George Orwell’s Whitehouse fans

Sales of George Orwell’s 1984 surge after Kellyanne Conway’s ‘alternative facts’
Comparisons were made with the term “newspeak” used in the 1949 novel, which was used to signal a fictional language that aims at eliminating personal thought and also “doublethink”. In the book Orwell writes that it “means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them”.

A different kind of classical music

Melody, rhythm and piety: the rich forms and meanings of Indian classical music
Accompanied by performances from top Indian classical musicians of the time, Music of India examines the form’s essential elements, including its deeply spiritual character, and the concepts of ‘raga’ – a musical piece’s central, often partially improvised, melodic form – and ‘tala’ – its recurring rhythmic pattern.

And then there’s Konnakkol, which sounds extraordinary.

MadRasana Unplugged Season 03 Episode 01 – V Shivapriya & BR Somashekar Jois
MadRasana Unplugged brings artist and the art form closer to the listeners of music. We begin Season 3 with the most traditional, classical & ancient vocal percussive art form of India; the mother of all percussive languages – Konnakkol.

TEF teething problems

TEF boycott fears allayed as elite universities opt in
With the deadline for applications to year two of the teaching excellence framework (TEF) closing at noon on 26 January, concerns remained that some of England’s elite institutions would decide to opt out of the policy because vice-chancellors were doubtful that the financial benefits of inflationary fee increases would outweigh the reputational damage caused by not being rated outstanding.

Not involved with HE matters anymore, sadly, but still like to keep an eye on what’s going on. I can only imagine how much of an admin and data burden this new performance measure framework is. Is it just another example of the search for a simplistic, numerical proxy for quality, I wonder?

With friends like these

Poet Wallace Stevens, much admired – kind of.

The detached poet
Of course, none of this prevented him from publishing some of the most linguistically inventive poetry in American history, and it’s a testament to his talents that he’ll be remembered as one of the 20th century’s greatest poets, despite not being a particularly intellectual or even reflective one.

Damning with faint praise, especially the part where the article lists all the events and changes that have happened during his lifetime, that have all passed him by.

Happy feet?

Get up and move. It may make you happier.
Of course, this type of study does not establish causation. It cannot tell us whether being more active actually causes us to become happier or, conversely, whether being happy causes us to move more. It only shows that more activity goes hand-in-hand with greater happiness.

I’m not sure if it’s the walking that’s making me happy, or seeing my Fitbit’s step count climb to first place on the leaderboard.

Local tragedy

Teenager dies in Leeds Harehills barber shop shooting
The teenager was at Too Sharp’s The Barber Shop on Gathorne Terrace, in the Harehills area, when he was shot shortly before 13.20 GMT on Thursday. West Yorkshire Police said the man was found seriously injured and taken to hospital by ambulance for treatment, but later died. A 49-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder.

A little unsettling when it’s so close like that.

All strapped in?

Nearly 16% of US consumers now own wearables
“Fitness bands continue to outsell more advanced smartwatches,” reported Lauren Guenveur, Consumer Insight Director for Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. “In the fourth quarter of 2016, just 35% of wearables purchased in the US were smartwatches, a decline from 40% in the third quarter of 2016.

Well, I’m very happy with my fitness band, though it feels like we’ve all voluntarily bought electronic tags like a load of criminals.

High tech in high office

For gadget geek in the Oval Office, high tech has its limits
Mr. Obama is the first true gadget geek to occupy the Oval Office, and yet his eagerness to take part in the personal technology revolution is hampered by the secrecy and security challenges that are daily requirements of his job. What counts as must-have features for many people — high-definition cameras, powerful microphones, cloud-connected wireless radios and precise GPS location transmitters — are potential threats when the leader of the free world wants to carry them around.

A little different from Bill’s time, though I guess Mr Obama doesn’t have these problems any more.

An arty neat freak

There’s something about this that I find deeply relaxing.

The Art of Cleanup: Ursus Wehrli playfully deconstructs and reorders the chaos of life
As a longtime fan of Swiss artist and comedian Ursus Wehrli’s playful crusade to organize the world, I was thrilled for the English release of The Art of Clean Up: Life Made Neat and Tidy (public library). From bringing new meaning to ordering the cosmos to arranging alphabet soup in alphabetical order, his obsessive deconstruction and reorganization of life’s necessary small chaoses is at once utterly delightful and playfully philosophical, reminding us of the quintessential human tendency to seek to bring order to the chaos of life.

So, farewell then, John Berger

05/11/1926 – 02/01/2017

Adrian Searle on John Berger: ‘Art for him was never apart from being alive’
He was a natural and one of the reasons Ways of Seeing was so good was that he never came over as the patrician smart-arse superior critic. He made you feel he was thinking on his feet, right there in front of you. John would screw up his face and affect an expression somewhere between bewilderment and anguish, before launching into an argument that seemed to arrive fully formed. He was enormously compelling.

How John Berger taught us to see
Talking with John is enormously pleasurable but quite strenuous. There is no bullshit. He has changed his life so radically and so often because he cannot bear idle conversation. Suddenly everything you say becomes more weighted because John is a great listener. You talk and he listens and, often quite slowly responds. But both the listening and the response are so charged that you feel you are in a heightened form of conversation and that John’s attention makes you more intelligent, more consequent.

John Berger / Ways of Seeing , Episode 1 (1972)