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August 8, 2020

Louis Vuitton F/W 2020 — Es Devlin





August 8, 2020 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

"Good Bad Books" — George Orwell


His 1945 essay follows.

Good Bad Books

Not long ago a publisher commissioned me to write an introduction for a reprint of a novel by Leonard Merrick. This publishing house, it appears, is going to reissue a long series of minor and partly-forgotten novels of the twentieth century. It is a valuable service in these bookless days, and I rather envy the person whose job it will be to scout round the threepenny boxes, hunting down copies of his boyhood favourites.

A type of book which we hardly seem to produce in these days, but which flowered with great richness in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, is what Chesterton called the "good bad book": that is, the kind of book that has no literary pretensions but which remains readable when more serious productions have perished. Obviously outstanding books in this line are RAFFLES and the Sherlock Holmes stories, which have kept their place when innumerable "problem novels", "human documents" and "terrible indictments" of this or that have fallen into deserved oblivion. (Who has worn better, Conan Doyle or Meredith?) Almost in the same class as these I, put R. Austin Freeman's earlier stories — "The Singing Bone" "The Eye of Osiris" and others — Ernest Bramah's MAX CARRADOS, and, dropping the standard a bit, Guy Boothby's Tibetan thriller, DR NIKOLA, a sort of schoolboy version of Hue's TRAVELS IN TARTARY, which would probably make a real visit to Central Asia seem a dismal anticlimax.

But apart from thrillers, there were the minor humorous writers of the period. For example, Pett Ridge — but I admit his full-length books no longer seem readable — E. Nesbit (THE TREASURE SEEKERS), George Birmingham, who was good so long as he kept off politics, the pornographic Binstead ("Pitcher" of the PINK 'UN), and, if American books can be included, Booth Tarkington's Penrod stories. A cut above most of these was Barry Pain. Some of Pain's humorous writings are, I suppose, still in print, but to anyone who comes across it I recommend what must now be a very rare book--THE OCTAVE OF CLAUDIUS, a brilliant exercise in the macabre. Somewhat later in time there was Peter Blundell, who wrote in the W.W. Jacobs vein about Far Eastern seaport towns, and who seems to be rather unaccountably forgotten, in spite of having been praised in print by H.G. Wells.

However, all the books I have been speaking of are frankly "escape" literature. They form pleasant patches in one's memory, quiet corners where the mind can browse at odd moments, but they hardly pretend to have anything to do with real life. There is another kind of good bad book which is more seriously intended, and which tells us, I think, something about the nature of the novel and the reasons for its present decadence. During the last fifty years there has been a whole series of writers — some of them are still writing — whom it is quite impossible to call "good" by any strictly literary standard, but who are natural novelists and who seem to attain sincerity partly because they are not inhibited by good taste. In this class I put Leonard Merrick himself, W.L. George, J.D. Beresford, Ernest Raymond, May Sinclair, and — at a lower level than the others but still essentially similar — A.S.M. Hutchinson.

Most of these have been prolific writers, and their output has naturally varied in quality. I am thinking in each case of one or two outstanding books: for example, Merrick's CYNTHIA, J.D. Beresford's A CANDIDATE FOR TRUTH, W.L. George's CALIBAN, May Sinclair's THE COMBINED MAZE and Ernest Raymond's WE, THE ACCUSED. In each of these books the author has been able to identify himself with his imagined characters, to feel with them and invite sympathy on their behalf. with a kind of abandonment that cleverer people would find it difficult to achieve. They bring out the fact that intellectual refinement can be a disadvantage to a story-teller, as it would be to a music-hall comedian.

Take, for example, Ernest Raymond's WE, THE ACCUSED — a peculiarly sordid and convincing murder story, probably based on the Crippen case. I think it gains a great deal from the fact that the author only partly grasps the pathetic vulgarity of the people he is writing about, and therefore does not despise them. Perhaps it even — like Theodore Dreiser's An AMERICAN TRAGEDY — gains something from the clumsy long-winded manner in which it is written; detail is piled on detail, with almost no attempt at selection, and in the process an effect of terrible, grinding cruelty is slowly built up. So also with A CANDIDATE FOR TRUTH. Here there is not the same clumsiness, but there is the same ability to take seriously the problems of commonplace people. So also with CYNTHIA and at any rate the earlier part of Caliban. The greater part of what W.L. George wrote was shoddy rubbish, but in this particular book, based on the career of Northcliffe, he achieved some memorable and truthful pictures of lower-middle-class London life. Parts of this book are probably autobiographical, and one of the advantages of good bad writers is their lack of shame in writing autobiography. Exhibitionism and self-pity are the bane of the novelist, and yet if he is too frightened of them his creative gift may suffer.

