Quote of the day

“A theory should not attempt to explain all the facts, because some of the facts are wrong ”
— Francis Crick

One Hundred Years Of Armbars

“If you want your face smashed, your backside kicked and your arms broken, contact Carlos Gracie at this address”. The Gracie family learned judo from a wandering Japanese wrestler in 1916, opened a martial-arts school in Rio de Janeiro, honed their fighting style over four generations into Gracie jiu-jitsu, and brought it to America as Mixed Martial Arts — now a billion-dollar sport. If you master Gracie jiu-jitsu, “aggression ceases to exist” (16,500 words)

There Is Nothing Shameful About Being A Medieval Indian

The British Raj claimed to be protecting “the uncivilised people of the colonies” from the “alleged horrendous violence of medieval Islam”. But medieval India “was not a particularly repulsive place to inhabit”. The economy was thriving. The cities were as cultured any in the world. There was “no shame in being un-modern before the spread of the virtues of western modernity which came in the wake of capitalism and colonialism” (560 words)

The Man From U.N.C.L.E

“The bar for this movie is low enough to conga under.” Just don’t take it seriously. “Only the costume and art departments get to keep a straight face”. The stars, Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill, are “like day-old bread. You practically have to give them away”. They “look like they’ve been attacked by a stylist from the fall issue of any men’s magazine”. But that’s Guy Ritchie for you: “maker of movies you hate yourself for wanting to wear” (880 words)

Lunch With Mary-Kay Wilmers

Conversation with Mary-Kay Wilmers, owner and editor of the London Review Of Books, whose life is about to made into a TV serial written by Nick Hornby. She has “a genius for commissioning essays that make people very angry indeed”. She claims to dislike money, while — “the irony is” — having enough of it to pour £35m into keeping the LRB afloat. Her main problem: There aren’t enough books worth reviewing (2,700 words)

Yuk! Pshaw! Excelsior!

Genius. Fifty years of headlines from the New York Review Of Books, anatomised and categorised. Of which more than two hundred end with an exclamation mark: Pshaw! Gulp! Excelsior! Ach! Coleridge Lives! Nixon Wins! Kids, Pull Up Your Socks! Screwed! Get a Lawyer! Ah, Wilderness! Yuk! How Unpleasant to Meet Mr. Baudelaire! That’s Earl, Folks! O Albany! The Pizza Is Burning! It’s For Your Own Good! (3,100 words)

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