Are first impressions important? Architect Peter Zumthor thinks so. I enter a building, see a room, and — in a fraction of a second — have this feeling about it. Buildings inevitably impress us in some way. Many buildings stand out immediately. People make snap judgements on their beauty or lack of it, their functionality … Continue reading
Cambridge University has launched a campaign to celebrate the physicist Stephen Hawking’s 70th birthday in January 2012. You can Tweet (or email) questions to #AskHawking. The questions appearing so far are a mix of the extremely clever, sensible, predictable, witty, sarcastic and vulgar. Hawking is here serving as an oracle, a role often expected of … Continue reading
How do surveillance cameras, and increased monitoring and security procedures affect you? Such causes have undoubted effects on material circumstances and well-being. Actions affect things, and thereby produce effects. The verb, to affect, results in a noun, an effect. But there’s also such a thing as an affect, as a noun. Last Friday I attended … Continue reading
Sequel-baiting is the practice by film-makers to construct their plots in a way that encourages audience demand for a sequel. As well as cliff-hanger endings, there’s the technique of introducing characters and subplots that require follow-up once the main story is over.
The recent raid at Abbottabad has shown President Obama to be a leader capable of decisive action after all, as opposed to just an academic (ie a “dithering nerd-in-chief”), at least according to critical commentators (The Guardian, 7 May 2011, p.21). Having read Obama’s The Audacity of Hope, I’m hard-pressed to think of Obama as an intellectual … Continue reading
You can treat things as “mere objects,” but things can’t be “mere things.” Thing already carries connotations of significance, history, meaning, memory.