Simon Leys, Music, Finland, Rationalism, Cinema


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Invisible Ink And Blank Pages

Geremie Barmé | China Heritage | 7th January 2018

Remembering the late Simon Leys, critic of Maoist China, and Leys’s inspiration, the Jesuit priest László Ladány, editor of ‘China News Analysis’ and master of decoding Chinese propaganda. “Even the most mendacious propaganda must necessarily entertain some sort of relation with the truth; even as it manipulates and distorts the truth, it still needs originally to feed on it. Therefore, the untwisting of official lies, if skilfully effected, should yield a certain amount of straight facts” (2,700 words)

New York Music Chronicle

Jay Nordlinger | New Criterion | 5th January 2018

Topics include Daniil Trifonov, Massenet’s Thaïs, John Luther Adams, Verdi’s Requiem, Sharon Isbin, and Prokofiev’s Sixth Symphony. “The symphony is intense, savage, calm, eerie, puckish, delirious, fearful, mad. In other words, it is by Prokofiev. Gergiev conducted the work brilliantly, leading the orchestra to play it the same way. You heard both the logic and the music, so to speak. You were aware of the structure — almost the mathematics — of the piece, and of its inspiration” (2,900 words)

Red Dawn

David Wolman | Outside | 11th December 2017

Inside the Arctic Circle on a twelve-day training course with Finland’s Jaeger Brigade, a sub-zero special forces unit likely to find itself on the front line of any future land war with Russia, Finland’s neighbour to the south. “Today’s agenda included shooting from skis, orienteering, and sled handling. Over the next few days, the group will make fires in the snow, build shelters, set booby traps, slaughter and cook two reindeer in the field, and self-rescue after skiing into a frigid river” (5,450 words)

Mere Reality

Quaerendo | Perpetual Canon | 5th January 2018

Digest of the writings of Eliezer Yudkowsky, decision theorist, AI researcher and founder of the Less Wrong school of Bayesian rationalism. This chapter — one of six — considers the laws of the physical universe, with a particular emphasis on the laws of probability. “Probabilities express states of partial information; they are not inherent properties of things. It is only agents who can be uncertain. A blank map does not correspond to a blank territory” (11,500 words)

MoviePass And Premature Scaling

Tren Griffin | 25iq | 30th December 2017

On the behavioural economics of the cinema business, mainly inquiring whether the MoviePass subscription model can work well for theatres, but interesting also on popcornomics. Snack sales bring in one-third of theatre revenues. “One theater chain executive went so far as to describe the cup holder mounted on each seat, which allows customers to park their soda while returning to the concession stand for more popcorn, as the most important technological innovation since sound” (5,300 words)

Video of the day An Affordable Tank

What to expect:

How buy a tank, if you are starting an army soon and you want something that’s practical for your troops (4’00”)

Thought for the day

There are no rules here — we’re trying to accomplish something
Thomas Edison

Podcast of the day Justice Interrupted | More Perfect

Men interrupt women — even on the Supreme Court, where nobody is supposed to interrupt a Supreme Court judge
(24'00")

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