Friday, December 12, 2008

A little something for the weekend

Sinologist Jonathan Mirsky, former East Asia editor of the Times, mourns the death of Qi Qi in his review of Witness to Extinction: How We Failed to Save the Yangtze River Dolphin by Samuel Turvey (OUP).

Bruce Sheppard sticks it to oldies here and here:
My new rule is, I’m not going to spend any time with anyone aged over 60 because, frankly, their residual economic value to the rest of the country is so low they should be put through euthanasia programmes right now.
In view of which, Cactus Kate has some career advice for Winston Peters, building on his proven skills and market niche: start a finance company. Perhaps he could call it Scampi Investments.

Home Paddock explains why she doesn’t support the New Zealand Made campaign.

Tyler Cowen, author of Discover Your Inner Economist, has a great sentence on time management:
All people are equally good at time management, but some people are more willing than others to admit that they are doing what they want to do, while others maintain the illusion they wish they were doing something else.
Discussion follows here.

The Economist gives the untold and, in Thailand untellable, story of Thai politics – the role of King Bhumibol and his meddling. Fascinating stuff, and I bet this issue isn’t available in Bangkok. Lèse-majesté, you see.

Finally, Atlantic books editor Benjamin Schwarz calls Europe Between the Oceans by Barry Cunliffe (Yale):
an extraordinary book. In a work of analytical depth and imaginative sweep, Sir Barry Cunliffe, the emeritus professor of European archaeology at Oxford, has synthesized the voluminous recent record of excavations from Iceland to Turkey, the burgeoning scholarship on DNA and ancient populations, and research on topics ranging from Stone Age shipbuilding to trade in Muslim Spain and from salinity levels in the ancient Black Sea to state formation in Early Iron Age Denmark. This all serves to elucidate the “complex interaction of human groups with their environment, and with each other” in Europe from 9000 B.C. to 1000 A.D.—10,000 years of cultural, social, and material development, starting at the close of the last ice age and ending with the emergence of the European nation-states. . .
No book so well exemplifies what Cunliffe joyously calls “the vibrancy of archaeology.” More important, its focus on what Braudel called the longue durée will jolt the temporally complacent (and aren’t we all?), just as its bracingly materialist approach—which leads to the inescapable conclusion that trade has always laid the foundation for the exchange of ideas and beliefs, indeed for most cultural transformations—nicely tempers our blather about the power of ideas and the individual.
Just the thing for the beach these holidays, then.

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