Trump, Ankles, Sofia, Rabbits, Feet

Ignorant And Unfit

David Rothkopf | New York Review Of Books | 3rd July 2020

The worst head of state in American history was King George III, but by now Donald Trump has a strong claim to be ranked as the worst president. His main rivals for that distinction would be James Buchanan, Andrew Johnson, Franklin Pierce, Warren G. Harding, John Tyler, William Henry Harrison, Millard Fillmore, Herbert Hoover, Chester Arthur, Martin Van Buren, and George W. Bush. “The only saving grace for Trump in the history books is that no one could accuse him of causing the Civil War” (2,200 words)

How To Topple A Statue

James Stout | Popular Mechanics | 15th June 2020

For information only. Do not attempt this at or near home. Statues are typically cast in bronze less than a quarter-inch thick; a life-size bronze figure will weigh around 1.5 tons; a few dozen protestors should be able to pull it down with ropes. But why break a sweat? Just pack thermite — a mixture of rust and aluminum powder — around the ankles of your chosen statue, and fire the thermite with magnesium. Thermite burns half as hot as the sun. The ankles will melt, and the statue will fall (1,020 words)

Negative Monuments

Dimiter Kenarov | The Point | 1st July 2020

The architectural history of Sofia is largely a history of destruction. Nineteenth-century nationalists razed the Ottoman city; twentieth-century communists razed the “bourgeois” city. The communists’ most visible contribution to the downtown landscape was a vast mausoleum for Bulgaria’s post-war dictator, Georgi Dimitrov; so, when communism collapsed, it was only a matter of time before Dimitrov’s mausoleum was made to collapse too — no easy task, since it was built to withstand a nuclear explosion (4,100 words)

The Rabbit Outbreak

Susan Orlean | New Yorker | 29th June 2020

While humans shelter from Covid-19, the world’s rabbits are being ravaged by a virus of their own, RHDV2. Discomforting parallels abound in the handling of these human and leporine pandemics. Europe has developed vaccines against RHDV2, but America has been resisting their importation, preferring to wait for an American-made product; meanwhile, anti-pet-vaxxers contend that RHDV2 vaccine actually causes the disease, as part of a “global plot to rid the world of rabbits” [Metered paywall] (5,119 words)

The Length Of A Foot

Leslie Nemo | Scientific American | 1st June 2020

American exceptionalism, geodetic edition. Most US engineering projects use the “international foot”, defined in 1959 as exactly 0.3048 of a meter. But in 40 states, land surveyors use the “US survey foot”, which is 1200/3937 of a meter — or, to twelve decimal places, 0.304800609601 of a meter; dividing one by the other yields a ratio of 0.999998. The tiny differences add up. “Anyone working in multiple US locations or with different agencies must keep careful track of which foot is in use” (490 words)

Video: Report About Death | Aniseed. Korean-made animation, childlike and charmingly sub-titled, explaining the biology and bureaucracy of dying (5m 53s)

Audio: Huey Lewis | Broken Record. Bruce Headlam talks to Huey Lewis about The Power Of Love, and other highlights from Lewis’s fifty-year career (1h 3m 05s)

“Nothing that is not first can be simple”
— Plotinus

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