“There’s no reason to blot the page up with weird little marks. I mean, if you write properly you shouldn’t have to punctuate.” So says Cormac McCarthy in stimulating Open Culture overview of his style. For McCarthy, the minimalism of James Joyce is a good model for punctuation. The comments, inevitably, are mixed.
A man seeks his own destiny and no other, said the judge. Wil or nill. Any man who could discover his own fate and elect therefore some opposite course could only come at last to that selfsame reckoning at the same appointed time, for each man’s destiny is as large as the world he inhabits and contains within it all opposites as well. The desert upon which so many have been broken is vast and calls for largeness of heart but it is also ultimately empty. It is hard, it is barren. Its very nature is stone.” Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian
The 2014 edition of the Calgary Folk Music Festival is underway. Thursday’s kick-off included Trampled By Turtles, Valerie June, Hey Rosetta and Andrew Bird. Last night, it was the turn of Lee Fields & The Expressions, Rufus Wainwright, Amos Lee, funk-punk pioneers Fishbone and the superb Great Lake Swimmers.Tweet
It was a brave thing for Craig Mod to write “Let’s fly: How to survive air travel” on Wednesday. Brave because it has been a horrific week for aviation as 464 people have died in airliner disasters over the past seven days.
Yesterday, an Algerian plane carrying 118 passengers and crew from Ouagadougou to Algiers crashed in northern Mali, claiming the lives of everyone aboard. On Wednesday, a TransAsia Airways flight crashed during an emergency landing in Taiwan and 48 passengers died, and that tragedy came a week after Malaysia Airlines’ flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing the 298 passengers and crew on board.
Air travel remains incredibly safe, however. According to planecrashinfo.com, between 25 and 35 major planes disasters happened each year throughout the 1960s and ’70s. But the last time that figure hit 20 was 1997, and it’s declined steadily ever since.
“You are on a plane but are not. You could be anywhere. You are untouchable. You are possibly the most insufferable traveler ever. You float and smile because you are the Dalai Lama.
This is how you survive air travel.”
So says Craig Mod.Tweet
Despite the obfuscation of the Kremlin and the thuggery of its stooges in Donetsk, there is no doubt in the public mind that the tragedy of MH17 is closely linked to the use of a Russian-built Buk surface-to-air missile. One man, Eliot Higgins, the brains behind the bellingcat project, is assembling an invaluable dossier of open source material that will, one day, help bring the culprits to the justice they so richly deserve. Meanwhile, Higgins deserves our support for the exemplary work that he’s doing in creating a platform for “citizen investigative journalists.”Tweet
One of the most original films of 1973 was Michael Crichton’s science fiction thriller Westworld, which was set in a theme park made up of three zones: Medieval World, Roman World and West World. The park is populated by robots programmed to act out fight scenes and accommodate the sexual desires of the guests, but as the story progresses the androids go rogue. One guest is killed by a robot knight during a sword fight and the others are are hunted down by the relentless “Gunslinger”, played by Yul Brynner.
Deadline now reports that HBO has approved a pilot production that will keep the setting of the 1973 film, and will star Sir Anthony Hopkins and Evan Rachel Wood in “a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin.” Splendid!Tweet
The New Yorker is offering everything it’s published online since 2007 for free all summer long. The impetus for the free-for-all is the the launching of the magazine’s new-look website, and the move coincides with a fresh assessment of the future of an institution that will be 90 next year:
The print version of The New Yorker is still a fine technology (try rolling up your iPad; and don’t drop it too often!), but more advanced technology has some distinct advantages. Publishing beyond the printed page allows us to present the gift of greater immediacy, the ability to respond to events when we have something to say; the site offers podcasts, video, interactive graphics, and slide shows of photographs and cartoons. The new design also allows us to reach back and highlight work from our archives more easily.
There’s a lot of reading to be done between now that the introduction of the magazine’s metered paywall when the fall foliage begins to appear.Tweet
Earlier today, Reuters reported that for the first time ever, more people in China access the web on a mobile device as opposed to a PC. According to the China Internet Network Information Center, of the 632 million internet users in China, 83 percent (527 million) used a mobile phone or tablet to do so. Money quote: “The fastest growing services were mobile payment, where users shot up 63.4 percent, online banking, with a 56.4 percent rise, and mobile travel booking, which was up 65.4 percent.”
Noteworthy stat: China is the world’s biggest smartphone market, and by 2018 is likely to account for nearly one-third of the expected 1.8 billion smartphones shipped then.Tweet
So says David Frum: “It’s not as dangerous as it was, but it’s more than dangerous enough. Nearly 300 bereaved families in the Netherlands, Britain, Canada, and elsewhere have suffered what hundreds of Ukrainians have suffered since Russian sharpshooters opened fire on peacefully protesting crowds in Kyiv last winter.”
The danger is not abstract, either: “And we are all more vulnerable to that danger because we have let atrophy the institutions necessary to meet and contain that danger. It’s time — past time — to build those institutions back. That’s been the meaning of the Ukraine crisis from the start. The terrible heartbreak of MH17 might have been averted if we had absorbed that meaning early. But better to absorb it now than to leave it any longer.”
Time to act.Tweet
Yesterday, Emirates flight EK171 Dubai-Kiev returned to Dubai “due to the safety concerns raised with the latest reports on Malaysian flight MH17.” The press release added: “Our flights to Kiev are suspended with immediate effect, till further notice.”
Other airlines announcing they plan to stay clear of Ukrainian airspace include Aeroflot, Air France, Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic, Turkish Airlines and KLM. But why were they flying over a combat zone in the first place? The answer is as mundane as it is sobering: Because diverting planes along new routes can add to flying time, which means more fuel consumption.
None of this, of course, excuses the actions of those who targeted the Malaysia Airlines 777.Tweet