Target: Taiwan

AMERICA AND China agree on very little these days. Yet on the subject of Taiwan, at least in one regard, they are in total harmony. The status quo surrounding the self-governing island, which China claims and whose thriving democracy America supports, is changing in dangerous ways, say officials on both sides. War does not look imminent, but the uneasy peace that has held for more than six decades is fragile (see China section). Ask them who is at fault, however, and the harmony shatters. That much is clear from the crisis triggered this month by a visit to Taiwan by the speaker of America’s House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi. She was well within her rights, but her trip was provocative. It infuriated the Chinese Communist Party. One of Ms Pelosi’s predecessors…

Target: Taiwan

The new Germany

TO BORROW A phrase from the late Emperor Hirohito, the war in Ukraine has developed not necessarily to Vladimir Putin’s advantage. It has sent Finland and Sweden bolting for the cover of NATO membership. It has deepened Ukrainian nationalism, strengthened the democratic alternative Ukraine offers to Mr Putin’s own tyranny, and led customers for Russia’s energy to look elsewhere. It has also prodded a sleepy giant, Germany, rousing a country that has been both Russia’s best partner and its worst enemy. Mr Putin’s warmongering may prove to be the catalyst that turns Germany into his own nightmare: a stronger, bolder, more determined leader of a more united Europe. Germany badly needed that prod. Complacent and just a little self-satisfied, it was late to realise how fast the world was changing around…

The new Germany

churchills

When you think “black market,” notions of contraband material and illicit distribution channels probably come to mind. This is not the case with the Honduran Alec Bradley Black Market Churchill, which scored 93 points. The unusual, but totally legal leaf in the blend comes from Panama. Four cigars scored 90 points. As is referenced in the name, A.J. Fernandez produces the H. Upmann Nicaragua by AJ Fernandez Heritage Churchill for Altadis U.S.A. Padrón continues to create elegantly rich cigars with its 1964 Anniversary Series Diplomatico, and the Timeless Supreme 749 comes to market via Ferio Tego, a new company that makes this cigar formerly owned by Nat Sherman. Unlike most Dominican cigars, which are rolled in Santiago, Villiger’s Flor de Ynclan Churchill is made in Santo Domingo. 93 HONDURAS RING GAUGE: 50 LENGTH: 7" FILLER:…

churchills
Kraken Mock Draft

Kraken Mock Draft

GENERAL MANAGERS? Learning from the pitfalls of the 2017 expansion draft? That was then. Fifteen teams have changed their GMs since the Vegas Golden Knights put on a clinic with a dizzying parade of side deals that landed foundational players such as Shea Theodore and Alex Tuch. In the four years since, NHL GMs have continued to live in the moment, signing players to lucrative deals. The pandemic has also vaporized league revenues to the point the salary cap is expected to remain flat at $81.5 million. Translation: just as many teams are in financial distress now as there were in 2017, if not more, so we can expect just as many side deals. Seattle’s position will be as advantageous as Vegas’ was. As the Kraken bail teams out and eat big…

TikTok Turns On the Money Machine

Alyssa McKay used to work part-time at a frozen yogurt store in Portland, Ore., making minimum wage to help pay her college tuition. Now the 22-year-old earns more than $100,000 a year by pitching brands such as the luxury label Coach and streaming services Netflix and Amazon Prime Video to her 9 million TikTok followers, mostly teenage and preteen girls who wouldn’t dream of visiting Facebook. “TikTok definitely 100% changed my life,” she says. The most downloaded app of 2021, TikTok now has a billion-plus users worldwide consuming short video clips on their phones. That still makes it smaller than Meta Platforms Inc.’s services Facebook and Instagram, but its average user in the US spends about 29 hours a month with it, more than Facebook (16 hours) and Instagram (8 hours)…

TikTok Turns On the Money Machine

Resurfacing

ALMOST TEN years ago President Barack Obama visited Australia’s parliament to announce a pivot to Asia. “The United States is a Pacific power and we are here to stay,” he declared. This week the White House will echo with similar sentiments, as the leaders of the Quad countries—America, Australia, India and Japan—gather in person for the first time. There will be talk of a “free and open Indo-Pacific”, code for facing down an assertive China. The rhetoric will be familiar, but the reaction may not be: this time both friend and foe may actually believe it. The reason is AUKUS, an agreement announced last week for America and Britain to supply Australia with at least eight nuclear-powered submarines. The deal has caused waves because of its huge size and because it…

Resurfacing
Bargaining chip

Bargaining chip

Taiwan’s security rests on computing hardware as much as the military kind FOR A BRIEF moment on May 23rd, it seemed as if American policy towards Taiwan had undergone a sudden and dramatic change. Asked if America would “get involved militarily” to defend Taiwan in case of an invasion, President Joe Biden replied that it would. “That’s the commitment we made,” he said. It was the third time he had made a similar statement—and the third time it was quickly dialled back by his aides. Good thing then that Taiwan has huguo shenshan, or the “magic mountain that protects the nation”. The mountain is not a sophisticated defensive fortification, nor a treaty with a big power. It is instead what Taiwanese call their $147bn semiconductor industry, equivalent to 15% of GDP. It…

The world this week

Politics Chile’s president, Sebastián Piñera, declared a state of emergency for 15 days in two southern regions. The army will be deployed to help local police, who have struggled to contain violent attacks by indigenous groups seeking to reclaim ancestral lands. A demonstrator died during a protest led by indigenous groups in Santiago. Chile is in the process of drafting a new constitution, which may decentralise power and expand indigenous rights. A far-right presidential candidate campaigning on a law-and-order platform is polling well in a tight race ahead of the election on November 21st, in which Mr Piñera cannot stand. In Bogotá, Colombia’s capital, at least five American families connected to the United States embassy appear to have been afflicted with the Havana syndrome. The mystery illness, which causes ringing in the…

The world this week
Next-generation thinking

Next-generation thinking

THE 20TH COMMUNIST PARTY CONGRESS FOR AN ASPIRING Communist Party bigwig, Hu Chunhua’s back story seems hard to beat. One of six siblings born into rural poverty, he was the first in his county to attend China’s prestigious Peking University. On graduation in 1983, he joined the party and volunteered to work in Tibet. There he caught the eye of the local party chief, Hu Jintao (no relation), who became China’s top leader in 2002. Soon Hu Chunhua (pictured) was the youngest provincial governor and a member of the party’s Central Committee. Insiders began referring to him as “little Hu” and as one of the favourites to become China’s leader in 2022. The chances of that happening now are vanishingly slim. Xi Jinping, aged 69, is widely expected to secure a third…

LAUGHING Matters

LAUGHING Matters

Making people laugh connects us to one another. But what humour endures? For me, it’s personal life stories and experiences. Life, twisted and moulded until you find the funny, will always evolve, and therefore endure. I’ve found that the closer it cuts to the bone, the funnier it is. The beauty of life is that everyone is similar in some way. While we may not have the same experiences, everyone can relate to observations on life, family and the varieties of behaviour we all encounter every day as we go about our lives. Humour is very helpful in everyday life. For example, it can end tense situations. In my life, humour has ended arguments at home and at work too many times to mention. Finding humour can break tension immediately. My…

Politics

Hundreds of thousands of people were expected to file past the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II as she lay in state in Westminster Hall in London ahead of her funeral. The 96-year-old monarch died on September 8th at her Scottish home, Balmoral Castle. Charles III was proclaimed king in the four nations of the United Kingdom, and in the 14 countries where the British monarch is also head of state. Millions of people in Britain and across the world paid their respects to the queen. Run away, run away! A Ukrainian counter-offensive in Kharkiv province won back more land in a week than Russia’s army had occupied in five months. Russian soldiers were caught off-guard. Many fled in disorder, abandoning their guns, trucks and even tanks to the advancing Ukrainians. It was…

Politics

Hungry and angry

JESUS SAID that man does not live by bread alone. Nonetheless, its scarcity makes people furious. The last time the world suffered a food-price shock like today’s, it helped set off the Arab spring, a wave of uprisings that ousted four presidents and led to horrific civil wars in Syria and Libya. Unfortunately, Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has upended the markets for grain and energy once again. And so unrest is inevitable this year, too. Soaring food and fuel prices are the most excruciating form of inflation. If the prices of furniture or smartphones rise, people can delay a purchase or forgo it. But they cannot stop eating. Likewise, transport costs are baked into every physical good, and most people cannot easily walk to work. So when food and fuel…

Hungry and angry

British understatement

A LITTLE MORE than a decade after the Conservatives declared Britain to be on the brink of a bond-market crisis, many of the candidates to lead the party—and therefore the country—are promising to dole out plenty of cash. Tom Tugendhat wants to reverse a recent increase in national insurance, a payroll tax. Liz Truss wants to do that and cancel a planned rise in corporation tax. Penny Mordaunt, the bookies’ favourite, wants to peg most tax thresholds to inflation and temporarily halve VAT on petrol. There is still time for candidates to flesh out their plans, and none admits to throwing fiscal caution to the wind. Ms Mordaunt promises that she will get the debt-toGDP ratio down. But none of the candidates has given a credible account of how they will…

The world that Bert built

“Foundation models” are greatly increasing the potential of artificial intelligence THE “GOOD COMPUTER” which Graphcore, a British chip designer, intends to build over the next few years might seem to be suffering from a ludicrous case of nominal understatement. Its design calls for it to carry out 1019 calculations per second. If your laptop can do 100bn calculations a second—which is fair for an average laptop—then the Good computer will be 100m times faster. That makes it ten times faster than Frontier, a behemoth at America’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory which came top of the most recent “Top500” list of powerful supercomputers and cost $600m. Its four-petabyte memory will hold the equivalent of 2trn pages of printed text, or a pile of A4 paper high enough to reach the Moon. “Good”…

