Victorian Values, Refugees, North Korean Films, 1955 Chevrolet

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The Spartan Monarchs

Rupert Davenport-Hines | Guardian | 19th December 2014

Queen Victoria enjoyed sex, modern art, and self-indulgence. What we think of as Victorian values — stuffiness and priggishness — were much more the province of her grandson George V (1910-36) and his son George VI (1936-52). "They were our two Spartan monarchs, duty-bound, sexually repressed, emotionally disciplined, wanting everyone kept in place and convinced that material discomfort improved people’s characters" (1,290 words)

The Worst Refugee Crisis Since World War II

Daniel Trilling | New Republic | 19th December 2014

Conversations with migrants from Africa and the Middle East seeking new lives in Europe. Thousands wait in Calais hoping to reach Britain – where they will be arrested and deported. "All of the people I interviewed for this story made their first journey to Europe in a smuggler boat across the Mediterranean. Our government believes that, had any of them drowned, it would have been a useful deterrent to others" (5,600 words)

Americans In North Korean Films

David Marchese & Paul Fischer | New York | 19th December 2014

North Korea understands well the propaganda value of films. For decades its own film industry has demonised America. It treats foreign films as a serious threat, and rightly so; even the most innocent of them challenges the regime merely by showing how much better people live in other countries. A film such as The Interview, which mocks, deflates, and finally annihilates Kim Jong Un, "just couldn't be allowed" (1,150 words)

GM’s Greatest Hit: The 1955 Chevrolet

Paul Niedermeyer | Curbside Classic | 20th December 2014

The 1955 Chevrolet was the greatest full-size car ever made in America. "Has a car ever exuded more self confidence, optimism, and all-round competence?" Cars would get better in many technical ways, but never again was a car so perfectly suited to its time and place. The Chevrolets of the mid fifties "achieved a pinnacle", as did GM, which was the Apple of its day — the most admired and profitable company in the country (2,370 words)

Video of the day: Ask An Astronomy Brain Parasite

What to expect: Animated explainer. Why do astronauts appear weightless in space? (4'14")

Thought for the day

Start every day with a smile, and get it over with
W.C. Fields

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