Best of the Moment
Tom Standage | 21st June 2013
How ancient Roman writers promoted their books. With a well-placed dedication, mainly. "It was crucial to choose the right person to dedicate the book to. The ideal candidate would be famous, influential and somewhat vain, so that he would be sure to mention the book to his friends, thus ensuring that people heard about it. He would also have an impressive library with plenty of traffic from visiting scholars and philosophers"
Robert Lane Greene | The Economist | 21st June 2013
Is Arabic one language or many? "A rural Moroccan and a rural Iraqi cannot have a conversation and reliably understand each other. An urban Algerian and an urban Jordanian would struggle to speak to each other, but would usually find ways to cope, with a heavy dose of formal standard Arabic used to smooth out misunderstandings. They will sometimes use well-known dialects, especially Egyptian, to fill in gaps"
Justin Fox | Harvard Business Review | 21st June 2013
Are Supreme Court justices "just a peculiar sort of legislators" with really long terms? It's a reasonable way of thinking of them; and one with a long history among legal scholars. The big shift towards a more politicised Court came in the late 19C when the judges went from relying on the Constitution as the ultimate authority to citing "natural law", which gave them a lot more leeway to make, or ratify, their own laws
Amy Nelson | Slate | 21st June 2013
Profile of Holly Maniatty, sign-language interpreter for rock and rap concerts. Translates hip-hop in real time. "Her prep work includes researching dialectal signs to ensure accuracy and authenticity. An Atlanta rapper will use different slang than a Queens one, and ASL speakers from different regions also use different signs, so knowing how a word like guns and brother are signed in a given region is crucial for authenticity"
Kathryn Heyman | Occasional Blog | 19th June 2013
A subscriber protests at gender-imbalance in the London Review of Books: "As you have raised the question, let me assure you that I have not forgotten to renew. Indeed, I would dearly love to renew my subscription, however, based on the tedious regularity with which you ignore female writers and female reviewers, I have to assume that my lady-money is quite simply not welcome in the man-cave of LRB"
Ksenia Leonova | Open Democracy | 21st June 2013
Probably NSFW. From the same "Queer Russia" series as Brokeback In Belarus (http://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/alyona-soiko/brokeback-in-belarus) . And every bit as remarkable. A gay waiter in Gudermes tells all. "In the Chechen coterie there are few versatile men; lots of active guys, but they never let anyone fk them in the ass. These are dzhigit (macho) matters. If you fk someone in the ass, but don’t let anyone do it to you, then you’re still a dzhigit; and not a faggot"
Thought for the day:
"One must be very naïve or dishonest to imagine that men choose their beliefs independently of their situation"— Claude Lévi-Strauss