Privacy, Persons, Putin, Pelvis, Plague

Bigger Brother

Tim Wu | New York Review Of Books | 19th March 2020

Discussion of Shoshanna Zuboff’s Age Of Surveillance Capitalism, which argues that the priorities of capitalism have shifted from the provision of privacy to the destruction of it. “In a capitalist system, the expected level of privacy can be captured by one single equation: Is there more money to be made through surveillance or through the building of walls? For a long time, the answer was ‘walls’, because walls made up houses and other forms of private property. Today, the balance has shifted” (3,318 words)

Corporate Persons

Bran Emrys | Siri | 18th March 2020

On the legal identity and moral capacity of corporations. “Some are tempted to argue that a corporate person, whether a firm, a church, or a club, cannot be anything other than the members it has at a time; but this does not fit the actual phenomena as we find them. In some cases, like a church, remaining the same while gaining new members is entirely the point. A corporate person can continue to exist even though it has no members, as in the case of a vacant crown or see” (2,080 words)

The Banality Of Vova

Craig Pirrong | Streetwise Professor | 18th March 2020

Short, pithy note evaluating Russia’s recent constitutional amendments which, in effect, make Vladimir Putin president for life. “In so far as the US is concerned, this is probably the best outcome. A succession struggle in a hostile nuclear power is not a happy prospect. And it’s not a bad thing when a self-proclaimed rival is in the hands of an ageing man, in a country where men do not age well, whose mental powers will diminish and who will become more risk-averse with age” (420 words)

The Soldier’s Last Taboo

Jonathan Heaf | GQ | 22nd May 2018

Surgeons and soldiers talk about the spike in injuries to men’s genitals from landmines and IEDs. “Before pelvic protection was widely deployed, the signature injury in the first half of the conflict in Afghanistan was bilateral high-leg amputation with severe injury to the anorectum, necessitating a colostomy, and severe genito-urethral injury. In short, genital trauma started becoming a real concern. It is still an issue and an injury that is hardly ever talked about. It is the injured serviceman’s last taboo” (5,300 words)

The Greatest Catastrophe Ever

Ole Benedictow | History Today | 3rd March 2005

Lessons from the Black Death. “The Black Death swept away around 60 per cent of Europe’s population. It is generally assumed that the size of Europe’s population at the time was around 80 million. This implies that around 50 million people died in the Black Death. This is a truly mind-boggling statistic. It overshadows the horrors of the Second World War, and is twice the number murdered by Stalin’s regime. As a proportion of the population, the Black Death caused unrivalled mortality” (4,200 words)

Video:  Flavio With Spaniels | Tilda Swinton. Spaniels have fun on a beach, to the sound of Anthony Roth Costanzo’s performance of Rompo i Lacci from Handel’s Flavio (5m 59s)

Video: The Coronavirus Explained | Kurzgesagt. I hesitate to recommend more on the pandemic, because it probably occupies a large part of your reading and viewing already; but for a factual briefing on how the virus spreads, and what it does, this is time well spent (8m 34s)

Audio: Period Positivity | TED. Ananya Grover talks about menstruation, a manageable inconvenience except where social taboos restrict access to advice and supplies   (9m 09s)

”Anything can happen, but it usually doesn’t”
— Robert Benchley

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