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Hump day recommendations, Jan. 17, 2024

Visit: “Anyang” at the Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art. This is the first major exhibition in the United States about the artistic and archaeological wonders found in China’s oldest imperial capital. The exhibit features some of the earliest samples of writing in human history, the so-called “Oracle Bone” characters etched into the belly bones of ancient tortoises, then cracked with red-hot irons to reveal the will of Shangdi. You’ll be amazed by the intricate bronzewares, covered in multimorphic animal motifs that shift with your perspective. My favorite? One of the earliest known depictions of a dragon, wrapping its serpentine body around a wide bowl. – Matt

Watch: "American Fiction." This poignant, hilarious satire is a deeply layered examination of race in the US and how narratives surrounding it are both shaped and perceived. Jeffrey Wright is fantastic as the lead character, Monk, a smug, grumpy novelist who has his world – and his assumptions about people – turned upside down as the film progresses. Highly recommend checking this out in theaters! – John

Listen/Read: “The Price of Netanyahu’s Ambition,” by David Remnick. I listened to this hour-long portrait of who Netanyahu is to Israelis and to himself in the aftermath of Oct. 7. I thought it painted a great picture of the political and media landscape in Israel right now and in the not-so-distant past. – Riley

Fight: Tyranny. Most conservatives who worry about “tyranny” seem to have in mind the supposedly coercive overreach of the government. But as the prominent arch-conservative Catholic writer Sohrab Ahmari sees it, the vast majority of the coercion that Americans experience in their daily lives actually comes from the private sector. In his book, “Tyranny, Inc.,” he argues that the court-backed power of employers, the massive privatization of public services, and the cult of deregulation have left Americans at the mercy of a new market-powered tyrant. Amazingly for a conservative, he ends up prescribing a revived New Deal to keep the playing field even. If nothing else, a bold attempt to break stereotypes of left and right — see if you find it compelling. – Alex


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