Thursday, 6 March 2008

Wednesday, 5th March 2008


MEANWHILE: Speed up or get out of the way
Slow lifers are adamant that if I would only slow down I could break free of the frenzy of "external events and trends" that disorient me and make me forget who I really am and what I really want.
There is nothing at all wrong with this advice. After all, the Slow people are talking about something that also concerns me: authenticity.
Authenticity refers to the degree to which we live according to our true personality and character--that is, the degree to which we are true to ourselves. To be sure, speeding along in New York could very easily make me forget my authentic self.
But Paul Virilio, the philosopher who revealed that speed is a phenomenon of modern life, said that quick movers will dominate slow movers.
It is nature's law that if something can go fast it will. If we can do something faster, we will. In fact, we are.
Koolhaas's metropolis seeks 'optimism in the inevitable'
It has been 12 years since the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas unleashed his concept of "the generic city," a sprawling metropolis of repetitive buildings centered on an airport and inhabited by a tribe of global nomads with few local loyalties. His argument was that in its profound sameness, the generic city was a more accurate reflection of contemporary urban reality than nostalgic visions of New York or Paris.Now he may get a chance to create his own version.Designed for one of the biggest developers in the United Arab Emirates, Nakheel, Koolhaas's master plan for the proposed 1.5-billion-square-foot Waterfront City in Dubai would simulate the density of Manhattan on an artificial island just off the Persian Gulf. A mix of nondescript towers and occasional bold architectural statements, it would establish Dubai as a center of urban experimentation as well as one of the world's fastest growing metropolises.

The way Koolhaas addresses the island's isolation raises the most difficult questions. If his island of densely packed towers evokes a fragment of the great 20th-century metropolis, it can also conjure its dystopian twin: a miniaturized version of a city of glittering towers built for the global elite, barricaded against the urban poor and its makeshift shantytowns. (Think of George Romero's 2005 flick, "Land of the Dead," with its menacing corporate masters peering down on a world of faceless zombies.)

Whatever his social goals, Koolhaas will have little control over the makeup of this community, which, if current development in waterfront Dubai is any indication, is still likely to serve a small wealthy elite.Then there is the question of scale. Covering six and a half square miles, the island is roughly the size of a small urban neighborhood. Is this large enough to sustain the dense social fabric that Koolhaas is after? Or is it more likely to become a new species of gated enclave, architecturally stupendous yet profoundly exclusionary? Does its compact size make it easier to seal off from supposed undesirables?

"We all support resistance to the Israelis," said Hitam Abed Rabo, 33, a lawyer with the military court set up by Hamas, which she supports. "They talk about responding to rockets, but nothing justifies what the Israelis did here. They have to be confronted with strong resistance so they don't come back."
Will rockets on Israeli towns bring independence and freedom? "Yes," she said. "Absolutely."
Ayash Abed Rabo, 34, her cousin, scoffed. "These rockets are a joke," he said. "We want to live. We want peace. I don't want Israel here, and I don't want resistance."
EDITORIAL: George Bush's gift to Ahmadinejad
Bush has allowed the United States to be trapped in the middle of two superimposed conflicts: one between Sunni Arabs and Shiites in Iraq and another between Iran and the Sunni Arab world. To go on talking, as the Bush administration does, about a diffuse war on terrorism is to deny such complexities.

Adolf Hitler today wiped out the memory of his deafeat at the hands of President von Hindenburg just a year ago, and tonight stands indisputably Germany's "man of destiny," as was France's other "Little Corporal" somewhat more than a century ago. A Nationalist landslide carried the Harzburg coalition of Nazis and Royalists, led by the chancellor as the chief of the National-Socialist movement, into control of both the Riechstag and the Prussian Diet. For the first time since 1918, opponents of the Republic have won the support of a clear majoirty of the German people, thereby making possible the work of counter-revolution on constitutional lines.

Last month, students at a prestigious computer science university videotaped an ugly confrontation they had with Ricardo Alarcón, the president of the National Assembly. Alarcón seemed flummoxed when students grilled him on why they could not travel abroad, stay at hotels, earn better wages or use search engines like Google. The video spread like wildfire through Havana, passed from person to person, and seriously damaged Alarcón's reputation in some circles.
"It passes from flash drive to flash drive," said Ariel, 33, a computer programmer, who, like almost everyone else interviewed for this article, asked that his last name not be used for fear of political persecution. "This is going to get out of the government's hands because the technology is moving so rapidly."

