Wednesday, 4 March 2015

A miscellany of links

1. "London ... is not just by far the most diverse city in Britain but possibly the most diverse in the world and, though historians are hazy about this, plausibly the most diverse cosmopolis in history," says the FT.

2. Karl Ove Knausgaard Travels Through North America, in the New York Times. I read it and I can see the compelling quality of simultaneously mundane and thoughtful writing. Here is a low point in his saga:

"I got dressed, stepped out onto the terrace and had a cigarette. When I came back in, I went to the toilet. I hadn’t gone since I arrived in America, so the result was significant. I wiped myself thoroughly, then flushed.
Instead of the water disappearing with a slurping noise before the bowl filled up again, it started to rise. I watched it for a long time. The water level showed no sign of going down. The toilet was clogged. I flushed again, thinking perhaps that would increase the pressure sufficiently. Instead, the water flowed over the top of the bowl and ran down on both sides, spilling onto the floor. I mopped it up with a towel, put the towel in the tub and looked around for an implement of some kind. There was simply no way I was going to call the reception desk about this. I searched every drawer and closet but found nothing I could use to try to remove the plug of feces and toilet paper that must be clogging the drain. Instead, I wrapped a plastic bag around my arm and stuck my hand into the icy water that was welling up from the bowl.

You'll have to read the whole story to see how that sticky situation gets resolved.

3. Tristram Hunt on UKIP: "“When you go on the doors and actually you speak to young parents and young families who actually are feeling the impact of high levels of migration, who have concerns about their ability to get on,” he explains, “They’re [also] really concerned about their kids and their ability to get on. They’re angry if their school is in special measures and making sure we speak to the aspiration that they have for their kids is I think a strong argument to make to those voters.”" Well, it's a theory, but it's one that does not take the voters' concerns in good faith. If you are concerned that your children are being out-competed by immigrants' children, then how is improving the education of your children and those immigrants' children going to help? I suspect that no one from "plausibly the most diverse cosmopolis in history" is going to be that convincing to you.

4. Poetic justice. "Spanish Police have arrested two brothers from Girona, Spain, who attempted to sell a fake Francisco de Goya painting to a purported sheikh, EFE reports. But the “sheikh” was no victim: he paid the pair with photocopied money."

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