God, Nests, Africa, Earpiece, Envy

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Is God A Liberal?

Richard Oxenberg | Philpapers | 16th May 2021 | PDF

If God exists, then God is an old-fashioned liberal — because God lets Her subjects choose how to live and what to believe. Many humans throughout history have called for divine rule, but God has never accepted the invitation. "We can assume that if God wishes to rule, God will find a way to do so. The fact that God does not rule can only be taken to signify that God does not choose to" (1,550 words)

Bird Architecture

Etienne Guyonne et al | MIT Press | 26th February 2021

How birds build their nests. Thrushes lay twigs which they cover with moss and mud. Penguins pile up pebbles. Swallows are "expert masons" who "aggregate mudballs". Malay swiftlets use their own hardened saliva to make nests which often end up in bird's nest soup. Cuckoos steal nests from other birds. Ostriches don't need nests at all, because they bury their eggs in the ground (1,100 words)

The Spectre Of Mannetjies Roux

Robina Marks | Africa Is A Country | 14th May 2021

Flying across Africa, an ambassador reflects on the roaming population of white South African men who, despite everything, still benefit from the residue of colonial influence. "They are not a likeable bunch, but then again, they are not trying to be liked. They seem caught in a time warp in this new Africa, where the old rules around race and power no longer work in their favour" (1,502 words)

Audio of the Week: Inner Voice

Episode: "Shipworm" | Podcast: Shipworm | 115m 57s

Experiment with the podcast form that claims to be the "first of its kind feature-length audio movie". The result is a long form audio drama with cinematic sound design that stars Broadway actors. It follows the fortunes of protagonist Wallace, who awakes to find that he has been fitted with an invisible earpiece. This acts as a conduit for a mysterious voice that now controls his life (115m 57s)

Book of the Week: Nothing To Envy

by Barbara Demick | Courtesy of Five Books

A masterwork of narrative nonfiction on life in North Korea, built from the harrowing stories of defectors who lived through famine, brainwashing, and desperate attempts to escape. Of particular interest is the final section, where Demick pulls back the curtain to reflect on the limitations of getting access only through defectors, and to discuss how life in South Korea has affected them (316 pages)

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— Ruth Rendell

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