Hot like the first three letters of hotel

May 15, 2014 § Leave a comment

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A typical nest is composed of interlocking twigs, often recycled from the old nest, and pieces of wires of various lengths and thickness, gathered from the surrounding, to strengthen the nest structure. Tokyo residents have observed that crows in the city have learned to use coat hangers instead.  look

PHOTOGRAPH: Marianna Rothen

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wch Restraynt is by the meanes of playinge the Jeylle of dooges

February 13, 2014 § Leave a comment

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Luder
The three finest works of British brutalism were designed by Rodney Gordon of the Owen Luder Partnership. They were: Eros House in Catford, London; the Tricorn in Portsmouth; and the Trinity in Gateshead. The first, a block of flats, is disfigured; the other two shopping centre and car park complexes have been destroyed in acts of petty-minded provincial vandalism. One can have nothing but contempt for the scum-of-the-earth councillors, blind planners and toady local journalists who conspired to effect the demolition of such masterpieces. One can only despair at the pusillanimous lack of support from wretched English Heritage.

The dependably crass Prince of Wales, the man who sullied Dorset with Poundbury, described the Tricorn as “a mildewed lump of elephant droppings”, a simile as vulgar as it is visually inept. No doubt his heritage industry toadies removed their tongues in order to chortle a moment’s laughter. The critic Ian Nairn was on the money: “This great belly laugh of forms … the only thing that has been squandered is imagination.”

Gordon’s imagination was indeed fecund, rich, untrammelled. It was haunted by Russian constructivism, crusader castles, Levantine skylines. But the paramount desire was to make an architecture that had not previously existed. There are as many ideas in a single Gordon building as there are in the entire careers of most architects. The seldom-photographed street level stuff at the Trinity left the observer with the sensation of being in the presence of genius. One thinks of the burning of books.

Monstrosity
It took more than three-quarters of a century before high Victorian architecture began to be rehabilitated through the efforts of John Betjeman, Evelyn Waugh, etc. Their pleas went unheeded. They were reckoned to be perverse and mischievous. Thousands of “monstrosities” were destroyed. The survivors are now widely valued, and lost ones are mourned. We have learned nothing. Half a century after brutalism’s heyday, the term “concrete monstrosity” trips readily off the tongues of the unseeing, the torpid, the incurious. Britain is once again being architecturally cleansed in favour of timidity and insipidity.

New
Newness and change were bound to be for the better. When Harold Macmillan announced in 1957 that “most of our people have never had it so good”, some of our people were still living in caves (in the Severn valley), and many of our people had no bathrooms and shared outdoor toilets. Built along brutalist lines, new flats had all those amenities, plus central heating, and were welcomed by their occupants. Social-housing projects were not yet bins for sociopaths. But they would soon become so: if blocks are unguarded, if there are no janitors, if they are not maintained … You don’t buy a car and never get it serviced.  read more

PHOTOGRAPH: Franck Bohbot

Let’s face it, Jesus wouldn’t spend Christmas sitting in a chair making remarks

December 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Three-quarters of our planet Earth is covered with water, most of which may float organic cities. Floating cities pay no rent to landlords. They are situated on the water, which they desalinate and recirculate in many useful and non-polluting ways. They are ships with all an ocean ship’s technical autonomy, but they are also ships that will always be anchored. They don’t have to go anywhere.  read more

PHOTOGRAPH: Ekaterina Zakharova

PC 232, Everson; complained of by several persons for tying saucepans etc to dogs, when on duty

November 11, 2013 § 1 Comment

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The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan views with deep concern the “Designated Secrets Bill” now under consideration by the Japanese Diet.

In particular, we are alarmed by the text of the bill, as well as associated statements made by some ruling party lawmakers, relating to the potential targeting of journalists for prosecution and imprisonment.

It is at the very heart of investigative journalism in open societies to uncover secrets and to inform the people about the activities of government. Such journalism is not a crime, but rather a crucial part of the checks and balances that go hand in hand with democracy.

The current text of the bill seems to suggest that freedom of the press is no longer a constitutional right, but merely something for which government officials “must show sufficient consideration.”