The existence of good bad literature — the fact that one can be amused or excited or even moved by a book that one's intellect simply refuses to take seriously — is a reminder that art is not the same thing as cerebration. I imagine that by any test that could be devised, Carlyle would be found to be a more intelligent man than Trollope. Yet Trollope has remained readable and Carlyle has not: with all his cleverness he had not even the wit to write in plain straightforward English. In novelists, almost as much as in poets, the connection between intelligence and creative power is hard to establish. A good novelist may be a prodigy of self-discipline like Flaubert, or he may be an intellectual sprawl like Dickens. Enough talent to set up dozens of ordinary writers has been poured into Wyndham Lewis's so-called novels, such as TARR or SNOOTY BARONET. Yet it would be a very heavy labour to read one of these books right through. Some indefinable quality, a sort of literary vitamin, which exists even in a book like IF WINTER COMES, is absent from them.

Perhaps the supreme example of the "good bad" book is UNCLE TOM'S CABIN. It is an unintentionally ludicrous book, full of preposterous melodramatic incidents; it is also deeply moving and essentially true; it is hard to say which quality outweighs the other. But UNCLE TOM'S CABIN, after all, is trying to be serious and to deal with the real world. How about the frankly escapist writers, the purveyors of thrills and "light" humour? How about SHERLOCK HOLMES, VICE VERSA, DRACULA, HELEN'S BABIES or KING SOLOMON'S MINES? All of these are definitely absurd books, books which one is more inclined to laugh AT than WITH, and which were hardly taken seriously even by their authors; yet they have survived, and will probably continue to do so. All one can say is that, while civilisation remains such that one needs distraction from time to time, "light" literature has its appointed place; also that there is such a thing as sheer skill, or native grace, which may have more survival value than erudition or intellectual power. There are music-hall songs which are better poems than three-quarters of the stuff that gets into the anthologies:

Come where the booze is cheaper,
Come where the pots hold more,
Come where the boss is a bit of a sport,
Come to the pub next door!

Or again:

Two lovely black eyes
Oh, what a surprise!
Only for calling another man wrong,
Two lovely black eyes!

I would far rather have written either of those than, say, "The Blessed Damozel" or "Love in the Valley". And by the same token I would back UNCLE TOM'S CABIN to outlive the complete works of Virginia Woolf or George Moore, though I know of no strictly literary test which would show where the superiority lies.

[via george-orwell.org]

August 8, 2020 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

BehindTheMedspeak: COVIDWISE

Screenshot 2020-08-07 at 8.09.13 AM

This week Virginia became the first state to go live with COVIDWISE, a tracking and tracing app for Covid-19 exposure.

I signed up within a femtosecond of it becoming available.

Up top, my phone's home screen at this moment.

Screen Shot 2020-08-07 at 8.11.55 AM

Check out the ratings in the App Store: didn't take long for it to shoot to #1 in Health & Fitness, with a 4.9/5 rating.

Free, the way we like it.

August 8, 2020 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Brightest known fluorescent materials in existence created


From Phys.Org:

Chemists create the brightest-ever fluorescent materials

By formulating positively charged fluorescent dyes into a new class of materials called small-molecule ionic isolation lattices (SMILES), a compound's brilliant glow can be seamlessly transferred to a solid, crystalline state, researchers reported August 6 in the journal Chem.

The advance overcomes a long-standing barrier to developing fluorescent solids, resulting in the brightest known materials in existence.


"These materials have potential applications in any technology that needs bright fluorescence or calls for designing optical properties, including solar energy harvesting, bioimaging, and lasers," says Amar Flood, a chemist at Indiana University and co-senior author on the study along with Bo Laursen of the University of Copenhagen.

"Beyond these, there are interesting applications that include upconverting light to capture more of the solar spectrum in solar cells, light-switchable materials used for information storage and photochromic glass, and circularly polarized luminescence that may be used in 3-D display technology," Flood says.

While there are currently more than 100,000 different fluorescent dyes available, almost none of these can be mixed and matched in predictable ways to create solid optical materials.


Dyes tend to undergo "quenching" when they enter a solid state due to how they behave when packed close together, decreasing the intensity of their fluorescence to produce a more subdued glow.