The world that Bert built

Bail-outs and bedlam

CHINA’S VAST and opaque financial system has long posed a threat to its economy and the world. The agonies of Evergrande, a property firm with towering debts, are a reminder of how hard it is to manage the risks. The government is attempting to impose an orderly default on some of its creditors but faces the risk of contagion. The episode also highlights a bigger question of whether President Xi Jinping’s crackdown on business will make it even harder to create a reformed financial system that is safer, more open and more efficient. Part of what makes China’s financial industry daunting is its size. Banking assets have ballooned to about $50trn and they sit alongside a large, Byzantine system of shadow finance. Total credit extended to firms and households has soared…

Nothing to Lose

There’s a small word that protesters in Iran are using on social media to show their anger goes far beyond the tragic death of Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old woman who died in September after being in the custody of the country’s morality police. Baraye is the Persian equivalent of the English word “for.” It’s a simple preposition that people are using to highlight the scale and scope of their grievances against the Islamic Republic as the country is shaken by some of the biggest demonstrations it’s seen since the 1979 revolution. “For the victims of flight ps752,” reads one posting on Twitter, referring to the Ukrainian passenger plane shot down by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in January 2020, killing 176 people. “For the Blue Girl,” reads another, a reference to Sahar…

Nothing to Lose
MALIN LOBB

MALIN LOBB

I’m a PWC comp pilot and SIV instructor based in Annecy where I’ve been for the last five years. I also do some commercial tandems in the summer. My name comes from Malin Head, the most northerly point in Ireland. My dad was a sailing instructor a long time ago and he heard it on the radio, on the BBC’s shipping forecast. It goes, “Dogger, Bay of Biscay, Malin Head…” I always dreamt of flying. I got a two-seater ride in a plane for my 18th birthday. I just thought I had to own a plane to fly. And then I was at Glastonbury Festival and a paramotor flew in low. (He subsequently got done). I went on YouTube, saw people flying above the clouds and thought, I can afford to do…

40 ANNI DI AD ITALIA

AD N.79 Dicembre 1987 Piacenza AD N.89 Ottobre 1988 Moltrasio, Como AD N.130 Marzo 1992 Milano AD N.165 Febbraio 1995 Firenze AD N.165 Febbraio 1995 Borgarello, Pavia AD N.176 Gennaio 1996 Milano AD N.177 Febbraio 1996 Milano AD N.192 Maggio 1997 Sovicille, Siena AD N.212 Gennaio 1999 Milano AD N.215 Aprile 1999 Roma AD N.257 Ottobre 2002 Como AD N.261 Febbraio 2003 Milano AD N.270 Novembre 2003 Firenze AD N.272 Gennaio 2004 Milano AD N.273 Febbraio 2004 San Felice a Cancello, Caserta AD N.287 Aprile 2005 Pavia AD N.298 Marzo 2006 Portofino, Genova AD N.306 Novembre 2006 Vicenza AD N.329 Ottobre 2008 Torino AD N.331 Dicembre 2008 Venezia AD N.335 Aprile 2009 Padova AD N.341 Ottobre 2009 Napoli AD N.370 Marzo 2012 Crete Senesi, Siena AD N.371 Aprile 2012 Milano AD N.371 Aprile 2012 Milano AD N.371 Aprile 2012 Milano AD N.376 Settembre 2012 Chianti, Toscana AD N.376 Settembre 2012 Mogliano Veneto, Treviso AD N.383 Aprile 2013 Milano AD…

40 ANNI DI AD ITALIA
Muuratsalo Experimental House

Muuratsalo Experimental House

“On the high-contoured island of Muuratsalo in the middle of Lake Päijänne stands our experimental house, which has no name yet. It has been built for the architect’s own pleasure and play. But it has also been built for serious experiments, primarily on problems that cannot be solved within the framework of ordinary building assignments.”1 Aalto’s personal life in the 1950s was shaped by the tragedy of Aino Aalto’s death in 1949 and his marriage to Elissa Mäkiniemi in 1952. The Muuratsalo Experimental House symbolizes the new start for the couple, who found the location for their summerhouse near Säynätsalo on Muuratsalo Island in Lake Päijänne during the construction of Säynätsalo Town Hall (1949–52). Central Finland, with its landscape of hills and lakes, was one of Aalto’s favourite regions. The main…

Control the present, control the past

IN PREPARATION FOR a third five-year term as the Communist Party’s leader, Xi Jinping has been changing the rules of politics, business and society. He has also been pursuing another project that he sees as essential to his continued grip on power: rewriting the history of the party itself. Mr Xi wants to show his country that he is indispensable, a political giant on a par with Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping who is turning China into a global power by building on their legacy. On November 8th about 370 members of the political and military elite will gather in Beijing for an annual four-day meeting of the party’s Central Committee. The only advertised topic on their agenda is a resolution on the party’s history. It will be the third in…

Control the present, control the past

Crisis in the classroom

IF HISTORY IS “a race between education and catastrophe”, as H.G. Wells once put it, education seemed until recently to be winning. In 1950 only about half of adults globally had any schooling; now at least 85% do. Between 2000 and 2018, the proportion of school-age children who were not enrolled in classes fell from 26% to 17%. But the rapid rise in attendance masked an ugly truth: many pupils were spending years behind desks but learning almost nothing. In 2019 the World Bank started keeping count of the number of children who still cannot read by the time they finish primary school. It found that less than half of ten-year-olds in developing countries (home to 90% of the world’s children) could read and understand a simple story. Then the pandemic…

疫苗爭議全解讀

一劑疫苗,倒轉了過去一年來我們所熟悉的世界。 「對面那家CVS藥局就可以打,想打哪種疫苗,隨便你選,」紐約一家飯店的員工告訴台灣旅遊作家法比安。他在五月二十五日飛至紐約,發現那裡五月初,就開放給國際旅客免費施打疫苗。 疫情暴起,民心大亂!台灣和歐美情勢逆轉,冒疫苗旅遊團 在台灣, 許多Line群組瘋傳「 輝瑞二十一天旅美疫苗團」,讓不少旅行社電話被打爆。業者指出,早在台灣出現疫苗旅行團之前,日本旅行社就有五天三夜的美國疫苗團,奧地利旅遊網站也賣起單價約新台幣十多萬元、到塞爾維亞打疫苗的旅行團。 到底,該冒著旅程中接觸的風險,飛到美國打疫苗?還是該留在台灣小心防疫,等待數月甚至半年後才打得到疫苗? 我們對疫苗的焦慮,除了來自本土疫情大爆發,也因為疫苗施打率真真切切與開放國境有關,並與經濟息息相關。本土疫苗到底能不能打?在口水戰與多空炒作中,開發國產疫苗的高端公司,股價上漲、下跌超過百元。…

ART OR SEDUCTION?

He was known as the quintessential Svengali — a word derived from George du Maurier’s 1895 novel, Trilby — in which the title character, a singer, is entranced via hypnosis by the roguish antagonist, making her unable to perform without Svengali there to lead her to a state of reduced peripheral awareness. Aside from his leonine features and movie-star-turned-director/photographer status, what exactly was it that hypnotised Bo Derek about John Derek, a man 30 years her senior who became not just her lover but her mentor and sole creative collaborator? Born Derek Harris in Hollywood in 1926 to the silent filmmaker Lawson Harris and the film actress Dolores Johnson, Bo’s beau-to-be had matinee idol looks that saw him, in his youth, singled out for a movie career by David O. Selznick…

ART OR SEDUCTION?
Klimaneutrales Bauen mit Lehm

Klimaneutrales Bauen mit Lehm

Climate-Neutral Construction with Clay A two-storey house in Meißen is being built using loadbearing clay masonry. Noch immer haben viele Menschen Bedenken gegen Lehm. Ihre Argumente: Der Baustoff ist primitiv, feuchteempfindlich und es fehlt ihm an Festigkeit. Ist eine Breitenanwendung von tragendem Lehmmauerwerk insbesondere im Wohnungsbau bei unseren Klimaverhältnissen möglich und was ist beim Entwurf und bei der baulichen Umsetzung zu beachten? Zur Klärung dieser Fragen startete 2015 im Rahmen der Forschungsinitiative Zukunft Bau des Bundesinstituts für Bau-, Stadt- und Raumforschung ein Forschungsprojekt. Um Festigkeit und Feuchteempfindlichkeit zu untersuchen, wurden Mauerwerksprüfkörper nach Norm hergestellt, wobei die Steine mit Lehmmörtel vermauert wurden. Dieser enthält keinerlei Zusätze und ist zusammen mit dem Lehmstein sortenrein rückführbar. Aufgrund der modernen Rohstoffaufbereitung und Fertigungstechnologie haben die Rohlinge gleichmäßige Eigenschaften und eine hohe Maßgenauigkeit. Das sind Grundvoraussetzungen für eine…

AmEx Reclaims Its Throne

Inside the American Express Co. lounge at John F. Kennedy International Airport, the smell of success is in the air. A bartender mixes drinks with ice cubes stamped 1850, the year AmEx was founded. Twentysomethings can be found draped over the lavish furniture, filming their next TikTok video and eating cuisine from a Michelin-starred chef. Wafting through the room is a specially crafted blend of bergamot, pink peppercorns, lavender and leather—the same concoction used in the scratch-and-sniff ads that helped rope in a record number of new Platinum cardholders this year. The lounges have become so popular in recent months that AmEx sometimes has to turn members away. Just over two years ago, the company faced an existential crisis. It already had been losing customers to the likes of JPMorgan Chase &…

