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Diarist of the day: Barbara Pym

Saturday, 11 August, 2018

“Visit to Jane Austen’s house?I put my hand down on Jane’s desk and bring it up covered with dust. Oh that some of her genius might rub off on me! One would have imagined the devoted female custodian going round with her duster at least every other day.” Barbara Pym, 11 August 1943

The English writer Barbara Pym died of breast cancer, aged 66, on 11 January 1980. Her sister Hilary continued to promote her work, and helped set up the Barbara Pym Society in 1993.


iPhone, iPhoto

Friday, 10 August, 2018

With thousands of entrants from more than 140 countries, the 2018 iPhone Photography Awards didn’t lack for choice. Interestingly, many of the winning images were shot with iPhone 7s and 6s and even 5s.

The advances in image quality from the first contest in 2008, a year after the iPhone was launched, are remarkable. That first iPhone came with a 2 megapixel camera and an average lens, while the iPhone X now offers 12 megapixel resolution and a dual-lens camera that provides both a wide-angle and a telephoto lens. The wide angle allows for an f/1.8 aperture, while the telephoto has an f/2.4 aperture.

Alexandre Weber, an anthropologist from Switzerland, earned 1st Place with a photo taken using an iPhone 6s. “The picture was taken in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, spontaneously, after a truck drove by. The woman with traditional clothes of a ‘baiana’, was looking after the truck, during her work break.”

 Alexandre Weber of Switzerland for his image  Baiana in Yellow and Blue


Sweeney by Matthew Sweeney

Thursday, 9 August, 2018

On Sunday morning, in Cork, the poet Matthew Sweeney succumbed to a cruel ailment that causes its sufferers so much agony as it wastes away the human body irreversibly: Motor Neuron Disease. Matthew Sweeney was 66 when he died and his poem Sweeney hints at the heart-breaking destruction he experienced in his final year.

Sweeney

Even when I said my head was shrinking
he didn’t believe me. Change doctors, I thought,
but why bother? We’re all hypochondriacs,
and those feathers pushing through my pores
were psychosomatic. My wife was the same
till I pecked her, trying to kiss her, one morning,
scratching her feet with my claws, cawing
good morning till she left the bed with a scream.

I moved out then, onto a branch of the oak
behind the house. That way I could see her
as she opened the car, on her way to work.
Being a crow didn’t stop me fancying her,
Especially when she wore that short black number
I’d bought her in Berlin. I don’t know if she
noticed me. I never saw her look up.
I did see boxes of my books going out.

The nest was a problem. My wife had cursed me
for being useless at DIY, and it was no better now.
I wasn’t a natural flier, either, so I sat
in that tree, soaking, shivering, all day.
Everytime I saw someone carrying a bottle of wine
I cawed. A takeaway curry was worse.
And the day I saw my wife come home
with a man, I flew finally into our wall.

Matthew Sweeney (1952 – 2018)

Matthew Sweeney


No words needed: The Sounds of Seoul

Wednesday, 8 August, 2018

On Monday, here, we had “No words needed: The Silence of The Dolomites,” in which the Danish “visual artist” Casper Rolsted presented his “Silence Project” — a central part of his plan to get us to listen to nature “in undisturbed places”.

Today, we have the opposite, in a sense. Brandon Li, “Filmmaker and global nomad” has created a visual urban experience that’s as far from the Dolomites as it’s possible to be. “I spent a month in Seoul and saw a city racing to the future,” says Li. and Both Li and Rolsted offer us images of urban and natural wonder. The beauty is in the eye, and ear, of the beholder.


Reading the mnemogenic Larkin on reading

Tuesday, 7 August, 2018

A Study of Reading Habits

When getting my nose into a book
Cured most things short of school,
It was worth ruining my eyes
To know I could still keep cool,
And deal out the old right hook
To dirty dogs twice my size.

Later, with inch-thin specs,
Evil was just my lark:
Me and my cloak and fangs
Had ripping times in the dark.
The women I clubbed with sex!
I broke them up like meringues.

Don’t read much now: the dude
Who lets the girl down before
The hero arrives, the chap
Who’s yellow and keeps the store,
Seems far too familiar. Get stewed:
Books are a load of crap.

