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May 2023The Ruling Elite of China - Leaders in ChinaDavid Shambaugh
May 2023Inside China: EconomyHung Ho-Fung
June 2023Inside China: SocietyXiang Biao
June 2023Inside China: CultureYu Hua
June 2023Mental Health: DepressionLinda Gask
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July .07.2022Warning on the Future of Humanity!This is a review of Professor Nick Bostrom’s “Warning on the Future of Humanity: Seeing the Future of Humanity through Rationality and Philosophy”. Living in the SF Bay Area, I am not surprisingly familiar with Existential Risk research and initiatives (as well as the related concept of Effective Altruism). Lesson 1 introduces the concept of the vulnerable world and the metaphor of blindly picking balls out of urn, some of which may have positive effects, some of which may have negative effects, and some of which may be catastrophic (black ball), effectively meaning game over. Existential risks game over risks are those that could lead to extinction or the end of civilization (though I suppose the latter is not quite existential in that civilization could be rebuilt over many years). He introduces some such possible existential risks such as nuclear war and AI catastrophes, dynamics that could lead to such existential risks, and how to safeguard against them. Fascinating stuff.
July .12.2022Barenboim - A Maestro's MASTER Class on Classical Music is a tour de forceI looked forward to jumping into the lectures with Daniel Barenboim, the legendary conductor and pianist, and my expectations were more than met. I love music, but it has fallen by the wayside of my other obligations, and his three lectures in “A Maestro’s Class on Classical Music” were like meeting an old friend, and being both delighted and surprised by what I have new to learn. Barenboim argues that while a piece of music is obviously a product of a given time, it’s also timeless in that each performance is unique, an expression of the musician’s re-creation of it and the listener’s experience of it. I was fascinated to hear Barenboim talk about his hunger to perform before an audience after the pandemic - which he was able to do in the spring of 2022, As he notes, we consume music most often digitally, before that from albums and television; earlier still, of course, through radio. And all of that is an approximation of experiencing classical music performed. Barenboim likens it to having a photo of someone you love, versus being with them. The breadth of this series with Barenboim was impressive. You’re taken on a tour of his life - how he became a pianist and conductor - against the backdrop of the touchstones of classical music (Beethoven, Schubert, Wagner). I wasn’t expecting to feel as if I got to know Barenboim himself, but by the end you not only understand the conductor, but also his humanity. This was a delight!
July .17.2022Lisa Randall: Warped Dimensions and Dark MatterLisa Randall is of course particle physicist and cosmologist at Harvard, working on the standard model. She is also a popular educator, having written books such as Warped Passages, and often speaks on such topics. She developed the Randall-Sundrum model of higher dimension warped geometry with Raman Sundrunm. I have heard her talk a bit about dimensionsionality and dark matter before. All the lecture topics are interesting intros for the layperson: The Extra Dimension, The Problem of Scale, Looking for a New Particle, The Unsung Hero Dark Matter, Dark Matter and The Great Extinction. They are all quite interesting. https://www.thegreatminds.com/lecture/108
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