Quote of the day

"People who live in a golden age go around complaining how yellow everything looks"
— Randall Jarrell

Nigeria: Big Bad Oil

Nigeria’s national oil company is so corrupted and mismanaged that the country ends up importing most of its fuel — despite being Africa’s leading oil producer. The crude is stolen from the pipelines; refineries are “barely functioning”; revenues are “siphoned off”. What ought to be an oil giant is really “just a slush fund”. It needs to be sold off or broken up or both. But wait — the man who invented it has just been elected president (2,170 words)

Alexander McQueen At The V&A

Five years after his suicide, fashion designer Alexander McQueen inhabits “that part of the afterlife where Marilyn and Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain and Peaches Geldof are gathered: beautiful, doomed, striving, Dionysiac”. An exhibition of his work in London stirs “uneasy and morbid sensations … The gleaming alcoves are filled with the body armour and other pieces, many of them close to implements of torture” (2,900 words)

Sylvia Nasar On John Nash

Biographer talks about Nash’s journey through schizophrenia. He was in bad shape when he won his Nobel prize in 1994: “His clothes were mismatched. His front teeth were rotted down to the gums. He didn’t make eye contact”. But then he started “ageing out” of his illness. The Nobel, and the film A Beautiful Life, lifted him. “He got his teeth fixed. He got a driver’s license. He had lunch most days with other mathematicians” (2,380 words)

Why The Oldest Person In The World Keeps Dying

Many more people are living beyond 100, but the limit of human longevity has held fairly steady. Only two people in recorded history have ever lived beyond 118, while the average age of the oldest-ever living person people has crept up from around 112 to around 114 in the past 40 years. So if you do get to be the oldest person in the world, you are probably not going to hold the title for very long. “It’s getting crowded at the top” (1,190 words)

The Words We Wear

A small thing, but it needs saying. There are too many tags on clothes. “A pair of grey jeans from Zara looked like a collision between a wardrobe and a filing cabinet. There were two cardboard tags on a string plus one stitched through the waistband; inside were five further labels of fabric. Between them they carried more than 700 words, not counting washing symbols. I bought the jeans for one sort of arse-covering, but got both kinds” (800 words)

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