Philip Larkin (1922 — 1985)

The wonderful thing about Philip Larkin was his honesty. He was able to see through the many boring, cynical rituals that make up much of modern life and compress his visions into verse that remains shocking and hilarious.

Language Note: Martin Amis, in his Poems by Philip Larkin, honours the poet for his “frictionless memorability”, and, he adds, “To use one of Nabokov’s prettiest coinages, he is mnemogenic.” The word was coined by Nabokov in Bend Sinister, where a character named Professor Adam Krug describes a dream of his schooldays, and mentions gaps left by “those of his schoolmates who proved less mnemogenic than others”. From the Latin: mamma + –genesis, the noun “mammogenesis” refers to the growth and development of the mammary gland.


No words needed: The Silence of The Dolomites

Monday, 6 August, 2018

“Each mountain in the Dolomites is like a piece of art. Le Corbusier called them the most beautiful buildings in the world. He said God built them; I’d say nature did. They are so vertical, and each peak is different. The Dolomites have a special face: no other range in the world has this.” — Reinhold Messner, South Tyrolian explorer

Casper Rolsted, who describes himself as a “visual artist specialized in timelapse and aerial photography”, would agree, no doubt, with every word Messer says, except that he thinks they aren’t necessary. That’s why the Dane has created The Silence Project: “If we silent listen to nature in undisturbed places without prejudices we can experience the big diversity of nature and the faintest sounds gain their original importance in the soundscape.”


WordPress goes Gutenberg

Sunday, 5 August, 2018

WordPress, the free and open-source content management system which powers Rainy Day, is developing a completely new editing experience called Gutenberg. Brian Jackson of Kinsta addressed its complexity in a recent post titled Diving Into the New Gutenberg WordPress Editor (Pros and Cons). It’s quite technical in places and if you don’t want to dive into the details, go straight to the comments. Some of them are priceless, and many of them indicate that Gutenberg has a long way to go before it’s really ready to roll. WordPress needs to get this right is the message coming through.

Gutenberg


Hay thoughts from abroad

Saturday, 4 August, 2018

“In my early teens, I acquired a kind of representative status: went on behalf of the family to wakes and funerals and so on. And I would be counted on as an adult contributor when it came to farm work – the hay in the summertime, for example.” — Seamus Heaney (1939 – 2013)

Hay


iPhone X Unleashed

Friday, 3 August, 2018

While almost everyone expects the arrival of new iPhones in September, Apple is still spending big bucks on big-budget ads for last year’s iPhone X. And, as many Twitter users have already pointed out, Apple ads featuring people using iPhones to play games while walking down the street are radical, to say the least.

Unleashed? Unprecedented? Unethical? Unwarranted? Unwise? Unsafe? Unbox!


Decisions, decisions

Thursday, 2 August, 2018

What was it Harvey Cox said? “Not to decide is to decide.” Anyway, the excellent cartoonist and illustrator Tom Gauld grew up in Aberdeenshire in Scotland and now lives with his family in London. His work is distributed worldwide.

Tom Gauld


Flocking to Spain

Wednesday, 1 August, 2018

Holidaymakers in Spain are getting more than they bargained for these days. Typical seaside scenes now involve African migrants jumping off dinghies onto packed beaches before asking stunned tourists for food and then heading over the dunes.

But it’s not just the victims of Africa’s dysfunction that are flocking to Spain. Venezuelans of means, fleeing the ruinous chavecismo of their homeland, are pitching up on Madrid’s property market. According to the New York Times, On Spain’s Smartest Streets, a Property Boom Made in Venezuela:

“During a walk around Salamanca, an upmarket district of the Spanish capital, Luis Valls-Taberner, a real-estate investment adviser, pointed out on almost every street a building that he said a wealthy Venezuelan had recently acquired.

Mr. Valls-Taberner would not identify the buyers. Some properties, he said, were purchased through investment companies based in Miami or elsewhere — but the money always came from Venezuela.”

By dinghy or by jet, many of those wishing to escape the most corrupt and decrepit places on Earth, especially the failed states north and south of the Sahara, are streaming into Spain, and the country’s new socialist government, like most of its EU counterparts, seems unwilling to discuss the fact that Africa’s population, now about 1.26 billion, is expected to double by 2050. Expect bigger dinghies.