Until about nine months ago, leaving the European Union was not something that sensible British politicians talked about. They hadn’t, really, since the country entered the bloc in 1973, the year that Theresa May sat her O-levels. In the intervening 43 years, as the EEC became the EU; and Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair came and went; and the Channel Tunnel was dug; and the borders spread to the east; and the euro was launched, and then foundered; our relationship with Brussels seemed, more or less, to embody a settled ambivalence towards the European continent that most British people instinctively recognised as their own. Close, but separate. In, but not integrated. Related, but not the same. We did not learn French.
Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian
Darwin Was a Slacker and You Should Be Too
When you examine the lives of history’s most creative figures, you are immediately confronted with a paradox: They organize their lives around their work, but not their days.
Figures as different as Charles Dickens, Henri Poincaré, and Ingmar Bergman, working in disparate fields in different times, all shared a passion for their work, a terrific ambition to succeed, and an almost superhuman capacity to focus. Yet when you look closely at their daily lives, they only spent a few hours a day doing what we would recognize as their most important work. The rest of the time, they were hiking mountains, taking naps, going on walks with friends, or just sitting and thinking. Their creativity and productivity, in other words, were not the result of endless hours of toil. Their towering creative achievements result from modest “working” hours.
How did they manage to be so accomplished? Can a generation raised to believe that 80-hour workweeks are necessary for success learn something from the lives of the people who laid the foundations of chaos theory and topology or wrote Great Expectations?
I think we can. If some of history’s greatest figures didn’t put in immensely long hours, maybe the key to unlocking the secret of their creativity lies in understanding not just how they labored but how they rested, and how the two relate.
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How Ex-Spy Christopher Steele Compiled His Explosive Trump - Russia Dossier
There’s a row of Victorian terraced houses on a side street in London’s Belgravia district, each projecting a dowdy respectability with its stone front steps leading to a pair of alabaster pillars and then a glossy black door. And at 9–11 Grosvenor Gardens there is a small, rectangular brass plate adjacent to the formidable door. Its dark letters discreetly announce: ORBIS BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE, LTD.
By design, the company’s title was not very forthcoming. Orbis, of course, is Latin for “circle” and, by common parlance, “the world.” But “intelligence”—that was more problematic. Just what sort of international business information was the company dealing in? Advertising? Accounting? Management consulting?
For a select well-heeled set scattered across the globe, no further explanation was necessary. Orbis was a player in a burgeoning industry that linked refugees from the worlds of espionage and journalism to the decision-makers who ran the flat-earth multi-national corporations and who also, from time to convenient time, dabbled in politics. In their previous lives, the founding partners of Orbis, trained and nurtured by the Secret Intelligence Service, had been in the shadowy business of finding out secrets in the name of national interest. Now they performed more or less the same mission, only they had transferred their allegiance to the self-interests of the well-paying customers who hired them.
Read the rest of this article at: Vanity Fair
Where Are You Really From
But where are you really from?”
Sigh. This again.
Say what you mean, please: Are you actually asking why I have the accent I do? Is it my skin color that prompted your question? Perhaps you’re wondering where I live, or how I got to where we’re meeting today? Sometimes I’ve already answered your question, but somehow you don’t accept my answer.
As a British citizen with Bangladeshi heritage who’s lived in Germany for the past six years and is currently in the U.S. for a few months, I always struggle to answer the question of where I am from, and it’s getting harder with time. What would you like to hear today? I could say the UK, but I haven’t lived there for years and never lived in London, so I can’t be impressed by mentions of your favorite London hangouts. I could say Germany, but then you’ll assume I’m German with an exceptionally convincing British accent and compliment me on it undeservedly. I could say Bangladesh, but I’ve never lived there for more than three months at a time and it feels artificial to claim that. This, though, seems to be the only answer that will satisfy you. It seems to fit the preconceptions that make you refuse to accept that a brown woman could be “from” anywhere but Asia.
Read the rest of this article at: Real Life
A Fast Life
Joan Juliet Buck explores how her grandmother's one regret came to shape her own history of romantic entanglements, which led to one long-lasting friendship with Leonard Cohen.
In the bar of Badrutt's Palace Hotel in St. Moritz shortly before New Year's Eve 1965, the dazzling British wife of a famous German baron turned to my grandmother and asked her, "If you had your life to live over, what would you do differently?" My grandmother, Nana to me, Esta to others, pulled herself up in her big black dress with the good diamond brooch so as to be a little less short, a little less fat, and rolled her beautiful green eyes to the ceiling the way she had when she was a model. She was nearing 70, seven years the widow of my unreliable grandfather, the only husband she'd ever had. She pursed her lips, and said at last—the suspense had silenced our side of the bar—"I'd have done everything the same, but I'd have been fast."
In the language of her youth, "fast" meant loose. As a fast woman, Nana would have had many lovers instead of years of patience rewarded by the occasional good diamond. I was 16, old enough to feel her longing for missed adventures, young enough to imagine that if I lived the life she craved, I would have no regrets. I'd dance through life with different men, and know love the way poor Nana never had.
My parents had left Hollywood for Paris when I was three, and Paris for London when I was nine; I was slightly French and slightly British. My producer father was far too proud of how well I spoke French, and overwhelmed me with so much love and approval that I felt he owned me. I viewed husbands as dominant fathers, guards who fed and housed you, dressed you according to their taste, and expected you to obey. I didn't want one of those. I wanted a transcendent complicity.
Sons and nephews were introduced, approved boyfriends, careful boys with slicked-back hair, suits, cars; I wanted the boys with hair as long as medieval pages', poetic and androgynous in the mode of early Mick Jagger. My first sexual encounter turned out to be the collision of my hopeful fantasy with the embarrassed fumblings of an 18-year-old boy in a Black Watch tartan shirt, who quickly broke my heart with a hasty retreat. I'd like to say that I brushed it off and went out dancing with heirs, but the rejection was so stinging that I felt myself banished from normal, happy love. I sighed for three straight years, and went into a swoon at any glimpse of Black Watch tartan.
Read the rest of this article at: Harpers Bazaar