AmEx Reclaims Its Throne
Evergrave

Evergrave

As more big firms flirt with default, financial regulators face a dilemma A DOCUMENT CIRCULATING among Chinese banks in early July has caused unease among investors and local officials. Known as “Document No. 15”, the regulatory directive says that banks should stop lending to heavily indebted local-government financing vehicles (LGFVs), companies set up by city or provincial governments to finance building projects and public works. The groups, which have not so far been allowed to default, have about 48.7trn yuan ($7.5trn) in debts, 11.9trn yuan of which is held in fixed-income securities. They routinely use bank loans to pay interest on bonds. Ending the steady stream of credit is a recipe for turmoil. “If banks don’t give them a blood transfusion”, a local investor told Chinese media, “LGFVs will face a…

A burgeoning new bazaar

NOT SINCE the Hijaz railway between Damascus and the holy city of Medina was ruptured by the British buccaneer-cum-scholar T.E. Lawrence in the first world war has overland travel out of Saudi Arabia’s hinterland seemed so simple. On March 31st the first passenger train pulled out of Riyadh, the Saudi capital, and sped north past 1,215km (755 miles) of sand dunes to Qurayyat, a town near the Jordanian border. Within weeks the sleeper was proving so popular that your aggrieved correspondent’s couchette was double-booked. “You’ll get your bed in heaven, God willing,” promised the train’s conductor, ushering him into one of the few vacant overnight seats. Colonial-era railway routes blocked or destroyed by conflict or disuse are being reconnected. From Marrakech in Morocco to Mashhad in Iran, governments are investing tens…

A burgeoning new bazaar

The Abe era

THE MENUS during President Joe Biden’s visit to Tokyo this week reflected the tastes of Japan’s prime minister, Kishida Fumio, whose family is from Hiroshima. There were Hiroshima beef fillets, Hiroshima vegetables and Hiroshima lemon sodas. The agenda, however, owed more to Abe Shinzo, a former prime minister who led the country from 2012 to 2020. Japan promised to spend much more on defence and urged America to rejoin an Asian trade pact the bigger country had ditched. Both are longtime causes of Mr Abe’s. Mr Kishida chatted with Mr Biden about the “Free and Open Indo­Pacific”, a concept Mr Abe codified. The two leaders met their Australian and Indian counterparts as part of the Quad, a grouping Mr Abe championed. Though Mr Kishida leads the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and…

The Abe era

The end of magical thinking

TEN YEARS ago this month, David Cameron, Britain’s prime minister at the time, gave a speech at the London headquarters of Bloomberg, a news organisation. In it Mr Cameron outlined his cunning plan to cement Britain’s place in the European Union, by triggering a fundamental reform of the bloc and then offering Britons an in-out referendum on membership. That went well. The 2016 vote to leave the bloc has exacerbated Britain’s economic malaise, gumming up trade and muting investment. It has soured Britain’s relationship with many of its natural allies and weakened the bonds of its own union. Worst of all, it has infected British politics with a destructive strain of magical thinking. Mr Cameron himself was an early victim, badly overestimating the EU’s willingness to change its fundamental principles in…

The end of magical thinking

The world this week

Politics Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin met in Geneva for a summit. It lasted less than four hours, but both men described it as constructive. The two sides agreed to return their ambassadors, who were recalled earlier this year, and said they would work on new nuclear-arms-control measures. Mr Biden criticised Russia’s human-rights record, but said the topic should be dealt with separately from other matters, such as security and climate change. Mr Putin denied that Russia engages in cyber-attacks. China rejected criticism made by G7 countries at their summit in Britain. The G7 had called for peace in the Taiwan Strait and asked China to respect human rights, especially in Xinjiang and Hong Kong. A Chinese official said America was sick and the G7 should give it medicine. Meanwhile, 28 Chinese…

The world this week
How to be both ambitious and fulfilled

How to be both ambitious and fulfilled

Ambition can feel like a dirty word in the era of quiet quitting and the Great Resignation. Many Americans have realized that an always-striving mindset can come at a cost to mental wellness; in an October report, the U.S. Surgeon General even named workplace mental health a new public-health priority in the wake of the pandemic. Research has also linked chasing extrinsic goals, like power, to anxiety and depression. But is abandoning your ambition outright the secret to inner peace? Not necessarily. Instead, research suggests, the key is harnessing your ambition for a goal that serves your well-being. “We want to make sure that our ambition is being directed in ways that we care about,” says clinical psychologist Richard Ryan, a leading motivation researcher. Striving is healthy only if “we do it…

TWO-LINE TECHNOLOGY ARRIVES IN EN-C CLASS

A change in the rules around how 'folding lines' can be used in certification means manufacturers can now certify two-line paragliders as EN C – rather than getting an automatic D. The change, which was confirmed at the end of January when the EN Norm that covers paraglider certification was updated, opens the door to a whole new generation of two-line sports class EN-C gliders. Under the old rules, any glider that had to use folding lines to get through the certification process was certified EN D, regardless of how the glider recovered. (Folding lines are an extra set of lines attached to the leading edge of the paraglider that are solely there to allow the pilot to induce collapses, necessary for certification. It is very difficult to induce consistent collapses…

TWO-LINE TECHNOLOGY ARRIVES IN EN-C CLASS

The Prince

XI JINPING WAS 31 when he arrived in Iowa in 1985. A junior Communist Party official at the time, he was on a two-week tour to learn about animal feed. His hosts liked him and he liked them. The highlight of his trip was a two-night stay with families in the small town of Muscatine. Mr Xi slept in a room decorated with posters from “Star Trek” and “Star Wars”. He tried popcorn for the first time. By all accounts, he loved Iowa. Embroidered stories like this led many observers to be optimistic in 2012, when Mr Xi became China’s leader. His father was a revolutionary pioneer, who later backed economic opening and reform as a provincial boss. Mr Xi grew up as a “princeling”, a child of party royalty. Some…

The Prince
A new phase begins

A new phase begins

“IT CAN NOW be stated that Russian troops have begun the battle for Donbas,” pronounced Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, late on April 18th. More than three weeks have now passed since Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, abandoned his assault on Kyiv and retreated from northern Ukraine. Now Mr Putin is throwing a large portion of his weary army at eastern Ukraine in the hope of salvaging something from his war. The coming weeks are likely to see the bloodiest battles since Russia first invaded the Donbas region in 2014. The clashes that intensified on April 18th are “preludes to larger offensive operations”, according to American defence officials. They are probably a mixture of Russian reconnaissance, to establish the strength of Ukrainian defences, and shelling, to soften them up in advance of ground…

The world this week

Politics India’s second wave of covid-19 gained strength. The number of infections detected hit new records, with some 380,000 on April 28th alone. The official death toll surpassed 200,000, though evidence grew that many more fatalities are going unrecorded. Shortages of beds and oxygen afflicted many hospitals. The government ordered Twitter to remove posts critical of its handling of the epidemic, sparking widespread outrage. India now accounts for around 40% of the world’s new recorded infections. An Indonesian general died in a shoot-out with separatists in Papua province, in Indonesia's half of the island of New Guinea. Gusti Putu Danny Karya Nugraha was the first Indonesian general ever to be killed in action. Fighters from the Karen National Liberation Army, an insurgent group, captured an outpost on the Thai border from the Burmese…

The world this week

Politics

More than 100 people were killed by a suicide-bomb at a mosque in Peshawar, a city in north-west Pakistan. Nearly all the dead were members of the security forces. The mosque was located in a heavily fortified area. The Pakistan Taliban was blamed for the atrocity, though it denied involvement. Last November the militants called off a peace process with the government and said they would carry out attacks across the country. Critics of the process say it allowed the Taliban to regroup. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s government held another round of talks with the IMF over a possible bail-out. Ahead of the negotiations the government raised fuel prices and loosened foreign-exchange controls, which sent the rupee to a new low. Foreign reserves are dwindling, causing a backlog of imports at ports as buyers…

Politics
SAN PAOLO OPEN AIR

SAN PAOLO OPEN AIR

La collezione di design italiano e brasiliano di Ana e Gustavo racconta le loro passioni e gli affetti di famiglia “Il Brasile è il paese dove voglio vivere”, diceva Lina Bo Bardi, celebre progettista italiana naturalizzata brasiliana, Leone d’Oro alla memoria conferito dalla Biennale di Venezia di quest’anno. Ed è con i suoi occhi che ci piacerebbe guardare questa casa di una giovane coppia a San Paolo, dove natura e modernismo convivono. Dopo la vita frenetica di Downtown, Ana e Gustavo decidono di trasferirsi in un quartiere vivace ma più tranquillo, Jardim das Bandeiras, vicino al loro stile di vita: il cane, i gatti, un parco con grandi eucalipti nei dintorni, e molti spazi dove lavorare e riposarsi. Ana è set e production designer per la moda, il cinema e la…

