Scott Siskind's review of How Asia Works by Joe Studwell, an important work attempting to explain the great economic success of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and China. Studwell thinks land reform was the crucial first step, and that growth in the Philippines and Thailand has been impeded by the power of landlords.
And Siskind reviews the status of genetic screening for embryos. (Summary: so long as IVF generates only 2 to 10 embryos per cycle, the technology can't do much beyond screening for the worst problems.)
The K-pop boom was launched by the Korean government to broaden its range of exports. Question: could this be replicated in other places?
One of the first people to study 17-year cicadas in the modern, scientific way was Benjamin Banneker, African American almanac maker, surveyor, etc., born and died in my neighborhood of Baltimore County. So far as I have found, he was the first person to correctly predict a cicada year, in 1800.
The letter Benjamin Bannker sent to Thomas Jefferson with a copy of his almanac, asking Jefferson to support equality for "the African race."
The Beachy Head Lady, a Sub Saharan African in Roman Britain.
Eleven cool artifacts from the wreck of the Mary Rose.
The elderly Iranian couple who confessed to killing their own adult children, saying their offspring had become "immoral."
Review of a new biography of Edgar Allen Poe, focusing on his interest in science.
Tanner Greer says that "culture wars are long wars" because, essentially, they are not resolved until a new generation grows up and takes over.
Strange, long, highly intellectual essay about Wallace Stevens, Harold Bloom, poetry, criticism, Yale, New Haven, homosexuality, the Cold War, and more, only to be read if you are in the mood, but worth it if you are.
The British Museum Blog takes up historical board games.
Henry VIII tried to erase St. Thomas Becket from England.
Review of a new book by Michael Polan, This is Your Mind on Plants, focusing on the centrality of caffeine to our civilization.
Astronomy photograph of the year finalists, huge images at My Modern Met.
Sound waves transformed into traditional Chinese landscape paintings.
Tesla's autopilot system can prevent some accidents, but it is far from perfect. A series of crashes that took place when autopilot was on raise the question of whether it might encourage the driver to zone out and actually make driving more dangerous. I suspect if we ran the numbers we would find that however bad autopilot might be, people are worse, but the problem of safety measures making people dangerously complacent is a real one, so the question is certainly worth a look. (NY Times)