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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.

Bloomberg says: Germany and Brazil

Friday, 4 July, 2014 0 Comments

The Bloomberg World Cup 2014 Predictions & Results team have been uncanny in the accuracy of their predictions to date. For this evening’s games, they’re going with Germany and Brazil, which should please lots of people, except the fans of France and Colombia. As regards the final, they’re sticking with Brazil vs. Argentina, with a win for the home side.

10 Tricks to Appear Smart During Meetings

Thursday, 3 July, 2014 1 Comment

Over at Medium, the aspiring writer and accomplished pedestrian Sarah Cooper reveals 10 Tricks to Appear Smart During Meetings:

10. Make fun of yourself

If someone asks what you think, and you honestly didn’t hear a single word anyone said for the last hour, just say,
‘I honestly didn’t hear a single word anyone said for the last hour.” People love self-deprecating humor. Say things like, “Maybe we can just use the lawyers from my divorce,’ or ‘God I wish I was dead.’ They’ll laugh, value your honesty, consider contacting H.R., but most importantly, think you’re the smartest person in the room.

The impossible Lionel Messi

Wednesday, 2 July, 2014 0 Comments

Benjamin Morris, who researches and writes about sports for FiveThirtyEight, has produced a monumental piece on Lionel Messi. Snippet:

“Messi makes more passes than the other forwards, with a higher percentage of those passes trying to advance the ball toward the goal, and a higher percentage of those passes finding their targets (typical Messi!). His 3,800-plus completed forward passes are nearly twice as many as any forward in our data set (Francesco Totti for FC Roma has 2,200, followed by Wayne Rooney, the English striker, with 1,800 and Ronaldo with 1,500).”

Messi

Facebook needs an ethical code

Tuesday, 1 July, 2014 0 Comments

So, Facebook manipulated users’ feeds for a psychology experiment. Why is this is controversial? Over at Animal, Sophie Weiner explains:

“Apparently what many of us feared is already a reality: Facebook is using us as lab rats, and not just to figure out which ads we’ll respond to but to actually change our emotions. According to the authors of this study, it was all perfectly legal. Using an algorithm that can recognize negative or positive words, the researchers were able to comb through NewsFeeds without actually viewing any text that may have been protected under users’ privacy settings. “As such, it was consistent with Facebook’s Data Use Policy, to which all users agree prior to creating an account on Facebook, constituting informed consent for this research,” the study’s authors wrote. That’s right: You consented to be randomly selected for this kind of research when you signed up for Facebook. Might want to check out that User Policy again.”

Is anyone is surprised by this?

Pre-metric weights and measures

Monday, 30 June, 2014 0 Comments

Gooseberries have been a popular fruit in Ireland since as far back as Elizabethan times. Right now, they are bright green, and quite hard and tart, which makes them ideal for making gooseberry fool.

Berries

The rags of time

Sunday, 29 June, 2014 0 Comments

John Donne’s The Sun Rising is an aubade, a morning poem that mourns lovers’ parting. Donne, a satirist, lawyer and priest, is considered the pre-eminent representative of the metaphysical English poets.

Busy old fool, unruly sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late school boys and sour prentices,
Go tell court huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices,
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

John Donne (1572 — 1631)

Flight Brigade

Saturday, 28 June, 2014 0 Comments

The music of Flight Brigade has been described as a dark dystopian soundscape of triumphant optimism that’s filtered “through a lifting combination of driving piano, soaring strings, accelerating guitars and intertwining harmonies.”

Look Out, Belgium!

Friday, 27 June, 2014 0 Comments

“Germany are the most complete team in the tournament. They have the top goal poachers and a great goalkeeper; they have a midfield packed with creativity and greed for the ball. And they are Germany! More than Italy, Spain, and any other European power, they advance through the World Cup with demoralizing consistency. To be paired against them is to have a strong suspicion of the unfortunate outcome. Their history implants itself in the brain.”

So writes Franklin Foer in Bravo, Klinsmann. And Look Out, Belgium! Foer is the author of How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization, and along with Aleksandar Hemon and Karl Ove Knausgaard he’s leading coverage of the World Cup for The New Republic.

Finding Vivian Maier

Thursday, 26 June, 2014 0 Comments

Excellent documentary about a mysterious nanny, who secretly took over 100,000 photographs and hid them in storage lockers. They were discovered decades later, and Vivian Maier is ranked now among the 20th century’s greatest photographers.