Wednesday marked the 72nd anniversary of the dropping of the bomb on Nagasaki. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki prompted Emperor Hirohito to announce Japan’s surrender in a radio address, though fanatical war hawks tried to stop him. After 1945, Japan developed a pacifist movement and a so-called peace constitution. No country has deployed these fearsome weapons since.
Can it really be a coincidence that the day before this eerie anniversary, Donald Trump issued his implicit threat to unleash an unprecedentedly devastating nuclear attack on North Korea that would apparently eclipse Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
‘North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,’ said the President.
Dwight Eisenhower was right to warn Americans in 1961 of the ‘military industrial complex’, but perhaps it is now the only thing that stands between the US and chaos. The new White House chief of staff, General John F. Kelly, is the third general Donald Trump has appointed to his cabinet. Kelly is already getting a good press for introducing military discipline and order to the Trump White House. His first move was to fire the attention-grabbing billionaire Anthony Scaramucci as head of communications, and he’s said to have told even members of Trump’s family that they must book ‘face time’ with the President through him.
As the floodwaters subsided, the Ark drifted across northern Iraq. Finally, with a crunching jolt, it hit dry land. Its timbers had scraped the peak of a mountain range called Sinjar. Water began to pour in. Fortunately, a black serpent, its coils as thick as an arm, moved to plug the breach. The Ark did not sink. Noah, his family, and all the various animals on board survived to repopulate the earth.
How do they do it? Among writers, the earnest audience member at a literary festival who asks, ‘Do you write by hand or on a computer?’ is a sort of running joke; an occasion for the rolling of eyes. And yet, let’s enter a note in defence of that audience member: how novelists and the authors of literary nonfiction go about their work is interesting. If, as Kingsley Amis argued, most of a writer’s work is the application of the seat of one’s trousers to the seat of the chair, it’s legitimate to ask: what trousers, what chair, sexuality where and when? In my experience the answers are wildly different from writer to writer; an experience borne out by our sampling — 400 words a day, or 15,000? A bath for inspiration, or exercise? Endless redrafting or first thought, best thought?
Sam Leith, literary editor
If you are a writer of my disposition you tend to grasp any opportunity for self--sabotage and distraction.
Your typical Trollope-loving, Brahms-bothering Spectator reader probably won’t be aware that the most recent winner of Big Brother was a girl called Isabelle Warburton, but her victory was a joy to behold — and a lesson to be learned. The unemployed 21-year-old had a tan so orange it made Oompa-Loompas look pale and interesting, and on her first night in the house she was already wisecracking about how she’d caught an STD in Ibiza from a fellow contestant.
Silicon Valley looks like a cross between Milton Keynes and the set of the Stepford Wives. Row after row of ordinary houses and picket fences, clustered in villages notable only for the mega-companies they serve: Menlo Park (Facebook), Cupertino (Apple) or Mountain View (Google). There’s the odd charm, but it’s generally clean, sterile, young, overpriced. Life here, they say, is five years ahead of everywhere else.
Like many artistically inclined children, I was given a set of Daler Rowney watercolours for my birthday one year. My first paints! What delights would I unleash with these cubes of colour? Well, practically none, as it turned out. Unschooled in the art of watercolour and evidently lacking any instinct for the medium, I used them, as undiluted as possible, to colour in my drawings of horses and Dogtanian characters.