Weekendish: Freedom, sloths and ballpoint pens
- 4 April 2014
A round-up of some of the best reads from the BBC News Magazine this week, with your extra comments.
About a month after his son was born in 1983, Ion Bugan took to the streets of Bucharest to protest against the Ceausescu regime. He stood on top of his car, waved placards, blew a whistle. For him it was a statement of protest. For his family, wrote his daughter Carmen, it "marked the beginning of hell". He was jailed and state surveillance began on the family. After we published the article, Carmen received an email from someone who had been a 15-year-old boy at the time and who had seen Ion's protest. "For years I have wondered what happened to the man that displayed such courage and stared a criminal system in the face. A whole bus full of people went quiet, and when the bus was finally allowed on its route, nobody had the courage to talk about it for fear of the unknown Securitate people that were everywhere. A 30-year-old question has been answered for me. His struggle made lifelong imprints."
The Key was a work of comic art we published on Monday, telling a tale of freedom against state repression. It was written by graphic novelist Grant Morrison and drawn by Rian Hughes. Morrison told us: "The superhero for me is a symbolic figure. It has to be someone we can relate to, and it allows us to deal with things quite directly. What I love about comics is the way they allow you to talk about big ideas like freedom, meaning, what we're all here for and why." The Illogical Volume blog says that the Key was not actually a story "about freedom - but an advert for the idea of freedom". "Can't help but love this," tweets Amber Thomson. Chris Wales tweets that what it - and the BBC - missed was "that freedom is rarely seized by gun-toting goons, but pen-wielding lawmakers".
When a murderous militia in Rwanda tried to pull innocent people from a lorry, shouting "Kill the cockroaches", one man intervened. Mbaye Diagne, a UN peacekeeper, ran up and stood between the lorry and the thugs. He held his arms out wide and shouted "You cannot kill these people, they are my responsibility. I will not allow you to harm them - you'll have to kill me first." This is the story of Diagne, who our correspondent Mark Doyle says was the bravest man he ever met.
Monique Pool's experience with sloths has given her a new word, "slothified". She defines it as being "1. Overwhelmed by sloths, 2. Overwhelmed by sloth - so tired after catching sloths all day that you don't want to get out of bed, 3. Overwhelmed by the cuteness of sloths (baby sloths in particular), 4. Overwhelmed by sloth lovers". They certainly are cute. Emma Freud, for one, tweets: "sloth photo heaven". Donald H Taylor says: "The way of the sloth: eat slowly, hang out and smile. Sounds good to me."
For Patrick Devine, growing up in a Communist Party-supporting family in east London, the invasion of Hungary in 1956 was a divisive moment. "My family saw the Soviet Union as the first country in which the working class had broken through and taken power," he wrote. "The invasion came as a tremendous shock. There were families and friendship groups divided by it. My father continued to believe that the Soviet Union's actions were correct. Others, like my mother, were more critical. It took me two decades longer to realise that the Soviet Union wasn't a socialist country after all because you can't have socialism without democracy." The article will, it seems, be useful for various history teachers. One tweets: "What do Y13 think?" Another: "Yr 11: BBC piece is nice summary." Yet another: "Year 10 have a look at this."
You can talk about this subject all you like, but there's only really one way to find out. Draw the letters big and fill them in with ballpoint pen. Designer Matt Robinson, who was decent enough to do this on society's behalf, told us: "The remaining ink left in the barrel of the pen worked like a bar graph - the more ink-efficient the typeface was, the more ink was left in the pen." Steve Walsh tweets: "Gotta love the accompanying 'ink-fo-graphic'". AG Pate adds: "Glad to see Comic Sans near the bottom. Yet another reason to hate it."