Saturday 6 March, 2021

Nabokov’s view

Trinity Lane, Cambridge, in winter. I think Vladimir Nabokov had a room looking out on the lane when he was a student here.

Quote of the Day

”The basic difference between classical music and jazz is that in the former music is always greater than its performance — whereas the way jazz is performed is always more important than what is being played.”

  • André Previn

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Mozart | “Ch’io mi scordi di te… Non temer, amato bene | K. 505 | Magdalena Kožená | Orchestra Of The Age Of Enlightenment | Simon Rattle | Jos Van Immerseel


Wait until you’re two minutes in and then stop everything.

Long Read of the Day

The Frontiers Of Digital Democracy

If you’re interested — as I am — in using digital technology as a means of revitalising democracy rather than as a method of undermining it while making a few moguls insanely rich, then Audrey Tang is a really interesting figure — a talented Taiwanese free software programmer who is also minister without portfolio in the Taiwanese government. This must be the first time a serious geek has held such an important public office. This conversation gives a fascinating insight in the attempts Taiwan is making to use tech to enrich deliberative democracy. You might describe as an attempt to reinvent the consent of the governed.

Love persevering

Scott Galloway is an amazing man — prominent business academic, wealthy tech investor, expert on branding and marketing, opinionated as hell, often noisy. Like me, he thinks Facebook is a toxic corporation. He’s also wonderfully frank about what’s going on in his head. But the current edition of his weekly blog really brought me up short. The trigger for it was that earlier in the week, his family had to have their beloved dog Zoe put down. The post is about the impact this has had on the family — and on Scott himself.

Here’s an excerpt:

Zoe’s death has rocked our household. The other dog won’t come out of his crate, the nanny won’t stop crying, my oldest doesn’t want to come out of his room, and (most disturbingly) his 10 year-old brother is doing what we ask him to. We’ve been a bit self-conscious about our grief as we recognize that 500,000+ U.S. households haven’t lost a pet, but a dad, aunt, or other loved one in the last 12 months. But our grief persists.

At first, I was fine playing the role of the stoic dad: “She lived a great life,” “This is what’s best for her,” etc. Then yesterday, on a livestream with Verizon and 60 of its communications agency partners, I started sobbing while describing the harm Facebook is doing to society. Despite all the macho and strength I aspire to project, there I was, 56 years old and a chocolate mess on a Zoom call with dozens of people who want confirmation that they should serve ads on Yahoo.

I think that most people who’ve had a pet over a long time will understand how one can experience grief when the animal passes away. Most of us try to put a brave face on it (certainly I have in my time), but the grief is real — especially when one has had to ask for a termination to put the pet out of agony. And so I admire Scott Galloway’s honest empathy.

Other, hopefully interesting, links

  • Stephen Fry on his writing process. Interesting video. He uses the same software as I do (Ulysses) — not that that means anything. Link
  • Walker ‘stunned’ to see ship hovering high above sea off Cornwall.. Wonderful story. The moral: if you see something really weird, take a photograph before it disappears. Otherwise people will think you’re losing your marbles. Link

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