Writing from July 2004

The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo by Saskia Sassen

While the book is undoubtedly oriented around cities, very little of it is about the structure or sociology of urban places. The bulk of the book is about the global financial markets' relationship to these cities and it's packed with statistics -- not the most fun read ever. There is some discussion on "softer" topics that were more interesting to me, such as growing inequality due to the change in nature of the financial markets, and, briefly, the effect on urban structure (eg, gentrification). But, while it has interesting points, the weight of the economic stats meant it took me two months to get round to finishing the thing.

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In Books on 1 July 2004. 1 comment. Permalink

Blogloops

Bloglines, the web-based RSS reader of choice has had a first birthday revamp. It's a bit cleaner and more professional-looking, although I'm not a fan of that deep sky blue, or the cartoony tabs. Also, something about the design hinders quick scanning -- I think the "Posted on..." lines are rather intrusive to the flow. And I'm not entirely sure why a lot of links are brown. But otherwise, it's nicely refreshing.

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In Misc on 7 July 2004. 2 comments. Permalink

What webloggers are reading this summer

Lists of who's reading what are all very well but, although I love book recommendations, do I really care what books Kate Adie or Neil Mullarkey are reading? I realised I'd be far more interested in the reading habits of people whose thoughts I read every day. So I asked a bunch of friendly webloggers what they're dipping into when they're not hypnotised by a monitor, and here are their replies.

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In Misc on 9 July 2004. 8 comments. Permalink

Inaccessible Odeon

The Odeon cinema chain has sent nasty letters to Matthew Somerville, forcing him to remove his accessible version of their site. It's bad enough that a company which had previously welcomed Matthew's efforts about-faced and got nasty on a site that made it easy for people to give them money. But it looks even worse if you try to use Odeon's own site to book tickets.

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In Misc on 11 July 2004. 37 comments. Permalink

Disk Inventory X

View of my Documents directoryI downloaded Disk Inventory X some time ago but I only tried it for the first time today. It creates treemaps of your drive, or directories within it, enabling you to see how much space files take up.

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In Mac on 14 July 2004. 1 comment. Permalink

Big head

Me and my faceI went to work at Poke today, for the first time in a couple of weeks. Those cheeky chappies had Rasterbated the Guardian's profile of me from last week and stuck my face to the wall. What jolly japes.

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In Personal on 14 July 2004. Permalink

London Review of Books, 8 July 2004

Contents page online here

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In Periodicals on 15 July 2004. Permalink

Anyone for a greasy?

Finding a decent, simple cafe in central London is surprisingly tricky (that's cafe pronounced 'caff'). If you're after food that doesn't come with a rocket salad, and isn't a hybrid of cuisines from warmer parts of the world, it can take some hunting. There are still classic cafes where egg, bacon chips and beans form the bulk of the menu but they seem to be disappearing.

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In Misc on 22 July 2004. 7 comments. Permalink

St Pancras Chambers

Window and stairsYesterday I went on a tour of St Pancras Chambers (erratic Flash site), the official title for the vast, grand brick building that forms the front of St Pancras railway station in London. In the 19th century the building was originally the swanky Midland Grand Hotel, which closed due to poor profits in 1935. It then became railway offices and had many of its large, elegant rooms split by temporary walls, some elaborate and colourful patterned walls painted over, and holes punched in ceilings to provide access for power and phone cabling.

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In Misc on 25 July 2004. Permalink

London Review of Books, 22 July 2004

Contents page online here

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In Periodicals on 25 July 2004. Permalink

Let’s live today, anyway. Change me, change me, change me once again

A decade ago I couldn't wait to see Before Sunrise. I loved Richard Linklater's Slacker and Dazed and Confused, Ethan Hawke was the cocky yet sensitive Gen X posterboy, Julie Delpy was cute and French and the idea -- boy meets girl on a train in Vienna and they spend the night walking and talking -- was the perfect romance. Somehow it didn't quite live up to expectations: perhaps Jesse (Hawke) was too annoying; perhaps Céline (Delpy) was too wet; perhaps there was something not quite engaging about the dialogue. Despite this, the film floated about me ever since, pushing into my thoughts, weedling its way toward being one of my favourite films, in theory if not in fact.

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In Misc on 28 July 2004. 1 comment. Permalink

The Art of Fiction by David Lodge

I read this when it was a series of columns in the Independent on Sunday. Nice to read it again. Short, manageable chunks of stuff that makes me want to read lots of classic novels, which can't be bad.

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In Books on 29 July 2004. Permalink