Children, Addiction, Arson, Fed, Christianity


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Such Small Hands

Josie Mitchell | Granta | 6th November 2017

Gothic-tinged interview with writer Andrés Barba about the love and fear of children. “Traditionally the adult has wanted the child to become an adult as quickly as possible, because deep down the adult is frightened by the child’s gaze. Adult secrets are revealed by the child’s gaze. The period in history with the most idiotic vision of childhood is our own: We demand that the child be the most innocent being possible to prevent ourselves from recognising the child’s true complexity” (1,600 words)

Travels With My Daughter

T.J. Wood | Rumpus | 31st October 2017

Diary. A mother drives her daughter to a methadone clinic each morning, hoping to break the daughter’s heroin addiction. “I don’t want to know if she is still telling lies. I only want to hold on to hope. The hope that we have six weeks left of driving to the clinic before she will swallow the last dose of methadone. The hope that she wants to be clear and free. The hope that by the time she is finished going to the clinic, I will be done with this trial and I’ll be able to sleep again” (3,070 words)

Burning With Suspense

Steven Lubet | New Rambler | 14th August 2017

Elegant and intriguing review of Monica Messe’s American Fire, about the pursuit and capture of a serial arsonist on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. We know who did it, but we don’t know why. “As to Charlie’s motivation, let’s just say that it comes as the sort of surprise that would earn Hitchcock’s approval. It is complex and fascinating, with a dénouement that provides far more than fifteen seconds of engagement, and it even explains why Charlie declined to plead guilty to every single fire” (1,450 words)

Federal Reserve Independence

Mark Thoma | Milken Institute Review | 2nd November 2017

The independence of the Fed rests on two bases: The will of the governors to ignore threats from politicians unhappy with their policies, and the Fed’s ability to operate without appropriations from Congress. Paul Volcker’s success in fighting inflation “cemented the idea that an independent Fed could do what elected officials could not”. So far that orthodoxy has held. But presidential power over appointments means that a determined White House can get the Fed that it wants, eventually (3,900 words)

The Darkening Age

Emily Wilson | New Statesman | 6th November 2017

Christianity moved from the dissident fringes to become the sole authorised religion of the Roman Empire during the 4th century AD. But the idea that there was “widespread persecution of Christians” prior to Justinian’s conversion is mainly “a product of the Church’s marketing and recruitment techniques”. The Romans were more tolerant of Christianity than the Christians were of paganism. “Execution of Christians for religious nonconformity was extremely rare” (1,400 words)

Video of the day How To Read Barcodes

What to expect:

Interesting throughout. A model of explanation. Guaranteed to add value in the supermarket (4’54”)

Thought for the day

Rules are there so that you think before you break them
Terry Pratchett

Podcast of the day Umbrageousness | London Review Of Books

Ferdinand Mount on the British Raj in India, a manner of ruling closer to medieval than to modern times
(36'47")

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