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Kerim’s Triptych for Sunday, July 23rd, 2023

Kerim’s Triptych for Sunday, July 23rd, 2023

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Item 1: New Yorkers Never Came ‘Flooding Back.’ Why Did Rents Go Up So Much?

Illustration: Nicolás Ortega
In other words, New York City — which in the first pandemic summer had been declared “dead forever” — was back! As long as you had not personally been ejected from your home, you might have even found it inspiring.

There was only one problem: None of it made any sense.

A long read, so I’ll cut to the chase for those who don’t have the patience. He suggests that there are two main factors at play: (1) Landlords “warehousing” vacant apartments to drive up demand, and (2) the use of a popular real estate app that uses algorithms which encourage a form of collusion between landlords. No proof of either, but he makes a strong case.

Item 2: Industrial Revolution iron method ‘was taken from Jamaica by Briton

The Cort process transformed Britain with structures such as Temperate House at Kew Gardens in London. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA
By 1781, the Jamaican ironworks was turning an impressive profit of £4,000 a year, equivalent to about £7.4m today. Meanwhile, Cort was facing bankruptcy, after taking over a client’s ironworks in 1775 and laying out substantial sums to win a Royal Navy contract to process its scrap iron, before realising he stood to make a huge loss.

The paper, published in the journal History and Technology, traces how Cort learned of the Jamaican ironworks from a visiting cousin, a West Indies ship’s master who regularly transported “prizes” – vessels, cargo and equipment seized through military action – from Jamaica to England. Just months later, the British government placed Jamaica under military law and ordered the ironworks to be destroyed, claiming it could be used by rebels to convert scrap metal into weapons to overthrow colonial rule.

The story here is Britain closing down, through military force, competition,” said Bulstrode.

Not an unusual story, but it is unusual that we eventually found out the truth about who actually invented the “Cort process”…

Item 3: Ustad Noor Bakhsh, the Pakistani musician going global in his 70s

Bakhsh, left, and Doshambay Sabir in Sweden. Photograph: Donna Lee
Ahmed is an anthropologist who teaches at Habib University, and had been chasing down masters like Bakhsh in remote regions across Pakistan. Bakhsh was already well known within Balochistan both as a solo benju (a type of zither) player and as Balochi vocalist Sabzal Sami’s accompanist for three decades. Ahmed was alerted to Bakhsh’s talents after he saw a video of him playing circulating on Facebook. A musician himself, he’s invested in amplifying regional talent that has become obscured in a country lacking robust infrastructure to support musicians, especially those who play traditional music.

You can just skip the article and play the wonderful YouTube recording in the middle of the page. Truly magical.

Endnote

Since the internet started, I've enjoyed using it to share interesting links with friends. Unfortunately, blogs are no longer popular, Facebook doesn't like posts with links that lead people away from the site, and Twitter has become a hellhole. Yes, there are new options out there, but it still feels vary fragmented. That led me to set up this newsletter as a way to directly connect with people who might be interested in what I have to share.

I'm happy to finally have reached the 100 subscriber mark after just a couple of months (yeah!), but I think the newsletter's potential audience is much bigger. If you are enjoying the newsletter, please consider letting your friends know about it. Forward it to someone, or mention it on social media. It will mean a lot to me. I don't spy on my readers with tracking links, but I do look at those subscriber numbers to get a sense of whether or not this is working.

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