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04/01/2012

Magazine Roundup

Technology Review 02.01.2012 (Germany)

In a famous advertising spot Steve Jobs once warned against Big Brother, but as Jonathan Zittrain opines in Technology Review, only because he wanted his job. The world of restrictive apps that he developed for the iPhone and iPad and that Google is copying for Android threatens to destroy the open platform of the internet. "This is all the more unsettling, since governments have noticed that this concept makes censorship substantially easier. It used to be a never-ending task to keep all the books, manifestos, and websites under control. Now it's only a matter of handing a few instructions to digital gatekeepers such as Apple or Google in order to remove undesired content."


Eurozine 22.12.2011 (Austria)

With a tendency toward beaucratisation, on the one hand, and a shift of power from Brussels to the heads of state, on the other, and also with the dark, looming German question that has emerged again over the course of the euro crisis in the face of dominant German economic power - Europe has reached a decisive moment, writes Swedish author Per Wirten in an excellent essay. He does not share Habermas' optimism that at least the worst spectres of the past have been exorcised: "I believe that for once, Jürgen Habermas is misjudging the matter when he argues that the link between the European project and the concept of peaceful coexistence is no longer relevant. The national, chauvinistic and separatist passions sweeping through Hungary, northern Italy, Denmark and other countries indicate the opposite. The European experience has not been conquered. The demons that the European project succeeded in defeating still wait to take revenge. Fear of Europe has become no less valid."


Al Ahram Weekly 22.12.2011 (Egypt)

In response to the searches being performed on offices of foreign NGOs and organisations in Egypt, Youssef Rakha hails the Egyptian military with his sardonic New Year's greeting in "The honourable citizen manifesto": "We, honourable citizens of Egypt – pioneers in every field, one hundred million nationalists and three great pyramids – declare our absolute support and inexhaustible gratitude for those valiant and chivalrous soldiers of our own flesh and blood who, with knightly dedication and redoubtable bravery, are making of their own unassailable selves the impregnable garrisons with which to protect not only us, their people, but also our most sacred, most xenophobic patrimony. Before we go on to demonstrate, with indubitable argument, the blindingly obvious fact that it is thanks to the wisdom and righteousness of our faithful Council of the Armed Forces (Sieg Heil!), of whose incorruptible grace the word "supreme" is but the humblest designation, that the people and their oil-smeared holy men of fragrant beards will be saved from a fetid galactic conspiracy to which this country has been subject."


Revista Piaui 31.12.2011 (Brazil)

Branca Vianna profiles the Iraqi geologist Farouk Al-Kasim, a consultant who has continued to play a definitive role in ensuring that the petroleum resources of Norway bring wealth and prosperity to the entire population – in contrast to so many countries with important mineral resources. The geologist came to the country in 1968 as a refugee. As a key figure in the Iraqi oil industry he would officially never have been allowed to leave the country, but he was searching for a treatment for his severely ill third child. Norway was able to help him, and he was able to repay his debt. Through a lucky sequence of events, his expertise was discovered and his suggestions were put into effect. These included the establishment of a regulatory authority that is not only able to negotiate on equal footing with oil companies but also operates outside the immediate influence of the national oil corporation, "which can all too easily become all too powerful and function as a state within a state," as Al-Kasim knew from first-hand observation. Al-Kasim had not been able to implement this knowledge in his native Iraq: "The reigning mafia groups in the country are only concerned with their own interests. Supposedly this is gradually improving, but at some point I gave up trying to help."


Slate.fr 02.01.2012 (France)

Celine's works can be downloaded for free as an e-book reports Slate.fr, citing the blog Aldus2006 - and completely legally. In Canada an authors' work only remains under copyright for fifty years after death, in Europe it's seventy. "Theoretically it is not possible to do download this from outside the country, since Internet users are identifiable by their IP addresses and are therefore subject to the laws of their country. However, it is apparently quite easy to get around this regulation and obtain a digital copy of the work, even if this displeases Editions Gallimard, the author's French publisher, which does not offer Celine in electronic form. Even during his lifetime Celine urged for more widespread distribution of his works through paperback editions."


Die Welt 2.01.2012 (Germany)

Celebrated by Die Welt as the "best concert of 2011" the Neue Deutsche Welle band Palais Schaumburg reunited to give its first concert in twenty-five years at Hebbel am Ufer in Berlin at the close of 2011. Famed for its Dadaistic texts and avant-garde beats, the group was hailed by the next-generation reviewer (born after 1980) as "fresh and contemporary". So the eighties are back! Here a look at the 1981 Palais Schaumburg hit "Wir bauen eine Stadt.":





Highlights from the Anglophone weeklies:

New York Magazine's portrait of Bernard-Henri Levy describes the French philosopher's remarkable year as a champion of the Libyan rebels. The Times Literary Supplement explains why only in France a philosopher could exert such influence. The New York Review of Books reads the some 25,000 pages of correspondence between Georgia O'Keefe and Alfred Stieglitz, offers an overview of the complex political landscape of Egypt and explains why of all Arab countries Libya has the best chance of turning into a prosperous democracy. In Foreign Affairs historian Timothy Snyder rejects Steven Pinker's argument as to why people are becoming more peaceful (see his book "The Better Angels of Our Nature").

After reading a good dozen apocalyptic texts, The Walrus Magazine is inclined to believe the Mayan prophecy that the world will end this year, and BBC Magazine thinks that the framework of Europe will be devoured by termites of debt. The London Review of Books looks back at the disappointments of the Arab Spring, outs the author web service Unbound as just another marketing platform, and views Obama as a plain disappointment. And, on a more positive note, Wired takes a look inside Maker Studios, a professional studio that help hopeful talents rocket to Youtube fame.
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