No Complaints #32: Conversation, California and a Cathedral of Bling

It is raining. That is all.

Things to read

“Across the country, a new car culture was being created in songs, books, movies, newspapers, and amateur photographs like those in this album. The Model T also ushered in the age of the road trip. In 1915, car camping was still a real adventure. In the beginning of this album, Frick and Oliver’s relatives cluster around the car “amid tears” at the ‘starting of the EXPEDITION’, and near the end their ‘return safe and sound’ is met with ‘rejoicing among our relatives’.”

Doing a road-trip in California, but in 1915. Email to Pocket.



“That’s the artefact that 180,000 or so repetitions have fashioned this conversation into. And as a conversation then there’s nothing wrong with it at all. It’s seven people saying stuff - some about the parameters of beauty standards and some about their significance. But because it looks like people agreeing with each other, and because the act of retransmitting it amounts to signing off on all of it, then the fact that it was ever a conversation becomes connotatively irrelevant.”

A case for tumblr as an economy of assent. Email to Pocket.



“What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. Get a post-bac or try writing for the first time. The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious. We’re graduating college. We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.”

A lovely essay about leaving college from the late Marina Keegan (thanks very much to NC reader Elaine for the link). Email to Pocket.



“‘Remember, there are 120 million gambling-mad Chinese, Japanese and Koreans living within two hours' flying time of this place,’ says Ballantyne as he shows me round the towering reception hall of the Tigre de Cristal. It's all Roman columns and state-of-the-art lighting, but it's very far from finished. Chinese labourers and Russian electricians are visible through the dust, working flat out to ensure that this cathedral of bling is ready for the grand opening in a couple of months' time. Vladimir Putin himself is planning to drop in. ‘No pressure, then,’ I say to Ballantyne. He grimaces.”

How Russia is trying to turn Vladivostok into the Vegas of the East. Email to Pocket.



“The Instagram version was a mere 640×640 pixels, which means it would blur if anyone blew it up much bigger than a Polaroid. Many news organizations held off on publishing their stories until a high-resolution version became available, which in a way delayed the public’s access to independently vetted news. In that intervening time, news stories about Pluto posted the image in an Instagram embed, which drove users to that platform and (potentially) helped the company earn ad revenue.”

Is Nasa doing too much social media and not enough space exploration? Email to Pocket.


Things to listen to

I’ve long been fascinated by Elizabeth von Armin – her books, her life, her letters – so I was very pleased that the BBC had decided to broadcast a new adaptation of her semi-autobiographical novel from 1898, Elizabeth and her German Garden. A blockbuster bestseller in its day that is now largely forgotten, this adaptation just has everything I want in a radio drama: a lovely calming reader, thoughts about women’s creative space, and gentle good humour.

Oh, and if you could leave an iTunes review for Anna and my podcast, that would be lovely! It doesn't have any yet and it looks a bit sad.

Things to watch

The piano that da Vinci built (sort of).

Peggy Olson vs Drake.

The Kinks get a hairdo.

Compulsory medieval thingamabob


The guest gif

The Chosen One speaks the truth.

THE END. See you next time*!
*Next time will probably be next Friday. If you want to suggest things I should include in the next one of these, please do reply and send me links.