Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on Google Plus Connect on Flickr

Germanwings flight 4U9525

Tuesday, 24 March, 2015 0 Comments

Over the years, the Rainy Day team has flown dozens of times to and from Barcelona, over the French Alps. Our thoughts today are with the families and friends of the passengers and crew of Germanwings Flight 4U9525 who died there this morning.

Germanwings

Courage is the price that life extracts for granting peace.
The soul that knows it not, knows no release from little things.
Knows not the livid loneliness of fear,
Nor mountain heights, where bitter joy can hear
The sound of wings.

Amelia Earhart (1897 – 1937)

Lee Kuan Yew combined the Vatican with Confucius

Monday, 23 March, 2015 0 Comments

“He modelled Singapore’s democracy after what he saw in the Vatican, where only cardinals nominated by a Pope could elect the next Pope… As Prime Minister he bankrupted or imprisoned individuals in the political opposition… He spoke in disparaging and politically incorrect ways of women, the disadvantaged, and both the downtrodden and the powerful — but worked harder than anyone else in Southeast Asia to build a harmonious, peaceful state, where all races felt welcomed in an incorruptible, transparent meritocracy.” Danny Quah writing about Lee Kuan Yew, who died yesterday aged 91.

In his 31 years as Prime Minister, from 1959 to 1990, Lee transformed Singapore into a globalized economy and his template has brought vast wealth to Asia. But despite what Danny Quah implies, Lee was not a democrat. Rather, he was a Confucian leader and this is what made him a role model for the rulers of modern China. They, too, have seen their nation rise from rags to riches and they, too, are frightened that open debate will undermine the fragile stability that underpins the edifice.

“Supposing Catherine Lim was writing about me and not the prime minister… She would not dare, right? Because my posture, my response has been such that nobody doubts that if you take me on, I will put on knuckle-dusters and catch you in a cul de sac… Anybody who decides to take me on needs to put on knuckle dusters. If you think you can hurt me more than I can hurt you, try. There is no other way you can govern a Chinese society.” — Lee Kuan Yew

The Straits Times has a tribute blog about reaction to the death of the man who created the modern miracle of Singapore. It is also printing a special 24-page tabloid edition devoted to his life and work.

Singapore mourns

Sophie Hannah follows the Dalai Lama

Sunday, 22 March, 2015 0 Comments

Hercule Poirot is enjoying a quiet supper in London when a terrified young woman approaches and confides to him that she is about to be murdered. Oddly, she begs Poirot not to find and punish her killer. Once she is dead, she says, justice will have been done. The Monogram Murders is the first new Hercule Poirot novel to be authorised by the Agatha Christie estate and it was published last year. The author is Sophie Hannah, one of Britain’s favourite poets, and her new collection of verse, which will be published in May, is titled Marrying the Ugly Millionaire. Here’s a topical snippet:

The Dalai Lama on Twitter

I am following the Dalai Lama on Twitter
But the Dalai Lama is not yet following me.
That’s fine. Things are as they are. I do not feel bitter.
Enlightenment is his thing. Reciprocity?
Not so much. He is a spiritual big-hitter
And I write detective novels. It’s easy to see
Why I’m following the Dalai Lama on Twitter
And the Dalai Lama is not yet following me.

Sophie Hannah

Note: The Dalai Lama has 10.6 million followers on Twitter, which makes him the 101st most-followed person on the network. Kathy Perry, in comparison, has 67.1 million followers and is the Queen of Twitter.

Johann Sebastian Bach is 330

Saturday, 21 March, 2015 0 Comments

Today is Bach in the Subways Day. In Leipzig, Los Angeles and Lviv, musicians are going underground to celebrate Johann Sebastian Bach’s 330th birthday and, given that Glenn Gould called Bach the greatest architect of sound, there’s a certain concord to their choosing of echoing spaces. Bach’s music is, in the words of the American musicologist Richard Taruskin, “a medium of truth, not beauty” and nowhere is this more evident than in his Mass in B minor. Initially, the Lutheran Bach took on the task of composing a Catholic Mass for very practical reasons — a job application. But what began as pragmatism turned into one of the benchmarks of Western civilization.

Post-pub with Swill, Thirstie and Drizly

Friday, 20 March, 2015 0 Comments

“A good local pub has much in common with a church, except that a pub is warmer, and there’s more conversation.” So said William Blake (1757 – 1827), engraver, poet, painter, thinker and drinker. “Liquor when you want it, where you want it” was not a Blake slogan, but it is the motto of Thirstie, an on-demand alcohol startup that plans to dis-intermediate the pub by bringing the booze to you. Actually, Thirstie does not deliver the hard stuff itself. It enables customers to order alcohol from stores that already deliver, instead. In this way, it is following a familiar path: “Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate.” To which we can now add, Thirstie, the on-demand drink service, that doesn’t touch it.

