Friday, March 2, 2018 

Stanley, Sounds and the Squirrel

No Complaints #141

Here we go again.

Things to read

“It’s 4:00 A.M., and Kabul is dark and still. Shabana Noori wills herself out of bed to drink a cup of hot tea. The 22-year-old news anchor and fledgling star of ZAN TV has to get to work by 6:00 for her Friday-morning shift. ZAN, whose name means ‘woman’ in Dari, is the first and only TV station in Afghanistan for women, made up of an all-female team of journalists, most of them in their early twenties. Launched in the Afghan capital in May, the station sheds light on everything from cosmetics (once banned under the Taliban) to women in sports (also previously banned) to domestic violence (tragically still commonplace). Until now there has never been a show—let alone an entire station—focused on women's issues. The fact that the women of ZAN are openly talking about them on national television is revolutionary.”

Inside the first all-female television news station in Afghanistan. Email to Pocket.

“I first heard ‘Winter’ in 1985, when I was 4. A snow-laced mountain fog had settled over the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia. I sat alone in the living room, watching a cartoon movie called ‘Sarah and the Squirrel’. It was not the lighthearted fare suggested by its title. Sarah’s village is invaded by Nazis, and her family members are captured and taken to a concentration camp. She escapes the slaughter by hiding in a nearby forest. It is under these circumstances of genocide, starvation and exposure to the elements that she befriends (or perhaps hallucinates) a squirrel. In the cartoon’s final frames, Sarah wanders alone and barefoot through the snow. All of these events are set to Vivaldi’s ‘Winter’.”

A great piece of writing about a timeless piece of music. Also, I am now intrigued enough to try and track down Sarah and the Squirrel. Email to Pocket.

“For archivists, 1870 is the year everything begins to turn to dust. That was the year American newspaper mills began phasing out rag-based paper with wood pulp, ensuring that newspapers printed after would be known to future generations as delicate things, brittle at the edges, yellowing with the slightest exposure to air. In the late 1920s, the Kodak company suggested microfilm was the solution, neatly compacting an entire newspaper onto a few inches of thin, flexible film. In the second half of the century, entire libraries were transferred to microform, spun on microfilm reels, or served on tiny microfiche platters, while the crumbling originals were thrown away or pulped. To save newspapers, we first had to destroy them. Then came digital media, which is even more compact than microfilm, giving way, initially at least, to fantasies of whole libraries preserved on the head of a pin. In the event, the new digital records degraded even more quickly than did newsprint. Information’s most consistent quality is its evanescence. Information is fugitive in its very nature.”

Enjoy it while you can, future generations probably won’t be able to read this. Email to Pocket.

“Just to pile on Stanley Kubrick (ah, he can take it): Stephen King notoriously hates his adaptation of The Shining. I don’t even know how King even has time to watch all of his adaptations, let along have opinions about them, but that’s really neither here nor there. King thought Kubrick’s version was ‘Too cold. No sense of emotional investment in the family whatsoever on his part,’ as he told The Paris Review.”

An excellent round up of novelists bitching about the (in some cases, extremely lucrative and popular) screen adaptations of their work. Email to Pocket.

“Speaking of passive-aggressive emails, another upside of home-working is liberating yourself from all the petty bureaucracy that fills the average office. When we say we want to work from home, don’t we really mean we want to work without Jenny from Policy piping up in your inbox to complain that somebody has stolen her Müller Crunch Corner again? Or at least, being able to enjoy the drama from afar. Because your only tense interactions are with the postman, and there’s no risk of him giving you a bad appraisal.”

You probably wouldn’t know it from social media, but it’s been quite cold and snowy in the UK this week, and a lot of people who don’t normally work from home have been doing just that. As someone who now works from home a lot, I rather enjoyed this starry-eyed take on the whole thing. Email to Pocket.


Things to listen to

Now I know you come here for podcast/radio recommendations, but this week I want to tell you about Noisli, a little browser plugin that lets you make your own custom background noise to work to from all their various presets. If you find it difficult to concentrate without the sound of a train going through a rainy forest where lightning occasionally strikes, this is for you. The only danger is that you get so involved in making a soothing soundscape that you don’t actually do any work.

Paying subscribers now receive a themed podcast playlist in their inbox every Sunday. Sign up here if you want in. I am also taking requests, so if you have a genre/niche you love but don’t know of enough good shows in it, this is your opportunity to fix that.


Things to watch


Well done Einstein.

A great video series about food and eating — see the rest of it here.

I am unclear what this is.


Compulsory medieval thingamabob

“I don’t understand why I am carrying the man while you get to toot the horn.”

The guest gif

It is, really.