Christopher Hart | Literary Review | 13th December 2013
Review of Daily Rituals: How Great Minds Make Time, Find Inspiration, and Get to Work, by Mason Currey. They key thing seems to be: Get your writing or composing done in the morning — as did Mozart, Beethoven, Balzac and Dickens; Proust, Kafka, Flaubert wrote at night, but all found it heavy going. "There is only one figure here who seems to have worked in the afternoon: James Joyce, while writing Ulysses"
Jonathan Mirsky | New York Review Of Books | 10th December 2013
Review of Endymion Wilkinson's magnificent Chinese History: A New Manual. "It comprises fourteen supremely learned book-length parts, in seventy-six chapters, including entries on language, people, geography, and the environment, on ideas and beliefs, and on technology and science". All enlivened by Wilkinson's passion for minutiae — a history of chopsticks, how to shake hands, how to seat twelve at a banquet
John Lahr | New Yorker | 11th December 2013
Loving tribute to Barry Humphries, in his final appearance as Dame Edna Everage. "Humphries’s retirement marks the end of the vaudeville tradition, whose singing, dancing, and low-comic folderol he almost single-handedly carried into the twenty-first century. Humphries’s endeavor is some kind of heroism, which over the decades has taken audiences to the frontiers of the marvellous"
Amit Majmudar | Kenyon Review | 14th December 2013
Human brains, like human genes, largely overlap with those of other animals. The differences are in developmental emphasis. "Animals are routinely superhuman in one way or another. They outstrip us in this or that perceptual or physical ability. A human with an elephant’s hippocampus would end up like Funes the Memorious in the story by Borges; a human with a dog’s olfactory bulb would become a Vermeer of scent"
Adam Masser | Alley Watch | 13th December 2013
Intended for tech start-ups, but useful to anyone making a legal contract. "A contract has to take into account all possible use scenarios. Just as a coder must anticipate what users will do with a piece of software and make sure that there aren’t dead-ends or overflows, a lawyer has to think hard about anything that could possibly happen in the future. There should be a negotiated, fair, and workable result, no matter what comes up"
Alex Tabarrok & Justin Briggs | Slate | 12th December 2013
Another strong argument for tightening gun controls in America: Fewer guns would mean fewer suicides. The suicide rate runs at triple the homicide rate, though suicides rarely make the headlines. Most suicides are by firearm. People without guns can find other ways to kill themselves, but suicides are often impulsive decisions, and guns require little or no forethought. They are also deadlier
Thought for the day:
"A great man's manias must be respected, because the time required to combat them is too precious to waste" — André Maurois
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