Cane Toads, Catastrophes, Julian Barnes, Despair, Britain

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Frogpocalypse Now

Ian Frazier | Outside | 23rd March 2017

Cane toads weigh up to six pounds. They pack enough poison to kill a dog. They eat almost anything, including their own young. And they are taking over South Florida. “Step out of your house in the morning and cane toads are squatting on the front walk. They are in the garage in the coils of the garden hose. They are in your window wells and by the hot tub on the patio. They sit and look at you as if you owe them money. A creepy shiver excites your shoulder blades” (5,900 words)

Violence, The Great Leveller

Walter Scheidel | Atlantic | 21st February 2017

Effective remedies for inequality have generally proved worse than inequality itself. “Throughout history, only massive, violent shocks that up-end the established order have flattened disparities in income and wealth. They appear in four different guises: mass-mobilisation warfare, violent and transformative revolutions, state collapse, and catastrophic epidemics. Hundreds of millions perish, and by the time these crises pass, the gap between rich and poor has shrunk” (1,200 words)

A Marvellous Moment

Julian Barnes | New York Review Of Books | 27th March 2017

How painters influence writers, and writers influence painters, with particular reference to Balzac and Delacroix, Zola and Manet. The painters hold the artistic high ground. “Of all the arts, writers most envy music, for being both abstract and immediate, and also in no need of translation. But painting might come a close second, for the way that the expression and the means of expression are coterminous … You could say, perhaps, that writers look, whereas painters see” (4,060 words)

The Economics Of Despair

Pia Malaney | INET | 27th March 2017

Rising mortality rates and worsening public health in America echo ominously similar declines in the last years of the Soviet Union, when the sickness of individuals embodied the sickness of the country. America’s new deaths are likewise “deaths of despair” from suicide, drug and alcohol poisoning, and chronic liver diseases and cirrhosis, typically associated with poverty and family breakdown. “The stress accompanying the shock of downward mobility is likely driving this health crisis” (1,050 words)

Jonathan Portes: Books On Brexit

Sophie Roell | Five Books | 27th March 2017

Expert discussion of claims made about Brexit, and about the condition of Britain, as represented in books and articles by Daniel Hannan, Ali Smith, Dominic Cummings, Diane Coyle, Kevin O’Rourke, Richard Baldwin and others. “It clearly is the case that there is a much larger political constituency in this country against deep political integration and for detachment than there is in any other member state in the EU. That’s absolutely right and we wouldn’t be here if there wasn’t” (6,015 words)

Video of the day: Valenstein & Fatt

What to expect:

Grey London explains why it is renaming itself after its Jewish founders to promote diversity (2’43”)

Thought for the day

Stupidity is the same as evil if you judge by the results
Margaret Atwood

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