讀懂〉 習帝國

10月22日,為期一周的中共第20屆全國代表大會正式閉幕,會後,一幅由習近平治理下的「新中華帝國」圖景,也在全球媒體與資本市場的一片驚詫聲中,緩緩鋪展開來。 究竟,20大報告中的「中國式現代化」的內涵是什麼?究竟,台海戰爭的火線是否可能引燃?究竟,大權在握的「習家軍」,又將把中國經濟帶往何方? 「不少周邊朋友的想法大多是, 該『潤』了吧!那些沒法跑的人呢,靜默一陣後往往也只說出這麼一句話:別想那麼多,『躺平』就好。」電話另一端,人在中國的曉華(化名),無奈地嘆了口氣。 「潤」,是今年上海防疫封城下所衍生的網路新語,意義就是移民。「躺平」,是去年開始流行的網路語,描述中國年輕人對現實環境的無力。至於曉華,是位出生在中國某中部大省的青年,她的無奈,緣自中國共產黨第二十次全國代表大會的一份報告。 全國代表大會,是中共最高領導機關,掌握最高決策權和監督權,負責確定下一屆黨的最高領導層陣容、接班制度,以及未來數年中國的大政方針。自一九八二年起,中共全國代表大會每五年召開一次,今年是自一九二一年起第二十次舉辦,故坊間俗稱「二十大」。 中國本質上沒有歷史 只有朝代輪迴…

讀懂〉 習帝國

The ECB’s next headache

IS THE EURO area entering another sovereign-debt crisis? Indebted Italy must pay 1.9 percentage points more than Germany to borrow for ten years, nearly double the spread at the start of 2021. The borrowing costs of Spain, Portugal and even France are up sharply, too—and spreads were even higher before the European Central Bank promised on June 15th and 16th to turn the tide. As in the nightmares of 2012, the central bank is working on a plan for bond-buying to prevent weak countries from spiralling towards default. Echoing Mario Draghi’s promise to do “whatever it takes” to save the euro area, Christine Lagarde, president of the ECB, warned on June 20th that anyone doubting the central bank’s resolve would be “making a big mistake”. The ECB’s pledges should forestall a…

The 3-3-3 court

The 3-3-3 court

The Supreme Court’s bolstered conservative majority is beginning to transform American law—but only tentatively IN THE AUTUMN America’s Supreme Court seemed destined for a momentous shift when Republicans rushed to confirm Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative judge, to succeed Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal jurist who had died in September. In place of a wavering 5-4 conservative tilt that had held for decades, by the end of October the high court had a 6-3 majority of Republican appointees—the most unbalanced array in a century. Yet as the final rulings of Justice Barrett’s first term arrive (including, on June 23rd, a win for students’ speech rights and a loss for union organisers), the dynamics of the newly constituted Supreme Court seem more complex, and less extreme in their results, than many expected. Justices…

Political weather

Voters have made it clear that they want action on climate change FIRST CAME fires, which incinerated an area larger than Britain and swallowed cities in a suffocating haze. Then came floods, which inundated towns in Queensland and New South Wales. Climate change has become harder to ignore since Australians last voted in a federal election in 2019. When they returned to the polls on May 21st, enough of them cast their ballots with the climate in mind to oust a conservative coalition government that had been in office for nine years. “Together we can end the climate wars,” declared the new prime minister, Anthony Albanese (pictured), after his Labor Party won. These wars have crippled Australian politics this century: three of the country’s prime ministers have lost their jobs since 2010…

Political weather

Travels with a piano

SEVERAL DECADES ago The Economist’s New York office was above the old showroom of Steinway & Sons, piano-makers, on West 57th Street. The way to the office was a staircase to the left; to the right the glossy black pianos stood among rich carpets, and customers could be seen and heard shyly, or boldly, trying them out. The showroom, however, was not Franz Mohr’s place. His realm was the basement, where the beautiful concert grands were stabled within bare walls, out of the daylight, in ideal relative humidity of 45-65%. Here, in his black Steinway apron, he was in near-constant attendance, ears cocked to his tuning fork to hear how quickly, after he struck a key, the wave died and the note was “in”, while his right arm was thrust into…

Travels with a piano

WIVES AND GODDESSES WOMEN IN ANCIENT GREECE

For many centuries, beliefs about the roles of girls and women in ancient Greece centered around how limited and hidden their lives were. Women were kept out of the public sphere, denied citizenship, and held no legal or political standing. Excluded from the polis, women were relegated to the oikos, or household, as wives, mothers, and daughters. Much of this notion originated in written sources from classical Greece. Xenophon, Plato, and Thucydides all testified to the so-called inferiority of women to men. Writing in the fourth century B.C., Aristotle stated, in his Politics, that “again, as between the sexes, the male is by nature superior and the female inferior, the male ruler and the female subject.” Many of these texts originated in Athens, which had the most restrictive attitudes toward women.…

WIVES AND GODDESSES WOMEN IN ANCIENT GREECE

LETTERS

Working With Robots I found ‘Welcome, Robots’ (June) an insightful read. While I marvelled at the technology, I worried where it might end. Robots may be more efficient but not at the expense of humans – or so I thought. When Mark Borman said, “We’re going through a generational change… in agriculture” and that younger people aren’t choosing these jobs, previously I would have thought it best to encourage humans to fill these positions, not a robotic workforce. But it doesn’t have to be one or the other, it can be a collaborative effort. RAY POULSON The Lasting Effect Of A Golf Game ‘Golf, A Game Of Life’ (My Story, June) resonated with me. At the high school where I taught, the staff always had a golf day on the first day of the…

LETTERS

Brainstorming

THE HUMAN brain may be the most complex object on Earth. It contains 85bn nerve cells and trillions of interconnections. As these cells process information, people experience consciousness and thought. The brain is made even more mysterious by the fact it is scrutable only when alive. To truly understand brains means examining them while they are functioning inside the body. Few humans in their right mind would volunteer to plug today’s instruments and sensors into their living brains. Doing so often involves having someone drill into your skull, with the risk of infection or brain damage. And so neuroscientists seeking to understand human brains turn to humanity’s nearest animal relatives, primates. This is controversial. Monkeys’ usefulness as a model for human neurology also raises the stakes of conducting experiments upon them: the…

Brainstorming

The man who fell to earth

LESS JUPITER than Icarus, Emmanuel Macron came crashing down this week. On June 19th French voters did something that was last seen over 30 years ago: they denied a newly elected president a majority in the National Assembly. It is not quite impossible to govern without one, but for the next five years Mr Macron will be scratching around for the votes he needs to get anything done. That is bad news for France—and for Europe too, which sorely lacks a leader of global stature. Angela Merkel left the field last winter, and the man who had hoped to reshape a continent after her departure will have his work cut out just keeping his own house in something that resembles order. This outcome should not have been as surprising as it…

The man who fell to earth
Heading down a dangerous path

Heading down a dangerous path

“A BE IS DEAD and that’s it,” a social-media user called Zhang Beihai wrote to her 2.6m followers on Weibo, a Twitter-like platform. “He deserved to perish.” Another Weibo user went further: “His whole family deserves to die.” The assassination of Abe Shinzo, Japan’s former leader, on July 8th elicited a wave of joyous reactions online in China, where he was widely reviled. “News just in,” quipped one. “US President Kennedy meets Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo.” Japan is a common target of the nationalists who dominate China’s digital high ground. From an early age Chinese are taught to resent the country for its invasion of China in the 1930s and 1940s, and for the atrocities it committed. Mr Abe was disliked for visiting the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo, where war…

Private pain

HELD IN FEBRUARY 2007, the 60th-birthday celebrations of Stephen Schwarzman, a private-equity magnate, captured the spirit of an age. Nothing distils the hubris of Manhattan on the eve of a financial crisis like Rod Stewart belting out “Maggie May” to a fizz-drinking crowd in Hermès ties. Within two years Mr Schwarzman’s firm, Blackstone, had lost more than 80% of its market value. Yet the striking thing is that the private-equity industry, including Blackstone, soon bounced back to enjoy a gargantuan boom. Today private equity is again on the ropes (see Business section). But shifting investment patterns and higher interest rates mean it is unlikely to enjoy such a miraculous recovery. As central banks raise interest rates and shrink their balance-sheets, markets are reeling. This year equities have suffered the worst sell-off…

Private pain
Why China gets so angry

Why China gets so angry

CHINA HAS an anger-management problem, at least when dealing with small and mid-size Western democracies. The fate of Lithuania, a European Union member on the shores of the Baltic Sea, is a case in point. The country is being punished for agreeing that Taiwan, a democratic island that China claims as its own territory, may open a “Taiwanese Representative Office” in Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital. China calls that an affront to its sovereignty. It has summoned its ambassador, Shen Zhifei, home for consultations, and told Lithuania to recall its envoy, Diana Mickeviciene. In a covid-era twist, China informed Ms Mickeviciene of her fate as she returned to Beijing from a summer break. She has to complete three weeks of strict quarantine at her residence and, after emerging on August 31st, catch the…

When Friendship Means a $10,000 Check

Maia Bittner is an angel investor, and she has a lot of friends who’ve founded startups. Sometimes they ask her if she wants to put money into their companies. Bittner used to feel prickly about it—she didn’t want them to assume she’d write a check just because they’re friends. At some point, however, she realized that being buddies with someone was a great reason to write them a check. “The fact that they are my friend means there’s something cool and interesting about this person,” says Bittner, who’s founded two companies of her own: Rocksbox, a jewelry rental service, and Pinch, a fintech startup. For someone she considers a good friend, she’ll sometimes invest blindly, without knowing what the company does, because she trusts their judgment. “Investing in my friends is…

