Japan, Walter Lippmann, Bin Ladens, Purple, Otto Warmbier


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Long Lines To Magic

Helen Rosner | Afar | 30th July 2018

A food writer goes to Japan and finds that the best places do not take reservations. “There’s a phrase in Japanese for places like this — ‘gyouretsu no dekiru mise’ — ‘restaurants that have very long lines’. The lines are often self-fulfilling prophecies: The wait isn’t part of the cost, as I’d always considered it; to a Japanese person, it’s part of the value. When presented with two vendors selling effectively identical products, the Japanese choose whichever one has the longer line in front of it” (2,250 words)

The Pundit

Alexander Cockburn | Verso | 3rd August 2018

On the role of pundits in general, and Walter Lippmann in particular, in American life. “The Russians have never quite fathomed the complexities of opinion production this side of the Atlantic. They viewed Lippmann as someone equivalent to a minister of information, and were bewildered when the US embassy would tell them that the old sage was speaking for no one but himself, and that his tolerant view of their ‘sphere of influence’ in Eastern Europe was not shared by John Foster Dulles” (2,900 words)

My Son, Osama

Martin Chulov | Guardian | 3rd August 2018

A conversation with Osama bin Laden’s mother, Alia Ghanem, who lives in Jeddah with her second husband and two sons; they remain one of Saudi Arabia’s richest families thanks to Saudi Binladin, their “dynastic construction empire”. Ghanem says Osama was “brainwashed” at university by radicals who wanted his money, and that at least some of his wives and children have been allowed back from Abbottabad: “I speak to his harem most weeks. They live nearby” (3,300 words)

The Disgusting Colour

Kelly Grovier | BBC | 1st August 2018

The colour purple combines the noblest of aspects with the basest of origins. Associated since antiquity with royalty and luxury, purple was first distilled from the anal mucus glands of sea-snails. “It took tens of thousands of desiccated hypobranchial glands, wrenched from the calcified coils of spiny murex sea snails before being dried and boiled, to colour even a single small swatch of fabric, whose fibres, long after staining, retained the stench of the invertebrate’s marine excretions” (1,375 words)

Otto Warmbier, Hostage

Doug Bock Clark | GQ | 23rd July 2018

Retracing the steps of Otto Warmbier, the American student who was arrested while visiting North Korea, sentenced to 15 years’ hard labour for supposedly stealing a propaganda poster, then shipped back to America 18 months later comatose and dying. “Otto’s arms and legs were ‘totally deformed’, according to his parents. His wavy brown locks had been buzzed off. A feeding tube infiltrated his nostrils. It looked like someone had taken a pair of pliers and re-arranged his bottom teeth” (9,870 words)

Video of the day Flower Duet

What to expect:

Sabine Devieilhe and Marianne Crebassa sing the Flower Duet from Delibes’s Lakmé (4’30”)

Thought for the day

I find it easy to admire in trees what depresses me in people
Marge Piercy

Podcast The Lawyer Who Robbed Banks | Outlook

Shon Hopwood, appellate lawyer and Georgetown law professor, recounts his previous career as a bank robber
(20m 50s)

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