Gatsby anticipation is in the house. We’ve got a ticket for this evening’s 7 pm screening and great are the expectations. Meanwhile, the spin-off industry rumbles on and no (precious) stone is left unturned as it seeks to cash in on the film of the book. F. Scott Fitzgerald was a customer of Tiffany, the [...]
A cover story in the February 2009 edition of Prospect magazine ensured fame for Phillip Blond, the English political thinker, Anglican theologian and director of the ResPublica think tank. His celebrated essay on Red Toryism proposed a radical communitarian traditionalist conservatism and railed against state and market monopoly. Blond noted that Thatcherism was determined to end state monopolies and markets would then become the vehicle by which prosperity would be attained. “But the free market fundamentalists often did little more than create new monopolies of capital to replace those of the state,” he noted.
At the weekend, Phillip Blond revisited these issues for readers of the Dutch publication, The Post Online, and in “The legacy of Margaret Thatcher” he painted a picture of light and shadow in which the late British Prime Minister was praised for her many international achievements but criticized for what Blond saw as her lack of domestic social conscience. Snippet:
“She simply had no account of the social or the intermediate. For her there were just individuals and everything she tried to do was to create the type of individuals she believed would make Britain great again. The lack of any account of the social blinded her to the fate of her people — human beings need structures to help them in life especially when faced with economic change. But nobody in the north was offered anything except welfare and indifference bordering on hostility.”
And then there’s this barb:
“In respect of negative legacies others abound, her justified hostility to the European project blinded her to the possibility that Britain’s rise back to power might also be through Europe. If she had not disliked non-English speaking people so, she might have helped save Europe (and so fulfil Britain’s historical role on the continent) from the terrible consequences of the euro.”
Phillip Blond has written one of the best Tory essays on the legacy of Margaret Thatcher that we will read this week.
When the Nazis decided to erect a monument, one that would glorify the concept of art as propaganda and venerate their Aryan supremacist ideology, they chose Munich, the “Capital of the Movement”, as the location. The Haus der Kunst (House of Art) “) at Prinzregentenstrasse 1 opened on 18 July 1937 with the Große Deutsche [...]
Before turning to the music of the phenomenal young English guitarist, Mike Dawes, we should mention one of his role models, Pierre Bensusan, a French guitarist from a family of Sephardic Jews that migrated from Spain to Morocco to Algeria. Much of the aesthetic that Dawes has incorporated in his playing can be found in Bensusan’s interpretation of “The Return From Fingal“, a march he learned from the piping of Séamus Ennis. Apart from Bensusan, the other finger-style players who have influenced Mike Dawes are Jon Gomm and Michael Hedges.
And then there were four: In today’s Champions League semi-final draw we have Barcelona, Bayern München, Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund. Will it be Bundesliga vs. Bundesliga and Primera División vs. Primera División with the best of both meeting in Wembley Stadium on 25 May? Exciting.
While we’re counting down to the draw, let’s read about Abel Rodríguez from Mexico, who waxes floors for a living in Los Angeles and takes two weeks holiday every year to work for free for Real Madrid when the club does its summer training in Los Angeles. He had always dreamed of seeing Real playing their great rivals Barca in Madrid in El Clásico, as fans call the contest, so his family urged him to go. And he went. Without a match ticket or a hotel reservation. He arrived in the Spanish capital and sat outside the club’s training grounds for hours until manager José Mourinho spotted him as he was leaving. “Stop! It’s the guy from Los Angeles.” And that’s how the magical journey of Abel Rodríguez began. It’s documented beautifully by Grant Wahl in Sports Illustrated. Snippet:
“Mourinho called an assistant and arranged for Rodríguez to have his own room at the fancy hotel where Real Madrid was staying before the Barcelona game. Mourinho instructed him to get some rest at the hotel and meet him at the training site the next morning. That evening, the night before El Clásico, the two men caught up for 90 minutes together before sharing dinner with the Real Madrid coaching staff.”
It’s only a game, some say.
UPDATE: Bayern München vs. Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund vs. Real Madrid. The semi-final first legs will be on 23 and 24 April and the return legs on 30 April and 1 May.
“Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things I am here to read…” So wrote James Joyce at the outset of the Proteus episode of his epic novel Ulysses. Inspired by this Joycean stream of consciousness musing, the Central Bank of Ireland decided to issue 10,000 James Joyce silver collector coins, denominated at €10 and selling for €46 each bearing that introductory quote. However, with all the genius that has hallmarked its management of Ireland’s financial affairs, the Irish Central Bank coin quotes Joyce thus: “Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things that I am here to read.” Lovers of the great Shem will recoil in horror at this as he did not use the word “that” in that second sentence. That bankers might attempt to “improve” the grammar of James Joyce is too rich for satire.
Interestingly, the Central Bank of Ireland had the Joyce coins made by Mayer’s Mint GmbH in Pforzheim in Germany, and when Stephen Dedalus, a central character in Ulysses, wanders along Dublin’s Sandymount Strand, where he ponders the ineluctable modality of the visible, he begins to think about the theory of the difference between visual arts and poetry as espoused by the German dramaturg Gotthold Lessing, in which action (nacheinander) in contrasted with inaction (nebeneinander).