But Thirstie isn’t the only runner in the race to change drinking habits. Swill and Drizly are in the same space, and BrewDrop dominates the market in Austin, where Thirstie announced yesterday that it had raised a $1.1 million seed round. Cheers!

Link love

Thursday, 19 March, 2015 0 Comments

“Link is acceptable in reference to a hyperlink on the web. If an article refers to material of interest to readers, such as a website, document, image or video, provide an embedded link as a convenience.” The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage, 2015 Edition

As a convenience, here is a link to a shop selling the updated version of The New York Times style guide. Since the last edition was published in 1999, much has changed, and the new guide reflects the impact of “web, the.” BTW, for the NYT the lowercase form is now acceptable in all references to the World Wide Web. And BTW again:

“abbreviations popular in online and texting slang should be used only rarely, for special effect, and should be rendered as readers most often see them: BTW, FYI, LOL, OMG, tl;dr, etc.”

Payments: Facebook has a message for paij

Wednesday, 18 March, 2015 0 Comments

Facebook hired PayPal’s David Marcus last summer to manage its messaging products, and in the company’s July earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg implied that a payment product was coming. And here it is: Facebook users can tie their debit card to their account to transfer money to one another with Messenger. “The Messenger app now includes a small ‘$’ icon above the keyboard which opens a payments screen where users can type the amount they wish to send,” reports Kurt Wagner for Re/code. The feature will be rolled out on iOS and Android in the US before launching internationally.

paij All of this will be watched with interest, no doubt, in Wiesbaden, where the paij app is headquartered. When the European Web Entrepreneur of the Year Awards were handed out last year, the Female Web entrepreneur Award went to Sylvia Klein, founder and managing director of paij. “Strategic partnerships and system integrations will help paij to determine the future of mobile payment apps initially in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and later Europe in general,” she stated. “In the long haul paij has the potential to establish a mobile payment concept taking on global challenges.”

The “long haul” has a short shelf life these days and it’s not just Facebook’s Messenger that’s ante portas. Apple Pay is shaping up to be part of that “global challenge” that paij will have to deal with. By the way, paij might need to move up a gear or two if it’s develop a convincing European battlespace strategy. The company’s last tweet was on 18 February, the most recent Facebook post was on 2 March and those to click the blog link on the company’s site get this alert:

Welcome to Parallels!

If you are seeing this message, the website for blog.paij.com is not available at this time.
If you are the owner of this website, one of the following things may be occurring:
You have not put any content on your website.
Your provider has suspended this page.

Obviously, paij needs to work on its messaging.

Joyce: the words, so beautiful and sad, like music

Tuesday, 17 March, 2015 1 Comment

Our reading for St Patrick’s Day is taken from A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. The book explores the meaning of identity, authority, belief, autonomy, the Catholic Church and language. It was published in 1916, a seminal year in Irish history and mythology, and the fact that all the issues Joyce explored are still unsettled in the Irish psyche and in Irish society, shows his true genius. In this key scene, Stephen Dedalus has a confrontation with the Dean of Studies, an English Jesuit. Neither has any idea that the act of defining the innocent word “tundish” will have far-reaching consequences. Let us turn now to page 144:

To return to the lamp, he said, the feeding of it is also a nice problem. You must choose the pure oil and you must be careful when you pour it in not to overflow it, not to pour in more than the funnel can hold.
What funnel? asked Stephen.
The funnel through which you pour the oil into your lamp.
That? said Stephen. Is that called a funnel? Is it not a tundish?
What is a tundish?
That. The funnel.
Is that called a tundish in Ireland? asked the dean. I never heard the word in my life.
It is called a tundish in Lower Drumcondra, said Stephen, laughing, where they speak the best English.

A tundish, said the dean reflectively. That is a most interesting word. I must look that word up. Upon my word I must.

His courtesy of manner rang a little false and Stephen looked at the English convert with the same eyes as the elder brother in the parable may have turned on the prodigal. A humble follower in the wake of clamorous conversions, a poor Englishman in Ireland, he seemed to have entered on the stage of Jesuit history when that strange play of intrigue and suffering and envy and struggle and indignity had been all but given through — a late-comer, a tardy spirit. From what had he set out? Perhaps he had been born and bred among serious dissenters, seeing salvation in Jesus only and abhorring the vain pomps of the establishment. Had he felt the need of an implicit faith amid the welter of sectarianism and the jargon of its turbulent schisms, six principle men, peculiar people, seed and snake baptists, supralapsarian dogmatists? Had he found the true church all of a sudden in winding up to the end like a reel of cotton some fine-spun line of reasoning upon insufflation on the imposition of hands or the procession of the Holy Ghost? Or had Lord Christ touched him and bidden him follow, like that disciple who had sat at the receipt of custom, as he sat by the door of some zinc-roofed chapel, yawning and telling over his church pence?

