Month: May 2017


"For a cautionary tale, everyone cites Paul Bradley Carr." - THE SUNDAY TIMES


The happiest lot on earth

“The happiest lot on earth is to be born a Scotchman.  You must pay for it in many ways, as for all other advantages on earth… You generally take to drink; your youth, as far as I can find out, is a time of louder war against society, of more outcry and tears and turmoil, than if you had been born, for instance, in England.”  – Robert Louis Stevenson

Last Friday afternoon, after quitting technology journalism, I packed a small suitcase and headed North up the 101 towards Napa.

An hour and a half later, stopping only for chicken and rice in Vallejo, Sarah and I arrived in Calistoga. Our plan: A weekend of cycling, hiking, fine dining and – first among equals – wallowing up to our necks in geothermic hot springs.

We’ve made the trip to Calistoga a dozen times or more – the little town in wine country has become our sanctuary from the city – but this particular escape seemed especially symbolic. A farewell to Silicon Valley – to Facebook, Google, Twitter and most of all to Uber – and a hello to Napa Valley whose riches still come almost entirely from the soil.

Of course, once you start looking for symbolism, you see it everywhere.



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Schadenfreude Tourism? Cash me in!

Brexit means Brexit!

With those words British Prime minister Theresa May confirmed to British voters that the country’s exit from the EU would be total and irreversible. Also confirmed: May’s place amongst the worst sloganeers in British political history.

In fairness to May, the bar for excellence in British political soundbites is set stratospherically high. This, after all, is the country that rallied the world with “We Shall Fight on the Beaches,” then chilled it with “Big Brother is watching you.” The birthplace of Churchill and Orwell, of Shakespeare and Wordsworth, and of Billy Bragg.

Britain isn’t cool, you know
It’s really not that great
It’s not a proper country
It doesn’t even have a patron saint
It’s just an economic union
That’s past its sell-by date

cf. “Brexit means Brexit.”

It’s not just that the phrase is borderline illiterate, a made-up word presented as its own definition. Far worse is the sentiment behind it: A petulant, tautological “fuck you” to the millions of voters living in hope that Britain hasn’t entirely retreated up its own arsehole. It neither rallies, nor chills – just annoys. It’s the “Miley being Miley” of political slogans.

And so I suppose it’s depressingly appropriate that “Brexit means Brexit” has now become global shorthand for a baffling, self-destructive decision made by seemingly intelligent people.…

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The Beat

Did you see Trump fired Comey?

Did you see Trump gave secret intel to the Russians?

Did you see Trump told Comey to stop investigating Flynn?

Did you see they’ve appointed a special counsel?

Did you see Trump called the investigation the biggest witch hunt in American history?

Did you see / Did you see / Did you see. It’s the new soundtrack of American life. The repetitive thump undercutting every American breakfast, the throbbing beat accompanying every American commute, and punctuating every American workday, dinner date and bedtime.

The beat, like all beats, is rhetorical. But for most of us living on the media coasts, the answer would be  yes. You did see. Your Twitter news feed isn’t so much different than anybody else’s. Your gym or airport lounge no more or less likely to have installed a gigantic flat screen television, tuned permanently to CNN. Your friends and colleagues are no less or more hooked on the cataclysmic reality TV show that is American presidential politics. Right or left, young or old, woke or bigot, we’re all in this together.

Did you see Sherriff Clarke is joining the Trump administration?

Did you see the Department of Homeland Security says Clarke isn’t joining the Trump administration?

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The happiest lot on earth

“The happiest lot on earth is to be born a Scotchman.  You must pay for it in many ways, as for all other advantages on earth… You generally take to drink; your youth, as far as I can find out, is a time of louder war against society, of more outcry and tears and turmoil, than if you had been born, for instance, in England.”  – Robert Louis Stevenson 

Last Friday afternoon, after quitting technology journalism for good, I packed a small suitcase and headed North up the 101 towards Napa.

An hour and a half later, stopping only for chicken and rice in Vallejo, Sarah and I arrived in Calistoga. Our plan: A weekend of cycling, hiking, fine dining and – first among equals – wallowing up to our necks in geothermic hot springs.  

We’ve made the trip to Calistoga a dozen times or more – the little town in wine country has become our sanctuary from the city – but this particular escape seemed especially symbolic. A farewell to Silicon Valley – to Facebook, Google, Twitter and most of all to Uber – and a hello to Napa Valley whose riches still come almost entirely from the soil.…

Read More...

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