Best of the Moment
Mark Danner | New York Review Of Books | 27th November 2013
As Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld was "smart, brash, ambitious, experienced, skeptical of received wisdom, jealous of civilian control, self-searching, analytical, and domineering". The disastrous Iraq war was his creature. Errol Morris's "brilliant and maddening" film about Rumsfeld, The Unknown Known, tries and fails to pin him down. Rumsfeld maintains his "opacity", and Morris is obliged to "plumb the shallows"
Editorial | The Economist | 28th November 2013
China's declaration of an Air Defence Identification Zone in the East China Sea, encompassing airspace and islands disputed with Japan and Taiwan, is a strong new signal that China does not accept the status quo in the region and wants to change it. It is a standing invitation to conflict; sooner or later it will be used. "Any Chinese leader now has an excuse for going after Japanese planes" (Metered paywall)
Saintsbury | Standpoint | 28th November 2013
Feel better about your drinking habits by comparing them with those of Johnson's biographer, who kept a record of the guests he entertained at his house in Scotland and what they drank. Sample: "On October 13, 1783 there were three men at dinner at Auchinleck, and between them they polished off three bottles of claret, two bottles of port, two bottles of Lisbon, three bottles of Mountain [a Spanish dessert wine] and one bottle of rum"
Garry Kasparov | Time | 25th November 2013
One champion admires another. "Carlsen’s greatest strength is his remarkable intuitive grasp of simplified positions. My own style required tremendous energy and labor at the board, working through deep variations looking for the truth in each position. Carlsen comes from a different world champion lineage, that of Jose Capablanca and Anatoly Karpov — players who sense harmony on the board like virtuoso musicians with perfect pitch"
David Bell | The Guardian | 28th November 2013
Review of Mitterrand, A Study In Ambiguity, by Philip Short. "He would have made a superb Renaissance cardinal, presiding over mass with great pomp before retreating to a sumptuous apartment to engage in a little discreet selling of holy offices, before dinner with his mistress. A modern democracy was the wrong place for his talents. He succeeded in his greatest ambition, to rule France, but accomplished relatively little in the role
Thought for the day:
"Instead of this absurd division into sexes they ought to class people as static and dynamic" — Evelyn Waugh