Thursday, January 30, 2014

new yorker style

History is important. Here are the first paragraphs of the 3 main features in the Feb. 3, 2014 issue of The New Yorker:

1. In 1994, Harry Huang and his wife, Zhang Li, were running Lily Burger, a tiny backpacker restaurant on the banks of the Jen River, in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province.

2. In May of 1990, several hundred physicians gathered in a conference hall at an Atlanta hotel, as uniformed guards stood at the door.

3. In the spring of 2000, Reed Hastings, the C.E.O. of Netflix, hired a private plane and flew from San Jose to Dallas for a summit meeting with Blockbuster, the video-rental giant that had seventy-seven hundred stores worldwide handling mostly VCR tapes.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

John Cage, futurist

We are getting rid of ownership, substituting use.

My idea was that if they wanted to fight (human nature and all that), they should do it in the Antarctic, rest of us gambling on daily outcome: proceeds for world welfare.

Society's changing. Relevant information's hard to come by. Soon it'll be everywhere, unnoticed.

War will not be group conflict: it'll be murder, pure and simple, individually conceived.

Treat redwoods, for instance, as entitles that have at least a chance to win.

Fusion of credit card with passport.

Effect of videophone on travel? That we'll stay home, settling like gods for impressions we'll give of being everywhere at once.

Everywhere where economics and politics obtain (everywhere?), policy is dog eat dog.

The truth is that everything causes everything else.

Heaven's no longer paved with gold (changes in church architecture). Heaven's a motel.

Utopia? Self-knowledge. Some will make it, with or without LSD. The others? Pray for acts of God, crises, power failures, no water to drink.
--from Diary: How to improve the world (you will only make matters worse) 1965

The question is not: How much are you going to get out of it? Nor is it: How much are you going to put into it? But rather: How immediately are you going to say Yes to no matter what unpredictability, even when what happens seems to have no relation to what one thought was one's commitment?
--from Lecture on Commitment, 1961

Friday, January 10, 2014

I like a country where it's nobody's damn business ...

I like a country where it's nobody's damn business what magazines anyone reads, what he thinks, whom he has cocktails with. I like a country where we do not have to stuff the chimney against listening ears and where what we say does not go into the FBI files along with a note from S-17 that I may have another wife in California. I like a country where no college-trained flatfeet collect memoranda about us and ask judicial protection for them, a country where when someone makes statements about us to officials he can be held to account. We had that kind of country only a little while ago and I'm for getting it back. It was a lot less scared than the one we've got now. It slept sound no matter how many people joined communist reading circles and it put common scolds to the ducking stool.
That's Bernard de Voto from "Due Notice to the FBI," in Harper's Magazine, October 1949. Fighting surveillance six and a half decades ago. Swap in contemporary references and it's strikingly fresh.