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May eternal justice grant me that I tell the truth as audibly and strongly as I feel it in my soul. Once I made the most enormous sacrifice that a human being is capable of making for that which he deems just. Only I can judge it, and I would have a God at my side who is capable of the same judgment: for human beings know nothing of one another. I didn’t succeed; the fates would not have it, they would not accept it; and so it was hurled back to the position to which I was still capable of summoning the power to bring it. . . It can only please the gods once that one destroys oneself out of respect for the holy; on the second occasion it can never be the call of a god! So there will be no second time.
–Rahel Varnhagen von Ense (née Levin), letter to Karl Finck von Finckenstein, Sept. 4, 1799 in: Gesammelte Werke, vol. 8, p. 102 (S.H. transl.)
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Freddie Gray’s relatives arrived for the trial in the afternoon, after the prep-school kids had left. By their dress, they seemed to have just gotten off work in the medical and clerical fields. The family did not appear at ease in the courtroom. They winced and dropped their heads as William Porter and his fellow officer Zachary Novak testified to opening the doors of their police van last April and finding Freddie paralyzed, unresponsive, with mucus pooling at his mouth and nose. Four women and one man mournfully listened as the officers described needing to get gloves before they could touch him.
The first of six Baltimore police officers to be brought before the court for their treatment of Freddie Gray, a black twenty-five-year-old whose death in their custody was the immediate cause of the city’s uprising last spring, William Porter is young, black, and on trial. Here in this courtroom, in this city, in this nation, race and the future seem so intertwined as to be the same thing.
Average speed of Heinz ketchup, from the mouth of an upended bottle, in miles per year:
After studying the fall of 64,000 individual raindrops, scientists found that some small raindrops fall faster than they ought to.
The Playboy mansion in California was bought by the heir to the Twinkie fortune, and a New Mexico man set fire to his apartment to protest his neighbors’ loud lovemaking.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”