Moreover, the “Designated Secrets Bill” specifically warns journalists that they must not engage in “inappropriate methods” in conducting investigations of government policy. This appears to be a direct threat aimed at the media profession and is unacceptably open to wide interpretations in individual cases. Such vague language could be, in effect, a license for government officials to prosecute journalists almost as they please.  read more

PHOTOGRAPH: Clarissa Bonet

Marx said that quantitative differences become qualitative ones, but a dialogue in Paris in the 1920s sums it up even more clearly: FITZGERALD: The rich are different from us. HEMINGWAY: Yes, they have more money

October 29, 2013 § Leave a comment

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The most heavily reported unauthorized release of Japan’s defense information in recent years concerns a video recording of a Chinese fishing boat ramming a Japan Coast Guard vessel near the Senkaku (Chinese: Diaoyu) islands in September 2010. But the video itself was not classified as a “defense secret,” so its release cannot be considered a breach of the Self-Defense Forces Law (“SDF Law”). The leaker, who was identified as a member of the Japan Coast Guard, was not prosecuted for any crime. However, the 2010 incident incited demands for stronger secrecy protection laws and led to the appointment of a new government committee to study the issue.

The rarity of high profile leaks of confidential Japanese government information is a sharp contrast to the United States, where federal prosecutors have brought as many as eight cases against accused leakers since President Obama took office in 2009. Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden are known all over the world for releasing masses of secret data for publication in mainstream news media and online publishers like Wikileaks.

For open government advocates, one of the most fundamental questions concerns the life cycle of defense secrets. Secrecy designations are ordinarily limited to fixed periods of time. The proposed Designated Secrets Protection Law would set a maximum term of five years. At the expiration of this term, officials could either decide that information remains sensitive and therefore extend the secrecy term or that it is no longer sensitive and the information can be declassified and released to the public or transferred to a public archive for easy access.

When NHK reporters recently asked Defense Ministry officials to describe the life cycle of defense secrets under the 2001 Law, they received a detailed response. During the five-year period from 2006 through 2011, approximately 55,000 records were designated “defense secrets” under the SDF Law. What is the current status of these 55,000 records? According to Defense Ministry officials, 34,000 were destroyed once they reached the end of their fixed secrecy period. When asked how many of the records were de-classified for potential release to the public, the officials delivered a very precise response: one.  read more

PHOTOGRAPH: Li Hui

Any advert in a public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It’s yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head

August 9, 2013 § Leave a comment

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Do you feel like some ridiculously awesome, eagle-eyed super mutant? Martin tells io9 his goal in creating massive images has always been to extend the limits of human perception – what he calls the image’s “transhuman aspect.” The point is to feel like a goddamn superhero:

It’s the idea of creating a view that literally extends our senses far beyond what we can sense on our own. This image shows you orders of magnitude more stuff than you can see when you are actually there. Even if you are on Tokyo Tower with binoculars or a telescope, this image shows you more than you can possibly take in, in person.

The founder of 360Cities.net, a website where photographers can upload 360-degree images of beautiful locations around the globe, Martin is no stranger to this medium. He’s even created an image that’s bigger than the one you see here, but this one, he says, is his favorite.  look

ART: Inomati Aki

I made no attempt to contact any of the people who had been so important to me in the past. I had already let important connections unravel through inattention, and that carelessness has been a bane to me all my life

August 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

 

Debate is heating up in Tokyo about the advisability of hiking Japan’s consumption tax. Which should come first- economic growth or fiscal reconstruction? The prime minister must decide in a matter of weeks.

It’s after midnight and I’m sitting in a Roppongi bar discussing the subject with a knowledgeable Japanese bureaucrat.

“It’s essential to raise taxes,” he says, cradling a well-aged Islay malt. “If we don’t, investors will lose confidence and our bond market will collapse.”

“Aren’t you risking a serious recession?”

“A temporary blip, maybe. But the strengthening of public finances will be good for future growth.”

The year was 1997.  read more

FILM: Longplayer

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