James M. Scott W. W. Norton & Company

A brand new book, Rampage, details the absolutely barbaric behavior by the Japanese during the World War Two battles for control of the Philippines.  Don’t read it unless you have a strong stomach for barbarity against civilians. Which brings us to a couple questions. First of all,  how can a culture that is thousands of years old change so quickly? We’ve lived in Japan, and, even a generation ago, even their biggest cities like Tokyo were, and are, super safe. It’s impossible to imagine the white collared salarymen of Japan engaging in violence. Japan is now a country with a diminishing birthrate, in part because the people seem more interested in porn than actual sex.  Japanese men now seem most interested in getting drunk with their office workers, reading comic books, and maybe groping a woman on the subway. But just a few generations ago Japanese soldiers were barbaric, engaging in gruesome violence and rape. This occurred not just in the Philippines, but even more notably in the Rape of Nanking.  Have the Japanese people changed at some fundamental level as a result of their defeat in World War Two and the complete dismemberment of their society?  Or are all the changes a result of changed circumstance? Interesting questions explored in this book, but with more of a commercial angle. Secondly, there is an almost endless stream of American books and movies about the evils and barbarities of Nazism during World War Two, but far fewer about the equally savage activities of the Japanese. Why?

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Sade Diamond Life

Are you a smooth operator? Not only is this a great song, but it speaks to a type of elegance that seems long gone. Sade Adu was one of the great beauties of her time, and her albums were international hits, but she didn’t seek publicity, and she only released an album when she felt like it – which wasn’t often.

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Ireneusz Dobrowolski Netflix

Think that the wild, passionate, brilliant, neglected artists are just something you read about in books?

Someone like Mallory in The Fountainhead? Meet the real thing, who far outstrips the fictional versions.

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Where Americans Live Now

Sometimes the most fascinating content on the web is a simple list because it describes such a fundamental thing, like where people choose to live. Did you know that one of out every 3 Americans lives in one of 4 states? (California, Texas, Florida, and New York) Yet those states have a total of 8 US senators, the same as the four smallest states, which have combined less than one percent of the US population. This represents a fundamental flaw in a representative democracy. Why do people move? Warm weather, job opportunity, and taxes all seem to be major factors. Of the 4 largest states, 3 are warm weather, while all 4 of the least populated states are wicked cold (North Dakota, Alaska, Vermont, and Wyoming). But the fastest population growth last year was in…wait for it….Idaho. Not exactly fun in the sun. Most of the states that lost population last year are either very cold or very poor (Mississippi). But people also left Hawaii. And California showed very low growth. At some point, housing costs start to inhibit population growth. So Californians head to Arizona; high job growth and lower housing costs in a saner environment.

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