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Votes v. Seats

John Lanchester, 13 May 2010

... John Lanchester's article in this issue was made up of four posts from his election blog (Smell the Glove / North Korean Flavour / How to Break the System / End of the World ...

You win or you die

John Lanchester: ‘Game of Thrones’, 6 June 2019

... John Lanchester’s piece in this issue first appeared on the LRB blog. You can read it here ...

Short Cuts

John Lanchester: Football and Currie, 17 October 2002

... Currie’s spectacular act of vengeance and indiscretion in regard to her four-year affair with John Major. A lot of coverage has been devoted to the question ‘what if we had known?’ But the main thing that would have been different is that people would have been denied the pleasure they feel at finding out about it now. The recent appearance of ...

Short Cuts

John Lanchester: Cricket’s slanging matches, 8 June 2006

... It’s not true to say that only bad books make the bestseller list. But it is a little bit true, and it is always the case that bad books greatly outnumber good ones at the top end of the charts. Sometimes, too, you come across an example of pure negative correlation between the quality of a book and the level of its sales. One such example is upon us in the case of Being Freddie, the autobiography of England’s cricketing national hero Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff ...

Short Cuts

John Lanchester: The Rise and Rise of Spam, 25 January 2007

... Some good news from the airy summits of Davos: ‘Spam,’ Bill Gates told the World Economic Forum, ‘will be solved within two years.’ Great! The problem will be fixed by the creation of a challenge-and-response system to slow down, then block, and finally – and this is the killer – charge money for unauthenticated emails. At the moment, an email can be from anybody: you can fill in the ‘from’ section of an email to claim that it is from anyone in the world, up to and including billg@microsoft ...

Short Cuts

John Lanchester: Climate Change, 5 April 2007

... Since the LRB went to press with the last issue, climate change has made one of its periodic appearances in the headlines, with David Cameron and Gordon Brown each making announcements about what he will do when in office. This amounts to a green beauty contest, with the public in the position of the pen-sucking judges. Cameron first. The Tory leader has hitherto, for all practical purposes, said nothing about anything: his mission has been to avoid policy commitments while making it clear his Tories were different from the party that a majority of the electorate had come to hate ...

Short Cuts

John Lanchester: NASA’s new stick of dynamite, 21 September 2006

... Nasa has awarded the contract to build the next generation of human-manned space rocket – called, rather nicely, Orion – to a consortium headed by Lockheed Martin. This announcement was surprising for a number of reasons, but one of the most unexpected aspects was that it happened at all. The Bush administration has been so lavish with its rhetoric and promises of funding and so scanty with its delivery – in relation to the reconstructions of Afghanistan, Iraq and New Orleans, and Aids, for example – that it takes one off guard to see a pledge leading to some cash action ...

Short Cuts

John Lanchester: Who’s Afraid of the Library of America?, 19 June 2008

... A plop on the doormat and Volume 177 in the Library of America is in the house: Edmund Wilson’s writings from the 1930s and 1940s, including Classics and Commercials, The Triple Thinkers and The Wound and the Bow. There is something appropriate and even – without wanting to be corny about it – moving about seeing Wilson take his place in the Library of America ...

Short Cuts

John Lanchester: Manhunt 2, 19 July 2007

... be the home for the creators of Harry Potter, Inspector Rebus and Grand Theft Auto? What would John Knox have ...

Short Cuts

John Lanchester: FUKd, 22 May 2014

... at the time of the 2015 election. This is the outcome which has been argued for by the Tory MP John Stevenson, who is Scottish, but represents a constituency in the north of England. ‘You can’t have a situation where the government of the United Kingdom is determined by the representation from Scotland, which could then have significant influence in ...

Short Cuts

John Lanchester: Google Street View, 9 April 2009

... Stendhal said that the novel was ‘a mirror that one walks down a road’, ‘un miroir qu’on promène le long d’un chemin’. Although this maxim is generally agreed to be a masterful summary of the realist project in fiction, it has always brought out a literal streak in me. How much would the mirror show? Wouldn’t everything depend on how big it was? Who would be looking into it? They wouldn’t have much of a view, would they? Is the novelist the person who’s carrying the mirror, or is she standing by the side of the road looking at the mirror, in which case isn’t that a bit passive, given that it’s presumably meant to be her novel? Would the mirror change angle, so you could see more of what was going on? We can all relax ...

Short Cuts

John Lanchester: Life on Mars?, 11 September 2008

... To the naked eye Mars is unmistakeably red, the colour of blood and, by association, of war, and its light fluctuates in intensity as it wanders one way and then back again across the sky. It has been an object of fascination and speculation for all recorded history. Looking through a telescope more than a hundred years ago, Percival Lowell thought he spotted canals on Mars and hypothesised the existence of intelligent life, desperately building canals to fight off the encroaching desert ...

Short Cuts

John Lanchester: Caster Semenya, 8 October 2009

... Sports administration is one of those jobs which have built into them the fact that they attract attention only when things go wrong. A school sports day takes quite a bit of organising; anything bigger, and the complications grow exponentially. Events such as Wimbledon or the World Cup are mechanisms of extraordinary complexity, in which most of the moving parts are human, and these events are, in their way, heroic feats of administration and bureaucracy and man-management – and all that effort just goes to set the stage for the real action ...

Short Cuts

John Lanchester: Kraft eats Cadbury, 7 January 2010

... When economic times are hard, big companies take the opportunity to eat smaller ones. This process does not respect national boundaries, particularly when an economy is as open to outsiders as Britain’s. This is an old story, so it’s hard to see quite why the prospective takeover of Cadbury by Kraft, the American food conglomerate, has got people going quite as much as it has ...

Short Cuts

John Lanchester: Unlikeabilityfest, 17 February 2011

... Back when I was at university, the only people who ever used the word ‘narrative’ were literature students with an interest in critical theory. Everyone else made do with ‘story’ and ‘plot’. Since then, the n-word has been on a long journey towards the spotlight – especially the political spotlight. Everybody in politics now seems to talk about narratives all the time; even political spin-doctors describe their job as being ‘to craft narratives ...

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