D'Annunzio, Bibles, Billie Holiday, China, Korea


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Five Are The Sins

Rebecca Watson | Granta | 23rd July 2018

A visit to the great house overlooking Lake Garda where Gabriele D’Annunzio — “poet, novelist, warmonger, lothario and bloodthirsty rhetoricist” — spent his later years, pensioned off by Mussolini. “It is immense, consisting of numerous villas for himself, his children and his lovers. Each room is muffled and dimmed, anything natural stifled. He meticulously created an environment that he was comfortable in, or, and perhaps this is the same thing, an environment that others were uncomfortable in” (2,252 words)

The Bible Tells Me So

Shawn Crawford | Three Quarks Daily | 30th July 2018

On the place of the Bible in American Baptist life. “For a Baptist, the Bible exists like gravity. Not believing in gravity will not change the outcome if you step off a building; not believing the Bible will not change the consequences if you ignore its precepts and commands. To really understand what it means to be Baptist, you must understand the unique place the Bible holds in every facet of life. The central reality of existence is not God but rather the words he left behind” (2,400 words)

Billie Holiday

Elizabeth Hardwick | New York Review Of Books | 4th March 1976

“Once she came to see us in the Hotel Schuyler, accompanied by someone. We sat there in the neat squalor and there was nothing to do and nothing to say and she did not wish to eat. In the anxious gap, I felt the deepest melancholy in her black eyes, an abyss into which every question had fallen without an answer. She died in misery from the erosions and poisons of her fervent, felonious narcotism. The police were at the hospital bedside. Her whole life had taken place in the dark” (3,100 words)

China’s Twentieth Century

Brad De Long | Grasping Reality | 22nd July 2018

Twelfth-century China led the world in agriculture and industry. Then came 750 years of stagnation and decline. Technological progress halted; the population tripled. “Malthus was having his revenge. China had filled up, with more than 300 million people, which left average farm sizes less than a third of what they had been three-quarters of a millennium before. The average Chinese peasant family in the second half of the nineteenth century had less food than its predecessors in the twelfth” (8,900 words)

Axes Of Evil

Josh Dean | Atavist | 2nd August 2018

How America and North Korea almost went to war in 1976 over the felling of a tree. “The job of cutting down the tree would fall to teams from the Second Engineer Battalion, protected by two platoons of infantrymen, and South Korean special forces. An infantry company would hover in 20 Huey helicopters, with 12 AH-1G Cobra gunships flying alongside. Tank-busting F-4 Phantoms would fly in slightly higher orbit, and strategic bombers would orbit higher still, visible on North Korean radar” (13,100 words)

Video of the day City Of White Nights

What to expect:

Spectacular aerial views of St Petersburg, Russia (2’40”)

Thought for the day

The game is worthwhile so long as we don’t know what the end will be
Michel Foucault

Podcast Annie Duke | Farnam Street

Poker pro Annie Duke talks about decision-making models for high-pressure situations
(1h 55m)

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