Mozart, Appalachia, Germany, George Kennan, Democrats


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Twinkle, Twinkle, Vogel Staar

Elena Passarello | VQR | 28th July 2016

If you whistle a tune often enough to a starling, the starling will sing it back to you — throwing in a few notes and variations of its own. On May 27th 1784 Mozart bought a starling in Vienna, and called it Vogel Staar. The bird lived with him in the same room for three years, the most productive of his life, during which he completed 60 works, including Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. How many of the phrases in Mozart’s most glorious melodies owe at least something to Vogel Staar’s singing? (4,300 words)

The Last Florida Indians Will Now Die

Justin Noble | Oxford American | 28th July 2016

There were 50,000 Apalachee Indians living in Florida when the Spaniards arrived in 1539. Imported diseases and systematic persecution reduced their number to 8,000 by the end of the 17C; of which, all but 200 were barbarously massacred when the British stormed the Florida missions in 1702. A single Apalachee family now survives in Louisiana, led by Chief Gilmer Bennett, who has a bad liver. “Soon enough, of the 50,000 Apalachee farmers and warriors, there at last will be none left” (3,200 words)

The End Of Germany’s Golden Age

Konstantin Richter | Politico | 28th July 2016

The decade beginning with Angela’s Merkel’s election as chancellor in 2005 comes to look like something of a golden age for Germany. The economy was strong; the country was a fun place to live; Germany’s football team won the World Cup. In the past year everything has changed. The economy is slowing. The Far Right is rising. Fear of immigrants and fear of terrorism dominates the public mood. “Something good has ended — or so it feels — and we don’t know what’s next” (1,800 words)

The Long Telegram

George Kennan | US State Department | 22nd February 1946

Original text of the far-sighted diplomatic telegram which shaped American policy through the Cold War. “Russian rulers have invariably sensed that their rule was relatively archaic in form, fragile and artificial in its psychological foundation, unable to stand comparison or contact with political systems of Western countries. For this reason they have always feared what would happen if Russians learned the truth about the world without, or if foreigners learned the truth about the world within” (5,370 words)

A Moment Like This Used To Get A Black Man Killed

Charles Pierce | Esquire | 28th July 2016

Notes on President Barack Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention, endorsing Hillary Clinton: “On stage a young black man embraced an older white woman. If it had occurred in Mississippi within the lifetime of many of the people who were cheering the moment, the young man might have been beaten, burned, hung, thrown into a river with a cotton fan tied to his neck. But it was not those days any longer. The young man was the President of the United States” (2,000 words)

Video of the day: How To Win The Caption Contest

What to expect:

Bob Mankoff, cartoon editor of the New Yorker, explains why you will never win the caption contest (2’38”)

Thought for the day

Charm is the ability to insult people without offending them
Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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