“Stephen closed his eyes to hear his boots crush crackling wrack and shells. You are walking through it howsomever. I am, a stride at a time. A very short space of time through very short times of space. Five, six: the nacheinander. Exactly: and that is the ineluctable modality of the audible. Open your eyes. No. Jesus! If I fell over a cliff that beetles o’er his base, fell through the nebeneinander ineluctably. I am getting on nicely in the dark. My ash sword hangs at my side. Tap with it: they do. My two feet in his boots are at the end of his legs, nebeneinander. Sounds solid: made by the mallet of Los Demiurgos. Am I walking into eternity along Sandymount strand?”
UPDATE: “The Central Bank acknowledges that the text on the Joyce coin does not correspond to the precise text as it appears in Ulysses (an additional word ‘that’ has been added to the second sentence). While the error is regretted, it should be noted that the coin is an artistic representation of the author and text and not intended as a literal representation.” Since when has a quote become “a literal representation” of a text? Think of the implications.
Rio de Janeiro, the iconic Brazilian city, is famed for its natural beauty but the price is a plague of flash floods and landslides down the steep mountains that frame Copacabana Beach. Two years ago this month, a severe storm caused 212 deaths and left 15,000 people homeless.
Enter IBM. It’s providing Rio with computing power for an urban operations centre to help meteorologists, police and more than 30 city departments to predict the danger of, and respond rapidly to emergencies. The high-end weather system, called Deep Thunder, combines tracking of incoming storms with a “deep computing” capacity that’s able to predict the likely intensity of an oncoming storm.
The data can then be correlated with sensor systems on hillsides that determine soil stability and landslide danger. Alerts should make it possible to warn residents in advance of storms, to close down streets, mobilize ambulances and turn off electric power to prevent electrocutions. The system is connected to the mayor’s home so that even in the middle of the night he can be in the emergency communications and command centre when danger looms.
IBM: “With the World Cup coming to Rio in 2014, the forecast for the business-of-weather approach pioneered by Deep Thunder looks bright.”
In her two autobiographies, The Downing Street Years and The Path To Power, the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher made clear that she wanted the UK to have no part of EMU (Economic and Monetary Union) in the form of what became the euro currency. With uncanny prescience, she foresaw that Germany would baulk at the inexorable need for greater inflation and that the weaker countries would inescapably become uncompetitive and need bailouts.
“I said that it was psychologically wrong to put ourselves in a frame of mind in which we accepted the inevitability of moves towards EMU rather than attacking the whole concept. We had arguments which might persuade both the Germans — who would be worried about the weakening of anti-inflation policies — and the poorer countries — who must be told they would not be bailed out of the consequences of a single currency, which would therefore devastate their inefficient economies.” The Downing Street Years (1993)
And so it has come to pass. After Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus have had to be bailed out, and now Slovenia is wobbling into parlous territory. If only the hotheads had listened to Mrs Thatcher 23 years ago, much of the current suffering could have been avoided.
“It will be recalled that when John Major and I had been discussing the tactics required to resist pressure towards economic and monetary union in the summer of 1990, I had been quite prepared for the other eleven Governments to negotiate a separate treaty for Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). Under this, Germany and France would finish up paying all the regional subventions which the poorer countries would insist upon if they were going to lose their ability to compete on the basis of a currency that reflected their economic performance.” The Path To Power (1995)
As it’s turned out, Germany, not France, is paying for the poorer countries in the form of a new wave of anti-German feeling swelling across Europe. The things that vex stony sleep to nightmare are many, as the poet said.
“For my part, I favour an approach to statecraft that embraces principles, as long as it is not stifled by them; and I prefer such principles to be accompanied by steel along with good intentions.” Margaret Thatcher (13 October 1925 — 8 April 2013)
“Socialists cry ‘Power to the people’, and raise the clenched fist as they say it. We all know what they really mean—power over people, power to the State.”
Reviewing Gus Van Sant’s Elephant in November 2003 for the Chicago Sun-Times, the late Roger Ebert had this to say about the uses of violence by the media industry: “Let me tell you a story. The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory [...]
The binyeo is a traditional Korean hairpin. It serves as ornamentation, but its main purpose is to keep a chignon (knot of hair) in place. Binyeos are divided into two kinds, a jam, which has a long body, and a che, which has an inverted U shape. Although binyeos are usually worn by women, they [...]
The islands of Orkney in the cold waters of the North Sea are the most remote of Scotland’s whisky-producing areas. Along with Arran, Jura, Mull and Skye, Orkney is part of the Islands whisky region. Today, there are only two distilleries on Orkney: Highland Park and Scapa. Apart from whisky, Orkney has given the world the excellent Kris Drever.
Wish I had a banjo string
Made of golden twine
Every tune I’d play on it
I wish that girl were mine
Wish I had a needle and thread
Fine as I could sew
I’d sew that pretty girl to my side
And down the road I’d go