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What I’m Reading: Meduza, “The morning after his plane crashed in Russia’s Tver region, Yevgeny Prigozhin’s death is still unconfirmed….”

|I’d been meaning to write something about the recent invasion of Russia by the Russian invasion of Ukraine — about Yevgeny Prigozhin and the Wagner Group, the mutiny and the cracks in the Russian warfare state and the lesson that war is not a weapon that you can aim. I don’t know how much I had to say about it ultimately, except that the entire episode was at the same time something driven to an astonishing extent by modern technology and social media, and yet also one of the most Roman episodes I had seen, straight out of Gibbon — as if I had been reading a newspaper article one day about CENTCOM operations in the Middle East or whatever and then turned the page and found myself reading about Decius turning from the Danubian frontier to march against Philip the Arab. In any case, though, if this morning’s news reports are confirmed, then it will look like the entire thing may have had the most Russian possible ending:

Shared Article from Meduza

The morning after his plane crashed in Russia’s Tver region, Y…

As of Thursday morning, the Russian officials still hadn’t confirmed that the founder of Russia’s notorious Wagner Group Yevgeny Prigozhin was dea…

meduza.io


We Are All Malayan Sun Bears Now

This past Tuesday in the New York Times:

Shared Article from nytimes.com

Chinese Zoo Denies, in Voice of a Bear, That Sun Bear Is a Perso…

"Some people think I look too human when I stand up," the Hangzhou Zoo's statement said, after a video prompted internet conspiracy theories. "I am a …

By Alan Yuhas and Chang Che @ nytimes.com


Chinese Zoo Denies, in Voice of a Bear, That Sun Bear Is a Person in a Suit

. . . Employees at the Hangzhou zoo, accused of harboring a human in sun bear disguise, felt compelled to respond. On July 29, an unnamed worker defended the bear and the zoo to a Chinese news outlet in an interview that circulated on social media.

Of course it’s a real animal, it’s definitely not a person in disguise, he said. Our place is a state-run facility, such situations won’t happen here.

The worker offered an unusual follow-up defense, arguing that bear suits are simply too hot to wear in the summer, when temperatures reach 40 degrees Celsius, or 104 Fahrenheit. If you were to wear a suit, you definitely couldn’t bear it[1] for more than a few minutes, he said. You’d have to lie down.

Was he speaking from personal experience? He didn’t say. His explanation did not satisfy all the doubters, so the zoo followed up with a statement on Sunday written in the voice of Angela the Malayan sun bear.

The statement insisted that the bear was truly a bear, as opposed to a person pretending to be a bear — or a person pretending to be a bear insisting they were not a person pretending to be a bear.

Yesterday after work, I received a call from the park manager asking me if I was slacking off and had a biped replace me, the statement said, Much to my surprise, I’m just sitting in the mountains and I go viral on the internet. Some people think I look too human when I stand up. It seems you really don’t understand me. Previously, some visitors even thought I was too petite to be a bear! I want to emphasize again: I am a Malayan sun bear! Not a black bear! Not a dog! A Malayan sun bear!

. . . Charles Robbins, director of research at the Washington State University Bear Center, agreed with the theory that the bear was begging for food.

Looks like a sun bear to me, Dr. Robbins said on Tuesday. . . .

— Chang Che, Chinese Zoo Denies, in Voice of a Bear, That Sun Bear Is a Person in a Suit
New York Times, 2 Sextilis 2023

  1. [1][Sic. —R.G.]
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