How To Run, Divided Berlin, Rembrandt, Lonely Hearts, Catholic Family Values, Russia & Ukraine

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Nobody Knows What Running Looks Like

Rose Eveleth | Atlantic | 8th October 2014

Picture a person running. You’re probably picturing them wrong. You aren't alone. "It turns out that artists have been drawing people running incorrectly for thousands of years. From Greek vases to drawing handbooks to modern sculptures, even our very best artists can’t seem to get the pose right". A runner swings opposite arms and legs together. Why do artists show right arm and right leg moving together? (1,220 words)

The Berlin Wall’s Great Human Experiment

Leon Neyfakh | Boston Globe | 12th October 2014 | Metered paywall

"If you were a researcher trying to determine how a political system affects people’s values, beliefs, and behavior, you would take two identical populations, separate them for a generation or two, and subject them each to two totally different kinds of government." That's the way Germany was until reunification in 1989, and we can measure the results. It takes 20-40 years for a new ideology to wash away the old (2,180 words)

How To Identify A Real Rembrandt

Bendor Grosvenor | Financial Times | 10th October 2014

The Dutch scholars of the Rembrandt Research Project went much too far in declaring most of the world's 600 supposed Rembrandts to be the work of followers or fakers. Their rulings are being reversed. The corpus of accepted Rembrandts has risen back to 340 from a low of 250, and will rise further. Art historians are coming to see that Rembrandt was not only a great artist but also a "supremely variable" one (1,500 words)

A Brief History Of The Personal

Bijan Stephen | Hazlitt | 9th October 2014

The personal advertisement, that is. The Lonely Hearts column. These public appeals for love have "remained largely unchanged since their beginnings" in British newspapers of the 1690s. Any data about their success rate is necessarily anecdotal, which is part of their charm. "You can’t post a personal ad without feeling an element of wistfulness, of near-infinite possibility, a sense of throwing caution to the wind" (1,340 words)

Bombshell At The Vatican

Alexander Stille | New Yorker | 13th October 2014

Pope Francis convenes a Synod On The Family which looks set to liberalise Roman Catholic teaching on marriage, contraception and homosexuality. The main vehicle for change is a principle called "gradualism", holding that "certain behaviours, although contrary to doctrine, can nonetheless lead people on the right path". Catholics with "imperfect lives" can take "one step at a time" in the "search for holiness" (1,635 words)

Ukraine And The Art Of Limited War

Lawrence Freedman | War On The Rocks | 8th October 2014

Expert analysis of the past six months' "limited warfare" in eastern Ukraine. Russia dominated at first by "conveying a readiness to escalate". But as Russia's limitations became all too apparent, the situation moved towards stalemate. The separatists will not allow re-integration of the seized territories into Ukraine, while Russia cannot afford to annex them. Russia has "achieved limited gains but at high cost" (5,760 words)

Video of the day: Le Retour

What to expect: Ridiculously sentimental, completely irresistible one-minute animation about coming home

Thought for the day

Without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist
Stephen Hawking (

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