Best of the Moment
David Runciman | New Statesman | 15th August 2013
Review of new books on Kennedy by Jeffrey Sachs and Thurston Clarke. "The luckiest president of the past century has been Lyndon Johnson, the subject of a monumental, multivolume labour of love by the pre-eminent political biographer Robert Caro that has redeemed the ex-president’s reputation. As LBJ’s stock has risen, that of his predecessor has fallen. John F. Kennedy has become the man who merely talked"
Hendrik Herzberg | New Yorker | 14th August 2013
Magical memoir. "Back when a brand was something seared on a steer’s rump with a red-hot iron, Newsweek was what Joe Biden would call a big fuckin’ deal. It certainly was in the late spring of 1966, when I joined it as a cub reporter in San Francisco. Believe it or not, Newsweek had a San Francisco bureau — not just a stringer working out of his apartment but a real bureau, a four-man, full-time bureau in a comfortable, well-equipped office"
Julia Ioffe | New Republic | 14th August 2013
Just what the headline says. True tales of being gay and coming out. Lessons drawn: you're pretty much sure to lose your job in any large organisation if you come out; new laws against "gay propaganda" have led to a "savage" hardening of public opinion; at best, you may find your family responds well; at worst, you may get killed. Linguistic footnote: "Kaming aut has become Moscow slang for any moment of honesty"
Fuchsia Dunlop | 14th August 2013
One way China measures waves of internal migration is by tracking local sales of zhacai, or "pressed vegetable", an everyday essential. "Consumption of zhacai is pretty much constant among the urban population – so if statisticians notice a sudden rise in zhacai sales in a particular city, this implies that a lot more people are now living there"
Issandr El Amrani | Arabist | 14th August 2013
The massacre in Egypt is puzzling as well as horrible. Why now? How could so many supporters of the coup against Morsi have misread the army so badly? The dismaying answer may well be that the army has decided to drive up the level of violence in order to provoke reprisals and so create a climate in which the Muslim Brotherhood can be demonised and crushed. Escalating violence is the desired goal
Thought for the day:
"Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, and adding the meaningful" — John Maeda