Links: Annie Duke and probability, Joyce Carol Oates being herself, free speech, and more!

* “Annie Duke on Poker, Probabilities, and How We Make Decisions.” Often hilarious.

* The Unruly Genius of Joyce Carol Oates.

* “China Suppression Of Uighur Minorities Meets U.N. Definition Of Genocide, Report Says.” Yet this gets almost no play among the culture-war people. Why not?

* ‘A Preventable Catastrophe’, by James Fallows, and a deeply reported and extremely distressing article about what went wrong with the United States’s COVID response, or lack thereof. This is perhaps the most distressing part:

“China is a very hard target,” a man who recently worked in an intelligence organization told me. “We have to be very deliberate about what we focus on”—which in normal times would be military developments or suspected espionage threats. “The bottom line is that for a place like Wuhan, you really are going to rely on open-source or informal leads.” During the Obama administration, the U.S. had negotiated to have its observers stationed in many cities across China, through a program called Predict. But the Trump administration did not fill those positions, including in Wuhan. This meant that no one was on site to learn about, for instance, the unexplained closure on January 1 of the city’s main downtown Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, a so-called wet market where wild animals, live or already killed, were on sale along with fish and domesticated animals. It was at this market that the first animal-to-human transfer of the virus is generally thought to have occurred, probably from a bat. But by that time, as Marisa Taylor of Reuters first reported, the Trump administration had removed dozens of CDC representatives in China.

We had the opportunity to have eyes and ears on the ground, we fumbled it. Long-time readers may remember this. At the time I didn’t specify a pandemic as a or the likely reason why the individual in question was (and is) unfit, but the pandemic response is in keeping with what’s written there. One of the best long-term things the U.S. can do is inflict severe brain drain on China, and yet we’re now doing the exact opposite.

* More China news: “Did a Chinese Hack Kill Canada’s Greatest Tech Company? Nortel was once a world leader in wireless technology. Then came a hack and the rise of Huawei.” On the other hand, from the Hacker News comments: “I interned at Nortel in early 2000’s right before it all went down. I can tell you the engineering culture was rotten within. No-one was doing anything useful for years. Many orgs were built around milking the ancient layer 2 passport switch. The layer 3 router meant to compete with Cisco was 3 years late and only sold a few dozen units. There was accounting fraud going on at the highest level – delivery trucks circles around to pad the books.”

* “Conflict culture is making social unsocial.” Maybe getting off social media will, or can, help?

* Boom’s supersonic jets are ready for rollout, one hopes.

* What the police really believe.

* The movie Starship Troopers is still very good and germane, though it wasn’t understood when it was released. Art endures.

* “A Land of Monopolists: From Portable Toilets to Mixed Martial Arts: Private equity ‘roll-ups’ hit virtually everything in the economy, from mail sorting software to mixed martial arts to portable toilets to dentists.” One of these stories that, if accurate,

* An ugly story, on Twitter, about “cancel culture.”

* “Imagine a future without cars.” NYC could be the leader in this, but many other cities could follow, if they really wanted to.

* Black Death, COVID, and Why We Keep Telling the Myth of a Renaissance Golden Age and Bad Middle Ages.

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