Fire, Europe, Kokpar, Doors, Pissarro


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Burn Me Like A Forest Fire

Leigh Coward | VQR | 5th July 2017

Powerful short essay comparing forest fires to collapsing marriages. “Just because a forest is built to burn, or needs to burn, it doesn’t mean the process is benign. I think a lot about those forests burning. I wonder if the trees are screaming. I wonder where the birds go. I wonder how on earth anything could ever escape an inferno, never mind find within the wreckage the raw materials of rebuilding. I think about my marriage. I know now that I made my home in a volatile forest” (2,030 words)

Europe’s Future

Fintan O'Toole | Irish Times | 8th July 2017

The European Union needs a new vocation. It began as a safeguard against renewed war, which was the greatest threat to Europe 60 years ago. The greatest threat to Europe now is inequality; the EU should remake itself as a defender of citizens’ economic security. “The union exists because citizens in a globalised economy need a transnational power to protect them from a feral capitalism that would destroy their environment, their social services and their rights as workers” (1,600 words)

A Kingdom For A Horse

Will Boast | VQR | 7th July 2017

Kazakhstan’s greatest sports star is a small Mongolian horse called Lazer, unmatched in the ancient nomadic game known as kokpar (“goat grabbing”), which is like polo with goats. Riders fight to grab the corpse of a headless goat and fling it into the opposing goal. The skills of the horses matter more than those of the riders. “Lazer is like Ronaldinho and Ronaldo in one. He’ll move left then immediately jump back right. He’ll actually fake the other horse out. He knows to do this. Incredible” (5,080 words)

What If Somebody Opens A Door During A Flight?

Patrick Smith | Ask The Pilot | 9th July 2017

Short answer: It can’t happen. Doors open inwards. High cabin pressure forces them shut. “At a typical cruising altitude, up to eight pounds of pressure are pushing against every square inch of interior fuselage. That’s over 1,100 pounds against each square foot of door. So, while I wouldn’t recommend it, unless you enjoy being pummelled and placed in a choke-hold by panicked passengers, a person could sit there all day tugging on a door handle to his or her heart’s content” (509 words)

The Perennial Student

Julian Bell | New York Review Of Books | 10th July 2017

On the art of Camille Pissarro, one of the first French Impressionists, who grew up in the Danish West Indies as the son of Portuguese-Jewish haberdasher and settled in Paris at 25, where he appeared “rather like God” to the 16-year-old Cézanne. He painted France but never felt part of it. His outward calm masked a passion for anarchism and revolution which he directed inward towards his technique, changing direction radically in late career to embrace Seurat’s pointillisme (3,020 words)

Video of the day: Where Do Ideas Come From?

What to expect:

David Lynch, Chuck Close, Robert Krulwich, Tracy Clayton and others on the mysteries of inspiration (5’30”)

Thought for the day

I have learned from my mistakes, and I am sure I can repeat them exactly
Peter Cook

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