Quote of the day

"An error is the more dangerous in proportion to the degree of truth which it contains"
Henri Frederic Amiel

Generous Minds

Samuel Johnson’s mid-18C essays in The Rambler reviewed as if they were the work of a modern blogger: “In Johnson’s schema, most of all we want to feel good about ourselves, and we will overlook inconvenient information if need be. That is why so many things in the world go wrong. We don’t want to know how badly we are doing, how imperfect our reputation is, and how far we are from truly valuable achievement” (1,840 words)

The Villain Of Tennessee

By his death in 1846 Isaac Franklin was the richest man in the South, perhaps in all the United States, with an estate worth “$24 billion in today’s money”. He lived and worked in Nashville, where he built a highway and a race-track, endowed a university and a museum. So why does no sign or a statue in the city celebrate him now? Because his business was the slave trade, and even among slavers he was a byword for depravity (3,800 words)

The Breaking Of Beauty

As compelling an argument as you could possibly imagine for winding down the war on drugs and pardoning most of its victims. A young woman who drifted into prostitution in New York goes home to Oklahoma in an attempt to rebuild her life — only to find herself hauled back to New York and thrown into Rikers Island jail, charged with a year-old drug offence which may take another year to work its way through the courts (3,100 words)

At Home: Lucy Kellaway And David Tang

Lucy Kellaway and Sir David Tang visit one another’s London houses and and snipe at one another’s taste. The luxury-loving Tang, who overloads every surface and stuffs every cupboard, mocks Kellaway’s preference for plain and simple: “Just think of the anticlimax of opening a large drawer only to find, as I did in your set of drawers next to your bed, just a few rolled up bundles of your husband’s monochromatic underpants” (1,820 words)

Lenin’s Body Improves With Age

Generations of Russian scientists have worked for 90 years to maintain the “look, feel and flexibility” of Lenin’s body in its Red Square tomb. When body parts cannot be adequately preserved, they are replaced. “Researchers developed artificial skin patches when a piece of skin on Lenin’s foot went missing in 1945. A moldable material made of paraffin, glycerin and carotene has replaced much of the skin fat” (1,220 words)

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