12/02/2008

Magazine Roundup

Magazine Roundup, which appears every Tuesday at 12 p.m., is originally published by Perlentaucher.

The Spectator | Semana | Nepszabadsag |
Le Monde diplomatique
| Przekroj | Edge.org | Portfolio.com

The Spectator 09.02.2008 (UK)

"Stinking ditches dignified with the pompous denomination of canals, a fine bridge spoilt by two rows of houses upon it and a large square decorated with the worst architecture I ever yet saw." Edward Gibbon, author of "The History of the Decline and the Fall of the Roman Empire," in the 18th century was one of the few people to document his immunity to Venice's morbid charms, and Steven Bayley continues this tradition today. "Venice embraced the wrong sort of modernism. It rejected new architecture and organic growth, preferring the far more corrupting forces of mass-tourism. Meanwhile, Virtual Venice enslaves the dwindling local population who tend to go home to Mestre, to drive and visit supermarkets."

Venetia Thomson tells how she came to love life as a 'posh bird' broker among the loud-mouthed Essex boys in one of the most aggressive, archaic and male-dominated firms in the City. "My first trade was greeted with the obligatory chants of 'RUN!', meaning a lap of the entire floor while other brokers hurled water and hammered their phones on their desks, creating a deafening blast of sound. I soon developed an entirely different language: cockney rhyming slang mixed with trading terms, sprinkled with a hefty dose of obscenities, all said with perfect RP, much to everyone's amusement."


Semana 09.02.2008 (Columbia)

"Why are German intellectuals so fascinated by the Columbian aphorist Nicolas Gomez Davila?" asks Hernan D. Caro and lists a number of possible explanations. "Everyone loves a proper creep and our man here was certainly that. Every century spawns a member of this breed of intellectual, who give their admirers the feeling of belonging to an extremely sharpwitted, profound and just very special caste.
Or is it simply becuase, as no one seems to tire of repeating, here we have a 'Columbian' thinker, as if that would make his anti-modern cant and his aggressive Catholicism something special."


Nepszabadsag 09.02.2008 (Hungary)

Hungarians are suffering terribly. The nation is divided and nothing seems to be able to reconcile the two sides. This is no great drama, but quite normal, according to Istvan Deak, Professor Emeritus of History at Columbia University in New York. Although in the autumn of 1956 there might have been a brief moment of complete unity, it couldn't last. "The protagonists of the French Revolution also started sending each other to the guillotine after a while. (...) Might it not be the case that many of those who took to streets against the communist regime in October 1956 then signed up voluntarily on May 1, 1957 to march for Kadar? One has to take into account that the historical role of Janos Kadar, a man I believe was a murderer, is viewed positively by half the Hungarian population. Which is why it is important for the public that a rational evaluation of the past should take place. And this will certainly not be helped by sanctifying an historical event, because then all those who want to adjust something in the holy scriptures will be branded as heretics and traitors to the fatherland."

For poet and critic Akos Szilagyi, an anti-liberal backlash is inevitable in Hungary. True liberal democrats – we are seeing now – never existed in Hungary. People just viewed themselves as such. "As soon as it became clear that the downfall of an obsolete system would not exhaust itelf with the return of rights of freedom but would also go on to cause the collapse of state subsystems (industry, agriculture), growing unemployment, yes even the dismantling of the state welfare system, this intuitive liberalism buckled."

Le Monde diplomatique 09.02.2008 (Germany / France)

The magazine prints a chapter from Olivier Roy's new book "Le Croissant et le Chaos." It is time the west starts to understand the complexity of the Islamic world. "The image of Muslim world in the midst of a war with the Occident, is a figment of the imagination. No such 'Muslim world' exists. The majority of conflicts in the Middle East take place between Muslims. The existing regimes see themselves as allies of the west. This by the way, also explains why under President Ahmadinejad, Iran is looking for allies among the Latin American populists and not with its neighbours."

"Here on board the war in Iraq is 'a huge success,' global warming is not happening and Europe is the next Caliphate," reports Johann Hari from a cruise ship filled with around 500 readers of the National Review, the central organ of American conservatism. 'One Park Avenue lady delivers a few erudite comments on the cities she has visited. Her companion is prompted to add: 'I was in Paris and it was simply wonderful.' Then her face darkens. 'But soon you realise, it is surrounded by Muslims.' The first lady nods. 'They're lurking out there, and they will come.'"


Przekroj 07.02.2008 (Poland)

All Poland has been discussing "Fear" in recent weeks, Jan T. Gross' book about the murder of Holocaust survivors in Poland at the end of WWII. No, he is not proud about this, the sociologist says in an interview, but he does have the feeling of a job well done. "This book is so important because we Poles construct our identity from remembrance and reflection of history. Therefore this history must be true and take such catastrophes into account." He is done with subject of Polish Jews now, Gross explains. "I have said what I had to say." See our feature about "Fear."


Edge.org 05.02.2008 (USA)

Kevin Kelly, one of the most intelligent Internet enthusiasts in the USA, gives Edge.org a glimpse of his forthcoming book, which tackles the question of how the culture industry can survive when everything on the internet can be copied for free. "If reproductions of our best efforts are free, how can we keep going? To put it simply, how does one make money selling free copies? I have an answer. The simplest way I can put it is thus: When copies are super abundant, they become worthless. When copies are super abundant, stuff which can't be copied becomes scarce and valuable. When copies are free, you need to sell things which can not be copied." In Kevin Kelly's blog Technium you can watch his "Book in Progress." Currently it features the same excerpt now available at Edge.

Portfolio.com 11.02.2008 (USA)

According to its own estimations the American film industry loses 2 billion dollars every year to internet piracy, and the music industry 3.7 billion. Daniel Roth shows why the empire has no chance of winning its war against the pirates – thanks to teenagers like Ethan who hacked into MediaDefender, the security software used by the industry. "He uncovered the salaries of the top engineers as well as names and contact information kept by C.E.O. and co-founder Randy Saaf (with notations of who in the videogame industry is an 'asshole' and which venture capitalists didn't come through with financing). Ethan also figured out how the firm's pirate-fighting software works." Even when Ethan published all this information on the same file sharing sites patrolled by MediaDefender, the company got no wind of it.

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