James Carroll | New Yorker | 16th December 2013
Notes by a former Catholic priest on the new Pope's first year. When Francis was elected, the New York Times called him “A conventional choice, a theological conservative who vigorously backs Vatican positions on abortion, gay marriage [and] the ordination of women.” How wrong could you get? But the most distinctive feature of the new Pope, to judge from this piece is that he has made his Church happier
Michael Ignatieff | The New Republic | 14th December 2013
Most Jews living in occupied Denmark escaped the Nazi Holocaust, because Danish officials refused to implement anti-Semitic laws. When Eichmann demanded mass deportations from Copenhagen in 1943, local Nazis gave Danish Jews advance warning. Was this something specific to Denmark? Or could other European countries — France, Holland — have protected Jews similarly, if they had wanted to?
Robert Krulwich | NPR | 9th December 2013
According to Jared Diamond, a group of Polynesians arrived on Easter Island around 1200, thrived for a while, but their slash-and-burn agriculture deforested the island so completely that by 1700 their society had collapsed. Anthropologists from Hawaii dispute this theory. They say Easter Island was deforested by rats that arrived in the Polynesians' canoes. The Polynesians survived pretty well by eating the rats
Boris Kachka | New York | 8th December 2013
Profile of Rachel Kushner, author of The Flamethrowers. "Auburn-haired, 45, and vaguely resembling Patti Smith, Kushner thinks, talks, and even writes like a visual artist: performative statements of purpose in place of irony or self-deprecation. She can seem impossibly sophisticated and then incongruously naïve, like an excited conversationalist occasionally trapped at a cruising altitude of lofty ideas"
Alex Ross | The Rest Is Noise | 22nd July 2013
Dual profile of Ira Aldridge, African-American who rose to fame in Europe as one of the great Shakespearean actors of the 19C; and his daughter Luranah, opera singer, born in London to a Swedish mother. Ira saw off sneering prejudice in England, "mesmerized kings and emperors", and was acclaimed as a genius in Germany. Luranah won over Cosima Wagner and almost sang at Bayreuth (Newly ungated)
Thought for the day:
"All models are wrong, but some are useful" — George Box
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