The Bluestocking, vol 192

Why do the people of Rutland live to such prodigious ages?

Happy Friday!

This week Boris Johnson gave a speech of such lumpen banality that I was grudgingly impressed. “As I say, we will not be proceeding with a one size fits all template,” he said, giving me terrible flashbacks to being the student rep on our university’s management committee. “We don’t need to look at what has happened in the old East Germany which has now overtaken parts of our country, we can look at our own history,” he also said, bafflingly. Did Oldham get the Stasi without me noticing?

Or try this bit:

Take simple life expectancy – even before Covid hit, it is an outrage that a man in Glasgow or Blackpool has an average of ten years less on this planet than someone growing up in Hart in Hampshire or in Rutland why do the people of Rutland live to such prodigious ages? Who knows – but they do.

I mean, people do know, dude. If they didn’t know about the factors influencing differential life expectancy across Britain, it would be impossible to develop policies to tackle it. If you thought about it for five minutes, you could probably have a crack at guessing.

The man is simply incapable of missing a chance for a cheap gag-line, even if it ruins the thread of his entire argument.

Anyway, the transcriber got their revenge by typing it all up verbatim, with this passive-aggressive note at the top:

Honestly, challenge yourself to read the whole lot, it’s harder not to slide your eyes off it than the elven poetry in Lord of The Rings.


One By One, My Friends Were Sent To The Camps (The Atlantic)

“The government in Kashgar had required all Uyghurs there to hand over any religious items they held. Frightened by the ongoing roundups, most had surrendered to the state any belongings relating to their faith: religious books, prayer rugs, prayer beads, articles of clothing. Some were unwilling to part with their Qurans, but with neighbors and even relatives betraying one another, those who kept them were quickly found out, detained, and harshly punished.

Some time after, a man in his 70s had come across a Quran in his house that he hadn’t been able to find following the confiscation order. He was afraid that if he turned it over now, the officials would ask why he hadn’t relinquished it earlier, accuse him of “incorrect thinking,” and take him away to be punished. So he wrapped the Quran in a plastic bag and threw it in the Tuman River. But the authorities had installed wire mesh under all bridges, and when the mesh was cleaned, the Quran was found and turned over to the police. When officers opened it, they found a copy of the old man’s ID card: In Xinjiang, the elderly have a habit of keeping important documents in frequently read books, so that they are easily found when needed. The police tracked down the old man and detained him on charges of engaging in illegal religious activities. He was sentenced to seven years in prison.”

It is very hard to read this and not feel the similarities with the memoirs of Jews in 1930s Europe. I don’t mean that flippantly; one of the exhibits at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem’s Holocaust museum, tells the story of Jews deciding whether or not to leave Germany, asking themselves, “Will it really get that bad? Bad enough to leave our friends and our jobs and our lives and never see our homeland again?”

It also tells the story of all the countries which rejected their visa applications, or turned them away.

And then the next exhibit is a huge pile of shoes.

Quick Links

  1. How Yulia Navalnya became Russia’s real first lady (Vanity Fair).

  2. ‘More recently, Dr. Lewontin took on the field of evolutionary psychology. “It’s a waste of time,” he said. “It doesn’t count as science to me.” One of the chestnuts of the discipline is the notion that men are innately prone to straying, and will spread their seed with as many nubile young partners as will have them. While recognizing that anecdote isn’t evidence, Dr. Lewontin said, he certainly didn’t follow the E.P. male script. He married his high school sweetheart, Mary Jane Christianson, at age 18, ate lunch with her every day, read poetry with her at night, held hands with her in movie theaters and died just three days after she did.’ (New York Times)

  3. Half of the top 30 finishers at this year’s Western States 100-mile race were women. (New York Times)

  4. Thom Yorke’s very slow version of Creep is less enjoyable than Adam Buxton’s version of Paranoid Android.

  5. “Thank you for all our dinner. Reggie, 6.” Sob.

Bluestocking recommends: Olivia Rodrigo’s album, Sour, which I discovered through TikTok, of course. “Good 4 u” is the big single, but I also love “Traitor”.

See you next time!

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