Summary of “What Happens When a World Order Ends”

From 1815 until the outbreak of World War I a century later, the order established at the Congress of Vienna defined many international relationships and set basic rules for international conduct.
OUT OF THE ASHES. The global order of the second half of the twentieth century and the first part of the twenty-first grew out of the wreckage of two world wars.
A TALE OF TWO ORDERS. The global order built in the aftermath of World War II consisted of two parallel orders for most of its history.
Even in a divided world, the two power centers agreed on how the competition would be waged; theirs was an order based on means rather than ends.
The other post-World War II order was the liberal order that operated alongside the Cold War order.
Although the Cold War itself ended long ago, the order it created came apart in a more piecemeal fashion-in part because Western efforts to integrate Russia into the liberal world order achieved little.
From a Russian perspective, the same might be said of NATO enlargement, an initiative clearly at odds with Winston Churchill’s dictum “In victory, magnanimity.” Russia also judged the 2003 Iraq war and the 2011 NATO military intervention in Libya, which was undertaken in the name of humanitarianism but quickly evolved into regime change, as acts of bad faith and illegality inconsistent with notions of world order as it understood them.
Today’s world order has struggled to cope with power shifts: China’s rise, the appearance of several medium powers that reject important aspects of the order, and the emergence of nonstate actors that can pose a serious threat to order within and between states.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The key to cracking long-dead languages?”

Its texts are mainly written in Sumerian and Akkadian, languages that relatively few scholars can read. Pagé-Perron is coordinating a project to machine translate 69,000 Mesopotamian administrative records from the 21st Century BC. One of the aims is to open up the past to new research.
Originally impressed into the clay with a reed stylus, the texts have already been transliterated into our alphabet by modern scholars.
The wording in these administrative texts is simple: “11 nanny goats for the kitchen on the 15th day”, for example.
Once these algorithms have learned to translate the sample texts into English, they will then automatically translate the other transliterated tablets.
“The texts we’re working on are not very interesting individually, but they’re extremely interesting if you take them as groups of texts,” says Pagé-Perron, who expects the English versions to be online within the next year.
“Sumerian is probably the last member of what must have been a large family of languages that goes back thousands and thousands of years,” says Irving Finkel, the curator in charge of the 130,000 cuneiform tablets stored at the British Museum.
Early cuneiform signs, for example, were not even arranged in a linear text, but simply placed together with a box drawn around them.
Perhaps one day, we will be able to read all of our earliest texts in translation – though many of Mesopotamia’s riddles are likely to outlive us, not least because many missing cuneiform fragments are still in the ground, waiting to be excavated.

The orginal article.

Summary of “A Preview of Your Chinese Future – Foreign Policy”

Beyond its technical achievements, does China’s vision for the future still represent a recognizable world? Is it a break from the current world order in some fundamental way? Or is it still the world we live in today, only more balanced and more divided between different economic poles in Europe, Asia, and America-a continuation of the sort of globalization we have come to know?
The description is of course inspired by the existing world order and tries to project a future where China has replaced the United States, but the essential shape of things-institutions, values, and relations-remains largely unmodified.
Jonathan Holslag imagines a future Asian order replicating more or less perfectly the European order we know from the last few decades, with China occupying the core, as Germany and France do in Europe.
Fast trains and airlines channel millions of tourists to quiet or quaint places: to Tibet, emerging as the Chinese Pyrenees; to the Northeast, the future Chinese Alps; to Xinjiang, the new Andalusia; and to the southern beaches, China’s Mediterranean.
China’s new multinationals have tied all other Asian countries to the motherland by means of roads, railways, pipelines, and financial flows.
China’s Italy, is vibrant and enthralling, yet heavily penetrated by Chinese companies, banks, and high livers.
There are many reasons one cannot extrapolate from China’s extraordinary rise over the past four decades to the shape of future events and developments.
The Chinese made 50 times more mobile payments in 2016 than U.S. consumers did, tripling to $5.5 trillion in China while U.S. payments only grew 39 percent, to $112 billion.

The orginal article.

