Georges Simenon, Hunting, Selma, Fang Lizhi, Sniffers, Saigon


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The Moral World Of Georges Simenon

John Gray | New Statesman | 16th February 2016

The creator of Inspector Maigret wrote 500 books, most of them in less than a fortnight. His characters are "the sum of their impulses and behaviours"; bourgeois life is "a form of confinement from which they struggle to break free". Identifying the criminal is rarely the principal focus of the story. "The question is not why a crime was committed, but how the person who committed the crime departed from a settled routine of living" (2,300 words)

Apprentice And Mentor

Andrew McKean | Outdoor Life | 15th February 2016

In which the author's ten-year-old daughter shoots and guts her first deer. "I stole a glance at Iris. She was playing with her cat, totally distracted from the task at hand. But she was wearing her hunter-orange vest, and still had the streaks of deer blood on her cheeks that I applied after we gutted her buck. She was still a little girl. But she was a hunter. She had taken a giant stride across an ancient and necessary divide" (2,900 words)

Selma: Still A City Of Slaves

Chris Arnade | Guardian | 4th February 2016

"The central street is three short blocks filled with shops catering to tourists. Yet if you walk beyond those blocks you see the ugliness of poverty that is modern Selma: boarded-up homes, empty lots littered with vodka bottles, men clustered on corners selling drugs — a population disenfranchised, economically and politically. It makes Selma, a symbol of past civil rights victories, a symbol of current civil rights failures" (2,600 words)

I Was The Most Wanted Man In China

Fang Lizhi | Literary Hub | 11th February 2016

Scientist explains how he inspired the Tiananmen Square protests by calling for China to free political prisoners. "I wrote the words 'Deng Xiaoping, Party Central, Beijing' on an envelope, put the letter into it, and deposited it in a public mailbox outside the Beijing Observatory. The next day, two guests came to my home, and their visits made it considerably more likely that my letter would get noticed by the addressee" (3,600 words)

Sniffers

Emma Young | Mosaic | 16th February 2016

Charles does screening for TB in Tanzania. It's difficult work, but Charles has a natural gift. His nose. He is a giant pouched rat. "Charles and his rat colleagues sniff cough-and-spit samples. The rats aren’t infallible, but they do detect about 70 per cent of cases, and it doesn’t matter to them if a patient has HIV – which matters a great deal in Tanzania, where about four in every ten people with TB are HIV positive" (5,700 words)

Bitter Memories: The Fall of Saigon, April 1975

Tom Glenn | CIA | 15th February 2016

CIA officer's diary of the days leading up to the fall of Saigon. "I wanted to get all my people out now. But Ambassador Martin refused to consider evacuations. On the one hand, he wished to avoid doing anything that might stampede the South Vietnamese; on the other, he genuinely believed that the prospect of the communist flag flying over Saigon was unthinkable. I was stymied" (PDF) (8,100 words)

Video of the day: How To Go To Space

What to expect: Cartoon. Space travel explained in simple English with help from XKCD (2'50")

Thought for the day

The main business of a lawyer is to take the ambiguity out of everything he touches
Antonin Scalia

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