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Bob Dylan did not win the Nobel Prize, again

Thursday, 9 October, 2014 0 Comments

Patrick Modiano? His best-known work is probably Missing Person (French: Rue des Boutiques Obscures), which won the Prix Goncourt in 1978 and is about a detective who loses his memory and strives to find it again. And now Patrick Modiano has has been named the 107th winner of the Nobel prize for Literature. The reaction of John Reed is somewhat cruel.

The win for Patrick Modiano means no win for Bob Dylan, again. In some ways, this is understandable as giving the prize to Dylan for his lyrics would be be an admission of the bankruptcy of literature. And that cannot be allowed. But there’s always next year. To keep the dream alive, here are three of the master’s masterpieces.

“Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside
And it is ragin’
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin’.”

The Times They Are A-Changin’

“He’s taught in his school
From the start by the rule
That the laws are with him
To protect his white skin
To keep up his hate
So he never thinks straight
‘Bout the shape that he’s in
But it ain’t him to blame
He’s only a pawn in their game.”

Only A Pawn In Their Game

“Yes, how many years can a mountain exist
Before it’s washed to the sea?
Yes, how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?
Yes, how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn’t see?
The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.”

Blowin’ In The Wind

Pluvial

Wednesday, 8 October, 2014 0 Comments

Definition: a pluviophile is a lover of rain; someone who finds joy and peace of mind during rainy days. Origin: Latin pluvialis, from pluvia rain, from feminine of pluvius rainy, from pluere to rain. Note: A psekaphile is one who likes drizzling rain, and an hyetophile is one who likes rain in general.

Smartphone smarts: Apple vs Samsung

Tuesday, 7 October, 2014 0 Comments

Gartner: “Worldwide sales of smartphones totaled 968 million devices in 2013, an increase of 42.3 percent over a 12 month period. Perhaps most significantly, sales of smartphones made up almost 54 percent of overall mobile phone sales in 2013, and outnumbered annual sales of feature phones for the first time.”

Meanwhile, “Samsung Warns of Lower Third-Quarter Earnings.” What gives? Re/code: “The South Korean electronics giant said that while smartphone shipments increased, its operating margins fell because of higher marketing costs, fewer shipments of high-end phones and a lower average selling price for the devices.”

And how are the South Koreans reacting? “The company said it is responding with a new smartphone lineup that will include new mid-range and low-end devices, which would make Samsung’s products more competitive in markets such as China.” As commentator jameskatt points out, “The problem for Samsung is that there is NO profit in the low end of the market. Samsung is also being outcompeted in the low end by Asian tigers such as Xiaomi who don’t care much for profits. They are willing to live in razor thin profit margins and even more than Samsung, copy Apple slavishly.”

Apple wins. And it’s looking good in China, too.

So, farewell then, Baobab and Pomegranate

Monday, 6 October, 2014 0 Comments

“Our aim is to make our website easier for new visitors to navigate by reducing the number of blogs, many of which have rather esoteric names; it is not immediately obvious, even to hardened Economist fans, that the place to look for Africa news is a blog called Baobab.” So goes the news that The Economist is shuttering its Africa blog, Baobab. The axe has fallen, too, on Pomegranate. Whither Banyan and Babbage?

Sipping an aging whiskey of distances and departures

Sunday, 5 October, 2014 0 Comments

With autumn incoming, it’s time to read the poetry of Thomas McGrath, which is filled with wonderful weather imagery. Beyond the Red River is particularly good at this time of year. McGrath tells of “the long freight of autumn” and a “machinery of early storms” rolling in the direction of holiday homes where “summer still dozed in the pool-side chairs”. And there’s the lovely “aging whiskey of distances and departures”.

Beyond the Red River

The birds have flown their summer skies to the south,
And the flower-money is drying in the banks of bent grass
Which the bumble bee has abandoned. We wait for a winter lion,
Body of ice-crystals and sombrero of dead leaves.

A month ago, from the salt engines of the sea,
A machinery of early storms rolled toward the holiday houses
Where summer still dozed in the pool-side chairs, sipping
An aging whiskey of distances and departures.

Now the long freight of autumn goes smoking out of the land.
My possibles are all packed up, but still I do not leave.
I am happy enough here, where Dakota drifts wild in the universe,
Where the prairie is starting to shake in the surf of the winter dark.

Thomas McGrath (1916 — 1990)

The Innerworld of Electric Youth

Saturday, 4 October, 2014 0 Comments

Austin Garrick and Bronwyn Griffin are Electric Youth, a synth-pop duo from Toronto. On Tuesday, they released their debut album Innerworld and here’s the second track.

Football behind bars

Friday, 3 October, 2014 0 Comments

Football in Spain

The genius of David Fincher

Thursday, 2 October, 2014 1 Comment

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.

Martin Jacques: The voice of Beijing

Wednesday, 1 October, 2014 1 Comment

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.”

Currently reading

Tuesday, 30 September, 2014 0 Comments

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.
“Yes. Why?”
“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.
“Doing what?”
“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.

To Rise Again

#StandWithHK

Monday, 29 September, 2014 0 Comments

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: