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Follow the Science

James Butler

Tory politicians have been keen to emphasise that their policy has strictly followed the science, rather than being dictated by any other concern; one of the justifications for the extraordinary powers granted by the Coronavirus Act was that they would be used only if they became genuinely medically and scientifically necessary. Both the constructive disagreement intrinsic to science and the adversarial scrutiny necessary to politics disappear in this invocation of science as the ultimate authority – this trick will become familiar in the coming months. An extraordinary emergency requires extraordinary powers; no one disagrees with that. But it is politics, not science, which grants these powers legitimacy. How long will they endure? The law provides a mechanism for six-monthly renewal, though it is unclear how effective a means of restraint or scrutiny that is. Few believe Johnson is an Anglo-Orbán, eager to use the crisis to institute rule through decree; but it would be unwise to trust to his ‘natural’ libertarian disposition.

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How to set up an ICU

Lana Spawls

You need a good electrical supply with lots of sockets for all this equipment; even the bed needs to be plugged in so you can nurse patients in different positions. There are other logistics to consider. Secure and well-stocked drug rooms are required; a huge range of drugs is used in the most complex cases, including those critical to maintaining blood pressure, in addition to more common drugs such as antibiotics (for those with a bacterial infection on top of Covid-19), sedation, pain relief and fluids. The facility will also need to be able to run blood tests; other blood tests will have to go to a lab and doctors will want results within an hour. There needs to be a portable X-ray machine to assess the lungs and check whether ET tubes and lines are in the correct position. And so radiographers have to be on hand to perform the X-rays, as well as porters to fetch and carry blood samples, and technicians to run the lab. It has to be possible to support any other organs that are failing; in the case of the heart this might mean medication such as inotropes and if the kidneys are failing a dialysis machine. Providing all of this in an entertainment venue is a big ask.

 

Revism

Joe Dunthorne

In​ 1963, the novelist Gerard Reve became the first openly gay public figure in the Netherlands. By the end of the decade, it was known that he lived with two friends in an open relationship and had a fetish that he called ‘Revism’ (it involved seducing a younger man in order to offer him to an older one for love and torture). During the same period, when many of his generation...

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Caroline Gordon v. Flannery O’Connor

Rupert Thomson

Accordingto one of her cousins, Mary Flannery O’Connor was ‘a very peculiar child’. When she was six, she drew countless pictures of chickens. To discourage classmates from sharing her lunch, she would sometimes take castor oil sandwiches to school. Her own recollection of herself is characteristically acerbic: ‘a pigeon-toed only child with a receding chin and a...

From the archive

States don’t really mind their citizens dying (provided they don’t all do it at once): they just don’t like anyone else to kill them

Malcolm Bull

The Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben does not want his fingerprints taken and, unlike like most European critics of the evil empire, he has been willing to forego an academic visit to the United States in order to prevent it happening. What is at stake, he explains, is the ‘new “normal” bio-political relationship between citizens and the state’. Fingerprinting makes...

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Collection

Diverted Traffic

A newsletter and online collection from the LRB, featuring one piece from our archive per day, chosen for its compulsive, immersive and escapist qualities, and also for its total lack of references to plague, pandemics or quarantine.

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The House of York

John Guy

Onefreezing february morning in 1461, a tall, charismatic, supremely intelligent, gimlet-eyed teenager with a fine mop of fair hair won a battle near a muddy crossroads in Herefordshire. At the outset of this fiercely fought encounter – later named the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross – an optical illusion made by the refraction of sunlight on ice crystals in the atmosphere,...

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Short Cuts

‘Parallel Lives’

Tom Crewe

‘Im astonished​ by it,’ Phyllis Rose said in a recent interview about Parallel Lives, her study of five Victorian marriages, first published in 1983 and now reissued (Daunt, £10.99). ‘It’s miraculous that this girl knew so much.’ In her prologue about love and marriage, probably the best thing in the book, Rose’s wisdom glints like shards of...

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LRB Books: Collections and Selections

Rediscover classic pieces, recurring themes, and the dash the London Review of Books has cut through the history of ideas, for the past 40 years, with LRB Collections and now LRB Selections: two new series of collectible books.

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What’s new?

‘The London Review of Books is something new,’ the LRB’s founding editor Karl Miller wrote in our first ever issue, 40 years ago. ‘This, for the first time, is it.’ Now, for the first time in a decade, the same can be said of our website.

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Notice from Bury Place:

Like most other businesses, we have taken the decision to close both the London Review Bookshop and the Cake Shop until further notice. All events and late shopping evenings due to be held in March and April have been postponed indefinitely. We will be announcing new bookselling and digital publishing initiatives to provide diversion in the coming months. Stay tuned, and thanks.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

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