Friday, February 15, 2013

What I’m reading #94

Mark Lynas, environmental activist, discovers science and recants. You’ll have seen references to this but here is the full speech. Quote unquote:
I apologise for having spent several years ripping up GM crops. I am also sorry that I helped to start the anti-GM movement back in the mid 1990s, and that I thereby assisted in demonising an important technological option which can be used to benefit the environment.
And this:
In particular one critic said to me: so you’re opposed to GM on the basis that it is marketed by big corporations. Are you also opposed to the wheel because because it is marketed by the big auto companies? 
How to pick up a scientist. Quote unquote:
It's OK to approach them, but do so slowly and calmly, and if possible hold your hands out, palms open and facing upwards, to emphasise that you pose no threat.
Chad Taylor is in Wellington making movies with Jonathan King. Good.

Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, Francis Wheen and other usual suspects on pseudonyms. I’m afraid the story ends with one of them bedding Tina Brown. Incidentally, here is a recording by Francis’s band. It’s really good for a bunch of old lefties. Not sure how long the free download will work, though. Be in quick. 

Amazon in England doesn’t seem very efficient, going by this report in the Financial Times. Quote unquote:
Workers in Amazon’s warehouses – or “associates in Amazon’s fulfilment centres” as the company would put it – are divided into four main groups. There are the people on the “receive lines” and the “pack lines”: they either unpack, check and scan every product arriving from around the world, or they pack up customers’ orders at the other end of the process. Another group stows away suppliers’ products somewhere in the warehouse. They put things wherever there’s a free space – in Rugeley, there are inflatable palm trees next to milk frothers and protein powder next to kettles. Only Amazon’s vast computer brain knows where everything is, because the workers use their handheld computers to scan both the item they are stowing away and a barcode on the spot on the shelf where they put it.
The last group, the “pickers”, push trolleys around and pick out customers’ orders from the aisles. Amazon’s software calculates the most efficient walking route to collect all the items to fill a trolley, and then simply directs the worker from one shelf space to the next via instructions on the screen of the handheld satnav device. Even with these efficient routes, there’s a lot of walking. One of the new Rugeley “pickers” lost almost half a stone in his first three shifts.
Singer/songwriter John Prine on work in progress. Quote unquote:
Well, it’s true that I am a bit lazy. That’s why I am not in the recording studio at the moment, even though I am sure my wife wishes I would get out of the house. I guess I am just waiting for a new song to fall off a tree and hit me on the head. For now, I would be happy if I could just write another song. The past couple of years have been a struggle. You have to try to be patient, and not see it as an assignment. Not worry and have faith that one will come along.
I’m not someone who really shows anyone a work in progress. By the time I really like a song, I sing it. The experience of singing words and playing the melody tells the writer a whole lot about whether it will work. Sometimes it’s like colours, you realise you have to paint it a little differently. But I would never sing something that I did not believe in.

The above photo of Robert Johnson, who went down to the crossroads and sold his soul to the devil, has been authenticated. It shows him (left) with Johnny Shines who many years later made albums with Robert Jr Lockwood who had learned guitar from Johnson, his stepfather. Lockwood toured New Zealand some time in the 80s and I met him at his Gluepot concert because my then-bandmate Mark was his minder. The New Zealand “two degrees of separation” rule is unbroken:  I met a man who knew Robert Johnson. So here is Johnny Shines performing “Sweet Home Chicago”. 

No comments: