Wednesday 7 July, 2021

Waiting for Hockney

March 15, 2012, outside the Royal Academy.

Quote of the Day

”No critic who is any good sets out deliberately to enlighten someone else; he writes to put his own ideas in order.”

  • Alfred Kazan

(Same goes for bloggers.)

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

“Schindler’s List” | Performed in Budapest before an audience of 8,000 people | Soloist Csongor Korossy


Thanks to Neil Sequiera for suggesting it.

Long Read of the Day

The New York Times’s ‘Nazi Correspondent’

An interesting piece in Tablet Magazine.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, The New York Times bureau chief in Berlin, Guido Enderis, was known to sit in the bar of the city’s famous Adlon Hotel spouting “a loudmouthed defense of Nazism,” eventually provoking another reporter to complain to the Times’ publisher: “Isn’t it about time that The New York Times did something about its Nazi correspondent?”

But the Times had no intention of doing anything about Enderis. In fact, it valued his close connections to the Nazi government, as it had throughout the 1930s…

On the other hand, even the American Ambassador to the UK, Joe Kennedy (father of JFK and a grade-A monster), was deeply impressed by the Nazis and opposed giving military or economic aid to his host country. During the Battle of Britain in November 1940 he publicly suggested that “Democracy is finished in England”. Robert Harris wrote a fine novel, Fatherland, based on the idea that Kennedy’s views prevailed and the Nazis occupied Britain.

The 3 Simple Rules that underscore the danger of the Delta variant. 

Another sobering read from Ed Yong. His three ‘rules’ are:

  1. The vaccines are still beating the variants.
  2. The variants are hitting unvaccinated people hard. And most of the world’s population is unvaccinated.
  3. The longer Rule 2 continues, the less likely Rule 1 will hold. Unvaccinated people — and especially those who have been asymptomatically infected — are basically variant factories. So one day we’ll get to, say, the Omricon (15th) variant and all vaccines will need to be reconfigured.

We’re in this for the long haul. Which is why it’s in all our interests to vaccinate everyone, because if a more infectious variant exists anywhere it will eventually be everywhere. As we’re discovering with Delta.

What really matters

Dave Birch has a nice story on his blog about the retirement party for a senior banker in the old days.

The guy in question had risen to a fairly senior position, so he got a fancy retirement party as I believe is the custom in such institutions. When he stepped up on stage to accept his retirement gift, the chairman of the bank conducted a short interview with him to review his lifetime of service.

He asked the retiree “you’ve been here for such a long time and you’ve seen so many changes, so much new technology in your time here, tell us which new technology made the biggest difference to your job?”

The guy thought for a few seconds and then said “air conditioning”.

It’s a funny story, says Dave,

but it’s an important story because it includes a profound truth. Robert Gordon’s magisterial investigation of productivity in the US economy “The Rise and Fall of American Growth”, shows very clearly that the introduction of air conditioning did indeed lead to a measurable jump in productivity, clearly visible in the productivity statistics.

Same was true — still is — about what has come to be known as EdTech — i.e. educational technology. One of my Open University colleagues, Tim (now Sir Tim) O’Shea, was an acknowledged expert on it, but he was always judiciously sceptical of the tech ‘solutionism’ implicit in the industry. Famously, he once infuriated a prestigious conference by declaring that “the only piece of educational technology known for sure to work is the school bus!” He later went on to become Master of Birkbeck College in London and then Principal of the University of Edinburgh so his scepticism did him no harm.

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