What to do when it's cold outside
On Fridays I suggest worthwhile weekend reading that’s guaranteed to improve your posture, your online dating prospects, and make you an all around better person. Probably, you’ll lose five pounds.
But first, the weekly photo challenge. See if you can guess what city this is. Two photos here from this country’s second city. No prizes, but see what you think.
Choose wisely. Answer at the bottom.
Common Sense and Whiskey subscriptions start at the entirely reasonable price of free. Get yourself a subscription. It only takes a second. Thank you.
Did you ever get up, get your coffee, mean to look at all the online papers, but get stuck in some random, unimportant online corner until past time you had to go? Sure you did. There are way more things to read this morning than anyone has the time to.
There’s all sorts of fun stuff. Okay, stop it about that huge world-destabilizing glacier that’s about to raise sea level by two feet. Stop it for this weekend at least. This column at least. The levee didn’t break yet. So far.
But sit up straight. The Munich Security Conference, lower profile but way more get-things-done than Davos, will help set the West’s agenda for the coming summer, and it’s on right now, today, this weekend.
There’s G7s and G20s and NATO summits and all but the list of attendees in Munich goes on for eight tiny-spaced pages.
Year after year, if you’re damned well determined to, you may find yourself able to tease out a live stream of this or that @MSC2023 forum. The MSC has among the world’s least useful websites. So maybe, ground yourself in their yearly report. This year, it’s called Re:Vision.
We’ll do more serious stuff tomorrow when we look at the week in review, but for now, here’s some carefully chosen, fun indoor reads.
• Mtn climbing in Greenland, off to a rough start:
Siggi finally contacted the local authorities and said he would find a way through if it took him two weeks. Five days went by, then we got an update: Siggi's boat was taking on water and a rescue had been called in.
• “Guessing C For Every Answer Is Now Enough To Pass The New York State Algebra Exam”
• How It Feels To Chase a Tornado Across Three States
A moment later, the front door clacked open. The man and his wife, each carrying a small child, dashed toward the dirt pile in the front yard. He reached behind it and grabbed something—a door. They were heading into their storm cellar. I was alone; no cars passed by, and the breeze was still. Yet the wall cloud churned closer, producing occasional funnel clouds.
• The Crows of Karachi: When carrion birds rule, they forecast a coming end
It was a stiflingly hot summer, the viselike grip of heat so intense that you felt suffocated as the temperature rose to a record-breaking forty-eight degrees Celsius. The hottest temperature in the world that year—a fiery fifty-five degrees Celsius—was recorded only a few hundred miles inland from Karachi, ready to singe everything alive. … On YouTube, a video circulated of a crow that had figured out how to operate a tap for a drink of water. Such was the water scarcity in the city that the real miracle of the video was not the crow’s adeptness, but that it had found a tap with flowing water.
• Death of the Nile An in-depth look at how the lifeblood of Egypt is running dry.
While we’re dealing in doom.
• How to escape despotism: The Underground Railroad of North Korea.
• Alexander Litvinenko: the man who solved his own murder.
(On a trip to London before the pandemic we looked up the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair, enjoyed a drink and worked out which booth by the window it was where Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned. Luke Harding writes, Litvinenko lived long enough to tell British police how and by whom he was killed. But by then, the killers were safely back in Moscow. Incidentally, it looks like the Millennium has gotten a new look, now as The Biltmore, Mayfair.)
• And finally, in the aesthetics department: How to Arrange Your Kitchen: According to Julia Child.
Before we go, I’ll bet you need a new book list. Who doesn’t? You know how objects in the mirror are closer than they appear? In the same way we are perilously close to presidential election season, and this year will be another test of whether we can handle it, or turn it all over to the thugs.
So before we descend into election hell for the scant 627 days until the next presidential election, I present the Demagogues Book Club reading list, spring, 2023.
The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis
All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
and then there are their drier non-fiction honest to goodness cousins,
Voices of Protest, Huey Long, Father Coughlin & the Great Depression by Alan Brinkley
Weapons of Mass Delusion by Robert Draper
How Democracies Die by Levitsky & Ziblatt
How Civil Wars Begin by Barbara F. Walter
America for Americans by Erika Lee
Corruptible by Brian Klass
And have a nice day.
And this week’s photo quiz answer is: Melbourne, Australia’s second city. Here’s an HDR of the iconic Flinders Street railway station.
There are many more photos from all over Australia in the Australia Gallery at EarthPhotos.com.
See you tomorrow for a look back at the week to see if we can figure out what just happened. The war, Moldova, Turkey, Oceania, more. Please ask a smart person you know to join you, and please subscribe.