I feel sorry for Julian Assange

Imagine getting regular visits from Vivienne Westwood.

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21st century French


Cartoon by Frederick Deligne. Via @claireparisjazz.

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[I]t was a long established rule in Cambridge colleges that wives — especially wives — were banned from High Table. High Table was the preserve of the Fellows who cultivated self-importance with the same exquisite care that lesser mortals might be expected to lavish on a prized stamp collection or a breed of racing pigeons. Their conversation revolved around the finer details of the most abstruse subjects — their own subjects, naturally, about which they could expatiate at length while avoiding the embarrassment of having to discuss subjects about which they knew little or nothing. Mistresses were preferred to dull, silly wives.  Indeed, a Fellow might invite any woman to dine provided she was not his wife.

Jane Hawking, “Travelling to Infinity:  My Life with Stephen.”

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Crime, policing and the African-American “silent majority”

Maybe the issue is more complicated than some commentators like to think…  A brave and thoughtful piece of analysis from Kelefa Sanneh in The New Yorker. Definitely worth reading in full.

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Willie Nelson revisited

I only discovered this video recently. From “Teatro”, my favourite WN album: “I Never Cared For You”, prefaced by a little Django Reinhardt in the form of “Où es-tu mon amour?” And it has Emmy Lou Harris too.

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Sacred city

From my Times review [£] of Jerusalem’s Sacred Music Festival:

Can art trump politics in such a divided city? Last year’s Sacred Music Festival began just days after the end of the Israeli incursion into Gaza, an operation that caused the cancellation of much of Jerusalem’s annual Season of Culture.

This year there was a chance to indulge in vaguely optimistic musings about bringing Jews and Muslims together as Shye Ben Tzur — a charismatic young musician and poet who has long been immersed in the Indian classical tradition — joined forces with Sufi performers from the sub-continent in the Tower of David, the ancient citadel looming over the Old City.

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Western Wall


The view from the ramp leading to Temple Mount. Men and women praying separately.

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Even when the two sides cooperated, it was agonizing: in 1950, the UN mediated the feeding of the one tiger, one lion and two bears of the Biblical Zoo on Israeli-controlled Mount Scopus and officially explained that “Decisions had to be taken whether (a) Israeli money should be used to buy Arab donkeys to feed the Israeli lion or (b) whether an Israeli donkey should pass through Jordan-held territory to be eaten by the lion in question.” Eventually the animals were escorted in a UN convoy through Jordanian territory to west Jerusalem.

Simon Sebag Montefiore, “Jerusalem: The Biography”.

Posted in History, Middle East | Tagged , , ,

The limits of free speech?

 “He thinks we should never flinch at words, but I don’t think he understands their force.” Galen Strawson reviews Mick Hume’s book, “Trigger Warning”.

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VJ Day, 15 August 1945

From Max Hastings’ history of the war in the Pacific, “Nemesis”.


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