Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Music of the 90s - Stereolab

Artist: Stereolab
Album: Emperor Tomato Ketchup

The Stereolab catalogue is voluminous, at times full of noise, but also containing approaches to the ultimate groove. This album approaches Peng! for consistency. The song, "Tomorrow is already here" also contains a reference to institutions, perhaps unique in popular music with the exception of a notable Beatles lyric.

Muffled, bubbly, spacey and groovy. Echoes of 60s French coolness, informed by the aesthetic appeal of anarcho-futurism. Recommended, needless to say.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Aphorisms of Douglas Trout

I'm not paranoid, I just have a low risk tolerance.

Doug Trout

composed in the Canadian wilderness

Monday, March 7, 2011

Portraits of Light on Materials

My Canadian cousin, Douglas Trout, and I have started a new photography movement. We call it "Portraits of Light on Materials". Doug will contribute photos from Canada, and I from the East. The photo above was taken near the public library in Shenzhen.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Burmese Days

I once lived in the foothills of the Himalayas, 1900m up and about 385km from the China-Burma border. This was rugged terrain, a land fit for smugglers where, on the Burmese side, there is no law but the military's. Sixty-five years before, American pilots based in Kunming flew over the hills and down into Burma's dry plateau, dropping bombs on Japanese positions.

Among those who survived fierce fighting in Meiktila and Pyawbe was George MacDonald Fraser, later author of the Flashman books, favourites of many. Fraser's memoir of these years, Quartered Safe Out Here (, tells of monsoons, malaria, Gurkhas, patrols, battles, and a perfectly eccentric general. The book comes highly recommended, and the above photo now hangs in a pizza parlour in Kunming.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

From the Jin Mao, 2007

Looking down on the Shanghai Financial Center with contempt on a cloudy day in 2007.

Doorway on Yunnan

The dog has since been eaten, having bitten a small child in the face.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Visiting AP

Lunch with Anthony Powell,
He and V at ease in The Chantry.
A rather adorable niece
Hiding from me in the pantry.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Funny Sentences

Two sentences that are always funny:

1. "I didn't think it was that tacky."

2. "Why don't you have a mohawk?"

Or, as Lisa Simpson might observe, "How rebellious, in a conformist sort of way."

On International Relations Theory

In response to David Henderson,

may I submit that Henderson's perspective seems based on the premise that countries are moral actors in the same sense as individuals. Country A does something to Country B in the same sense as Bill does something to John. Whether applying the standards of interpersonal morality to international relations is suitable depends on whether you think countries are moral actors. I do not. Are a nation's "actions" not better understood as the outcome of social, political and economic exchanges by less abstract social actors, all the way down to the level of individual agents? These actions, of course, cannot be treated as aggregates of individual choices as these social actors are often in conflict with one another. And if so, can we not agree to give up on the principle of a universal moral standard for international relations?

Do as thou whilst, and that shall be the whole of (international) law.