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Very slow (sometimes no) net connection here

Monday, 23 June, 2014 0 Comments

Sassoon on Sunday

Sunday, 22 June, 2014 0 Comments

Looking back over the lengthy literary career of Siegfried Sassoon, Peter Levi wrote in Poetry Review: “One can experience in his poetry the slow, restless ripening of a very great talent; its magnitude has not yet been recognised…. He is one of the few poets of his generation we are really unable to do without.”

Everyone Sang

Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on—on—and out of sight.

Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away … O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.

Siegfried Sassoon (1886 — 1967)

The Gothenburg sound scene

Saturday, 21 June, 2014 0 Comments

“There’s always been a tradition of DIY and keeping things pretty rough and unpolished, that keeps it warm and alive,” says indie singer-songwriter José González. He’s talking about Gothenburg’s underground music scene. The Swedish city is famous for its Way out West festival, which takes place in early August. Until then, let’s chill with the sounds of The Embassy, Frida Sundemo and Boat Club.

World Refugee Day

Friday, 20 June, 2014 0 Comments

Today is World Refugee Day and, according to figures just released, the number of people forced to flee their homes across the globe has exceeded 50 million for the first time since the Second World War. Refugee numbers are stretching host countries and aid organisations to breaking point. Bound up with the tragedy of displacement is the trauma of those left behind. As the Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat wrote in Brother, I’m Dying: “It’s not easy to start over in a new place,” he said. “Exile is not for everyone. Someone has to stay behind, to receive the letters and greet family members when they come back.”

Yo!

Thursday, 19 June, 2014 2 Comments

A sign of our times? Investors have ponyed up $1 million in venture funding for an app that doesn’t do anything except let you send the word “Yo” to other people.

The description of the app in the Apple Store is priceless:

Wanna say “good morning?” Just yo.
Wanna say “Baby I’m thinking about you?” – Yo.
“I’ve finished my meeting, come by my office” – Yo.
“Are you up?” – Yo.

According to the Urban Dictionary, yo is, among other things, “A contraction of the possessive prenominal adjective ‘your’”. But it’s much more, of course, and the astonishing popularity of this simplest of apps is being interpreted as a sign not only of our times but of an emerging digital dualism.

Francis redefines the Popemobile

Wednesday, 18 June, 2014 0 Comments

When he greets crowds at the Vatican, his custom Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen is completely open. So writes Alex Nunez in a Road & Track piece titled “Pope Francis on why he eschews a bulletproof Popemobile“. The Pontiff in trading security for intimacy and is quoted as telling Barcelona’s La Vanguardia: “It’s true that anything could happen, but let’s face it, at my age I don’t have much to lose.”

There might be more to that fatalistic quip than meets the eye because on Monday the Vatican’s news service announced that that Francis is drastically curtailing his schedule by suspending his popular Wednesday audiences in July and skipping his daily Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, where he lives.

He’s had a busy year so maybe it’s just a well-earned break.

Google’s toothbrush test in Brazil

Tuesday, 17 June, 2014 0 Comments

When Larry Page returned to being Google’s CEO in 2011, he said he wanted to develop more services that people would use at least twice a day, like a toothbrush. Now that football is in the air, so to speak, the search engine giant has launched its Project Loon balloons in Northeast Brazil to connect an isolated school, Linoca Gayoso, to the internet for the first time. Interestingly, the Loon trial is using LTE technologies, which allow Google’s stratospheric balloons to link directly to smartphones and tablets.

It’s all to play for.

Bloomsday water

Monday, 16 June, 2014 0 Comments

It’s 16 June, which makes it Bloomsday, and in Ulysses James Joyce asks: “What in water did Bloom, waterlover, drawer of water, watercarrier, returning to the range, admire?” The answer:

“Its universality: its democratic equality and constancy to its nature in seeking its own level: its vastness in the ocean of Mercator’s projection: its unplumbed profundity in the Sundam trench of the Pacific exceeding 8000 fathoms: the restlessness of its waves and surface particles visiting in turn all points of its seaboard: the independence of its units: the variability of states of sea: its hydrostatic quiescence in calm: its hydrokinetic turgidity in neap and spring tides: its subsidence after devastation: its sterility in the circumpolar icecaps, arctic and antarctic: its climatic and commercial significance: its preponderance of 3 to 1 over the dry land of the globe: its indisputable hegemony extending in square leagues over all the region below the subequatorial tropic of Capricorn: the multisecular stability of its primeval basin: its luteofulvous bed: its capacity to dissolve and hold in solution all soluble substances including millions of tons of the most precious metals: its slow erosions of peninsulas and islands, its persistent formation of homothetic islands, peninsulas and downwardtending promontories: its alluvial deposits: its weight and volume and density: its imperturbability in lagoons and highland tarns: its gradation of colours in the torrid and temperate and frigid zones: its vehicular ramifications in continental lakecontained streams and confluent oceanflowing rivers with their tributaries and transoceanic currents, gulfstream, north and south equatorial courses: its violence in seaquakes, waterspouts, Artesian wells, eruptions, torrents, eddies, freshets, spates, groundswells, watersheds, waterpartings, geysers, cataracts, whirlpools, maelstroms, inundations, deluges, cloudbursts: its vast circumterrestrial ahorizontal curve: its secrecy in springs and latent humidity, revealed by rhabdomantic or hygrometric instruments and exemplified by the well by the hole in the wall at Ashtown gate, saturation of air, distillation of dew: the simplicity of its composition, two constituent parts of hydrogen with one constituent part of oxygen: its healing virtues: its buoyancy in the waters of the Dead Sea: its persevering penetrativeness in runnels, gullies, inadequate dams, leaks on shipboard: its properties for cleansing, quenching thirst and fire, nourishing vegetation: its infallibility as paradigm and paragon: its metamorphoses as vapour, mist, cloud, rain, sleet, snow, hail: its strength in rigid hydrants: its variety of forms in loughs and bays and gulfs and bights and guts and lagoons and atolls and archipelagos and sounds and fjords and minches and tidal estuaries and arms of sea: its solidity in glaciers, icebergs, icefloes: its docility in working hydraulic millwheels, turbines, dynamos, electric power stations, bleachworks, tanneries, scutchmills: its utility in canals, rivers, if navigable, floating and graving docks: its potentiality derivable from harnessed tides or watercourses falling from level to level: its submarine fauna and flora (anacoustic, photophobe), numerically, if not literally, the inhabitants of the globe: its ubiquity as constituting 90 percent of the human body: the noxiousness of its effluvia in lacustrine marshes, pestilential fens, faded flowerwater, stagnant pools in the waning moon.”

That’s what the amazing Joyce saw in water.

Italy 2 : England 1

Sunday, 15 June, 2014 0 Comments

For commentary on the after-match inquest, let’s turn to Britain’s poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

The Shirt

Afterwards, I found him alone at the bar
and asked him what went wrong. It’s the shirt,
he said. When I pull it on it hangs on my back

like a shroud, or a poisoned jerkin from Grimm
seeping its curse onto my skin, the worst tattoo.

I shower and shave before I shrug on the shirt,
smell like a dream; but the shirt sours my scent

with the sweat and stink of fear. It’s got my number.
I poured him another shot. Speak on, my son. He did.
I’ve wanted to sport the shirt since I was a kid,

but now when I do it makes me sick, weak, paranoid.

All night above the team hotel, the moon is the ball

in a penalty kick. Tens of thousands of fierce stars

are booing me. A screech owl is the referee.

The wind’s a crowd, forty years long, bawling a filthy song

about my Wag. It’s the bloody shirt! He started to blub
like a big girl’s blouse and I felt a fleeting pity.
Don’t cry, I said, at the end of the day you’ll be back

on 100K a week and playing for City.

Elbow abroad

Saturday, 14 June, 2014 0 Comments

Tonight, Elbow are in Brussels. On the 25th of June, they’re in Dublin, in the Irish Museum of Modern Art, located at the old Royal Hospital. Those Manchester lads do get about.

“Every bone of rivet steel, each corner stone and angle
Jenga jut and rusted water, tower, pillar, post and sign
Every painted line and battered, laddered building in this town
Sings a life of proud endeavour and the best that man can be”

Tesla: All Our Patent Are Belong To You

Friday, 13 June, 2014 0 Comments

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, has announced that the company will let anyone use its patented technology: “Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.”

The devil is in the details, however: “Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.” But what does “in good faith” mean here exactly?