This week: Trump, the KGB agent? / The Biden-McConnell relationship / Fran Lebowitz Loves Dolly Parton / Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an / Fermat’s Last Theorem
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1. ‘The perfect target’: Russia cultivated Trump as asset for 40 years – ex-KGB spy
By David Smith | The Guardian | January 2021
“Yuri Shvets, posted to Washington by the Soviet Union in the 1980s, compares the former US president to ‘the Cambridge five,’ the British spy ring that passed secrets to Moscow during the second world war and early cold war.”
2. Enemies, a Love Story: Inside the 36-year Biden and McConnell Relationship
By Alex Thompson | Politico Magazine | January 2021
“The two 78-year-old deal-makers have been parties to the collapse of Capitol culture. Now they’ll need to make Washington work again.”
3. The Troubled Task of Defining Southern Literature in 2021
By Ed Tarkington | Algonquin Books :: LitHub | January 2021
“Today, I think, stories set in the South should be recognized not as stories about a particular place and time, but as microcosms of the great crucible in which all Americans now labor in our ongoing struggle over the future of our country’s divided soul.”
4. How Nothingness Became Everything We Wanted
By Kyle Chayka | The New York Times Magazine | January 2021
“Even before the pandemic, American culture was embracing numbness as an antidote for the overload of digital capitalism. But is it a real escape — or another trap?”
5. Everyone, Including Fran Lebowitz, Loves Dolly Parton
By Mitchell Nugent | Thirstory :: Interview | July 1989
“Parton shot down any idea of running for government, saying, ‘If I ever ran in East Tennessee, I’d probably win. I’m just jokin’ but I have been asked to run. But I don’t want to get into that. I don’t get involved in politics. I just have my own views, and I usually don’t tell people my opinions; I keep them to myself.’ ”
6. The Pandemic Has Erased Entire Categories of Friendship
By Amanda Mull | The Atlantic | January 2021
“There’s a reason you miss the people you didn’t even know that well.”
7. If I’ve already had the coronavirus, can I get it again?
Associated Press | January 2021
“It’s possible, but such cases seem to be rare.”
8. The Slavic Vampire
By Christopher Rose, Joan Neuberger and Henry Wiencek | 15 Minute History :: UT Department of History | 2014-2020
Also see: Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an | Who are the Turks? | The American Revolution in Global Context, Part I | The American Revolution in Global Context, Part 2
9. Is Letterboxd Becoming a Blockbuster?
By Calum Marsh | The New York Times | January 2021
“The social media network has finally left the cinephile niche and entered the mainstream.”
10. Lawrence of Arabia
By Melvyn Bragg | In Our Time :: BBC 4 | 2020
Also see: The Anarchy | Paul Dirac | Fermat’s Last Theorem | Hannibal
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