Bodies, Stars, Boys, Huawei, Rawls

Bringing Up The Bodies

Doug Horner | Guardian | 16th January 2020

Best lede of the year so far: “Gene and Sandy Ralston are a married couple in their 70s, who also happen to be among North America’s leading experts at searching for the dead”. They use sonar equipment to pinpoint drowned bodies — 120 in the past twenty years. “By the time the Ralstons arrive, no one expects the missing person to be found alive. What Gene and Sandy offer is not the hope of rescue, but the solace of finality. They have spent years criss-crossing North America in the service of grief” (5,500 words)


The Birth Of Stars

Alain Chenu | Books And Ideas | 16th January 2020

A French appreciation of Anglo-Saxon celebrity culture, with close reference to the work of Sharon Marcus, who contends that modern celebrity culture is a staged drama, but one whose course is unpredictable, because it is determined by intrinsically unstable relations between public, media, and celebrities themselves. Interactions between the three camps fall into eight categories: Defiance, Sensation, Savagery, Intimacy, Multiplication, Imitation, Judgement, Merit (1,900 words)


Boys In Motion

Nicholas Penny | LRB | 16th January 2020

If anybody has ever written better about Verrocchio, I would be pleased to have it drawn to my attention. In the meantime I salute this appreciation by Nicholas Penny, Slade Professor of Fine Art at Cambridge, which is free to read for so long as the LRB leaves its redesigned website ungated. “The Florentine sculptor and goldsmith Andrea Verrocchio (1435-88) took up painting relatively late in his career and then abandoned it on recognising the extraordinary ability of his pupil Leonardo” (1,560 words)


The Case Against Huawei

Christopher Balding | Balding’s World | 15th January 2020

Huawei’s Western critics are generally correct; but much of what is true of Huawei will be true of any large Chinese tech company. Huawei is “effectively state owned”, but even if it were privately owned, it would be obliged to follow the Communist Party’s instructions. It works closely with Chinese security services, and provides intelligence to them, as required by law; Huawei devices “quantitatively pose a high risk to their users”, because of vulnerabilities which may be accidental or deliberate (2,160 words)


The Search For The Possible

Brian Kogelmann | New Rambler | 15th January 2020

Continuing the re-appraisal of John Rawls’s Theory Of Justice led by Katrina Forrester. How could Rawls’s Theory have seemed so promising, and yet have delivered so little? Perhaps in part because the Theory is just that — a theory. “By abstracting away from the realities of everyday political life — which is what the Rawlsian does when she employs concepts like the veil of ignorance and the reasonable person — the liberal theorist is unable to say anything helpful about our current political situation” (3,200 words)


Video: The Ballet That Incited A Riot | TED-ed. Iseult Gillespie narrates an animated account of the tumultuous premier of Igor Stravinsky’s ballet, Rite Of Spring (5m 01s)

Audio: Shade | 99% Invisible. Getting enough shade from the sun is a matter of life and death in a scorching city. As temperatures rise, what can be done to keep Los Angeles liveable? (30m 47s)

Afterthought:
”Life is not a battle between good and bad, but between bad and worse”
— Joseph Brodsky