Pockets, Weirdness, Altruism, Russian Islam, Sinotype, Pakistan

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The Politics Of Pockets

Chelsea Summers | Racked | 19th September 2016

Men’s clothing tends to have “capacious, visible pockets”; women’s clothing to have small pockets, or none at all. Is this a strategy for prolonging male dominance? “As we become more civilized, we need more pockets. No pocketless people has ever been great since pockets were invented, and the female sex cannot rival us while it is pocketless.” Or is it economics? “As long as clothing designers make women’s clothes without pockets, women will have to buy purses” (1,600 words)

Speak Weirdness To Truth

Venkatesh Rao | Ribbonfarm | 23rd September 2016

Life is a comedy to those who think, a tragedy to those who feel. But that presupposes we know what to think or feel in a given situation. What if something just weirds you out? “To be weirded out is to sense no firm ground beneath your feet. Weirding is a portent of deeper truths, a sign that your truths are about to get undermined by deeper ones, a lead indicator of impending expansion not just in what you know, but how you know it. It is your brain signaling that it needs a reboot” (5,030 words)

More Virtuous Than We Think

Henry Aaron | Democracy | 22nd September 2016

Governments and laws shape the behaviour of citizens. The political and economic philosophy prevailing in the West since Adam Smith assumes that all citizens are driven primarily by self-interest; laws, policies and institutions are designed around self-interest; they will tend to produce citizens who are driven primarily by self-interest. But people can also be kind and generous. Why don’t governments do more to encourage and institutionalise kindness and generosity? (2,300 words)

The Coming Russian Jihad

Leon Aron | War On The Rocks | 23rd September 2016

Russia is the largest Muslim country in Europe after Turkey, with 20 million Muslims, 14 percent of population. Hundreds of Islamic State recruiters already work in Moscow radicalising migrant workers from Central Asia as fighters for Syria. “According to Russian sources, all of the 300 ethnic Uzbeks who are members of ISIL were recruited in Russia”. How long before fundamentalism inflames Russia’s own Muslim communities, destabilising Tatarstan and Bashkortostan? (3,556 words)

The First Chinese Computer

Thomas Mullaney | Aeon | 14th September 2016

A cold-war project to develop the world’s first Chinese-language computer at MIT in the 1950s also led to the invention of autocomplete, though nobody realised the possibilities at the time. “It was almost never necessary to enter every stroke within a character in order for the machine to retrieve it from memory. For a character containing 15 strokes, for example, it might only be necessary for the operator to enter the first five or six strokes before the Sinotype arrived at a positive match” (1,500 words)

The Missing Daughters Of Pakistan

Annie Ali Khan | Herald | 11th September 2016

Harrowing tales of girls and young women murdered by their own families and neighbours for supposed violations of social and religious codes in Pakistan. “Zeenat Bibi’s killing stands out among all these cases for multiple reasons. An 18-year-old girl living in a working class neighbourhood in southern Lahore, she was burnt to death on June 8 by her mother, Parveen Rafiq. This is the first known incident this year of a girl torched to death by her own family” (9,200 words)

Video of the day: The Eyes Of Hitchcock

What to expect:

By Kogonada for the Criterion Collection. Music: “On the Orient Express” by Rob Cawley (1’50”)

Thought for the day

Every good poet includes a critic, but the reverse will not hold
William Shenstone

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