Monday, September 24, 2012

What I’m reading #81

“Architects are the last people who should shape our cities,” says Jonathan Meades in the Guardian. Quote unquote:
One cause of this failure is architects’ lack of empathy, their failure to cast themselves as non-architects: architect Yona Friedman long ago observed that architecture entirely forgets those who use its products. Another cause of failure is their bent towards aesthetic totalitarianism – a trait Nikolaus Pevsner approved of, incidentally. There was no work he admired more than St Catherine's College, Oxford: a perfect piece of architecture. And it is indeed impressive in an understated way. But it is equally an example of nothing less than micro-level totalitarianism. Arne Jacobson designed not only the building, but every piece of furniture and every item of cutlery.
Tauranga is planning a 150th commemoration of the Battle of Gate Pa for 29 April 2014. The man in charge is Buddy Mikaere, so it will happen and it will be good. He is writing a book about the battle, hoping to get it published in time for the big day. I grew up there and have always thought there was a book in it: Buddy is the best possible person to write it.

A great interview with Neil Young in the NYT.

David Leigh in the Guardian proposes that:
A small levy on UK broadband providers – no more than £2 a month on each subscriber’s bill – could be distributed to news providers in proportion to their UK online readership. This would solve the financial problems of quality newspapers, whose readers are not disappearing, but simply migrating online.
First comment:
A £2-a-month levy on automobiles could save our horse and cart business.
The most important book ever written? It is about questions to which the answer is no, so that is a clever headline. Even more cleverly, the author invites readers to provide material for the sequel.

And here’s another example:
The “neuroscience” shelves in bookshops are groaning. But are the works of authors such as Malcolm Gladwell and Jonah Lehrer just self-help books dressed up in a lab coat?
No hang on, the answer is yes. Yes, yes, yes.

The most pointless translation ever, James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake into Chinese. Best comment:
“We should make it a story that is also interesting for college students to read and understand.”
Can they do that for the English version as well?
Ri Sol Joo, the wife of Kim Jong-Un, live in concert, singing “Soldiers’ Footprints”. See and hear it while you can, because the North Korean government is destroying all CDs. Quote unquote:
The existence of an order to the same effect was confirmed by a source from North Pyongan Province, who told Daily NK, “The order to hand in all CDs containing songs sung by Ri Sol Joo was handed down right after Kim Jong Eun became a KPA Marshal. They didn’t say why, they just said ‘It’s an order from the Central Party so just do it.’”
The policy is likely a result of concerns that knowledge of Ri’s background as a singer might undermine efforts to paint her as a wife with deep-seated concern for the wellbeing of the North Korean people.
David Aaronovitch weighs in at The Times on causing offence to Muslims, and whether we should care. It is behind a paywall but Mick Hartley steals a chunk of it for you here. Quote unquote:
The week that Salman Rushdie’s memoir of the events leading up to the threats on his life and his years “on the run” is published seems a good time to ask whether we can really carry on like this. According to many, we cannot discuss Islam, depict it or write about it except in certain very circumscribed ways without causing mortal offence.
This is despite the fact that it plays a far bigger role in our lives in countries such as Britain than it did 30 years ago. And worse, in a world where the mobility of communication outstrips the mobility of understanding, we are now at hazard of “global Muslim anger” every time a bongo-brain in a Moosejaw shed uploads an idiocy involving something Islamic.
I met Salman Rushdie 20 or so years ago in Auckland, when the fatwa was, as it were, a live issue. We were upstairs in the Pan-Pacific hotel – maybe the Heritage now, anyway the one on Mayoral Drive by the police station – and after, ooh, nearly a minute of chatting with him and CK Stead, which was very pleasant, I realised that I was standing between Rushdie and a very large window. I made my excuses and sidled away... 

And let us not forget the crocodile in the room.

Monitors: Paul Litterick, Chris Bourke, Tim Worstall, Penny Wise


Stephanie said...

Interesting interview with editor of the Financial Times on ABC Radio National(yes, the Oz one)yesterday: he has established a three tier 'subscription' model for their on-line readers - the only one in the world making money. 30% of total revenue comes from this model. Should be copied around the world but isn't. Why?

Stephen Stratford said...

I bet it will be. For the moment it's as William Goldman said about Hollywood, no one knows anything. But there's enough people trying different approaches for something to work, as the FT's does (I use it), and eventually be adopted across the industry.