Thursday 4 November, 2021

No Way!

I love this picture and wish it were mine. I think it was (deservedly) a prize-winner in a nature photography contest some years ago, but I can’t find any details and so can’t credit the photographer. At the beginning of the pandemic, I had the idea of using it as my Zoom placeholder, but it gave the wrong impression to my colleagues, so I abandoned it. It’s always reminded me of that wonderful New Yorker cartoon which shows a male peacock, in full regalia, staring in astonishment at a distinctly unimpressed female and saying: “What do you mean — No?”

Quote of the Day

Fifty years ago, at a harp recital in Gloucester­shire, a retired British military officer with a clipped aristo accent came across a brown-skinned teenager. “I say, old chap, do you speak English?” the officer said.

As a story in Yale’s New Journal recounted, the young man —Kwame Anthony Akroma-Ampim Kusi Appiah—replied, “Why don’t you ask my grandmother?”.

“Who, may I ask, is your grandmother?” the retired officer said.

“Lady Cripps.”

Lady Cripps was Isobel Cripps, the widow of Sir Stafford Cripps, a Christian socialist and Labour politician who had been chancellor of the exchequer and the Crown’s ambassador to the Soviet Union; he was known for his stalwart desire to relinquish Britain’s imperial possessions, from Calcutta to Accra.

I love this story, which comes from a Paris Review interview by David Remnick, Editor of the  New Yorker .

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

James Galway and The Chieftains | Over the Sea to Skye


Nice arrangement of a familiar tune and an interesting combination of musical talent. For a gentle alternative try this recording by the Corries.

Long Read of the Day

Memory lanes: Google’s map of our lives

This is really charming — an essay about memories triggered by seeing people from one’s past when browsing Google Streetview.

Rather than offering a facsimile of the world we live in, Street View offers something more profound: the opportunity to spot loved ones on familiar streets, unaware that their errand or commute would be captured for posterity by the all-seeing eye of a camera-mounted Street View car.

Worth your time.

Chart of the Day

Source: The Lancet

More on that Zuckerberg video about the Metaverse

You may have been wondering where Nick Clegg stands in all this. Well, this video has the beginnings of an answer.

Many thanks to the readers who suggested it.

A message from Will Shakespeare

Via Michelle Cohn in McSweeney’s:

Greetings, fair countrymen. It is I, William Shakespeare, sending word from beyond the grave. I have seen the influence of my canon, and I’ve relished watching many fine actors and theaters put on productions of my plays that have stirred hearts and minds alike. But I come to you from the afterlife with one humble request.

Please stop letting high schoolers put on Macbeth.

Macbeth is about status, it’s about ambition, it’s about the corruption of the human soul once it gives in to the spoils of evil. Nothing a bunch of pimply teens living in suburban Westchester have ever come in contact with. I mean, seriously, do you think a seventeen-year-old can realistically go from eating a pack of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos to being one of the fiercest protagonists in literary history? Are you kidding me? The poor kid is probably wearing Calvin Klein underwear from Target, and he’s supposed to portray a tyrant? A murderous tyrant? I’ve seen these kids—they freak out if they see a cockroach. They come to rehearsal in basketball shorts, and then recite my immortal “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” speech. God, it makes me want to cry.

Furthermore, I didn’t write the role of Lady Macbeth, one of the most iconic in the history of the theater, so that it could be played by a high school senior who sees this as her big chance to show the school her acting chops. I simply can’t watch another performance of my esteemed work where my villainous queen is clearly half thinking about getting high with the three witches at the cast party. I refuse to be witness to another “unsex me here” speech performed by a young waif who unironically reads Cosmopolitan for advice.

He is, though, keen on more teenage productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. “That play”, he thinks, “works much better, as high schoolers are a bunch of horny freaks anyway”.

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