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This Week

Soft Power Triumphs Softly

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Every Friday we take a look back at the week’s headlines, centering on a theme we’ve singled out as particularly important. This week, despite all that Wikipedia has achieved, quantity and brute force wasn’t fairing well, with soft power and quality winning the long war.

China loves soccer, but its complete lack of ability has a root cause: the system:

In a country so proud of its global stature, football is a painful national joke. Perhaps because Chinese fans love the sport madly and want desperately for their nation to succeed at it, football is the common reference point by which people understand and measure failure.

Collaboration has become the soul of corporate creativity, explaining why so little creative work is produced:

But decades of research show that individuals almost always perform better than groups in both quality and quantity, and group performance gets worse as group size increases.

In the 11th winter of the Afghan war, less use of overpowering violence seen in soft air power:

The use of air power has changed markedly during the long Afghan conflict, reflecting the political costs and sensitivities of civilian casualties caused by errant or indiscriminate strikes and the increasing use of aerial drones…

China’s leader Jintao warns against the invasion of Western culture—specifically, reality TV:

Is China at war with the West? Hu Jintao, China’s leader, evidently thinks so, and to go by his recent words and actions, the greatest threats are blockbuster movies and reality TV.

Statistics on scientific misconduct in Chinese research—widely witnessed, rarely reported:

“What is most impressive is how open and willing the people with whom I work in China are to admit that a serious problem exists, and that they are committed to turning things around for the younger generation of scientists,”

Writers, thinkers, professors answer: “What is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation?”:

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” At least one philosopher of science has written that on this sentence an entire science of human beings could be built.

Romney would be the first president “who belongs to a church that the U.S. government actually tried to crush”:

In 1856, the Republican Party platform urged Congress “to prohibit in the territories those twin relics of barbarism—Polygamy, and Slavery.” In 1857, President James Buchanan, a Democrat, sent troops to skirmish with Mormon militia in Utah.

Silent discos spread in noise-averse Paris, where partiers wear synchronized headphones:

In Paris, it’s practically impossible to play music at danceable volumes without upsetting a large number of people -- which is one reason the French capital is turning into the silent disco capital of the world.

Google can’t tell you what you don’t want to know: The internet lacks serendipity:

…a side-effect of this awesome efficiency may be a shrinking, rather than an expansion, of our horizons, because we are less likely to come across things we are not in quest of.

Google uses similar pictures to move from nothing to everything:

 

The Morning News is an online magazine of essays, art, humor, and culture. More by The Morning News