Poetry, Abortion, Silver, Time, Children

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A Definition Of Fiction And Poetry

Anne Michaels | Hazlitt | 3rd July 2018

“We have an instinctive belief in the power of violence — we don’t need to be repeatedly reminded of that power. But, that a single act of compassion, or simply the refusal to do harm, also has profound power — this is something we seem to need to be reminded of, again and again. Ideals are not for packing away on the high shelf; they must be used. They will be damaged, broken. But that is what an ideal is for — for daily use and daily life” (1,600 words)

One Woman’s Abortion

Mrs X | Atlantic | 1st August 1965

“If five people, of my limited acquaintance, knew five different abortionists in active practice within a few square miles of each other, I find myself wondering if the abortion rate must not parallel the live birth rate in the United States. Four of the five abortionists recommended to me were duly licensed physicians. Is this extraordinary, or are the dark tales about all abortions being performed in filthy surroundings by unskilled practitioners using knitting needles exaggerated?” (2,300 words)

How Silver Changed The World

Adolfo Arranz & Marco Hernandez | South China Morning Post | 27th May 2018

Short history of Spanish trade with China in the 16th century. The Chinese craved silver, which was legal tender in China, and which Spain could supply in abundance from mines in South America. By the end of the 16th century the Spanish mine at Potosi in Bolivia was producing 60% of all the world’s silver. The Spanish silver bought silks, porcelain, diamonds, pearls, ivory and wooden furniture from China. The hubs of the east-west trade, Manila and Mexico City, became fabulously rich (1,960 words)

Programming Time

Zach Holman | 28th May 2018

Notes on handling time in computer programmes. Written for coders, but of wider interest. “February 30 happened at least twice in history. An Earth ‘day’ is different from the time that it takes for the Earth to rotate on its axis once, because the Earth is also rotating around the sun at the same time. The United States government decreed that 12am meant noon, up until 2008, when the United States Government Printing Office reversed their position and swapped to using 12pm as noon” (7,400 words)


Blake Morrison | Granta | 3rd July 2018

Notes from the trial of two ten-year-old boys accused of murdering a two-year-old in Liverpool in 1993. “I look at Jon, and he reminds me a bit of a gerbil. A hamster, anyway: the bright, darting eyes; how, when he’s upset, he beds down and disappears in the lapels of his jacket. Robert is squatter, porkier, more of a guinea pig. An aggressive one at times. Jon flicks him nervous glances, seeking reassurance; Robert ignores them, putting the squirt in his place” (5,900 words)

Video of the day When ISIS Burst Into The Operating Theatre

What to expect:

Vascular surgeon David Nott operates in a Syrian hospital under the eyes of ISIS (2’30”)

Thought for the day

A hero is someone who knows how to hang on just a minute longer

Podcast The Language Of Babies | Hidden Brain

Shankar Vedantam talks to researchers seeking to understand how babies understand and communicate
(30m 27s)

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