The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

February 16, 2017
by Dan
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Bookstores Embrace Protest

At the New York Times, Julie Bosman looks at how American bookstores have become hubs of resistance:  Political organizing is perhaps a natural extension of what bookstores have done for centuries: foster discussion, provide access to history and literature, host writers and intellectuals. “All … Continue reading

January 27, 2017
by Dan
2 Comments

1984

The dystopia described in George Orwell’s nearly 70-year-old novel “1984” suddenly feels all too familiar. A world in which Big Brother (or maybe the National Security Agency) is always listening in, and high-tech devices can eavesdrop in people’s homes. (Hey, … Continue reading

January 19, 2017
by Dan
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Philip K. Dick’s Vision of Fascism in America

I have to confess that I haven’t seen the TV adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, but I found Aaron Bady’s discussion of the series — and how it differs from the book — at The New Yorker, quite … Continue reading

January 16, 2017
by Dan
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Obama and Books

The New York Times has published a transcript of Michiko Kakutani’s recent conversation with US President Barak Obama about books: Some of the craft of writing a good speech is identical to any other good writing: Is that word necessary? Is it … Continue reading

February 13, 2016
by Dan
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Tom Gauld on sexism in history writing for The Guardian.

February 26, 2014
by Dan
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Worse than Wal-Mart?

In an excerpt from his new book, Mindless: Why Smarter Machines Are Making Dumber Humans, Simon Head compares the labour practices of Amazon and Walmart: Amazon equals Walmart in the use of monitoring technologies to track the minute-by-minute movements and performance of employees and … Continue reading

February 4, 2014
by Dan
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Pete Seeger & Llewyn Davis

Leo Braudy, author of Trying to Be Cool: Growing Up in the 1950s, on the late Pete Seeger and the Coen brothers’ film Inside Llewyn Davis, at the LA Review of Books: Llewyn is the solitary fame seeker, doomed to … Continue reading

July 10, 2013
by Dan
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Alan Moore: The Revolution Will Be Crowd-Funded

photo: Leo Williams Alan Moore discusses his short films, crowd-funding, the Occupy movement, The Prisoner, and zombies (amongst other things) at Salon: While the revolution will be certainly televised, it strikes me that there is a strong possibility that the … Continue reading

May 13, 2013
by Dan
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Inside Steven Heller’s Cave

Since I was an infant, I have feared my father’s den. Based on its ancient relics and mass clutter, I have since referred to the location as “Steven Heller’s Cave.” Steven Heller’s son Nicolas (A.K.A. Ricky Shabazz) has made short … Continue reading

November 5, 2012
by Dan
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Cruel Britannia

An astonishing short film for what looks to be a very important book: Ian Cobain’s exposure of Britain’s secret history of torture Cruel Britannia is published by Portobello Books. The starkly brilliant cover (on which the video is based) was … Continue reading

August 31, 2012
by Dan
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Something for the Weekend

Less Shit Please — A great article on British political cartoonists by Helen Lewis for The New Statesman: [Martin] Rowson tells me that his fellow Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell always files as late as possible to make the staff grateful that … Continue reading

February 17, 2012
by Dan
0 comments

Something for the Weekend

Zona, Geoff Dyer’s book about Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 film Stalker,  reviewed at The Daily Telegraph: Zona’s subheading insists it’s “a book about a film about a journey to a room”. Literally speaking it is. Tarkovsky’s Stalker forms the foundations. Dyer retraces the cinematography … Continue reading

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