When Friendship Means a $10,000 Check

騙愛產業鏈

K先生買了草莓蛋糕,讓我們邊吃邊聽他聊最近遇到的這起複雜愛情故事。他顯得有些興奮和緊張,蛋糕直接從盤子上掉出來,讓他有些惱火。「看吧,我就說我這個人笨手笨腳的,需要有個老婆。」 K先生今年7 9歲,已經退休,獨自一人居住在德國的萊茵區(Rhineland)。他的本名沒有人會感興趣,但他的故事卻不然─那是一個不容易理解、甚至連K先生本人都弄不懂的故事。他承認:「事情非常複雜。」 K先生的妻子在2013年3月1日因乳癌離世後,原本的房子對他來說太大了。他和妻子結縭37載,她鉤的毛毯至今還散落在沙發上,用過的餐具和二人的婚床也都還在。他抽著菸、吃著蛋糕,電視機的聲響取代了妻子的說話聲。 K先生是在1976年從《萊茵郵報》上的徵友廣告上認識妻子的。她是捷克人,年紀小他很多。他向她解釋西方世界和整個世界,二人一道開車從紐約到舊金山,旅行橫越加拿大,睡在帳篷裡;回國後,二人就一塊搬進萊茵區的這間房子。他們育有一子,後來變得越來越少出門,一起齊心過日子。 等到妻子過世時,他已不再參加任何運動社團、和前同事斷了聯繫,兒子也已長大成人。K先生覺得孤寂難耐,感受不到愛,內心徒留一片空虛。…

騙愛產業鏈

小毛蟹回家啟動台灣大轉骨

大漢溪.新莊塭仔圳 曾經超過三千間的違章工廠聚落,一夕之間,全部消失,他們曾經是台灣經濟奇蹟的推手,卻也帶給土地重大汙染,未來,這些空地,將矗立起一棟棟玻璃帷幕大樓、高科技廠辦,河濱公園的歡笑聲中,黑手頭家與夥計,將會去哪裡? 台灣,正在轉骨。 根據國際貨幣基金(IMF)預估,今年,台灣人均國內生產毛額(GDP) 即將贏過韓國, 達三萬六千美元,並與日本大幅拉近。 這是我們即將超韓趕日的轉捩點,也是台灣走過產業空洞化,失落三十年之後,所迎來的第一個黃金轉骨之年。 在我們站在歷史轉彎處的當下,淡水河,也出現近五十年首見的生態奇蹟:毛蟹又再次大量出沒在新店碧潭處。 這兩個看似完全毫不相關的事情,卻有著十分緊密的因果關係。 台灣經濟、生態奇蹟同時發生指標生物毛蟹,大量現蹤新店碧潭 「只要碰到工業廢水,毛蟹就活不下去,」清華大學生命科學系教授曾晴賢說,「毛蟹大量出現在碧潭堰,表示從淡水河到新店溪上游的水質,已經有所改善。」 一群毛蟹的出現,它正代表流經北北基桃,守護約八百萬人口的淡水河流域,正在變乾淨中。…

‘YOU HAVEN’T SEEN ANYTHING YET.’

‘YOU HAVEN’T SEEN ANYTHING YET.’

THE EVENTS OF RECENT MONTHS HAVE QUASHED any remaining notion that Donald Trump might abandon his quest for political power after being turned out of office by voters two years ago. He is still holding his trademark rallies, sometimes complete with QAnon call-outs, in principle to support Republican candidates but in practice holding on to center stage to hawk his own accomplishments and grievances. The former president has had plenty of help in staying in the public eye. The House’s January 6 Committee recently voted to subpoena him to testify. The FBI raided Mar-a-Lago, his home in Palm Beach, Florida, in search of classified documents he kept after leaving office. And multiple other legal woes have ensured that some news of each day features Trump. A Trump bid for the White House…

Whose is it?

TO CHINESE NATIONALISTS, keen to see America pushed from their country’s backyard, the words of a foreign-ministry official have brought hope. Describing the Taiwan Strait as international waters is a “false claim”, the spokesman said on June 13th. China, he insisted, has “sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction” over the waterway. His words were aimed at America, which calls it international waters and often angers China by sailing warships through it. Soon “the dragon will fight the tiger” in the strait, a Chinese academic warned in an online article. The strait is an important thoroughfare for commercial shipping as well as foreign naval vessels. The latter are mainly American, but in recent years—as a gesture of support—some American allies have also occasionally sailed their warships through. The Chinese spokesman was responding to…

Whose is it?
A self-repressing society

A self-repressing society

FOR FOUR decades China has defied received wisdom about the institutions that countries must build to become rich and strong. After the Communist Party’s bosses embraced market forces in 1979, many foreign observers predicted that political reforms had to follow, such as the emergence of more independent courts to sustain the rule of law and uphold property rights. In time, the optimistic foreigners ventured, most advanced economies realise that they need democratic—or at least accountable—political systems. Societies with such “inclusive institutions” enjoy both stability and broad-based prosperity, Chinese officials were told. China’s leaders heeded something less than half this advice. Over 40 years successive leaders have tolerated only as much economic and social openness as is compatible with unchallenged party authority. President Xi Jinping, the party chief since 2012, has broken…

Exxodus

Exxodus

Shortly after Exxon Mobil Corp. lost its battle with an activist investor last year, an executive named Bill Keillor decided to give his department a morale boost. It had been a difficult year and a half for Exxon employees. Covid-19 and plunging crude prices had led to halted salary increases, reduced benefits, and, for the first time in decades, thousands of layoffs. Anxiety was coursing through the organization. So Keillor, whose title is global IT vice president, and his leadership team organized an awards ceremony to take place at Exxon’s Houston campus. They posted an invite on Yammer, an internal social network, with Keillor’s face cropped onto a tuxedo. With many employees still working remotely, most tuned in via Zoom. Keillor started by thanking everyone for their hard work over the past…

First Look: 2024 Cadillac Celestiq

First Look: 2024 Cadillac Celestiq

Is the 2024 Cadillac Celestiq for real? This head-turning, all-electric superluxury sedan is longer than the brand’s Escalade SUV and priced in a stratosphere Cadillac has long only dreamed of returning to. To wit: Pricing will start above the $300,000 threshold, but customers can easily add up to $100,000 more via customization, all but guaranteeing no two owners have the same exact car. The mere fact Cadillac is producing the Celestiq is nearly as surprising as the vehicle itself, which fulfills a longstanding desire to build a proper flagship. An idea became a vision, then a concept car, and now a fabulous final-form four-door that brings to life almost all the gee-whiz features envisioned along the way. The Celestiq has an estimated 600 hp and 640 lb-ft of torque, a 0–60…

KITLIST

FREEWAY 3 Dudek say their new beginner and intermediate acro wing is capable of all acro manoeuvres including tumbling. It combines a modest aspect ratio of 5.20 with a small canopy surface (18, 20 and 22m² for all-up weights from 58kg to 120kg) to create a dynamic but forgiving wing. Mesh on some of the cell openings helps maintain canopy pressure during manoeuvres. The Freeway 3 has trimmer risers and size-adjustable brake handles. Because it is made in their own factory in Poland, Dudek say they have excellent quality assurance procedures in place. dudek.eu APCO F3 BI Apco are about to launch a new trike wing: the F3 Bi is a high-performance reflex wing, designed to carry loads up to 450kg. They say it has a very wide speed range, and is based on…

KITLIST
Losing Paradise

Losing Paradise

In hindsight, Chris Andrus says, the Nobu opening was a bad sign. It was 2012. Andrus, a bald, goateed, self-proclaimed hippie, was living on Lanai, a Hawaiian island of about 3,000 people, helping an old friend start a woodworking company. Paradise was treating him well: The business was growing rapidly, and Andrus was in love with Lanai’s tightknit community. Then Larry Ellison, the eccentric co-founder of Oracle Corp. and the 11th-richest person in the world, bought it—the island, that is. The $300 million purchase came with 98% of Lanai’s 90,000 acres, plus the two Four Seasons resorts that provide most of its jobs, a significant chunk of its homes, and practically all its commercial properties. Overnight, Ellison became almost everyone’s boss, landlord, or both. One of the first things Ellison did…

Seeing and believing

Seeing and believing

WITH EYES like saucers, nine-year-old Ralph Miles slowly removes his Quest 2 headset. “It was like being in another galaxy!” he exclaims. He has just spent ten minutes blasting alien robots with deafening laser cannons—all the while seated silently in the home-electronics section of a London department store. Sales assistants bustle around, advertising the gear to take home today. “That would be sick!” enthuses Ralph. “Don’t get him started,” warns his dad. Children are no longer the only ones excited about “extended reality”, a category which includes both fully immersive virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), in which computer imagery is superimposed onto users’ view of the world around them. Nearly every big technology firm is rushing to develop a VR or AR headset, convinced that what has long been…

Private letters, public promise

IMAGINE FOR a moment that your unborn child has a rare genetic disorder. Not something at least vaguely familiar, such as sickle-cell anaemia or cystic fibrosis, but rather a condition buried deep within the medical dictionary. Adrenoleukodystrophy, maybe. Or Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Would you, when your child is born, want to know about it? If effective treatments were available, you probably would. But if not? If the outcome were fatal, would your interest in knowing about it depend on whether your newborn had five years of life to look forward to, or ten? Or 30? Today these questions are mostly hypothetical. Precisely because they are rare, such disorders are seldom noticed at birth. They manifest themselves only gradually, and often with unpredictable severity. But that may soon change. Twenty years after the first…

Private letters, public promise
Economic freedom v political freedom

Economic freedom v political freedom

Autocracy and globalisation are awkwardly locked together. Disentangling them will be hard—and costly THE WORLD’S supply chains have taken a knock yet again. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine provoked the biggest commodity shock since 1973, and one of the worst disruptions to wheat supplies in a century. Countries from Hungary to Indonesia are banning food exports to ensure supply at home. The West has issued sanctions against Russia, depriving it of all sorts of parts and technologies. The strain on globalisation comes on top of the effects of the financial crisis of 2007-09, Brexit, President Donald Trump and the pandemic. For years measures of global integration have gone south. Between 2008 and 2019 world trade, relative to global GDP, fell by about five percentage points. Tariffs and other barriers to trade are piling…

The party’s model emperor

The party’s model emperor

WHAT WITH his dozens of concubines, his obsession with collecting precious jade and his penchant for inscribing his own (not very good) poems onto ancient paintings, the Qianlong emperor makes an unlikely hero for the Communist Party of China, especially one led by Xi Jinping, a stern ascetic. Qianlong was a man of formidable intellect and will, whose long reign from 1736­95 marked a high point of the Qing dynasty. But he was also a conservative aristocrat, from his passion for genealogy to his love of bowhunting on horseback, an archaic pastime even then. Chaguan was surprised, then, to hear an official historian praise Qianlong in terms that would make a Politburo member blush. The scholar, Wang Xudong, heads the Palace Museum in Beijing, as the Forbidden City is formally known.…

GRACE PERIOD

Tis call’d the evil:A most miraculous work in this good king;Which often, since my here-remain in England,I have seen him do. How he solicits heaven,Himself best knows: but strangely-visited people,All swoln and ulcerous, pitiful to the eye,The mere despair of surgery, he cures,Hanging a golden stamp about their necks,Put on with holy prayers: and ’tis spoken,To the succeeding royalty he leavesThe healing benediction. With this strange virtue,He hath a heavenly gift of prophecy,And sundry blessings hang about his throne,That speak him full of grace. These words are spoken by Malcolm in Act IV of Macbeth. The ‘good king’ in question is Edward the Confessor, one of the last of England’s Anglo-Saxon monarchs. The king’s touch capable of restoring those scrofulous wretches to health was a medieval belief that persisted into the early…

GRACE PERIOD

The Future of Work Is … Lunch

Remember lunch? It was the meal that wasn’t supposed to matter anymore. Long in decline as the plastic clamshell salad colonized spare desk real estate, the weekday lunch break was an immediate casualty of the shift to remote work at the start of the pandemic. Across office parks and downtowns the world over, the great feedlots of salaried workers sat empty: boozy clubhouses; takeout holes-in-the-wall specializing in pre-grilled panini; food trucks slinging cumin-scented chicken thighs drizzled with white sauce and atop a generous bed of rice. During the past half-century, the workday lunch has been cast as a wasteful indulgence, the enemy of productivity, especially in America. It ate away at company time, interrupted the flow of work, taxed the wallets of employees and heaped on unnecessary calories, leading to weight gain…

The Future of Work Is … Lunch

LETTERS

What a Surprise I normally read my Reader’s Digest from beginning to end but wasn’t looking forward to ‘Indonesia’s Snake Bite Doctor’ (March) as I don’t like snakes! To my surprise, I found the Bonus Read most interesting with some fantastic previously unknown facts. Dr Tri Maharani – known as Maha – must have saved hundreds of lives by passing on her toxicology knowledge to other doctors. A wonderful lady. SHIRLEY APLIN Roany’s Good Nature Pam Houston’s story ‘He Trots the Air’ (February) brought tears to my eyes. It so beautifully and eloquently reflected her love, respect and compassion for her horse, Roany, and his intelligence and loyalty to Pam. I felt like I was experiencing Roany’s life and dignified ending first-hand. COLLEEN J. ATKINSON Sustainable Vehicles The race to reduce landfill is being won by Dutch researchers who have…

LETTERS

The unexpected governor

New York’s governor is proving to be remarkably adept at the power game “I’M A BUFFALO BILLS fan. I always have an underdog mentality,” said Kathy Hochul, New York’s governor, earlier this month. Last summer she succeeded Andrew Cuomo, who had resigned amid sexual-harassment and abuse allegations. Few then would have predicted she would be the front-runner in November’s governor’s race and scoring umpteen political touchdowns. The recent state Democratic convention, where she was introduced by Hillary Clinton, resembled a coronation. Supporters carried tote bags depicting Ms Hochul as Rosie the Riveter. Ms Hochul is an underdog no longer. She has surprised even longtime observers of Albany, New York’s capital. “Politically, she’s off to a roaring start,” says John Kaehny of Reinvent Albany, a government watchdog. Despite being Mr Cuomo’s deputy, she…

The unexpected governor
Not like China

Not like China

IN 2011 THE American Economic Review published an influential article entitled “Growing like China”. Its authors, including Zheng Song of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, tried to explain the country’s distinctive pace and pattern of development. The title was as well received as the argument, echoed in a variety of papers such as “Innovating like China”, “Investing like China” and “Internationalising like China”. This year, however, the country is not growing like China at all. Thanks to its deep property slump and the government’s “zero-covid” policy, which entails lockdowns in response to every outbreak of the virus, the economy is now forecast to grow by less than 3% in 2022, according to banks such as Nomura, Morgan Stanley and UBS. That is far below the official target of 5.5%. China’s currency…

The most dangerous place on Earth

THE TEST of a first-rate intelligence, wrote F. Scott Fitzgerald, is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. For decades just such an exercise of high-calibre ambiguity has kept the peace between America and China over Taiwan, an island of 24m people, 100 miles (160km) off China’s coast. Leaders in Beijing say there is only one China, which they run, and that Taiwan is a rebellious part of it. America nods to the one China idea, but has spent 70 years ensuring there are two. Today, however, this strategic ambiguity is breaking down. The United States is coming to fear that it may no longer be able to deter China from seizing Taiwan by force (see Briefing). Admiral…

The most dangerous place on Earth
Ähnlich und doch anders

Ähnlich und doch anders

Similar and Yet Different The long-awaited extension to Museum Küppersmühle by Herzog & de Meuron has finally opened. „Wenn du an etwas klebst, hast du verloren.“ Jacques Herzog kann sich so eine lakonische Haltung erlauben, denn die kürzlich eröffnete Erweiterung des Museums Küppersmühle (MKM) in Duisburg hat im Werkverzeichnis von Herzog & de Meuron die Nummer 433. Für dieselbe Bauaufgabe verzeichnet die Liste einen weiteren Eintrag unter der Nummer 301 aus dem Jahr 2008. Hier stemmen die historischen Silos eine überdimensionale transluzente Museumsbox in die Höhe – eine vermeintliche Landmarke, befeuert vom damaligen Ehrgeiz der Region, mit Ruhr.2010 und Essen als Kulturhauptstadt zu glänzen. Außerdem gibt es einen noch früheren Eintrag mit der Nummer 151, unter dem die 1997 erfolgte Transformation eines denkmalgeschützten Komplexes aus Mühlen- und Speichergebäuden im Duisburger Innenhafen zum…

GINZA PLACE

設計/大成建設 山本実、芦谷公滋(建築) 藤永直樹(構造) 高木建、堀雄二(設備) 外観デザイン/クライン・ダイサム・アーキテクツ 協力/外装ライトアップ シリウスライティングオフィス サイン計画 井原理安デザイン事務所 CM・監理/久米設計 施工/大成建設 撮影/ナカサ&パートナーズ 左/銀座四丁目の交差点から銀座プレイスを見る。3階と7階にテラスを設け、商業施 設であることを街に伝えると同時に、店内からも銀座の街を感じられるようデザインした 右/約5300枚のアルミパネルは、一枚ずつ手作業で曲げ加工と溶接を施した。全体は、 プロポーションの異なる菱形の組み合わせ。菱形の中央が5㎝ 突き出た形状のため、それ ぞれの菱形に陰影が生まれている。この建物の施工にあたって、パネルをファサードに設 置するための下地システムを開発し、大成建設がその技術で特許を取得している 人に近い建築のデザイン 東京・銀座4丁目交差点は、東京そして日本を 代表するシンボリックな場所。私達が大切にし たのは、建物を目にした時に、そこに行ってみ たい、そこに居たいといった気持ちが湧き上がる、…

GINZA PLACE
Meta’s Flop Is the End of FAANG

Meta’s Flop Is the End of FAANG

When a big stock dives, as Meta Platforms Inc. did on Oct. 27, dropping almost 25%, investors are often urged to take the long view of its performance. In this case, it hardly helps. If you bought Meta five years ago—back when the company was still known as Facebook—you’d be down about 49%, in a period when the S&P 500 climbed 45%. Meta has not only erased its gains from the pandemic, which turned social media into an essential technology, but also fallen back to where it was in 2015. Meta isn’t just another stock—it was a constituent of the FAANG group, investors’ shorthand for a set of seemingly invincible technology companies. Along with the former Facebook, there were Amazon.com, Apple, Netflix and Google parent Alphabet. Despite their high valuations, many…

The world this week

Politics After Germany’s general election the Social Democrats (SPD) emerged as the largest party, overtaking the Christian Democrats and their Bavarian allies who currently lead the ruling “grand coalition”. But forming a new government will probably take many weeks, as it will almost certainly involve a three-party coalition. Olaf Scholz, the SPD’s candidate for chancellor, is the most probable successor to Angela Merkel, at the head of a “traffic-light” coalition including the Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats, though this is by no means guaranteed. Armin Laschet, who led the Christian Democrats to their worst-ever defeat, is facing pressure to resign, but insists he still has a chance to construct his own coalition. Iceland fell short of having Europe’s first parliament where women hold most of the seats, following a recount after…

The world this week

Politics

The head of Ukraine’s armed forces, General Valery Zaluzhny, predicted that Vladimir Putin would mount a new offensive as early as January, or more likely in the spring. Russian forces continued to attack Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure with drones, many of which were shot down. America is reportedly close to approving the supply of Patriot anti-missile batteries to Kyiv. Ukrainian forces claimed to have struck a hotel in occupied Luhansk province which was being used as a headquarters by Wagner, a Russian mercenary group run by a friend of Mr Putin. Cash for favours The European Parliament removed Eva Kaili as a vice-president after she was accused of accepting bribes from Qatar. Ms Kaili, a Socialist MEP from Greece, denies wrongdoing, as does Qatar. Belgian authorities have charged four people with trousering €1.5m…

Politics

Politics

Thousands of supporters of Jair Bolsonaro, who was Brazil’s president until narrowly losing an election in October, stormed the presidential palace, Congress and the Supreme Court in an attempted insurrection. They smashed offices and attacked journalists and the police. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the new president, put security in Brasília, the capital, under the control of his government. Mr Bolsonaro, who has been in Florida since December, distanced himself from the violence. But a few days later he posted a video which once again questioned the validity of the election result. Protests continued to rage in Peru, following the ousting of Pedro Castillo, a left-wing president, after his attempted “self-coup” in December. At least 19 people died this week. Dina Boluarte, who is now president, is among several politicians to…

Politics

Change the channel

THESE ARE good times for local officials who want to build expensive infrastructure. To revive a flagging economy, battered by draconian pandemic-control measures, the central government is giving them freer rein. The southern province of Guangxi has a project that fits the bill: a canal costing $10.5bn that will link its main river system to the sea. It will involve a spree of demolition, digging, dredging and building over the next four and a half years. Mulled over for more than a century, the project began last month. The Pinglu Canal may sound piffling compared with the country’s most famous man-made waterway: the Grand Canal, much of which was built 1,400 years ago and which stretches more than 1,700km from the eastern city of Hangzhou to the capital, Beijing. According to…

Change the channel
Business

Business

Meta’s quarterly earnings delighted investors, for a change, as it set out a plan to reduce costs in a “year of efficiency” and announced a $40bn share buy-back. Revenue fell in the last three months of 2022, year on year, but is expected to rise in this quarter. Still, Reality Labs, the division tasked with creating the metaverse, ran up another loss, of $4.3bn, taking its total loss for the year to $13.7bn. Sharing the driving seat After months of sometimes troublesome negotiations, Nissan and Renault announced a restructuring of their two-decade-old alliance, which has been under strain since the fall from grace in 2018 of Carlos Ghosn, who had run both carmakers. The main feature of the agreement is a reduction in Renault’s stake in Nissan to 15% from 43%, with the…

Something wicked this way comes

Something wicked this way comes

America is increasingly concerned about the possibility of war in the Taiwan Strait. It has good reason ON JUNE 29TH 1950 the uss Valley Forge, flagship of America’s Seventh Fleet, passed through the Taiwan Strait. A battle group defended her flanks, America’s first naval jets sat in her hangar, and a new vision of American-dominated Asian security unfurled in her wake. Only a few months before, America’s secretary of state, Dean Acheson, had declared that “The Asian peoples are on their own, and know it.” But on June 25th Stalinist North Korea launched an invasion of its southern neighbour, and a country confronting communism could no longer leave Asia alone. America would fight with South Korea. It was to join in that defence that the Valley Forge was steaming north from Subic…

Exit wave

FOR THE better part of three years—1,016 days to be exact—China will have been closed to the world. Most foreign students left the country at the start of the pandemic. Tourists have stopped visiting. Chinese scientists have stopped attending foreign conferences. Expat executives were barred from returning to their businesses in China. So when the country opens its borders on January 8th, abandoning the last remnants of its “zerocovid” policy, the renewal of commercial, intellectual and cultural contact will have huge consequences, mostly benign. First, however, there will be horror. Inside China, the virus is raging. Tens of millions of people are catching it every day (see China section). Hospitals are overwhelmed. Although the zerocovid policy saved many lives when it was introduced (at great cost to individual liberties), the government…

Exit wave

Company or cult?

HERE ARE some common characteristics of cults. They have hierarchical structures. They prize charismatic leaders and expect loyalty. They see the world as a hostile place. They have their own jargon, rituals and beliefs. They have a sense of mission. They are stuffed with weirdos. If this sounds a bit familiar, that is because companies share so many of these traits. Some cult-companies are easier to spot than others. Their bosses are more like deities than executives. These leaders have control of the company, and almost certainly founded it. They have name recognition among the masses. They really like rockets and have a brother called Kimbal. But in other cases it can be hard to tell where a company ends and a cult begins. That is true even of employees. So here…

Company or cult?

Frozen out

IF YOU ASK Europe’s friends around the world what they think of the old continent’s prospects they often respond with two emotions. One is admiration. In the struggle to help Ukraine and resist Russian aggression, Europe has displayed unity, grit and a principled willingness to bear enormous costs. But the second is alarm. A brutal economic squeeze will pose a test of Europe’s resilience in 2023 and beyond. There is a growing fear that the recasting of the global energy system, American economic populism and geopolitical rifts threaten the long-run competitiveness of the European Union and non-members, including Britain. It is not just the continent’s prosperity that is at risk, the health of the transatlantic alliance is, too. Don’t be fooled by the rush of good news from Europe in the…

Frozen out

Testing situation

AS INDIA’S EXAM season kicked off earlier this year Facebook groups dedicated to helping with preparations were inundated with offers of guaranteed academic success. “Get leaked questions and answers before your upcoming exam, 100% guaranteed and secured,” read one. “Get certificate without sitting exams 100% legal,” promised another. India’s education system is brutal. The bar for entry to university is extraordinarily high. There is a near-unlimited pool of applicants for the top institutions. Until it changed its policies this year, Delhi University, among the best, required prospective students to have scored at least 99% in their school-leaving exams. Stratospheric parental expectations only add to the pressure. Getting into university is not the end of it, either. High marks are necessary there, too, so that graduates can go on to foreign universities…

The world this week

Politics As delegates haggled over the final drafts at the un cop26 climate-change summit in Glasgow, America and China issued a joint declaration to work together to reduce emissions. The two countries said they were committed to keeping the increase in Earth’s mean surface temperature to “well below” 2o C compared with pre-industrial levels. China said it would come up with a national plan to curb methane emissions. Time will tell whether their statement was diplomatic showboating or the start of something more substantive. Belarus kept dumping migrants at the border with Poland and barring them at gunpoint from retreating. It has been luring them onto flights from the Middle East with false promises of easy passage to the European Union. The migrants cannot enter Poland, and with winter coming, may soon…

The world this week
Why the Apple silicon Mac Pro will be more than just a faster chip

Why the Apple silicon Mac Pro will be more than just a faster chip

Apple is in the midst of a two-year rollout of its own Mac processors, with the first Mac System on a Chip (SoC) blowing away expectations. The entire company’s consumer lineup is outfitted with the incredibly fast M1, and with the recent release of the M1 Pro and Max in the MacBook Pro, we got a taste of what Apple can do with its silicon to meet the performance demands that pro users put on high-end Macs. When it comes to pro Macs, however, the model that most readily comes to mind is the Mac Pro, Apple’s high-end workstation. What optimizations does the M1 Max have that will dictate the demise of the old Intel guard? One important battle will come down to the graphics processor, which is traditionally the most…

Why the 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro is still integral to Apple’s lineup

Why the 13-inch M2 MacBook Pro is still integral to Apple’s lineup

At various points during the past several years, Apple has been rated the most valuable corporation in the world. And it’s pretty safe to assume the company didn’t get to that point without being strategic about how it positions its products. One big part of what’s made Apple so successful is that the company makes sure it’s got products at every price point. No, it doesn’t compete in the super-budget department when it comes to devices—Apple is happy to leave those low-margin offerings to the likes of Android phones and Dell PCs—but when it does enter a market, it makes sure it always has a solid spread. Of course, when you’re a company that builds powerful, good-looking devices and values its profit margins, your options are somewhat limited when it comes to…

OMA

OMA

Picard, Danny Rigter, Joanna Rozbroj, Stefanos Roimpas, Jad Semaan, Lukasz Skalec, Sandra Sinka, Thomas Shadbolt, Magdalena Stanescu, Mike Yin, Marcus Parviainen, Slavis Poczebutas, Alexandru Vilcu, Frederike Werner, Mateusz Wojcieszek Project team: Ed. Züblin AG (main contractor), Dobler Metallbau GmbH (façade contractor), SMV Bauprojektsteuerung Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH (project management), Emproc GmbH (cost management), ZWP Ingenieur-AG (mep engineering), Emmer Pfenninger Partner AG (façade engineering), Inside Outside (landscape and curtain design), Arup (structural engineering), Lerch & Bates (elevators), Transsolar Energietechnik GmbH (energy and comfort), knp.Bauphysik GmbH (building physics), Kahle Acoustics (acoustics), GuD Geotechnik und Dynamik Consult GmbH (geotechnics), les éclaireurs (lighting), Büro Uebele (orientation system), Unifor and Lensvelt (furniture) Site area: 9,260 m2 Gross floor area: 57,828 m2 (above ground), 14,731 m2 (below ground) The German publisher Axel Springer has launched a move from print to digital media.…

