As we get ready to spend an evening in the cinema watching Gone Girl, there’s some serious prepping going on at the Rainy Day HQ. The novel by Gillian Flynn, on which the film is based, has been re-read, and this excellent analysis of director David Fincher’s approach by Tony Zhou has been watched several times. Yes, we’re ready. Bring it on.
Cometh the hour, cometh the apologia for totalitarianism via the Guardian. “China is Hong Kong’s future — not its enemy” writes the dependable apparatchik, Martin Jacques. Much better than his vile defence of the indefensible are the comments it attracts:
IntravenousDeMilo: “The cheque from the National People’s Congress is in the post, Martin.”
Steve Chan: “Maybe next time Mr Jacques would write an article called ‘North Korea is the World’s future’. I am looking forward to reading it in The Guardian.”
goldenbowl: “Utter tosh, Martin. Hong Kong has an identity of its own and shouldn’t tie its future to China exclusively. The truth of the matter is that no reasonable person can think of at least one valid reason why Hongkongers shouldn’t be allowed to elect their own government. These are educated and civilised people, a territory with stable institutions, the kind of rule of law the PRC cannot even dream of in a hundred years. Oh, but your old waxworks friends in Zhongnanhai don’t approve of it.”
WendellGeeStrikes: “It really wouldn’t surprise me if we got an article praising Stalin from Jacques, it really wouldn’t, such is the pathetic depths this man goes.”
Desmond Miles:“China is Hong Kong’s future — not its enemy
Turkey was the Armenians’ future — and yet its enemy. It is entirely possible your future is held by a monstrous enemy. Just ask the Tibetans.”
To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris. It’s the follow-up to The Unnamed, which was the second novel by Ferris. On first glance, both books are similar in that they do their best to exhaust the reader. Equally, both are about suffering and despair and one can safely bet that Ferris will not win the 2014 Man Booker Prize for Fiction, for which To Rise Again at a Decent Hour has been shortlisted. If you like dentistry, though, there are some amusing bits:
His canine, in an advanced state of decay, was stained the color of weak tea but was still rooted to active nerves. No dentist in his right mind would pull a tooth without at least applying a local anesthetic. I told him that, and he finally agreed to the local. He resumed his meditative position, I juiced him with the needle, and then I went at his canine with a vigorous swaying grip. Two seconds into it he began to moan. I thought the moaning part and parcel of his effecting emptiness to the extreme, but it grew louder, filling the room, spilling out into the waiting area. I looked at Abby, my dental assistant, sitting across the patient from me, pink paper mask obscuring her features. She said nothing. I took the forceps out of my patient’s mouth and asked if everything was okay.
“You’re making noise.”
“Was I? I didn’t realize. I’m not actually here physically,” he said.
“You sound here physically.”
“I’ll try to be quieter,” he said. “Please continue.”
The moaning started up again almost immediately, rising to a modest howl. It was inchoate and bloody, like that of a newborn’s with stunted organs. I stopped. His red eyes were filmed with tears.
“You’re doing it again,” I said.
“Moaning,” I said. “Howling. Are you sure the local’s working?”
“I’m thinking three or four weeks ahead of this pain,” he said. “I’m four to six weeks removed.”
“It shouldn’t be painful at all,” I said, “with the local.”
“And it’s not, not at all,” he said. “I’ll be completely silent.”
I resumed. He stopped me almost that very second.
“Can I have the full gas, please?”
I put him under and removed the tooth and replaced it with a temporary crown.
The BBC is doing an excellent job with its LIVE Hong Kong protests: “11:16: Michael Schuman, says Hong Kong’s economic success is ‘inexorably intertwined’ with the civil liberties its citizens enjoy. ‘If Beijing knocks one of those pillars away if it suppresses people’s freedoms, or tampers with its judiciary, Hong Kong would become just another Chinese city, unable to fend off the challenge from Shanghai.'”
A estimated 50,000 residents of Hong Kong have taken to the streets to demand the democracy that so many of us enjoy and take for granted. Let’s stand with them in their brave fight against corruption, cronyism and totalitarianism. And it is a brave fight, considering the precedent:
I covered Tiananmen in 89. I see no way the Chinese government can tolerate what is happening in HK. Greatly fear this will end badly.
— Mike Chinoy (@mikechinoy) September 29, 2014
John L. Allen, the associate editor of the very impressive Crux, ponders the much-pondered political leanings of Pope Francis: “Perhaps the best hypothesis is that what Francis is really after isn’t a turn to the left, but a new balance. He’s said he wants the church to be in dialogue with everyone, and one way to accomplish that is to ensure a mix of points of view in leadership positions.”
At the conclusion of “Maybe Francis isn’t after a lurch to the left, but a new balance“, Allen labels Francis the “Pope of Balance”. That might be a bit too much fence-sitting for some, but Allen is a seasoned observer of the Vatican and his judgement is sound.Tweet
He won an Oscar in 2002 for Best Original Score for Frida, and on Wednesday he conducted the City of Prague Philharmonic in his Alien 3 Suite at the city’s Film Music Festival. For this clip, Gavin Heffernan used another soundtrack by Elliot Goldenthal. It’s from the 1995 thriller, Heat. Very LA.
The 40th Ryder Cup golf tournament starts today at the Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire in Scotland. What gives it a special edge is that the US will want to make amends for its defeat two years ago, when the home side led 10-6 going into the singles before Europe’s historic final-day fightback. It is expected that President Obama, an avid golfer, will take time out from his very full schedule to catch some of the games on TV. “Does President Obama play too much golf?” is what Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank asked earlier this year. Intro:
On June 14, Sunni rebels threatened Baghdad after seizing much of Iraq — and President Obama fearlessly played a round at the Sunnylands Golf Course in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
The next day, the militants posted pictures of their mass execution of Shiite members of Iraq’s security forces — and Obama boldly teed off again, at Oracle founder Larry Ellison’s Rancho Mirage estate.
This reminds one of the life and times of a different president as described by the late Christopher Hitchens: “The President is also captured in a well-worn TV news clip, making a boilerplate response to a question on terrorism and then asking the reporters to watch his drive. Well, that’s what you get if you catch the President on a golf course. If Eisenhower had done this, as he often did, it would have been presented as calm statesmanship. If Clinton had done it, as he often did, it would have shown his charm.” Christopher Hitchens and His Critics: Terror, Iraq, and the Left.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.Tweet
How big is the tech bubble? Last week in the Wall Street Journal, venture capitalist Bill Gurley said startup investors are taking on a level of risk not seen since the dotcom bubble days. Marcus Wohlsen has followed up in Wired with Money Is Pouring Into Tech Like It’s 1999 — And That’s Not Good. Cash quote:
Gurley recalled a recent trip to the Galapagos Islands and the book he read, Beak of the Finch, a study of evolution in action among birds of the islands. During El Niño years, Gurley said, floods bring massive food surpluses, allowing the finch population to explode. The problem, he said, is the excess resources mean individual finches needn’t be as hardy to survive. When food levels return to normal, many of them die.
In the same way, Gurley said, too much cash in the startup economy means weaker companies can survive without having to generate cash for themselves. In a post praising Gurley’s remarks, high-profile venture capitalist Fred Wilson said he too worries about his own portfolio companies, some of which are burning millions each month. He says he’s pushed back on excess spending, in effect trying to encourage fitter finches.
Finch of the Day: Kinvey. The headline says it all: Kinvey nets $10.8M in new funding to boost sales to mobile-obsessed enterprises.Tweet