Monday 18 July, 2022

Ceci n’est pas une fenêtre…

… as Matisse Magritte might put it.

Seen on Friday evening in Arles, the final waypoint on our slow journey to Provence.

Quote of the Day

”Negotiating with de Valera…is like trying to pick up mercury with a fork.”

  • Lloyd George

(To which de valera memorably replied, “Why doesn’t he use a spoon?

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Harold Arlen | Stormy Weather


A very early, and lovely, recording. You might have to turn up the volume a bit because the sound balance is a bit off.

Long Read of the Day

Is the World Really Falling Apart, or Does It Just Feel That Way?

One of the besetting sins of most journalism is that it is — inevitably — obsessed with what the sociologist Michael Mann once called “the sociology of the last five minutes”, which I guess is a really good description of ‘news’. But we need to escape that tyranny sometimes, because understanding the last five minutes often requires understanding how we got to them.

That’s why I liked this essay by Max Fisher. Has the world entered a time of unusual turbulence, he asks, or does it just feel that way?

Scanning the headlines, it’s easy to conclude that something has broken. The pandemic. Accelerating crises from climate change. Global grain shortage. Russia’s war on Ukraine. Political and economic meltdown in Sri Lanka. A former prime minister’s assassination in Japan. And, in the United States: inflation, mass shootings, a reckoning over Jan. 6 and collapsing abortion rights.

That sense of chaos can be difficult to square with longer-term data showing that, on many metrics, the world is generally becoming better off.

The idea that things used to be better than they are now is hard to shake off. But any attempt to make sense of our contemporary traumas requires us to

Consider the mid-1990s, a time that Americans tend to remember as one of global stability and optimism. If today were really a time of exceptional turmoil, then surely that world would look better in comparison?

In reality, the opposite is true. The mid-1990s saw genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia. Years of war in Europe amid Yugoslavia’s collapse. Devastating famines in Sudan, Somalia and North Korea. Civil wars in over a dozen countries. Crackdowns and coups too numerous to mention.

Yep. This is an interesting piece. Worth your time.

My commonplace booklet

N.I.M.B.Y. Membership Application

Painfully acute satire by Devin Wallace.

Question Three: What is your biggest concern about building new homes in your area? A. Decreasing property values. B. More people, specifically ones that don’t look like me. C. Option B but I feel more comfortable publicly choosing option A.

Question Four: Where do you think new housing should be built instead? A. The town on the other side of the railroad tracks. B. A brand-new city, that’s a thing we can definitely do, right? C. Mexico.

Question Five: Should all new housing be affordable to all? A. Absolutely! Especially because my own house is so expensive. B. Yes and new residents should be crowned the kings and queens of small, independent island nations in the Pacific. If that entirely reasonable request prevents new housing from being built, so be it. C. Are we still using affordable housing as a smokescreen? Can I re-check the box about people that don’t look like me?

You get the point?

This Blog is also available as a daily email. If you think that might suit you better, why not subscribe? One email a day, Monday through Friday, delivered to your inbox. It’s free, and you can always unsubscribe if you conclude your inbox is full enough already!