Summary of “‘A kind of dark realism’: Why the climate change problem is starting to look too big to solve”

As the 24th U.N. conference on climate change kicks off this week, a steady drumbeat of scientific reports have sounded warnings about current climate trajectories.
The world has waited so long that preventing disruptive climate change requires action “Unprecedented in scale,” the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in an October report.
William Nordhaus, the Yale University professor who just won the Nobel Prize for his work on the economics of climate change, recently described his outlook like this: “I never use the word ‘pessimism’; I always use the word ‘realism,’ but I’d say it’s a kind of dark realism today.”
Climate scientists and policy experts realize that they walk a fine line between jolting consumers and policymakers into action and immobilizing them with paralyzing pessimism about the world’s ability to hit climate targets.
In France, President Emmanuel Macron has ignited protests by proposing fuel taxes he says are needed to fight climate change.
“Like a married couple that has put off saving for the future for too long, at some point it becomes nearly impossible to retire comfortably,” Nigel Purvis, co-founder of the advocacy group Climate Advisers, wrote in 2015.
One of the earliest climate change models was drawn up in 2004 by a pair of Princeton University professors – Robert Socolow, an engineer, and Stephen Pacala, an ecologist.
Their 50-year scenario was optimistic: “Humanity already possesses the fundamental scientific, technical and industrial know-how to solve the carbon and climate problem for the next half-century,” they wrote.

The orginal article.

Summary of “A radio play about radio that became the first fake-news story”

Everybody loves a good story – especially the newspapers threatened by radio news, the social scientists seeking a claim to relevance, and Welles, great ham that he was.
‘ In that first broadcast of the Columbia Workshop, the announcer declared that the show dedicated itself to ‘familiarising you with the story behind radio and to experiment in new techniques with the hope of discovering or evolving new and better forms of radio presentation, with a special emphasis on radio drama.
As with reports on Hitler, a radio announcer narrated MacLeish’s play.
Once again, an announcer begins the play by foregrounding the mystical, hypnotic medium of radio – ‘Ladies and gentlemen: you have only one thought tonight all of you.
According to David Goodman, author of Radio’s Civic Ambition, War of the Worlds was a radio play about the intelligence of the listening audience; from the start, it was ‘a radio play about listening to the radio’.
Radio became physical, and Wilmuth was not a listener anymore, but a participant.
In the anxious world of 1930s listening, a radio that knew your mind was a radio that could change it.
The hard facts of the night are hidden in the long shadow of his and our tall tale – War of the Worlds was a radio play about radio, and the panic legend is in part a story about its tellers.

The orginal article.

Summary of “What you’re getting wrong about your pursuit of happiness”

The U.S. founding fathers may have identified the pursuit of happiness as an unalienable right, but most of our beliefs about how to pursue happiness are wrong, says Alex Lickerman, coauthor of The Ten Worlds: The New Psychology of Happiness.
“The research about what makes people happy isn’t wrong, but it works at the edges of what it means to be happy or unhappy. Everybody has some idea about what they need to be happy, yet we have a hard time creating happiness that endures. That’s because most of us are pursuing it in the wrong ways due to our core delusions.”
Pursuing happiness requires a deeper understanding about your life tendencies, says The Ten Worlds coauthor Ash ElDifrawi.
While you can move in and out of the beliefs, most of us gravitate toward one of them as being our truth, and we live in that “World.” Nine are delusions, while one is the true source of happiness.
The delusion is that happiness and pleasure are the same.
The delusion comes when you think happiness comes only through accomplishment.
“I create inner anxiety about making a wrong choice, thinking my happiness is jeopardized on one decision. Now that I understand, it helps to free me up. I know my happiness isn’t fleeting, which helps me make decisions in a more rational way.”
“The delusions come when you expect the happiness they make to be permanent. Having perspective is helpful. In the 10th world, happiness is permanent.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why We Need Utopian Fiction Now More Than Ever”

