Tuesday, October 19

Adversity and what it takes to overcome it | Syria

The millennial history of triumph over adversity is one of the most poignant positives out there.

We have seen it countless times throughout history, and repeatedly during this last year of confinement: charitable heroism, selfless devotion, scientific endeavor. But now imagine not one year but 10 years of adversity, more than 1% of your compatriots dead, about 50% on the run.

And you still care enough to build a library.

That’s Ahmad Muaddamani’s story about creating a secret haven full of books in the city where the Syrian conflict began 10 years ago this week: Darayya. A repository of knowledge in a city full of rubble may seem unlikely. But as Muaddamani said: “Our revolution was destined to build, not destroy.”

Time and time again, books emerge as great comfort in a bewildering world. There is much evidence that we have been reading a lot more in the confinement than in normal times. (What books would you recommend from your own lock reading? Let us know)

A girl reading a library
Have you been reading more during the confinement? Discover the best books of 2021. Photography: Alamy

Now, our digital team has put together a delicious package with the best volumes of 2021. If you are a digital subscriber You can find it in the Editions application, under the icon in the upper left of the screen. If not, you could try a 14-day free trial (!) to see what all the fuss is about. And then once you’ve filled up with the 2021 Books, you can decide whether to keep your new grant or not.

Otherwise, this week we were very happy:

Carbon Neutral Games … (One Minute Sprint)
Why spring is really good for you (12 hours of light)
The New Craze for Growing Your Own Mushrooms (Two Minute Read)
French parkour paragons turn off redundant storefront neon (90 second read, but don’t try this at home)
The funniest start to a game of chess (90 second read, and don’t try this at home either)
The great test of Spain of a week of four days (32 hours, more or less)
And the unusual recital of Yo-Yo Ma (15 minutes of Bach and Schubert)

Yo-Yo Ma plays the cello in the vaccine waiting room in Massachusetts - video
Yo-Yo Ma plays the cello in the vaccine waiting room in Massachusetts – video

How’s that for variety?

Lucky numbers

Sudan became the 50th country support a UN treaty against forced labor.

Solar Power Installed Capacity in the US Will Quadruple This Decade, according to forecasts.

Oh, and the total mass of e-waste that Americans dump is starting to decline.

What we liked

Sometimes the best pieces are written by an outsider, a non-native, someone who can see the most attractive things in his country with a fresh look. I like it this New York Times article on the sudden popularity of a gardening program in the UK.

This is pretty random: the family that refuses to change their clocks for summer time.

Monty Don was in a garden
Monty Don and Gardeners’ World have been a great success during the running of the bulls. Photograph: Jason Ingram / The Guardian

What we hear

Last week we got some great responses to our theory that setbacks can make young people more resilient. Particularly from the young people themselves.

Ethan Scott wrote from the Rocky Mountains in the USA:

Oh yeah. I have no doubt that we will be stronger than generations that grew up in relative prosperity. We are called a lot of millennials, especially by those who do not care about the difference, but we are different. We have grown up in two recessions and a pandemic, and our senior members are only 25 years old! I’d say the future looks promising for Gen Z. Unless they screw it up with this climate change problem.

In Edinburgh, Milli Crouch, who has written an article on the subject, concurred:

I am a 19 year old student and I really liked your article on blocking and building resilience. I definitely agree; Even the moment something goes wrong, compared to the events of last year, it feels like a minor problem. I wrote an article on a topic related to this, on how the confinement has highlighted the fragility of society, but also human resistance.

When we all get out of confinement and return to a normal life, I think we will remember the stress and discontent of these years and think. “Hey, at least it’s not 2020!”

Where was the Upside?

Haim Cohen (left) and Naama Sukenik carry what they believe may be the world's oldest intact basket, over 10,000 years old.
Basket Box – Possibly the oldest intact basket in the world, over 10,000 years old. Photograph: Yaniv Berman / Israel Antiquities Authority / AFP / Getty Images

In a cave deep in the Judean desert, where archaeologists unearthed ancient wisdoms (and the world’s oldest basket) such as: “These are the things you must do: tell the truth to each other, do true and perfect justice in Their doors. “

Thank you for reading. Have a good weekend. Do perfect justice on your doors too.


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