Chronicles Of A Concerned Citizen Life

Three scenes from daily life in the failing state of Venezuela. “I wake up in the middle of the night and it takes me a few seconds to understand why. It took a second round of gunfire for me to remember the brief shock that thrust me from a deep sleep to fear. A blank, confused fear that required effort to contain. I stay in bed, sitting very still, listening and trying not to panic. The sound of gunfire repeats for a third time” (2,750 words)

The Nazi Underground World

Retreating Nazis used slave labour to dig an “underground city” beneath the Owl Mountains of Silesia — a network of tunnels and bunkers big enough to shelter the German elite, or build V2 rockets, or bury any amount of looted treasure. Last year Polish miners claimed to have located a bullion train there; that was probably a false alarm; but who knows? “There are still many holes here waiting to be dug” (Metered paywall) (7,600 words)

America, Ripe For Tyranny World Pick of the day

Philippic. “Trump is not just a wacky politician of the far right, or a riveting television spectacle, or a Twitter phenom and bizarre working-class hero. He is not just another candidate to be parsed and analyzed by TV pundits in the same breath as all the others. In terms of our liberal democracy and constitutional order, Trump is an extinction-level event. It’s long past time we started treating him as such” (7,700 words)

Animal House Life

Nuggets from Caroline Grigson’s Menagerie: A History Of Exotic Animals In England. King John founded a Royal Menagerie at the Tower of London in 1204, which housed lions and jackals until 1835. Pepys kept an eagle. Charles II reserved a “two-shilling food allowance for his cassowary”. Daniel Defoe went bankrupt borrowing money to buy seventy civet cats. Clive of India painted stripes on an ass to mate it with a zebra (2,570 words)

The Triumph Of Piero Culture

In Piero della Francesca’s “powerful but unemotional” paintings, it is “gesture and especially gaze that are most important”, with perspective adding dramatic effect. The artist “places his powerful figures near the front edge of the pictures, so that in their statuesque physicality and colorful garments they move as if on a stage. Piero is a gripping narrator who never diverts our attention from the main figures and the predominant events” (1,800 words)

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