Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What I’m reading #82

Karl du Fresne talks sense about Twitter and politics.

Masha Gessen gets a phone call from Vladimir Putin and then an invitation to meet him in the Kremlin. It doesn’t go well.

Ron Brownson of the Auckland City Art Gallery on Robert Louis Stevenson, who spent four days in Auckland in 1893. Ron thinks RLS looked like “a Scots dandy”. He has two portraits by John Singer Sargent to make his case, and refers approvingly to this Quote Unquote article on RLS by Graeme Lay. 

David Hepworth, formerly of the Word, on what it’s like to close a magazine. I’ve been involved in three similar deaths – Cue, Quote Unquote and IT Brief – and it’s pretty shitty, frankly. But Hepworth tells it well and is worth reading on the future of both print and e-media. Quote unquote:
We had to close the Word in July. It had run for nine years. We liked to say this was as long as the Beatles. We'd told the team that they would look back on their time on the magazine with affection and pride, not least because there probably weren’t going to be any other magazines like it. The day of the brave independent company backing its hunch and asking the public to pay on the newsstand seems to be gone.
All that remained was to announce it to the readers, advertisers and other interested parties. That process told me more about why we had to close it than anything else could have done, underlining what a porous world this has become and how magazines can no longer operate as they once did.
On the other hand, the Oldie is still with us.

Sam Leith reviews Peter Ackroyd’s The History of England, volume 2: The Tudors in the Spectator. Quote unquote:
Ackroyd’s eye for detail, and relish for the sanguinary excesses of the age (he never stints to let you know how many strokes of the axe it took to lop off a given head) fills even the most familiar stories with interest. When heretics were burned, for instance, kindly friends would tie little bags of gunpowder round their necks, “but on occasions they made too small an explosion and only increased the suffering”. Each faggot of wood you contributed to the fire got you 40 days off purgatory, so responsible parents would get their children to bring along kindling.
Finally, Daisy the cow is in the news: “The country’s largest crown research institute AgResearch said it had bred the first cow in the world to produce high-protein milk with greatly reduced amounts of a protein believed to be the leading cause of milk allergies in children.” The abstract of the paper published this morning in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is here. The Q&A factsheet from AgResearch is here. The possibility – and that’s all it is at this stage – that one day children allergic to normal milk may be able to drink it in this form is good news, you may think. Not so fast: 
GE Free New Zealand president Claire Bleakley said cows without the protein BLG was a “frightening development not a breakthrough”.
“This is a depraved macabre experiment that is the worst type of animal cruelty.”
Bafflingly, TVNZ reports that:
Researchers now want to breed Daisy with a normal cow to see what sort of cow and milk results.
Good luck with that.


helenalex said...

It can't have helped The Word that its cover made it look like Mad Magazine.

Stephen Stratford said...

Agree. Internal design fine, external not so much.