Heaven, Drugs, Foxes, Dizzy, Romer

What Kind Of Country Do We Want?

Marilynne Robinson | New York Review Of Books | 21st May 2020

Breathe deeply before reading. Shed a tear afterwards. A great writer’s recalibration of American life, looking back through the prism of the pandemic. “In my odd solitude I stream the America of recent memory. The pretext for drama seems always to be a homicide, but around and beyond the forensic stichomythia that introduces character and circumstance there is a magnificent country, a virtual heaven. In a dystopian future, children would surely ask what it was like to live in such a country” (5,090 words)


Lockdown And Cocaine Traffickers

Cecilia Anesi et al | OCCRP | 20th May 2020

How global drug cartels maintain supply chains during the pandemic; they hold strategic reserves against just such a shock. “There has always been a stock, it’s a very organised chain. It’s the way to control everything, especially the price. The stocks are on beaches such as Tarena [near the border with Panama], banana plantations, in the jungle. The stashes are everywhere”. Deliveries are little affected, since drugs are mostly concealed in legal cargoes that move even during lockdown (2,800 words)


Text For Proofing Fonts

Jonathan Hoefler | Typography | 19th May 2020

Farewell to the quick brown fox and the lazy dog, no longer equal to the job of modelling a typeface. Typography is about the spaces between the letters as much as it is about the letters; to optimise the spaces you need more and better-fitted “pangrams”, which is what typographers call the test sentences, frequently invoking foxes and dogs and lynxes, used to evaluate fonts. “The seven most visually awkward letters are among the nine rarest in English, but pangrams force them into every sentence” (3,070 words)


Disraeli Or Churchill

John Charmley | History Today | 21st May 2020

Only three British prime ministers have “earned a living from their pen” — Benjamin Disraeli, Winston Churchill, and, most recently, Boris Johnson. Johnson likes to keep imaginary company with Churchill, but measuring him against Disraeli is arguably more illuminating and more plausible. “It would be wrong to say that Johnson, like Disraeli before him, is without principles; but he understands that political realism will dictate what is possible – and determining the latter is the art of the leader” (1,600 words)


Paul Romer On Science And Work

Tyler Cowen | Conversations | 20th May 2020

Interview. Interesting throughout. Topics include: Bad economics, Amazon, monopolies, ethics, litter, Alan Greenspan, deregulation, baseball. On testing for C19: “Testing one person per day throughout the year would free up nine people who could go back to doing what they were doing before, get out of the shelter-in-place rules, and have no net effect on the reproduction number because the tests depress it. Nine active people is worth a lot more than it costs to provide one test a day for a year” (10,300 words)


Video: Fire/Pozar | David Lynch. From the YouTube comments: “It genuinely looked like the worm had bursted through my screen and was edging itself closer to me” (10m 30s)

Audio: Detection Of Deception | The Last Archive. A young man accused of murder in 1922 trusts his fate to a new gadget — the lie detector. Jill Lepore, of Harvard and the New Yorker, tells the story (51m 41s)

Afterthought:
“On the Internet of Things, people are the things”
— Douglas Rushkoff

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