Genevieve Bell: ‘Humanity’s greatest fear is about being irrelevant’ | Technology | The Guardian

I’m interested in how animals are connected to the internet and how we might be able to see the world from an animal’s point of view. There’s something very interesting in someone else’s vantage point, which might have a truth to it. For instance, the tagging of cows for automatic milking machines, so that the cows can choose when to milk themselves. Cows went from being milked twice a day to being milked three to six times a day, which is great for the farm’s productivity and results in happier cows, but it’s also faintly disquieting that the technology makes clear to us the desires of cows – making them visible in ways they weren’t before. So what does one do with that knowledge? One of the unintended consequences of big data and the internet of things is that some things will become visible and compel us to confront them.

Genevieve Bell: ‘Humanity’s greatest fear is about being irrelevant’ | Technology | The Guardian

New year, new you? Forget it

Behind the seductive lure of “New Year, New You” lies another kind of mistake, too: the idea that what we require, in order finally to change, is one last push of willpower. (Presumably, the hope is that the “January feeling” of fresh starts and clean slates will provide it.) The assumption is that you’re a bit like a heavy rock, poised on a hill above the Valley of Achievement, Productivity and Clean Eating. All you need is a concerted push to get you rolling.

Filed under: my really good resolutions tag.

New year, new you? Forget it

My new attitude to travel is to skip the iconic – and I thank my father for that

As I grow older, I hope to become more like my father, who caused much amusement by firmly declining a ride by the White House when we went to Washington DC to visit my in-laws. “It’s the White House,” my mother-in-law said to me. “Anyone would want to go.”

Anyone except my father. Over the years of saying no to other people’s adventures, he has retained his triangularity in a world of round pegs with well-rounded to-do lists. He loved what he loved – the bridges of New York, the Halal street food vendors, the ferry to Staten Island – not because they were iconic but because they pierced his indifference.

My new attitude to travel is to skip the iconic – and I thank my father for that

Beatlemania: ‘the screamers’ and other tales of fandom.

If anyone is likely to look kindly on the excesses of new generations of fans, it’s a former Beatlemaniac. “I understand when I see the One Direction kids going mad,” says Bridget Kelly. “People think they’re silly but they’re not. It’s the togetherness. We had this big communal thing that we all knew and loved and understood — something that was yours and nothing to do with your mum and dad. We were all in it together. It was lovely.”

Remember this old photo? Filed under: fandom.

I think we have to be frugal with our photo-viewing. I love it when you find a photo from a time you’ve forgotten about – one that, maybe, someone else had possession of. It makes you realise how linear and reductive memory is.

A question of discrimination – AC Grayling on art and elitism | The Guardian

A mature culture is one which wishes to know more about other cultures, and which values the best examples of what it has of them, and which is better able to appreciate them because it has standards and insights developed in appreciation of its own.

It was the African figures in the Louvre that inspired Picasso. That one fact alone could serve to remind us how porous high culture is, in both directions, and how symbiotic the existence of all cultures is, especially in the globalised world. When receptive sensibilities engage with the artefacts of the past and other civilisations, they are nourished by them and learn from them, not least how to be discerning.

A question of discrimination – AC Grayling on art and elitism | The Guardian

Adam Phillips on the happiness myth | Books | The Guardian

Happiness and the right to pursue it are sometimes wildly unrealistic as ideals; and, because wildly unrealistic, unconsciously self-destructive.

Interesting essay with some good tidbits. This bit on pathologies could also apply, more mildly, to how we react to differing opinions:

We tend to pathologise the forms of happiness we cannot bear.

And on education:

There are, for example, only two reasons for children to go to school – apart, that is, from acquiring the werewithal to earn a living: to make friends, and to see if they can find something of absorbing interest to themselves.

Adam Phillips on the happiness myth | Books | The Guardian



Tintin means, literally, “Nothing”. His face, round as an O with two pinpricks for eyes, is what Hergé himself described as “the degree zero of typeage” – a typographic vanishing point. Tintin is also the degree zero of personage. He has no past, no sexual identity, no complexities. Like Cocteau’s Orphée, who spends much of the film in the negative space or dead world on the far side of the mirror, he is a writer who does not write.

— Tom McCarthy, Tintin and the Secret of Literature (excerpted in the Guardian)