Classical Music, Air War , Basic Income, Football, Genomics, Bosch


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New York Chronicle

Jay Nordlinger | New Criterion | 2nd May 2016

A characteristically delightful set of critical notes from Jay Nordlinger, who is surely our finest writer on classical music in performance — expert, unfussed, practical and funny. Subjects here include Esa-Pekka Salonen, Joshua Bell, Don Pasquale at the Met, Stephen Hough, Timo Andres and Gabriel Kahane. With excursions on the programming of new works, the need for conductors, the acoustics at Carnegie Hall, the role of a sonata, and the history of the encore (2,800 words)

The Catastrophic Success Of The US Air Force

David Barno & Nora Bensahel | War On The Rocks | 3rd May 2016

No American warplane has been shot down by enemy aircraft since at least 1991, and none lost to enemy air defenses since 2003. US air superiority is “so unquestioned that it almost seems like a state of nature”. But that will not last for ever, and success brings problems of its own. The Air Force “no longer has any substantive experience in how to fight and win”. Virtually no one serving in today’s force “has personally experienced any wartime attrition of either airmen or their airplanes” (1,580 words)

The Ultimate Safety Net

Tim Harford | 3rd May 2016

Sensible short primer on universal basic income. To abolish the welfare state, and instead pay every adult in Britain £100 a week, would be affordable, but would it be wise? £100 a week would be far too little for those who most needed help. “A basic income makes perfect sense once we arrive at an economy where millions work for low wages while automation produces a bountiful economy all around them. The debate turns on whether that world has already arrived” (870 words)

The Leicester Supremacy

Barney Ronay | Guardian | 2nd May 2016

English football celebrates “the most unlikely sporting victory of all time”. Leicester City are league champions, after starting the season as 5000/1 outsiders. “In the violently stratified air of modern-day Big Football, a triumph like this seemed not just remote but impossible. This is a genuine good news story of champions whose achievement vaults an impassible gulf of finance and privilege, a reprise of the most inspiring basic sporting principle of open competition” (1,250 words)

We Need A Species-Wide Conversation

Jamie Metzl | Kurzweil AI | 2nd May 2016

Is there a Moore’s Law for genomics? It’s looking that way. Sequencing the first genome in 2003 took a billion dollars and 13 years of work. Now you can do it in a day for $1,000. By the end of the decade those figures will be $50 and a couple of hours. “If the division and violence that has stemmed from the genetically modified crops and abortion debates is any guide, the struggle over genetically selected and modified humans could well become a defining conflict for future generations” (3,200 words)

Bosch Mania

Morgan Meis | The Easel | 1st May 2016

The “goings-on amongst humans and animals” in the paintings of Hieronymous Bosch are “challenging to describe, let alone understand”. Even Bosch’s more conventional works are populated with “howling demons, sunken ships, blighted hellscapes, fantastical buildings”. Critics have argued that Bosch — a contemporary of Leonardo — was “essentially mad” or “heavily into drugs”. But a lucid and compelling madness, if so: Bosch’s popularity has scarcely wavered in 500 years (2,900 words)

Video of the day: Dibrugarh To Kanyakumari

What to expect:

Time-lapse of an 85-hour train journey from north-eastern Assam to the southernmost tip of mainland India (1’57”)

Thought for the day

We have to change truth a little, in order to remember it
George Santayana

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