Redfern Jon Barrett, sci-fi author and self-professed stubborn idealist, believes that creating utopias in fiction doesn’t just inspire people, but also brings these utopias closer to reality.
“If we present hopeful futures, then I genuinely believe we increase their likelihood.” Barrett theorizes that inspiration is a powerful force for change, and we can already see how fictional utopias have inspired real life innovations.
A lot of science fiction takes a shortcut in creating utopia, using some cataclysmic event to wipe the slate clean and start again.
Glossing over societal inequalities, ascribing to an exclusive ideology, or just straight up whitewashing the future, many utopian shows and films give utopia a bad name.
“Utopia, as most people understand it, would mean a society of stasis, where nothing could or should ever change. Fossilized and airless,” Penny continues.
“Utopia is the search for utopia. It is a point on the map where the journey is what matters.” Rather than perfect futures, Penny explains that she is “Far more interested in societies that want to be much better than they are now.” And maybe that is the key to making a utopia that is relatable to modern audiences-to show how a better world can grow out of dystopia.
“Utopia, as most people understand it, would mean a society of stasis, where nothing could or should ever change. Fossilized and airless.”
The more we dare to dream about our own utopias, then we might just be inspired to stop the end of the world-as impossible a dream as that may seem to be.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The 40 best books to read before you die, from Anna Karenina to Wolf Hall”

Whatever the breathless claims about reading, one thing is certain: losing yourself in a great novel is one of life’s most enduring and dependable joys.
As it stands, whittling this list down to 40 novels has been a process that makes Brexit negotiations look simple and amicable.
Will there ever be a novel that burns with more passionate intensity than Wuthering Heights? The forces that bring together its fierce heroine Catherine Earnshaw and cruel hero Heathcliff are violent and untameable, yet rooted in a childhood devotion to one another, when Heathcliff obeyed Cathy’s every command.
The savage reviews that greeted F Scott Fitzgerald’s third novel – “No more than a glorified anecdote”; “For the season only” – failed to recognise something truly great; a near-perfect distillation of the hope, ambition, cynicism and desire at the heart of the American Dream.
Banned from entering the UK in its year of publication, 1955, Vladimir Nabokov’s astonishingly skilful and enduringly controversial work of fiction introduces us to literary professor and self-confessed hebephile Humbert Humbert, the perhaps unreliable narrator of the novel.
The novel – although debate continues to rage about whether its attitude to Africa and colonialism is racist – is deeply involving and demands to be read. CH. Dracula, Bram Stoker.
The only novel written by the poet Sylvia Plath is a semi-autobiographical account of a descent into depression that the book’s narrator Esther Greenwood describes as like being trapped under a bell jar – used to create a vacuum in scientific experiments – struggling to breathe.
Rew Davies’s recent TV adaptation of War and Peace reminded those of us who can’t quite face returning to the novel’s monstrous demands just how brilliantly Tolstoy delineates affairs of the heart, even if the war passages will always be a struggle.

The orginal article.

Summary of “A Photo Appreciation of Libraries”

As the days grow shorter, one might feel a strong urge to find a warm place indoors and cozy up to a good book.
As much as our world hurtles toward digitized information, physical books remain popular, useful, and revered items.
We share, use, collect, and read billions of books every year, and we house our most treasured ones in libraries, in some of the most remarkable architecture around the world.
For those who cannot access these amazing buildings, there are volunteers who fill the need as they can, creating mobile libraries to bring books to people in remote places.
Today, a visual feast-glimpses of libraries big and small, new and old, from across the globe.
Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→..

The orginal article.

Summary of “What is the internet? 13 key questions answered”

The web is a way to view and share information over the internet.
The rise of apps means that for many people, being on the internet today is less about browsing the open web than getting more focused information: news, messages, weather forecasts, videos and the like.
One metric popular with the International Telecommunications Union, a UN body, counts being online as having used the internet in the past three months.
It means people are not assumed to use the internet simply because they live in a town with an internet cable or near a wifi tower.
The upshot is that people associate the internet with those platforms rather than the open web.
While the US has around 300 million internet users, China notched up more than 800 million in 2018, with 40% of its population still unconnected.
In rural communities, there is often little demand for the internet because people do not see the point: the web does not serve their interests.
In Pakistan, men outnumber women online by nearly two-to-one, while in India, 70% of internet users are men.

The orginal article.