"The problem of quenching and inter-dye coupling emerges when the dyes stand shoulder-to-shoulder inside solids," says Flood. "They cannot help but 'touch' each other. Like young children sitting at story time, they interfere with each other and stop behaving as individuals."

To overcome this problem, Flood and colleagues mixed a colored dye with a colorless solution of cyanostar, a star-shaped macrocycle molecule that prevents the fluorescent molecules from interacting as the mixture solidified, keeping their optical properties intact.
As the mixture became a solid, SMILES formed, which the researchers then grew into crystals, precipitated into dry powders, and finally spun into a thin film or incorporated directly into polymers.
Since the cyanostar macrocycles form building blocks that generate a lattice-like checkerboard, the researchers could simply plug a dye into the lattice and, without any further adjustments, the structure would take on its color and appearance.
While previous research had already developed an approach to spacing the dyes apart using macrocycle molecules, it relied on colored macrocycles to do the job.
Flood and colleagues found that colorless macrocycles were key.

"Some people think that colorless macrocycles are unattractive, but they allowed the isolation lattice to fully express the bright fluorescence of the dyes unencumbered by the colors of the macrocycles," says Flood.

Next, the researchers plan to explore the properties of fluorescent materials formed using this novel technique, enabling them to work with dye makers in the future to realize the materials' full potential in a variety of different applications.

"These materials are totally new, so we do not know which of their innate properties are actually going to offer superior functionality," says Flood. "We also do not know the materials' limits. So, we will develop a fundamental understanding of how they work, providing a robust set of design rules for making new properties. This is critical for putting these materials into the hands of others — we want to pursue crowd sourcing and to work with others in this effort."

August 8, 2020 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

World's thinnest mechanical watch (2mm) that can actually be used


From CNA Luxury:

When Piaget first unveiled the Altiplano Ultimate Concept in 2018, the watch community was wowed and competitors suitably intimidated — but only for a while.

The 2mm-thick watch, which immediately claimed the world record for the thinnest mechanical watch ever, was after all just a concept.

Collectors quickly went back to lusting after slim tickers they could actually wear.

But the Altiplano Ultimate Concept isn't just a concept anymore.

Despite its unchanged name, the watch is now finally in regular (but surely limited) production following an announcement at recent Watches & Wonders online fair.

Its alarming thinness is certainly the main highlight, but just as impressive as its profile (or almost lack of one) is the amount of time and imagination that went into it.

It took two years to engineer the watch, but four years before that just to figure out how.

One of the solutions was borrowed from an older Piaget model, the 900P, launched at the end of 2013.

Thanks to the ingenious idea of integrating the movement directly into the case, the 900P was, for a time, the thinnest mechanical watch in the world.

Other strategies included eliminating the need for bridges by using wheels rotating on ball bearings, replacing the hour hand with a revolving indicator disc, and completely reengineering the crown to be telescopic and flush with the case.

The entire thing, comprising 167 parts, was so delicate that no one was allowed to handle the concept watch when it was launched at SIHH two years ago.


For it to reasonably handle the rigors of daily wear was inconceivable.

But in those two years, Piaget worked hard to make it happen.

A high-tech cobalt alloy was chosen for the case material as it is said to be 2.3 times stronger than gold.

Even the strap needed to be made from a combination of leather and Kevlar and shaved down to the case's dimensions.

It's not as convenient as its fellow record-breaker, the Altiplano Ultimate Automatic 910P (3.65mm) from 2018, but it does have a respectable power reserve of 40 hours.

And while it may not have the satisfying heft of a solid gold or platinum watch (or the weight of anything at all, really), just knowing that a 0.2mm thick piece of sapphire crystal, which is 80% thinner than the norm, and 0.12mm of cobalt are all that's protecting the movement from the elements and your own skin is a unique kind of privilege.

Now that Piaget intends for people to wear it, the Altiplano Ultimate Concept will also offer a customisation service.

Customers will be able to choose the colors for the sub-dial, movement plate, and strap, and even the finish of the hands.

According to the brand, there are over 10,000 possible permutations, ensuring that an already rare timepiece will be practically one-of-a-kind.

Granted, a watch this slight isn't for everyone, nor can it be just from a production standpoint.

But it could inspire more comfortable watches overall.

Those chunky diving watches, chronographs, and —q dare we imagine it — grand complications could finally fit under all manner of cuffs, have less of a chance of knocking into things, and not feel like you've strapped a small boulder onto your wrist.


Price available upon request.

August 8, 2020 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

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