Beasts, Love, Howard, Bodies, China

Throw Your Testicles

Tom Shippey | London Review Of Books | 19th December 2019

Jaunty account of medieval bestiaries, their fantastical animals, and their equally fantastical, usually allegorical, accounts of animal behaviour. “The beaver is a very gentle animal whose testicles are extremely useful for medicine. When the beaver knows the hunter is following him, he cuts off his testicles with his teeth, and throws them before the hunter, and thus escapes. If the hunter continues to pursue him, he cocks one of his hind legs and displays his missing testicles” (1,790 words)


In the Name Of Love

Sean Williams | N+1 | 18th December 2019

Conversation with a Filipino police chief who is fighting President Duterte’s bloodthirsty war on drugs and is also a Christian minister. How to love people while killing them in large numbers? “Espenido is married with three kids, smartly dressed, deeply religious. His youthful features suggest librarian rather than killer cop. He adheres to an ultraconservative strain of faith that leaves little room for Gospel magnanimity, and draws a hard line between the zealous and the damned. And he revels in it” (1,870 words)


Michael Howard: A Reminiscence

Lawrence Freedman | War On The Rocks | 19th December 2019

Remembering Sir Michael Howard, historian of war, who died last month at 97. “All Souls was the most closed society I had ever come across. When Michael invited me to dinner there, the experience hardly made me fall in love with the place. It was full of deferential servants, fine wines, and odd traditions. Afterwards, Judith and I went to at Michael’s home near Hungerford. At last, I was let into Michael’s private world. I made two discoveries that weekend. The first was that Michael was gay” (3,790 words)


Bodily Curiosities

Joseph Epstein | First Things | 19th December 2019

Review of Bill Bryson’s The Body. “In the first hundred pages one learns that there are microbes in one’s belly button, that the average adult touches his face sixteen times an hour, that the number of human facial expressions ranges between 4,100 and 10,000, that tears come in three varieties, that the human eye can distinguish between 2 million and 7.5 million colours, that humans choke more easily than any other mammal, and that ­Leonardo’s Mona Lisa has no eyebrows” (3,500 words)


A Uighur History Of China

Michael Dillon | History Today | 19th December 2019

The conflict in Xinjiang between the Uighurs and the Chinese state has intensified in the past two years, but is nothing new. Uighurs have lived in eastern Turkestan since the great migration of the Turkic peoples from the Mongolian steppes in the sixth century. The history of the Uighurs in early modern times is the story of Islamic city states, notably those based in Kashgar and Khotan, ruled by caliphs, who were both temporal rulers and spiritual leaders of Naqshbandi Sufi orders (1,500 words)


Video: Rule Britannia. A cartoon-steampunk vision of how Brexit may play out (1m 20s)

Audio: The Impeachment of President Donald Trump | The Daily. The New York Times reports on how the  Democratic Party has ultimately united in confrontation with the president (36m 01s)

Afterthought:
We live in hope, but I have never noticed anyone hoping to get wiser”
— Anton Chekhov


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