The bleak brazenness of “Pejorative Truth”

Just read a spine-chiller in the latest New Yorker about PACs, SuperPACs and the growth industry that is behind political attack ads. Jane Mayer’s  Attack Dog – The creator of the Willie Horton ad is going all out for Mitt Romney is depressing stuff. For the uninitiated, and unless you follow US politics closely, there’s no reason at all why you should be initiated, PACs are Political Action Committees. (more…)

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More than just an excuse to go to Trinidad: Miller’s Tales from Facebook

It’s one of those brilliant ideas that you kick yourself for not thinking of first. “Ok, so for my next trick project, I’m going to spend six months in Trinidad trying to understand the impact Facebook has had on the island’s culture.” Genius. But that’s precisely what UCL Anthropology Professor Daniel Miller has done  – and it’s not quite as random or self-indulgent as it might at first appear. Desptie the rather anodyne title, and the faintly ridiculous cover image, his book Tales from Facebook contains some very helpful and interesting insights into the effect of social networking. (more…)

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A Grieving Mother in Russia’s Patriotic War, in Grossman’s Life and Fate

If you listen to any BBC radio, it was hard to miss the big splash made a few months back by the Radio 4 serialisation of Vasily Grossman’s epic twentieth century masterpiece Life And Fate. So I endeavoured (rashly) to read it before listening to the programmes (which were issued as podcasts at the time). So I’ve started … and to be frank, it has taken a bit of work to get into – I wasn’t 100% sure I’d make it through the 850+ pages. Set around the time of the bloody battle for Stalingrad (Aug 1942-Feb 1943), (more…)

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To pund or not to pund? The baits and traps of tweology

It is a great sadness to me that the word ‘pund’ does not exist. This is no doubt because the English ‘pundit’ is actually a corruption of an ancient Sanskrit work ‘pandit’ which meant ‘learned scholar, master, teacher’ (don’t worry – I didn’t know that until I looked it up in the OED). But I recommend using it – because I’ve noticed that there is an increasing amount of punding going on. And I’m not sure the sight is all that pretty. (more…)

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