Whales, Cloning, Hearts, Jean Harris, Ageing

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What Is It Like To Be A Whale?

J.B. MacKinnon | Atlantic | 31st July 2018

On the suffering of right whales, so called because the value of their blubber and baleen made them the “right’ whale to hunt. Most countries now limit whale hunting; but a whale entangled in a fishing net dies as slowly and as painfully as a whale harpooned; the noise and rubbish filling the oceans makes a whale’s life scarcely bearable. “This year, for the first time since reliable record-keeping began nearly 30 years ago, no calves at all were born in the right-whale population” (4,470 words)

The Business Of Dog Cloning

David Ewing Duncan | Vanity Fair | 7th August 2018

A Korean surgeon who once claimed falsely to have cloned a human now has a thriving business cloning deceased dogs at $100,000 a pup. Customers include Barbara Streisand and Barry Diller. “It starts with an egg from a donor dog. Scientists poke a micro-hole in the egg and remove the nucleus, where the DNA is housed. They replace the nucleus with a cell from the dog that is being cloned. The hybrid egg is blasted with a short burst of electricity to fuse the cells and begin cell division” (4,300 words)

Open Hearts

Susan Baer | Washingtonian | 8th August 2018

A girl and a boy meet, fall in love, and get married. What’s unusual in this case is that they met in a Washington hospital where they were having heart transplants on the same day. Taylor Givens was 18, Collin Kobelja 22. “They exchanged numbers, started texting each other, and made plans to get together outside the hospital. At a Chinese restaurant in Annandale five days later, they laughed when they both stopped to take their transplant medication — the same one — at the same time” (5,200 words)

The Strange Case Of Jean Harris

Gina Wohlsdorf | Crimereads | 7th August 2018

Revisiting the sensational murder trial of Jean Harris, lover and killer of Herman Tarnower. “Harris was in a seriously embattled position at work, she was addicted to prescription meth, and her boyfriend of a decade and a half was dumping her for a twinkie he had on the side. If she’d just outlined all that for the jury (the humiliation, the stress, the drugs) and followed it by saying, ‘Then I lost it and shot him’, she’d have been a free woman in a couple of years. Here’s what she said instead” (2,400 words)

Learning To Write Less

Donald Hall | Paris Review | 8th August 2018

In one of his last pieces of writing, the poet Donald Hall, who died recently at the age of eighty-nine, reflects on growing old. “I rise scratchy at six, or twitch in bed until seven. I try to write all morning, but exhaustion shuts me down by ten o’clock. I dictate a letter. I nap. I rise to a lunch of crackers and peanut butter. Striving to pay the mortgage in the late 1970s and ’80s, some years I published four books. Now it takes me a month to finish seven hundred words. Here they are” (700 words)

Video of the day The Poetry Of Danger

What to expect:

The poet Kondwani Fidel talks about life and death in Baltimore, America’s most dangerous city (12’19”)

Thought for the day

We must be ignorant of what we are looking for, or we would not go looking for it
Maurice Merleau-Ponty

Podcast Bjorn From ABBA | The Economist

Bjorn Ulvaeus talks about ABBA’s return to the recording studio after a 35-year hiatus

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