Mo Yan become the first Chinese citizen to win the Nobel prize for literature, a decision that sparked rejoicing but some criticism in his homeland. State media celebrated Mo’s win and the Nobel website rapidly filled with comments from Chinese users expressing pride at his triumph. The Swedish Academy, which decides on the award, said the novelist’s “hallucinatory realism” merged folk tales, history and the contemporary, and created a world reminiscent of those forged by William Faulkner and Gabriel Garc’a M‡rquez. “He writes about the peasantry, about life in the countryside, about people struggling to survive, struggling for their dignity, sometimes winning but most of the time losing,” said the academy’s secretary, Peter Englund. The 57-year-old author’s real name is Guan Moye but he took his pen name, which translates as “don’t speak”, to remind him of the dangers of saying too much. “His work is always unique. Since Red Sorghum, he has for the past 30 years consistently been at a peak of creativity. That is not easy. Many writers have ups and downs, but he keeps himself at his writing peak,” Yan Lianke, another highly regarded novelist, said. He added that the award was a recognition of Chinese literature. This was a widespread feeling in China, where, according to Beijing-based literary translator Brendan O’Kane, writers feel Chinese literature is not comprehensible to the rest of the world. “This will be a huge confidence boost,” he said. The only other Chinese winner was Gao Xingjian, who took the 2000 prize, but he lives in exile as a French citizen and his works are banned on the mainland. The Chinese foreign ministry complained at the time that the prize had “been used for ulterior political motives” though Mo praised Gao’s “enormous contribution” to Chinese literature. This time, the national broadcaster […]
By Sadanand Dhume Text Publishing RRP $AUS34.95 In October 2002, Sadanand Dhume found himself in a place most foreigners were trying to flee Bali. Powerful explosions the previous night had ripped through two tourist nightclubs, killing more than two hundred people. That evening he visited what remained of the Sari Club. Standing among piles of ash and blackened beer bottles, he wondered about the future of a country long regarded as immune to such carnage. My Friend the Fanatic is a fascinating portrait of Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, painted through the travels of a pair of unlikely protagonists. Dhume is a foreign correspondent, an Ivy League-educated Indian with a fondness for John Updike and an interest in economic development. His companion, Herry Nurdi, is a young Islamist who hero-worships Osama bin Laden. Does Herry represent the future for Indonesia? By turns disturbing and funny. My Friend the Fanatic fulfills a deep hunger for knowledge about our largest neighbour in a time of dynamic and unpredictable change. Sadanand Dhume is a Washington-based journalist and writer. As a former Indonesia correspondent of the Far Eastern Economic Review and the Wall Street Journal Asia in Jakarta, Sadanand covered IndonesiaÕs economics, politics and society.
By Ron Suskind, Harper Collins, $ 24.99 The hidden history of Wall Street and the White House comes down to a single, powerful, quintessentially American concept: confidence. Both centres of power, tapping brazen innovations over the past three decades, learned how to manufacture it. Until August 2007, when that confidence finally began to crumble. In this brilliantly reported book, Ron Suskind tells the story of what happened next, as Wall Street struggled to save itself while a man with little experience and soaring rhetoric emerged from obscurity to usher in ‘a new era of responsibility’. It is a story that follows the journey of Barack Obama, who rose as the country fell, and offers the first full portrait of his tumultuous presidency. Wall Street found that straying from long-standing principles of transparency, accountability, and fair dealing opened a path to stunning profits. Obama’s determination to reverse that trend was essential to his ascendance, especially when Wall Street collapsed during the fall of an election year and the two candidates could audition for the presidency by responding to a national crisis. Based on hundreds of interviews and filled with piercing insights and startling disclosures, CONFIDENCE MEN brings into focus the collusion and conflict between New York and Washington, one of private gain, the other of public purpose, in defining confidence and, thereby, charting America’s future. Ron Suskind is the author of the New York Times bestsellers THE WAY OF THE WORLD, ONE PERCENT DOCTRINE, THE PRICE OF LOYALTY and A HOPE IN THE UNSEEN. From 1993 to 2000 he was the senior national affairs writer for the Wall Street Journal, where he won a Pulitzer Prize for feature writing.
If we lived in a parallel universe, then Clint Eastwood would probably be having a deep and meaningful conversation with an empty chair. But we don’t and we all know the true spirit of inspiration, conversation and debate comes from face to face communications. This editorial suggests that we have a problem with inspiring people in the world today. Of identifying them, recognising them, honouring them and putting their work out for the world to see. If the Republicans believed that this kind of cheap politicising would work and indeed have an effect on the election result then they have rocks in their head. ItÕs just so hard to understand why a time honoured, respectable and effective political party through history stoops to this level to attempt to influence an election. And there is something dated about their approach. The messages for change, the voice of reason, the direction for the future doesn’t sit on an empty chair. Hopefully, it sits in the White House. It is also true that true leadership exists throughout our pillars of society. The people making a real difference are in communities helping the sick or flying the flag for environmental change. They are found in education, organic and bio dynamic growing and bringing spiritual inspiration in the world.
