Crime, US Election, Utopia, Coincidence, Jim Harrison

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Dining With Death

Miranda Carter | Guardian | 5th November 2016

On the “body-strewn love affair” between crime-writing and gourmandise. Sherlock Holmes “mixed his own blend of earl grey and lapsang souchong”. Inspector Maigret would “make a detour for skate wings with black butter, mussels in cream and choucroute”. Nero Wolfe had a Swiss chef whose dishes included shad-roe mousse. And let’s not get on to Chianti and fava beans. Is this infatuation with food the reason that poisoning, so common in real-life murder, is so much rarer in fiction? (1,800 words)

America And The Abyss

Andrew Sullivan | New York | 3rd November 2016

Donald Trump is proving stronger than the political and constitutional forces that were expected to contain him. He is degrading historic American values and institutions — and if nothing will stop him even as a candidate, why should anything stop him as a president? “He has violated and eroded the core norms that make liberal democracy possible — because such norms were designed precisely to guard against the kind of tyrannical impulses and pathological narcissism he personifies” (2,600 words)

We Are All Thomas More’s Children

China Miéville | Guardian | 4th November 2016

Thoughts on the 500th anniversary of Thomas More’s Utopia. Miéville is a prickly and costive writer but also a highly intelligent one, so worth the effort. “Utopianism isn’t hope, still less optimism: it is need, and it is desire — for recognition, like all desire, and for the specifics of its reveries and programmes, too, and above all for betterness tout coury. When the cracks in history open wide enough, the impulse may even jimmy them a little wider. We can’t do without Utopia” (1,900 words)

The Pyramid And The Garden

Scott Alexander | Slate Star Codex | 5th November 2016

The speed of light in a vacuum is 299,792,458 meters per second. The coordinates of the Great Pyramid — you can check this on Google Maps — are 29.9792458° N, 31.1342880° E. So the Great Pyramid is “telling” us the speed of light. Is this a message from an ancient or alien civilisation? Probably not, and it’s not necessarily even that much of a coincidence. The reasoning here is a brief parable in probability, with wider implications for science. A fact can be striking without being significant (2,200 words)

Jim Harrison: The Art Of Fiction

Jim Fergus | Paris Review | 1st September 1988

Interview with the late poet and novelist, famed for Legends Of The Fall, about writing, screenwriting, Native Americans, wild animals, Faulkner, Mailer, and drink. “Habit is what destroys art. There’s a longing, a craving to know more than we get to know, sort of a Faustian notion that you want a lot of interesting things to occur before you die; and it strikes you that rather than wait around for them to occur, you’re going to have to arrange most of them” (12,600 words)

Video of the day: People Of Nowhere

What to expect:

A week among Syrian refugees on Lesbos (1’59”)

Thought for the day

The poor object to being governed badly; the rich to being governed at all
G.K. Chesterton

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