Monthly Archives: July 2009

Intransaltable basterd

Some great English expressions look even better when sitting in the middle of an interview between Quentin Tarantino and Cahiers du cinéma. Some things you just can’t say in French:


bad ass (as in ‘j’imaginais Shosanna en Jeanne d’Arc juive. Elle etait bien plus bad ass’ — I imagined her as a Jewish Joan of Arc. She was much more bad ass.)

swamp (as in country music swamp)

deliver the goods (Cahiers gives the original but translates it as “tenir les promesses.”

(and my favorite….)

They’re fucked!


The real funeral crashers

So many things are meant to be funny and sad and aren’t/ Victoria Coren’s account of rumbling the Jolley gang is the real deal.

Hot News Trends: The pleasure of not doing business with you

Nordea, Handelsbanken beat earnings forecasts by avoiding doing business with ever-imploding Latvia (which seems to disparage the IMF exactly in proportion to how much it needs the IMF’s money).
Volvo (the truck maker, not the Ford unit) has run down its inventories to the point where it might be able to make some money from the teensiest, tiniest recovery in the truck market (and therefore trade).
Sir Allen Sugar is no more. Long live Lord Sugar of Clapton. Gordon Brown now has his “enterprise czar,” plucked from the blessed realm of reality television. And sirallun must feel like he arrived. He bears a gigantic chip against the establishment on his shoulder with enormous grace, and I imagine he was thrilled by the apparently cool welcome he received from the House of Lords, as captured by the Times’s parliamentary sketch writer: “He bowed his head to the Lord Speaker and processed over to shake her hand. The cheers that followed were distinctly muted and noticeably short. It was more like a momentary bark then anything that could remotely be described as full-bodied. Indeed I didn’t see even one Tory mouth open, not even to breathe. The Lords love pomp and circumstance but this was more like pomp and circumspect.”

Hot News Trends: We won’t recover until there are no suckers left

Arabs used to be suckered into buying stakes in Western banks. Now the lure of football has them hooked. “Dr Al-Fahim – just 31 and already a billionaire, reportedly – sailed through a fit-and-proper test and can now complete the £60m [purchase of Portsmouth football team].” ( via FT).


Of course, no one’s idiotic enough anymore to blow $20,000 on a Louis Vuitton bag just because it’s a limited edition and, well, gorgeous. But Hermes leather bags, on the other hand: are their surprisingly consistent sales a sign of rationality, of people buying quality at the right price? There is a baseline desire for luxury. As Coco Chanel said, or one of her ghostwriting poets said, Luxury is a necessity that begins where necessity ends. We don’t want to be reduced to buying ONLY essentials.

Charlie Brooker on our over-dramatic loss of faith

But this is just one small part of the ongoing, almighty detox of everything. There’s been such an immense purge, such an exhaustive ethical audit, no one’s come out clean. There’s muck round every arse. But if the media’s rotten and the government’s rotten and the police are rotten and the city’s rotten and the church is rotten – if life as we know it really is fundamentally rotten – what the hell is there left to believe in? Alton Towers? Greggs the bakers? The WI?

The internet. Can we trust in that? Of course not. Give it six months and we’ll probably discover Google’s sewn together by orphans in sweatshops. Or that Wi-Fi does something horrible to your brain, like eating your fondest memories and replacing them with drawings of cross-eyed bats and a strong smell of puke. There’s surely a great dystopian sci-fi novel yet to be written about a world in which it’s suddenly discovered that wireless broadband signals deaden the human brain, slowly robbing us of all emotion, until after 10 years of exposure we’re all either rutting in stairwells or listlessly reversing our cars over our own offspring with nary the merest glimmer of sympathy or pain on our faces. It’ll be set in Basingstoke and called, “Cuh, Typical.”

What about each other? Society? Can we trust us? Doubt it. We’re probably not even real, as was revealed in the popular documentary The Matrix. That bloke next door? Made of pixels. Your co-workers? Pixels. You? One pixel. One measly pixel. You haven’t even got shoes, for Christ’s sake.

As the very fabric of life breaks down around us, even language itself seems unreliable. These words don’t make sense. The vowels and consonants you’re hearing in your mind’s ear right now are being generated by mere squiggles on a page or screen. Pointless hieroglyphics. Shapes. You’re staring at shapes and hearing them in your head. When you see the word “trust”, can you even trust that? Why? It’s just shapes!

Right now all our faith has poured out of the old institutions, and there’s nowhere left to put it. We need new institutions to believe in, and fast. Doesn’t matter what they’re made of. Knit them out of string, wool, anything. Quickly, quickly. Before we start worshipping insects.

via The Guardian.

Freedom to lead

Shepard Fairey’s poster of Aung San Suu Kyi is beautiful, basically. Too beautiful, in fact. However inspirational she is, we have to honor the horror of her situation as we pay tribute to her. I would have preferred Fairey to use this photo, or any of the many others in which she is not smiling and seems to be bearing a weight that would crush the rest of us. Question: did Fairey use a non-copyrighted photo this time?

The past confronts Central Europe in different ways

Do you want to rip the band-aid of communism off quickly and painfully or in a less painful way that lasts far longer?

Why do approaches to the past in Central Europe vary so much from one country to another? And in particular, why have Hungary and Poland the first two countries to adopt democratic regimes been so slow to confront the painful issue of state terror? In his remarkable master’s thesis, Tomáš Bezák, a Slovak political science student, drew the following conclusion: in the countries where the communists played an active role in the transition to democracy, confrontation with the issue of past oppression came much later. It is a view that is also expressed by Czech born political analyst Jacques Rupnik in his latest book, “Une democratie trop vite fatiguée” A democracy jaded all too soon: “In countries like the Czech Republic and East Germany, where communist power appeared to be unassailable, there were no discussions and the regimes fell within a few days. So there was no reason to make any promises to the communists.” Circumstances were different in Poland and Hungary. It made sense to make a deal, but there was a price that had to be paid — a promise to put lustration operations on hold, and allow major figures from the communist regime access to senior positions in the subsequent democratic administration.

From Presseurop