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Connecting Myanmar

Tuesday, 15 July, 2014 0 Comments

By the way, Sweden’s Ericsson is not the only runner in the race to connect Myanmar. Norway’s Telenor has pledged $1 billion to roll out a modern telecoms infrastructure. TelenorMyanmar plans a 3G service and says it can make a profit even with monthly revenue averaging only $1 a user.

Until recently connecting to the outside world was a crime in Myanmar, and people went to prison for owning an unauthorized fax machine. When it comes to press freedom, the country still has a long way to go. Last week, five journalists were sentenced to 10 years in jail, with hard labour, for writing that the military was making chemical weapons.

Germany were the team of the tournament

Monday, 14 July, 2014 0 Comments

And it was their passing game that won them the World Cup. Having absorbed the central tenet of FC Bayern Munich coach, Sep Guardiola, — hold the ball and attack — they deservedly beat Argentina in last night’s final. Unlike the Brazil or England game, the German approach was never static. That’s why they were the team of the tournament.

Galeano imagines Messi

Sunday, 13 July, 2014 0 Comments

Eduardo Galeano: “The ball laughs, radiant, in the air. He brings her down, puts her to sleep, showers her with compliments, dances with her, and seeing such things never before seen his admirers pity their unborn grandchildren who will never see them.”

The Uruguayan journalist and novelist Eduardo Galeano fled his homeland in 1973 after the military took power. He settled in Argentina where he founded the cultural magazine, Crisis, but in 1976 the Videla regime seized power in a bloody coup and his name was added to the lists of those sought by the death squads. He fled again, this time to Spain, where he wrote his famous trilogy: Memoria del fuego.

In childhood, Galeano dreamed of becoming a football player and this dream is the subject of Soccer in Sun and Shadow (1995), a history of the game. Galeano compares football with theatre and war and while he criticizes its alliance with global corporations, he condemns leftist intellectuals who reject the game and its attraction to the masses.

“Any open net was an unforgivable crime meriting immediate punishment, and Di Stefano carried out the sentence by stabbing at it like a mischievous elf.” Eduardo Galeano

Acapella Ireland

Saturday, 12 July, 2014 0 Comments

Portland, Oregon songwriter Courtney Jones is the voice behind the layered acapella harmonies of “Weightless”, which is taken from her album Awake and Dreaming. The music matches the mood of this clip of Ireland as seen by Jonathan Haring.

Winston Churchill: The Ten Commandments of Life

Friday, 11 July, 2014 0 Comments

Winston Churchill’s top ten sayings about failure, courage, setbacks and success are rendered here, memorably, by Simon Appel. Churchill is never very far from the present as this week’s decision by the Bank of England to switch its £5 and £10 notes to polymer shows. They’ll be more durable and harder to forge and the “fiver” will get the first facelift in 2016 when Churchill will become the face.

Julia Ioffe hates Argentina

Thursday, 10 July, 2014 0 Comments

Well, she wrote the New Republic piece before the Dutch went out on penalties, but her loathing dates not from this year in Brazil but from 1996 in France. Money quote: “And then came the quarterfinals and the Argentines, led by the dastardly dwarf Ariel Ortega. Ortega could not enter the box that game without leaping into the air, gripping a leg or a side, and rolling around, whining for a penalty kick. It was despicable. It was the kind of tactic that even I, a mediocre player who often made up with my elbows for what my feet couldn’t do, couldn’t abide. It was a disgusting sight, and I prayed for Kluivert and Bergkamp to bump a few in the net, and send the Argentines packing.” And then, this:

Brazil damaged

Wednesday, 9 July, 2014 0 Comments

In the light of that 7-1 hammering at the hands of Germany, the title of Christopher Gaffney’s piece for Fusion, could not be more telling: “How the World Cup Is Damaging Brazil“. Meanwhile, the Daily Mail is running riot with the Schadenfreude virals.

Happy Birthday WSJ!

Tuesday, 8 July, 2014 0 Comments

The Wall Street Journal is 125 today. Congratulations! And to coincide with this happy day, Taylor Swift has just written an op-ed about the music industry for the venerable paper (amassing a stunning 25,950 social media shares).

What is money?

Monday, 7 July, 2014 0 Comments

David Galbraith, an architect who once built buildings and is now building web apps, poses the question. His answer? It’s complicated: “You can use physics metaphors quite a bit when talking about money. It’s like the uncollapsed quantum state of all possible transactions, where the ability of money to buy anything is as different from one-to-one barter as classical physics of concrete interaction between two particles is from Feynman’s idea of infinite paths.”

Comfortingly, Galbraith confesses upfront that nobody knows what money is.

On the rough edge of Europe

Sunday, 6 July, 2014 1 Comment

“He lived on the very edge of County Sligo, the edge of Ireland — the edge of Europe, you might say,” said fellow poet Peter Fallon of Dermot Healy, who died this week. “In some ways he lived on the edge of the literary community, but in certain ways he was central to the community he shaped around himself, especially in the north-west of Ireland. And it was the rough edge of his work, which in some ways was so distinctive, which attracted his readers.”

The Prayer

When Peggy was dying
Her son leaned over to whisper
The Our Father into her ear.
She opened her eyes,
“Things must be bad,” she said,
“that you’ve started praying.”

Dermot Healy (1947 — 2014)

Shades of Cool

Saturday, 5 July, 2014 0 Comments

An unhappy diva falls in love with an older man, who has a drug problem. Not exactly a happy-ever-after story, but it is cinematic and elegant and tragically romantic in the way that Lana Del Rey meets her end.