Jury Duty, Somme, Civil Defence, H.G. Wells, Julius Caesar, J.D. Salinger


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Drinking While Jurying

Ken Armstrong | Marshall Project | 16th April 2017

“Gray was convicted of second-degree murder after eight days of deliberations. Over those eight days, the jurors had four five-gallon kegs of beer delivered to their room. They drank 17 of those gallons, in addition to two demijohns of wine. On top of that they passed around a flask during recess and drank wine and whiskey with their meals, including breakfast. All this they did without the knowledge or permission of the trial judge, with the jurors paying for all the booze themselves” (1,400 words)

Into The Breach

Michael Peterson | Strategy Bridge | 17th April 2017

Discussion of Hugh Sebag-Montefiore’s book, Somme: Into The Breach, about the defining battle of the First World War. “The British failed to cut the wire, suppress the defenders or silence the enemy’s artillery. The Germans, who had weeks of obvious signs about the coming offensive, were ready and waiting to shatter the slow moving assault waves with machine gun and artillery fire, The Somme was essentially an extended artillery battle, grinding up infantry formations as they advanced” (2,600 words)

Surviving The End Of The World

Marc Ambinder | Foreign Policy | 14th April 2017

How America planned in the 1970s for the aftermath of nuclear war. First up: Chain of command. “If the Speaker of the House found himself the only surviving successor, he would acquire control of the government and its nuclear arsenal by offering the Pentagon a vocal verification of his identity using the term FLAG DAY. The president pro tempore of the Senate, next in line, was FOUR FINGER. The Secretary of State would authenticate his identity by calling himself FADE AWAY” (3,200 words)

War Of The Worlds

Adam Roberts | Wells At Worlds End | 17th April 2017

Adam Roberts reads and re-reads the works of H.G. Wells in preparation for writing Wells’s biography. “A giant metal cylinder crash-lands near Woking. Out of it emerge tentacled Martians to make war upon humanity from towering mechanical tripods before eventually succumbing to Earthly bacteria against which they have no natural defence. The War of the Worlds has had a greater influence on 20C science fiction than any other Wells title, and possibly any novel save Frankenstein” (5,100 words)

The Murder Of Julius Caesar

Mary Beard | New Statesman | 17th April 2017

Julius Caesar was a classic populist who combined aspirations to dictatorship with a gift for rhetoric. His assassins claimed that they wanted to reverse the rise of one-man rule in Rome by killing the tyranny as well as the tyrant. But statecraft is a complicated business; things rarely work out the way you expect. The result of Caesar’s death was a decade of civil war followed by dictatorship on a permanent basis with the installation of Caesar’s nephew Augustus as Rome’s first emperor (2,900 words)

Salinger’s Nightmare

Bill Barich | Paris Review | 13th April 2017

Slight but charming story of an eccentric actor who doorsteps J.D. Salinger seeking permission to film Catcher In The Rye. “Bill Mahan had no credits as a producer or a director, and very little money, so he proposed to shoot the film ‘art-house’ style, without changing a word of dialogue. Salinger would, of course, have to grant him the rights for free. In hopes of sealing the deal, Mahan wrote that he would arrive in Cornish on December 13, whether he’d heard from Salinger or not” (2,500 words)

Video of the day: The Bigger Picture

What to expect:

PG-13. The story of two brothers who care for an elderly mother. Animated in the style of an oil-painting

Thought for the day

Give your audience what they want, but not the way they expect
Robert McKee

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