Business

Markets took fright at the British government’s announcement of huge tax cuts. The cuts, laid out by Kwasi Kwarteng, the new chancellor of the exchequer, include reductions to payroll taxes, income taxes and stamp duty. Investors were perturbed by the amount of borrowing required to pay for the cuts, the biggest for half a century. Mr Kwarteng had disregarded common practice by not asking the Office for Budget Responsibility, an independent watchdog, for its assessment. The Treasury tried to reassure markets by announcing that he would unveil a medium-term fiscal plan, but not until November 23rd. “The markets will react as they will,” said Mr Kwarteng after producing his tax cuts. The pound was hammered, dropping briefly to its lowest level on record against the dollar. It also fell sharply against…

Business

Politics

Russian bombs and missiles have damaged half of Ukraine’s power systems, said the Ukrainian government. Widespread blackouts are likely in the coming months, it warned. Evacuations of civilians have begun from the recently liberated parts of the Kherson and Mykolaiv regions, where Russian attacks have been especially brutal. The WHO said millions of Ukrainians face a “life-threatening” winter. Russia’s state-owned gas company, Gazprom, threatened to curtail supplies in the last operational pipeline connecting Russia with western Europe, which runs through Ukraine. The Russians claim that Ukraine is hoarding gas destined for Moldova; Ukraine denies this. Courting a disaster The International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog, reported that recent intense shelling had caused widespread damage across the site of the Zaporizhia nuclear plant, but that key equipment had not been affected. The…

Politics
Automatic for the people

Automatic for the people

China’s future economic potential hinges on its productivity. Can the government boost it? NOBLELIFT, BASED in Changxing, a town on the banks of Tai Lake, provides robotic tools for warehouse management: self-driving pallet jacks and sorting systems that make picking and fetching quicker and less dependent on humans. The factories in which it builds its wares are themselves a blur of robot arms. “There’s no comparison with the way things used to be,” says Ding Yi, Noblelift’s founder. The company’s main factory has only 350 workers. He says that in the old days it would have needed nearly four times as many. In 2010 China was home to fewer than 50,000 industrial robots. Today it has 800,000—nearly one in three of the robots in the world. This is in part because robots…

THE NEW SCIENCE OF FORGETTING

THE NEW SCIENCE OF FORGETTING

A BABY ZEBRAFISH IS JUST HALF THE size of a pea. A recent look inside its transparent brain, however, offers clues to the far bigger mystery of how we remember—and how we forget. In an experiment that yielded insights into memory and the brain, a team of researchers at the University of Southern California taught the tiny creature to associate a bright light with a flash of heat, a temperature change the fish responded to by trying to swim away. Using a custom-designed microscope, the team then captured images of the animals’ brains in the moments before and after they learned to associate the light and the heat. It’s the first known look at how a living vertebrate’s brain restructures itself as the animal forms a memory. In the image published with…

7 key Mac preferences that have new hiding spots in Ventura’s System Settings

7 key Mac preferences that have new hiding spots in Ventura’s System Settings

One of the major (and majorly controversial) changes in macOS Ventura is a redesign of System Preferences. It’s now called System Settings and it’s designed to better resemble the iOS Settings app. Apple’s desire to have more commonality between macOS and iOS is understandable, but the problem is that it’s now a chore to find the settings you need. The years of muscle memory developed by Mac users are out the window and it’s time to relearn where everything is. You can find most of the frequently-access preferences up front (Apple ID, Battery, Bluetooth, and Sound, for example). Others have been renamed to match the corresponding iOS setting, such as Security & Privacy, which is now Privacy & Security. But most notably, System Settings now uses a lot of subsections and lists,…

THE SERIOUS SIDE OF ROSÉ

With its rapid rise in popularity over the past decade, rosé occupies the contradictory position of being embraced as the luxury pour of summer, while not being taken seriously as a wine. The deluge of lackluster bottles turned out to meet consumers’ feverish demand has not helped its reputation. “Rosé has become like Beaujolais Nouveau years ago—producers rush it to market quickly and everyone focuses on simple aromatics instead of substance,” says winemaker Daniel Ravier of Domaine Tempier in Provence’s elite Bandol appellation. “Many people still think rosé is not a real wine.” Yet across rosé’s spiritual homeland of Provence, ambitious vintners such as Ravier craft wines that challenge this perception. They are making complex, distinctive versions that channel their terroirs and make the case for rosé as something more than poolside…

THE SERIOUS SIDE OF ROSÉ

Catapulting forward

THE AIRCRAFT-CARRIER has long been a symbol of military might. Admiral William Halsey, who commanded an early American one and led Allied forces in the South Pacific during the second world war, described it in 1942 as the best way to “get to the other fellow with everything you have, as fast as you can, and to dump it on him.” That has held true for most of the eight decades since, during which carriers played a key role in conflicts from Korea to Libya. They remain critical to ensuring American military dominance in Asia as friction with China intensifies, especially over Taiwan (see next story). So the launch on June 17th of the Fujian, China’s third carrier and its second homemade one, was an unambiguous public demonstration of its ambitions…

Catapulting forward
China will not ditch Russia, for now

China will not ditch Russia, for now

VLADIMIR PUTIN owes Xi Jinping an apology, for he carried a whiff of failure into his meeting with China’s leader in the Uzbek city of Samarkand on September 15th. That taint of humiliation follows bruising Russian setbacks in the war on Ukraine that Mr Putin chose to wage. Mr Putin’s offence is compounded by poor timing. Back in February, on the opening day of the Beijing Winter Olympics, Mr Putin and Mr Xi declared a “no limits” friendship between their two countries. Days later the Russian leader invaded Ukraine. This latest Xi-Putin meeting, on the margins of a summit of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation, a grouping of Eurasian powers, came a month before the highest-stakes gathering of Mr Xi’s career. A Communist Party congress opening on October 16th is expected to…

Gota go

ON PAPER, AT least, Sri Lanka is one of the wealthiest countries in South Asia, ranked by the UN on a par with much of eastern Europe in terms of development. Yet the country of 22m people is suffering severe food shortages, locked petrol pumps and power cuts lasting as long as 13 hours a day. The currency has lost nearly half its value against the dollar over the past two months. Foreign reserves stand at $50m, too little to cover even a day’s worth of imports and down from about $9bn in 2019. Last month Sri Lanka admitted it could no longer service its foreign debts. The country is broke. Sri Lankans are furious. On May 9th protesters torched dozens of homes, most belonging to politicians, precipitating the resignation of…

The world this week

Politics Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine did not go to plan in its first week. Russian vehicles ran out of fuel or broke down. The invaders, who had been told they were liberating Ukraine from a “Nazi” government, met stiff resistance and suffered heavy casualties. Ukrainian forces fought back ferociously. Crowds of civilians stood in the way of tanks. Mr Putin switched to more brutal tactics, raining shells on civilians in cities, a war crime. The International Criminal Court started to collect evidence. Russian troops captured Kherson, a port. Kyiv, the capital, prepared for a siege. At least 1m refugees fled Ukraine, mostly to Poland but also to Hungary, Moldova, Romania and Slovakia. Women and children were evacuated on packed trains. The EU vowed to let them in. Ukraine ordered men under…

The world this week

The world this week

Politics Sudan suffered its second coup in two years. Abdel­Fattah al-Burhan, a former general and the country’s de facto president, seized control just months before he was supposed to step down. He also had the civilian prime minister arrested. Mr Burhan said he had acted to prevent a civil war. Thousands of protesters said no, it was a blatant power grab. Soldiers opened fire on them. At least seven people were killed and 140 wounded. Donors such as America suspended aid, but Mr Burhan hopes for backing from undemocratic foreign powers. BioNTech, the company that developed the covid-19 vaccine marketed by Pfizer, said it would build factories in Senegal and Rwanda next year. It hopes to produce more doses for Africa, which has 17.5% of the world’s population but has so far…

The world this week
Glasgow School of Art

Glasgow School of Art

Glasgow, United Kingdom 1896–1899, 1907–1909 Charles Rennie Mackintosh emerged professionally at the young age of 27 when he won a competition to design a new building for Glasgow School of Art – the most important work of his life. Mackintosh studied there from the age of 16, designed its new building, and taught there until 1913, when he left Glasgow to spend his final years in southern France. It was here that he had important encounters with the school director Francis Henry Newbery, along with schoolmates James Herbert MacNair and sisters Margaret and Frances MacDonald, with whom he later formed a group of designers called The Glasgow Four and worked on the continent. With this building Mackintosh forged a new style of architecture that broke away from traditional classical styles, focusing instead…

HAPPY PLACE

The process of updating a heritage home can require its owners to think on their feet. When there’s a nasty burst pipe in the only bathroom, the renovation of that room takes on an extreme urgency, particularly when you add a lockdown into the equation. “The Covid situation was getting serious,” says Katie Sargent, interior designer and owner of this 1900s home in Melbourne. “We had to get the bathroom done immediately, before tradies became impossible to pin down. We didn’t move out, so for a while there we’d have to jump in the car and drive to the local park when we needed the bathroom!” But, later, when the kitchen was being overhauled and the baltic pine floors sanded and whitewashed, staying put wasn’t an option: “We packed up the…

HAPPY PLACE
Shocking Secret of the Gown

Shocking Secret of the Gown

My aunties all said my mother was a very beautiful debutante; shy, demure and dressed in the most exquisite lace gown. As the partner chosen by her parents to escort her to the 1938 Debutante Ball at St Margaret’s College, my father fell in love with her that night and eventually they married, and the rest is the unfolding history of our family. But my story is about my mother’s beautiful ball gown. She had carefully wrapped it in tissue paper and placed it in a cardboard box – carried from house to house in Christchurch, as over the years my parents had upgraded their dwellings – and it was hidden away in a top cupboard. From time to time it would be lifted out of its box and shown to us, and…