Wednesday 23 March, 2022

Londistan, 2022

Quote of the Day

”I’ve worked myself up from nothing to a state of extreme poverty.”

  • Groucho Marx

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Ry Cooder & David Lindley | Jesus on the Mainline | New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival


Yeah, I know I’ve played this before. But I needed waking up yesterday and this was just the ticket.

Long Read of the Day

Putin in His Labyrinth: Alexander Gabuev on the View from Moscow

Marvellous interview by Jonathan Tepperman of Alexander Gabuev, a former diplomatic correspondent and editor at Kommersant, a Russian newspaper. He’s now a Senior Fellow and chair of the ‘Russia in the Asia-Pacific’ Program at the Carnegie Moscow Center (although, like many of his colleagues and a huge number of other Russians, he recently left the country).

Imagine a Russian czar at the top of a powerful country, unchallenged for 20-plus years, who’s also been lucky and successful by Russian standards. Russia has never been as free and prosperous at the same time as it has been during Putin’s reign, particularly his first two terms. That’s all been undone over the last two weeks, obviously. But before that, he was very successful. To the self-confidence born from that success, add the impact of his age and his isolation, and you get a state of mind that led him to believe that his legacy would be the return of Ukraine to Russia’s control. The whole idea is irrational, but in his worldview, it’s a prize worth fighting for.

Another reason for all the mistakes is that he never went to Russia’s national-security establishment and said, “Hey guys, in a year or so I want to invade Ukraine, so let’s start thinking through the scenarios and debate the economic costs.” A full invasion of Ukraine was such an unimaginable idea that Putin tried to keep his plan as well hidden as possible. Instead of serious war planning, it became a clandestine operation, with only a handful of military planners involved.

It’s really informative (at least for me), and particularly interesting towards the end when the conversation turns to the way China will exploit post-war Russia.

How a nondescript box has been saving lives during the pandemic – and revealing the power of grassroots innovation

(And also restoring one’s faith in humanity at a time when it’s in real trouble.)

Fascinating account of how a small amount of imagination and ingenuity can go a long way.

One afternoon, a dozen Arizona State University students gathered to spend the morning cutting cardboard, taping fans and assembling filters in an effort to build 125 portable air purifiers for local schools. That same morning, staff members at a homeless shelter in Los Angeles were setting up 20 homemade purifiers of their own, while in Brookline, Massachusetts, another DIY air purifier was whirring quietly in the back of a day care classroom as children played.

The technology in all three cases – an unassuming duct tape-and-cardboard construction known as a Corsi-Rosenthal box – is playing an important part in the fight against COVID-19. The story of how it came to be also reveals a lot about communities as sources of innovation and resilience in the face of disasters.

My commonplace booklet

  • The Digital Scrapbooker Link

  • Gus Simmons’s memoir Ross Anderson has a nice blog post about it.

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