For two months, the Illinois senator dominated the national zeitgeist with his "yes, we can" message of hope and change, a phenomenon celebrated in YouTube videos and T-shirts. But his recent return to earth coincided with the settling of the TV writers' strike and the re-emergence of late-night comedy shows as a political force.

"Saturday Night Live," the granddaddy of all political comedy shows in the United States, chose to build its Obama narrative around the idea that reporters were completely in his thrall. And its skits - on both Feb. 23 and March 1 - presented Obama as an amiable guy inflated to hero status by a worshipful media.

"In less than a minute, the 'SNL' skit crystallized Hillary's complaints" about unfair media treatment "and upgraded them from mere media inside baseball to the conventional wisdom," said Matthew Felling, a former media analyst for

COMMENTARY: Duel of historical guilts (Dowd)
As Ali Gallagher, a white Hillary volunteer in Austin told The Washington Post's Krissah Williams: "A friend of mine, a black man, said to me, 'My ancestors came to this country in chains; I'm voting for Barack.' I told him, 'Well, my sisters came here in chains and on their periods; I'm voting for Hillary.' "

Goldman Sachs, the world's largest investment bank, presented a plan Wednesday to spend $100 million to teach business and management skills to 10,000 women across the globe.

The 10,000 Women program will become Goldman Sach's biggest charitable donation. In 2007, Goldman Sachs gave about $101 million to charities and about $19 million in grants through a separate education foundation.

PHOENIX, Arizona
Horrified by recent campus shootings, an Arizona lawmaker has come up with a proposal in keeping with the Taurus .22-caliber pistol tucked in her purse: Get more guns on campus.
The lawmaker, State Senator Karen Johnson, has sponsored a bill, which the Arizona Senate Judiciary Committee approved last week, that would allow people with a concealed-weapons permit - limited to those 21 and older here - to carry their firearms at public colleges and universities. Concealed weapons are generally not permitted at most public establishments, including colleges.
New Yorkers may not jump off the Empire State Building, even with a parachute, an appelate court in Manhattan has ruled.

East and West: Seeing the world through different lenses
Western culture, they have found, conditions people to think of themselves as highly independent entities. And when looking at scenes, Westerners tend to focus on central objects more than on their surroundings.
In contrast, East Asian cultures stress interdependence. When Easterners take in a scene, they tend to focus more on the context as well as the object: the whole block, say, rather than the BMW parked in the foreground.
To use a camera analogy, "the Americans are more zoom and the East Asians are more panoramic," said Dr. Denise Park of the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas in Dallas. "The Easterner probably sees more, and the Westerner probably sees less, but in more detail."

Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong's international carrier, said Wednesday that it had posted a 71.8 percent increase in profit in 2007, taking advantage of booming growth in Asia and defying the impact of historically high oil prices.
Driving the good times of the airline industry has been a leap in passenger volumes, in particular business travelers, as Asian economies enjoyed robust economic growth.
"This is an impressive result and it was principally driven by consistently high passenger demand throughout the year," Cathay Pacific's chairman, Christopher Pratt, said at a news conference. "Demand from business and first-class passengers was particularly strong," he added.
Japan could become the home of a new team in rugby's Super 14 competition, the head of the Australian Rugby Union said Wednesday.

CNN back in the game with U.S. presidential race
After a long malaise, CNN is finally getting its swagger back. In the past four years CNN, which includes not just the flagship American network but also Headline News, CNN International and, has seen its profit double.
For a time, CNN tried to be more like Fox, with talk-format shows like "Connie Chung Tonight," which Walton dropped. CNN also caused a stir when it hired Paula Zahn from Fox and promoted her as "just a little sexy." Even now, a vestige of Fox's effect can be seen in "Lou Dobbs Tonight" on CNN. Dobbs has been criticized for injecting a large dose of opinion into his reports.
"Journalism is key to what we do," Walton said. "Fox is doing something different."

The minimum wage in Britain will rise 3.8 percent to £5.73, or $11.34, an hour starting in October, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said.
International Personal Finance, a British provider of unsecured cash loans, rose the most since the company started trading on the London exchange in July after reporting a 41 percent profit gain in 2007.
The company climbed 14 percent in London, increasing its gain this year to 20 percent. Net income advanced to £32.5 million on "strong lending volume" and improved loan quality, it said.


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