Updates from September, 2019 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Doug Belshaw 8:03 am on September 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: streets   

    As town centres empty, there is a generational opportunity to reverse the gross monetisation of our public realm. This is a chance to make the principles of placemaking – creating inclusive public spaces where people can enjoy their leisure time without spending money – a reality. Nonprofit arts and cultural organisations forced out by high rents could, likewise, come back into empty shop units (long-term, not as a temporary gesture by developers), to re-engage local people with these spaces – and without it costing them £6 a pint. But will any of this happen? The short answer is no. Councils do not have the money or the compulsory-purchase powers to radically intervene. Enlightened developers are rare. The patchwork of smaller private landlords who own peripheral space in town centres need to fill their properties, hence the fact that cool cottage industries tend to flourish there, in pockets. But the remote coalition of global property management, pension and investment funds that owns most shopping precincts or malls is, at best, distantly concerned with the local population.

    Tony Naylor, We can revive Britain’s high streets. But developers stand in the way (The Guardian, 14th September 2019)
  • Doug Belshaw 5:39 pm on September 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply  

    Prizes for everyone 

    I never used to know why people (usually business-like, conservative types) would get so upset about things like schools not holding competitive sports days. What’s the big deal?

    It’s only recently that I’ve come to realise that the whole system of neoliberal capitalism depends on competition. Politicians to the right of the spectrum have a blind belief in markets as the solution to everything and so, even if marketisation isn’t working, will intervene to make it look like it is.

    Similarly, companies will enter themselves for bullshit awards — literally ones run by organisations who hand out prizes that they’re effectively paying for — just so that employees there can keep up the same narrative.

    Thankfully, I think this is the generation that, because of the 2008 crash and because of the woeful ineptitude of our current batch of politicians, has seen through all that. I have high hopes for, if not a revolution, then incremental change in the way society’s attitude to the necessary of ‘competition’.

  • Doug Belshaw 1:08 pm on September 1, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: ,   

    Even the most hardened sociopath, in the most viciously Darwinian of domains (like, say, a Wall Street trader, or an academic studying “critical theory”), has a self-image with a precious-snowflake aspect to it. This is the part of you that you see most clearly when you stare into a mirror. You see yourself as you were when you were a child. You don’t notice the extra chins and jowls that come with age, or the extra padding in the wrong places. You don’t notice the stray gray hairs, the tiredness in the eyes, or the wrinkles. You stare into the mirror, and the face of the child you once were stares back, through the worn shell of the adult. You might even strike a pose or make an expression that exaggerates the illusion. The child is not idealized or romanticized, however. It is the real past-you,whether you were the resentful and angry kind of kid, or the happy-go-lucky kind. It takes conscious effort to snap back to reality and see and feel yourself as you are now. This is why it is particularly jarring to watch video footage of yourself. Unlike the image in the mirror, the person on the video playback screen is not a puppet you can control. Video playback breaks the illusion of being the child within, because it is footage of you at a different time, performing adulthood without the child on display, or active in awareness.

    So you think, do I really look and sound like that? Or if you’re in a more maudlin mood, is this who I’ve become? It’s not just in-head acoustics versus how you are heard, or the posture you feel versus the posture you strike. It’s the fact that the person out there, performing, is not the person you feel when you look inside. There is something it is like to be you, on the inside, and it is not that person out there. This child — a sort of Freudian id++ — embodies the precious snowflake.

    It must be killed periodically if you are to keep on living. It will almost always come back to life, so it must be killed every few years, as it steadily regains strength. So long as you do this with disciplined regularity, the precious snowflake part of you will remain a valuable part of your psyche, but never in control. But if you let it grow unchecked, it will consume the rest of you, driving you to clueless, self-absorbed, uncreative narcissism.

    Venkatesh Rao, Crash Early, Crash Often
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