Picture: Children interacting with the sociable trash-box. Toyohashi Tech researchers use ‘robotic social trash boxes’ to investigate interactions between humans and robots for improving robot-to-human communications. This report is featured in the September issue of the Toyohashi Tech eNewsletter : http://www.tut.ac.jp/english/newsletter/ Humans regulate their interactions according to different contexts, the degree of the relationship, cultural factors, gender, age, and so on. These factors can be utilized as an interpersonal boundary-control mechanism which is totally dependent on encouraging or discouraging another person’s interactions. Humans are expected to dynamically optimize the above mechanism according to the interpersonal distances and personal spaces (proxemics). Michio Okada and colleagues at Toyohashi University of Technology were interested in determining what kind of distances (spheres), effective social cue, and behaviors that an sociable trash box (STB) requires with children in order to convey its intention to acquire child assistance in collecting trash from the environment as a child-dependent robot. The experiments were carries out at the Developmental Center for Children at Toyohashi City, and evaluated the validity and effectiveness of the approach through different interactive scenarios. The experiments on naturally interacting with the STBs were conducted with the participation of 108 children aged 4 and 11 years old). The results of the proxemics showed that when the STBs moved individually in the environment and moved in a swarm (three STBs), the children established different spaces (according to distance and interactive time) to interact with the STB. These extracted spaces can be utilised in the STB decision process (moving with distances, staying time and so on) to convey its intention to collect trash with assistance from children. This will be the basis of our future plans to extend our study in order to develop a decision hierarchy inside of the STBs.
South Africa’s first formal container housing development has reached completion in Johannesburg’s Windsor East suburb north of the city with residents flocking to apply for occupation. The controversial project, involving the use of defunct freight shipping containers as housing units, initially had residents up in arms when first mooted several months ago. The project took four-and-a-half months to complete from start to finish, ending up with a three-storey development which would probably have taken ten to 12 months to build using conventional methods, says architect Kobus Coetzee. Coetzee explains the project was not without its challenges: “You deal with tight spaces and have to make it liveable and really nice. How do you prevent sharp corners after you cut steel? We had to figure that out.” He adds: “It comprised steel containers with polystyrene and mesh, which had to be fixed with galvanised straps drilled into the containers through the polystyrene and the mesh. And then it was plastered conventionally.” Maintenance, he says, is a cinch with a touch of paint needed from time to time. The project cost R8m according to container housing brainchild from Citiq Properties, Arthur Blake and its CEO, Paul Lapham. That included landscaping, paving, boundary walls, the recreational rooftop and heat pumps. Blake says without the trimmings the structure itself would probably have cost half of its bricks and mortar equivalent. Lapham says the genesis of the project was: “How do we get good homes to people at an affordable price? Building conventionally doesn’t let you do it. Container housing has been touted internationally as a cheaper alternative, by 20% to 30%.” He says: “This is a triumph of design and building. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Coetzee says the company has been approached by people from Nigeria, the Congo, Gabon and Zambia […]
-Doug Green If we lived in a parallel universe, then Clint Eastwood would probably be having a deep and meaningful conversation with an empty chair. But we don’t and we all know the true spirit of inspiration, conversation and debate comes from face to face communications. Written before the result of the US Elections, this editorial suggests that we have a problem with inspiring people in the world today. Of identifying them, recognising them, honouring them and putting their work out for the world to see. If the Republicans believed that this kind of cheap politicising would work and indeed have an effect on the election result then they have rocks in their head. It’s just so hard to understand why a time honoured, respectable and effective political party through history stoops to this level to attempt to influence an election. And there is something dated about their approach. The messages for change, the voice of reason, the direction for the future doesn’t sit on an empty chair. Hopefully, it sits in the White House. It is also true that true leadership exists throughout our pillars of society. The people making a real difference are in communities helping the sick or flying the flag for environmental change. They are found in education, organic and bio dynamic growing and bringing spiritual inspiration in the world.
Carlos Ruiz Zafon Text Publishing This edition of Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s much-loved bestseller includes Chapter One of his new literary sensation The Angel’s Game. It is 1945 and Barcelona is enduring the long aftermath of civil war when Daniel Sempere’s bookseller father decides his son is old enough to visit the secret Cemetery of Forgotten Books. There Daniel must ‘adopt’ a single book, promising to care for it and keep it alive always. His choice falls on The Shadow of the Wind. Bewitched, he embarks on an epic quest to find the truth about Julian Carax, the bookÕs mysterious author. Soon Daniel is consumed by strange discoveries about love and obsession, art and life, and how they become entangled within the shadow world of books. The Shadow of the Wind is a mesmerising love story and literary thriller, which twists and turns and enthralls with its cast of vengeful souls, threatening spectres and innocent hearts.
By Salman Rushdie RRP $39.99 Random House On 14 February 1989, Valentine’s Day, Salman Rushdie was telephoned by a BBC journalist and told that he had been ‘sentenced to death’ by the Ayatollah Khomeini. For the first time he heard the word fatwa. His crime? To have written a novel called The Satanic Verses, which was accused of being ‘against Islam, the Prophet and the Quran’. So begins the extraordinary story of how a writer was forced underground, moving from house to house, with the constant presence of an armed police protection team. He was asked to choose an alias that the police could call him by. He thought of writers he loved and combinations of their names; then it came to him: Conrad and Chekhov – Joseph Anton. How do a writer and his family live with the threat of murder for over nine years? How does he go on working? How does he fall in and out of love? How does despair shape his thoughts and actions, how and why does he stumble, how does he learn to fight back? In this remarkable memoir Rushdie tells that story for the first time; the story of one of the crucial battles, in our time, for freedom of speech. He talks about the sometimes grim, sometimes comic realities of living with armed policemen, and of the close bonds he formed with his protectors; of his struggle for support and understanding from governments, intelligence chiefs, publishers, journalists, and fellow writers; and of how he regained his freedom. It is a book of exceptional frankness and honesty, compelling, provocative, moving, and of vital importance. Because what happened to Salman Rushdie was the first act of a drama that is still unfolding somewhere in the world every day.