Interesting Links

I imagine in the blog that I will be sharing various links to articles, etc., that I find interesting. Perhaps lightly annotated. Rather than overburden your RSS feed or whatnot with too many individual entries (cough, cough Andrew Sullivan, who I would subscribe to if there would be some way to do so without it overwhelming me), I will do this in batches. Herewith, the first batch.

  • Did you know that as recently as 60-some years ago, London would occasionally get blanketed with a smog so thick it became dark as night in the middle of day? I’d never heard of the Great Smog of 1952 until hearing this BBC Witness podcast.1 Listen to the podcast, or just google it and look at the pictures.
  • Interview with J.Z. Smith, via Ellenberg’s blog. What a character. Some good quotes from this. (There’s also a shorter version.)
  • I’d never heard of Julian Jaynes before this (short) article in n+1 by Rachel Aviv. Interesting.
  • An interview with Estonian president Toomas Ilves, about the role of technology in government. Very interesting and impressive. An important point about programming: “Once you learn how to program, it’s not very difficult.”
  • Good article by Ben Birnbaum in TNR on Israel.
  • For once (since back when Woody Allen’s short prose was actually funny) the New Yorker has a funny Shouts and Murmurs. (Sorry, Mom, Andy Borowitz isn’t funny.)  Jesse Eisenberg (yes, that Jesse Eisenberg), Marv Albert is my Therapist. (Eisenberg is kind enough not to allude to certain ironies, given Albert’s past.)
  • This is no longer as timely, but a very interesting article in Der Spiegel about Pope Benedict. (And while we’re on popes, the following video of Pope John Paul I think justifies the existence of the internet.2)

  1. BBC Witness, by the way, is a great podcast. It’s amazing all these tidbits of relatively recent history that you’d think you’d have heard about before but haven’t. For example, another BBC Witness show was about the capture of the USS Pueblo by North Koreans. Why hasn’t an Argo-esque movie been made about this? 
  2. A discerning reader points out that this video is probably a hoax, presumably done by papal impersonator Gene Greytak. I would prefer to be like the child who, upon hearing that Santa Claus doesn’t exist, continues to hold out hope of belief. I’ll point out that the “pope” in this video is batting left-handed. Google News has a picture of Gene Greytak batting right-handed in his papal outfit, under the caption “But the pope’s left-handed”. (This is from the February 8, 1996, Southeast Missourian.) It’s not terribly clear from cursory web-searching whether Pope John Paul was in fact left-handed or not—it could have been a newspaper editor having fun with the caption—but he was wounded in his right arm (and left hand) in an assassination attempt, so it’s plausible that he would have batted left-handed. It’s all very sinister…