Merkel, Trees, Clashes, Music, Games

I Wanted To See The Rockies

Melanie Amann & Florian Gathmann | Spiegel | 6th November

Interview with German chancellor Angela Merkel about life in communist East Germany, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the allure of Bruce Springsteen, and the enduring tensions between eastern and western Germany. “German unification was shaped by both the East and the West, and by Helmut Kohl's political skill. But the revolution was the work of the citizens of the GDR. Not everyone in West Germany at the time was brimming with courage. This is something that could be given more recognition” (2,220 words)


Should Trees Have Rights?

Robert Macfarlane | Guardian | 2nd November 2019

Should objects in nature — such as lakes, rivers, mountains — be assigned legal personhood, and thus legal rights, which can be invoked on their behalf to prevent others exploiting or polluting them? Perhaps. But doing so is likely to cause more problems than it solves. “Is it desirable that the Niger Delta might exist in legal affinity with Shell? If a river may bring an action against a factory for polluting it, may a developer in turn sue that river when flood water damages the housing stock?” (2,700 words)


Clash In The Classroom

Paul Musgrave et al | H-Diplo | 6th November 2019

Samuel Huntington’s Clash Of Civilisations is the “most important contemporary political science thesis in US higher education”, a massively assigned text across all disciplines, rivalling the Communist Manifesto. But most international relations professionals consider Huntington’s thesis to be invalid. The world does not divide usefully into civilisations. “Clash appears in scholarly bibliographies only to be trashed, and yet it is ubiquitous in classrooms. Why do scholars assign a text that they do not believe?” (15,700 words)


Some Cloudily Divine Space

Jeffrey Arlo Brown | Van | 6th November 2019

Author Alan Hollinghurst talks about classical music and its place in his novels. “I tend to imagine people responding to music rather as I do, which I can’t properly describe, except that there is some sort of subliminal, spatial dimension to it, which I write about very, very vaguely, like a landscape, it’s part of something, a sense of apprehended, visible expanse, some cloudily divine sort of space. How do you describe this thing, the incredible importance it has in our lives? I do enjoy trying” (2,700 words)


Doomed To Repeat

Steve Rousseau | Outline | 29th October 2019

The latest World Of Warcraft reboot has users flocking back. What has changed? Well, if you want a game that takes over your life, WoW is now optimised to do just that. “Everything takes a very long time. You spend minutes running from one activity to the next, an hour trying to find four other people to run a dungeon; efficient use of time doesn't exist. To reach level 60, which most activities require, you spend over 200 hours playing. If you treat the game as a full-time job, that will take you a month” (1,450 words)


Video: The Starling-Falcon Dance. Mesmerising views of Peregrine Falcons hunting European Starlings across the skies of Northern California (2m 40s)

Audio: Life As Britain’s First Black TV Reporter | Outlook. Trevor Macdonald talks about his childhood in Trinidad, and the career in broadcast journalism which made him Britain’s first black news anchor (40m 33s)

Afterthought:
“A little alarm now and then keeps life from stagnation”
— Fanny Burney