21 November 2017


The Turkey Awards are being worked up now. But today, just more link sausages, seasoned post-anesthesia.

  • A piece from the UK discusses the collateral damage caused by low pay in charity and the arts, in somewhat more detail than I hinted at a while back concerning NYC live theatre. The fundamental problem is simple: Even the arts have logistical and infrastructure requirements, and there really isn't an option of "not paying for them at all." It's easy to see this with big transportation infrastructure projects, especially shiny new roads and bridges that start crumbling in five years because there was an inadequate budget for inspection and maintenance. It's less easy to see this in the arts (including publishing), because nobody can really tell what a "properly maintained" infrastructure would look like!
  • An interesting interview with a woman who should win a few prizes for her body of work (such as a Nobel).

    The place where the unbridled imagination worries me is when it becomes part of nonfiction — where you’re allowed to lie in a memoir. You’re encouraged to follow the “truth” instead of the facts. I’m not a curmudgeon, I’m just a scientist’s daughter. I really like facts. I have a huge respect for them. But there’s an indifference toward factuality that is encouraged in a lot of nonfiction. It worries me for instance when writers put living people into a novel, or even rather recently dead people. There’s a kind of insolence, a kind of colonialization of that person by the author. Is that right? Is that fair? And then, when we get these biographers where they are sort of making it up as they go along, I don’t want to read that. I find myself asking, what is it, a novel, a biography?

  • An otherwise fascinating piece about the incoherent concept of "smart cities" completely misses the point: A "smart city" can't be any smarter than the dumbest of either its designer or its surroundings. The designer has to anticipate all that will happen interior to the city in the next thirty to forty years (remember early versions of urban planning?). And the city's interface with its surroundings has to respect both its own ambitions and the existing surroundings, that last not being a strength of tech gurus… which the piece points out, but fails to acknowledge the cross-influences that can undermine both (e.g., the effect on existing educational systems of "white flight" into the new tech oasis).