement and coercion. Failing which, it is ready for “high-intensity conventional war” (4,600 words)

Karl Friston’s Dark Matter

Laura Spinney | Observer | 31st May 2020

Weird but interesting throughout. Conversation with neuroscientist Karl Friston, who contends that modelling methods developed to explain activity in the human brain can transfer to epidemiology. The Friston model absorbs information — about the spread of a disease and about the policy responses — to the point at which accurate predictions are possible. “I’m not doing anything new. The data is generated by Covid-19 patients rather than neurons, but otherwise it’s just another day at the office.” (2,600 words)

Memory, Trauma, Survival

Nikoleta Sremac & Ran Zwigenberg | Society Pages | 1st June 2020

Discussion of post-traumatic stress disorder as a scientific and cultural condition. The stress is real enough; “trauma” is a word without a well-defined meaning; “disorder” is a Western clinical construct. “Most people cannot discern — the survivors themselves, and doctors — what is somatic; for example, the physical impacts of radiation or starvation, versus the impact of mental shock, or what we now call mental trauma. If you don’t have the concept, you don’t interpret your experience that way” (2,400 words)

Days Of Disorder

Tanner Greer | Scholar’s Stage | 31st May 2020

How to riot, or, how to organise a riot. It is a co-ordination problem. “The person inclined towards riot cannot simply wake up one day and begin one. The lone rioter is not a rioter, but a common vandal. The system can handle that problem with ease. This is the sorrow of the would-be rioter: he cannot begin his riot until he is sure all the other would-be rioters will pound the streets besides him. People must act together for the riot to proceed, and, importantly, they must act at the same time” (2,600 words)

Echoes In The Chelsea Hotel

Amanda Chemeche | Popula | 1st June 2020

Letter from New York’s “bohemian palace”, where 50 of the 300 hotel rooms are still occupied by residents who hang in, and party on, even under lockdown, despite the owner’s attempts to evict them and make a condo. “The Queen of the Night, event producer Susanne Bartsch, hasn’t stopped throwing epic parties or wearing wild costumes during the lockdown; she just took her scene to the internet. I can hear the clack of her platform heels as she struts down the halls, modeling for her Instagram fans” (2,300 words)

Video: A Little Story | Artem Yudin. Arguably the best sub-one-minute fantasy about ballpoint pens ever committed to film (0m 43s)

Audio: My Friend Michael | Wind Of Change. Patrick Radden Keefe asks whether CIA produced Wind Of Change, the power-pop song that made everybody feel better about the fall of the Berlin Wall (42m 46s)

”They say time heals all wounds, but we never live long enough to test that theory”
— Jose Saramago

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