China, Pills, Jay-Z, Oil, Identity

Engineers Of The Soul

John Garnaut | Sinocism | 17th January 2019

Crisp, lucid account of Chinese political culture. The Communist Party has embraced dynastic succession. “The formula for dynastic communism was perfected by Chen Yun: The children had to inherit power because they could be counted upon to be loyal to the revolutionary cause. Or, as he put it: ‘at least our children will not dig up our graves’. Xi Jinping’s claim to power derives from his father’s proximity to Chairman Mao. He is the compromise representative of all the great founding families” (5,300 words)


Some Thoughts On My Psychiatric Practice

Laura B | Less Wrong | 16th January 2019

A psychiatrist reflects on the changes in her patients after she moves from a Medicaid clinic into private practice. Her Medicaid patients wanted medication, her private patients reject it. “What most of my [private] patients say is that they don’t want to ‘rely’ on a medication. Even though they are clearly very depressed, clearly hating every day, so long as they can push through without a pill they must be ‘OK’ in some sense. Taking a pill would confirm there is something wrong. Taking a pill might mean they are more similar to the patients at the Medicaid clinic than they want to consider” (1,270 words)


99 Problems

Caleb Mason | Longform | April 1st 2012

Virtuoso performance. Wise and funny. “This is a line-by-line analysis of the second verse of 99 Problems, by Jay-Z, from the perspective of a criminal procedure professor. It’s intended as a resource for law students and teachers, and for anyone who’s interested in what pop culture gets right about criminal justice, and what it gets wrong. In one compact, teachable verse, the song forces us to think about traffic stops, vehicle searches, drug smuggling, probable cause, and racial profiling” (9,800 words)


The Geopolitics Of Oil

Anand Toprani | War On The Rocks | 17th January 2019

Useful primer. Oil will remain the world’s single largest source of energy for the foreseeable future. The balance between global supply and demand remains narrow. A major disruption in just a single major oil producer could send prices spiking. Oil and gas reserves often go together; but markets for gas are usually regional, dictated by pipelines. Most oil is traded globally, by sea, though China favours pipelines from Russia and Central Asia, to safeguard against any US attempt at naval embargo (3,500 words)


Francis Fukuyama’s Master Concept

Patrick Lee Miller | Quillette | 17th January 2019

Fukuyama’s new book, Identity, captures the mood of the moment, much as his End Of History did in 1992, but probably with more staying power. Fukuyama ties the current resurgence of nationalism and populism in much of the world to a triumph of identity over ideology. “Whether a country leans left or right, whether it favors more authoritarian or more libertarian government — these will be matters of circumstance. What is becoming universal is how these rivalries are framed: as contests over identity” (5,400 words)


Video: An Animated History Of Cheese. Before empires and royalty, before pottery and writing, before metal tools and weapons – there was cheese (5m 33s)

Audio: Nocturne | A Luminous Bubble. Vanessa Lowe explores the world of night buses, with help from Helen Zaltzman, who tells of a journey home in London that took a dark turn (26m 28s)

Afterthought:
People ask you for criticism, but they only want praise”
― W. Somerset Maugham