One of our favorite annual round-ups, "Notable Performances and Recordings" by Alex Ross is a great guide to the classical music we missed in 2017, like Yo-Yo Ma playing Bach cello suites in the Hollywood Hills.

Since the death of Luciano Pavarotti, Ma has been the most popularly celebrated of classical musicians. Very few other soloists could have sold out the Bowl. If Ma enticed thousands to the space, it was Bach who held them rapt, for nearly three hours. The enthusiasm of large crowds is always a bit unsettling: no matter how innocent the occasion, you can imagine the energy of the collective being channelled to less wholesome ends. The huge, serene company at the Bowl was another matter: it was under the spell of a solitary searcher in the dark. One of the only sounds I heard around me was someone quietly sobbing.

There's plenty of less predictable stuff, like "a maker of erudite entertainments that inhabit a self-invented realm halfway between opera and philosophy," or Tyshawn Sorey's "Verisimilitude."

China's vast surveillance network—the world's largest—only needs seven minutes to track down a BBC reporter.

A music video for a coffee break: "Capture" by Baloji, a Congolese artist who grew up in Belgium, where he's exploring his roots and a love for old technology. From an interview in FACT:

What’s interesting is that ten years ago every continent was fascinated by the logos of Chanel or Dior, but it’s now the Apple logo that is fascinating the whole world. Everybody wants an Apple product they can use to connect to the wifi.

One interesting consequence of ride-sharing apps: there's been a significant drop in ambulance usage.

I hadn’t accounted for real desire. Now it overtook me like a wave. I had no practice with it, no defense. Not that I tried. I was ecstatic to be in love. I tried to summon the courage to make decisions with my heart.

A fabulous personal essay by pro climber Beth Rodden about divorce and desire—and surviving being kidnapped.

↩︎ Outside Magazine
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Two "music nerds," who've programmed all of Starbucks' tunes for 20 years, explain how they find new songs.
How handwarmers work: by making rust inside your glove (the heat is just a byproduct).
The melancholy of Christmas liquor ads.
"Um" is used as “a deliberate signal,” whereas "uh" is “an unavoidable effect of having processing problems."

A president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush.

The editors at USA Today aren’t known for hot takes, but they sure do find Trump reprehensible.

↩︎ USA Today
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The Kremlin feels like it got a nice return on the half-million spent on defeating Putin's enemy: Hillary Clinton.
A German father starts a petition to forbid Lego-style Nazi sets from being sold on Amazon.
Powerful photos from the "relatively average" year in volcanic activity.
Natural disaster experts fact-check how scared we should be by disaster movie scenarios.
As the Republican Senate majority shrinks by a seat, an ACA repeal looks more and more unlikely.
Cold War America created a fallout cracker so bad that you might have wished you hadn't survived the apocalypse.
New York looks very cold in this photo.
We asked a group of atheists and agnostics to tell us how they spend their secular holiday seasons.
The New York Public Library's maps division shares some of its loveliest vintage Christmas cards.