Journal 102

This week - the earth's apparently miraculous survival, the lessons history can offer Britain today, the work of the Deep Space Network, and a searching profile of Mike Pence's chief of staff. 
If you only read one thing - The New York Times on a Qatari hunting trip to Iraq that turned into an international incident is worth the time.


Kidnapped Royalty Become Pawns in Iran’s Deadly Plot // The New York Times // Politics

This piece kicks off with an evocative depiction of the scene typically found at the V.I.P. terminal of Baghdad International Airport. It was there where in April 2017 a group of Qataris were held on arrival when their luggage was found to contain $360 million in cash. Their presence was linked to a royal hunting trip turned kidnapping that would significantly affect the Middle East's geopolitics.

Why Earth's History Appears So Miraculous // The Atlantic // Science

An ambitious piece looking at observer selection effect - where a data set's composition or properties are correlated with the very existence of its observer. The first example the piece calls on is an analysis of planes returning from WWII bombing raids with the goal of identifying which areas of the fuselage to reinforce, but it rapidly expands in scope to extinction events for our world, and our universe.

The Problem with Winning // The London Review of Books // History

The historian Linda Colley proposes that the relative political stability of Britain (along with the US) over time has left its political system with more maintenance work outstanding than other countries that have experienced greater upheaval. From there, she looks to the lessons history can offer in addressing Britain's current challenges.

Welcome to the Center of the Universe // Longreads // Science

A look at the work of the Deep Space Network, the nerve center for all communications between Earth and its "its robotic emissaries in deep space — anything from the moon and beyond".

Swamp Thing // The Huffington Post // Politics

A profile of Nick Ayers, US Vice President Mike Pence's 35-year-old chief of staff, looking at the influential role he plays in protecting his boss. The piece delves into his rapid rise, the sources of his surprisingly large net worth and his numerous potential conflicts of interest.