Pekinese, Espionage, Fear, Drought, Rules

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A Pride Of Pekinese

Don Cohn | China Heritage | 16th February 2018

Notes on the history of the Pekinese dog, brought to Britain as loot by the soldiers who sacked the Chinese emperor’s summer palace in 1860. Qing dynasty Empress Dowager Cixi said that a well-bred Pekinese would “comport itself with dignity” and “learn to bite the foreign devils instantly”. There are “no reliable extant Chinese sources” on the origins of the Pekinese. Small dogs were popular in the Tang dynasty; but DNA suggests that the modern Peke was bred in the 18th century (3,200 words)

The Sound And The Fury

Sebastian Rotella & Tim Golden | Pro Publica | 14th February 2018

Investigation into the epidemic of nausea, hearing loss and other concussion-like symptoms reported by US diplomats in Havana, apparently produced by a long-range acoustic weapon. Doctors have ruled out mass hysteria. Something did happen. But who was the attacker? And to what end? “Intelligence officials emphasize a pattern they see as anything but coincidental: The first four Americans to report being struck by the phenomenon were all CIA officers working under diplomatic cover” (9,060 words)

Fear Factors

Veronique Greenwood | VQR | 3rd April 2017

Learning to ride a bicycle on the streets of Beijing provokes thoughts on how different cultures decide what is safe and what is dangerous. “Smoke alarms have been required in every American bedroom since 1993. France only began requiring them in 2015. Switzerland has not mandated them at all. There is not a simple, one-way progression from a state of nature to a state of safety. Even within nations, there are fundamental divisions about how we want to deal with risk” (2,980 words)

The Last Drop Of Water In Broken Hill

Michael Green | Nautilus | 8th February 2018

Report from the outback of southeastern Australia near where “Mad Max” was filmed, and where real-life apocalypse now approaches. The towns are running out of water. “We’re rattling along the gray clay bottom of Lake Menindee, several miles from its shore. Three years ago the lake was full. Together with surrounding lakes, it held five times the water in Sydney Harbor. Rainfall in the past three years is tracking lower than the worst on record. The lakebed is now bone dry” (4,470 words)

Make Your Own Rules

Venkatesh Rao | Ribbonfarm | 15th February 2018

Rules for life are back in vogue. But the only rule you really need is: Make your own rules. These should include: A rule about breaking relationships; A rule about committing to lifelong relationships; A rule about compromises in work; A rule about making and creating things; A rule about your relationship to history; A rule about your relationship to wealth and status; A rule about your deepest grow-together relationships; A rule about your physical body; and four more, to make twelve (8,300 words)

Video of the day Dimensions

What to expect:

Colliding nebulae, rendered in computer graphics, by Teun van der Zalm, with music by Martin Stürtzer (4’44”)

Thought for the day

Redundancy is expensive but indispensable
Jane Jacobs

Podcast of the day Renaissance Rumour Mill | Smarty Pants

Ingrid Rowland talks to Stephanie Bastek about Giorgio Vasari, and the lives of Renaissance artists

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