The dean repeated the word yet again.
Tundish! Well now, that is interesting!

The little word seemed to have turned a rapier point of his sensitiveness against this courteous and vigilant foe. He felt with a smart of dejection that the man to whom he was speaking was a countryman of Ben Jonson. He thought:
The language in which we are speaking is his before it is mine. How different are the words home, Christ, ale, master, on his lips and on mine! I cannot speak or write these words without unrest of spirit. His language, so familiar and so foreign, will always be for me an acquired speech. I have not made or accepted its words. My voice holds them at bay. My soul frets in the shadow of his language.

Leaning against the fireplace Stephen heard him greet briskly and impartially every student of the class and could almost see the frank smiles of the coarser students. A desolating pity began to fall like dew upon his easily embittered heart for this faithful serving-man of the knightly Loyola, for this half-brother of the clergy, more venal than they in speech, more steadfast of soul than they, one whom he would never call his ghostly father; and he thought how this man and his companions had earned the name of worldlings at the hands not of the unworldly only but of the worldly also for having pleaded, during all their history, at the bar of God’s justice for the souls of the lax and the lukewarm and the prudent.

Rainy Day wishes all its readers, the lax and the lukewarm and the prudent, a very happy St Patrick’s Day.

Swooping and soaring in elegant and joyful arcs

Monday, 16 March, 2015 0 Comments

Frei Otto, the recipient of this year’s Pritzker Architecture Prize, was scheduled to accept the award in Miami in May, but he died on 9 March a few weeks short of his 90th birthday. His roofing concept for the Munich Olympic Park, which was the central stage for the 1972 Games, continues to impress and inspire.

Frei  Otto art

Frei stands for Freedom, as free and as liberating as a bird in flight, swooping and soaring in elegant and joyful arcs, unrestrained by the dogma of the past, and as compelling in its economy of line and in the improbability of its engineering as it is possible to imagine, giving the marriage of form and function the invisibility of the air we breathe, and the beauty we see in Nature.” Lord Peter Palumbo, Chair of the Jury of the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

The Nigeria of Ben Okri

Sunday, 15 March, 2015 0 Comments

On 28 March, Nigeria will elect a president. The incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the south of the country, is facing a strong challenge from Muhammadu Buhari, who is popular in the mainly Muslim north. John Hare was a district officer for both the colonial British and independent Nigerian governments and his essay, How Northern Nigeria’s Violent History Explains Boko Haram, is a poignant and troubling overview of nation’s past and present. Frankie Edozien, the director of Reporting Africa at New York University, looks at the pre-election landscape and concludes: Nigeria can beat Boko Haram with mercenaries but it won’t win the vote for Jonathan.

Jimi Agbaje

All this brings us to Ben Okri, the Nigerian poet and novelist, who was born on this day in 1959. He’s one of the country’s foremost writers and a key figure in what has been labeled African Traditional Religion realism. He won the Booker Prize in 1991 with The Famished Road, which is set against a background where two opposing political parties try to bribe or coerce people to vote for them. Despite Nigeria’s woes, Ben Okri believes.

The Awakening Age

O ye who travel the meridian line,
May the vision of a new world within you shine.

May eyes that have lived with poverty’s rage,
See through to the glory of the awakening age.

For we are all richly linked in hope,
Woven in history, like a mountain rope.

Together we can ascend to a new height,
Guided by our heart’s clearest light.

When perceptions are changed there’s much to gain,
A flowering of truth instead of pain.

There’s more to a people than their poverty;
There’s their work, wisdom, and creativity.

Along the line may our lives rhyme,
To make a loving harvest of space and time.

Ben Okri (1959 – )

Kate Henshaw

Life in Film

Saturday, 14 March, 2015 0 Comments

Out of Hackney in East London emerges Life in Film, which comprises Samuel Fry, Micky Osment, Dominic Sennett and Edward Ibbotson. This is Brit Pop with hints of The Smiths and David Bowie along with Belle and Sebastian, but the jangle sound of the band contains trans-Atlantic echoes of The Strokes and the Kings of Leon as well. The Followills will be pleased with the homage that reverberates right through Get Closer, which comes from Life in Film’s debut album, Here it Comes.