Author Topic: The Off Topic Topic  (Read 3183261 times)

Sheilbh

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Re: The Off Topic Topic
« Reply #71985 on: October 15, 2019, 06:12:04 pm »
I am disproportionately furious about the Booker prize decision.

Why?
They split the prize :ultra:
Quote
The Booker Prize judges had one job
It was an epic fail — which sets a rotten precedent — to award this year's prize to two winners, says a former judge
BY Sam Leith

There’s a popular image macro meme that circulates around the internet called “You Had One Job”. The authorities on meme classification identify it as a subcategory of the “Epic Fail” family of memes, and the format is pretty standard. You take a photograph of something obviously stupid — a big bag of donuts in a shop marked “Hot Dogs”, say; a price-reduction sticker that tells you “Original Price: £15.99, Now only £17.99”; a kids’ lunchbox with a big picture of Superman on it labelled “Batman” — and you superimpose in nice friendly capitals: “YOU HAD ONE JOB”.

Such an image macro we can now imagine being made of the photographs of Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo embracing on stage as last night’s joint winners of the 2019 Booker Prize. BOOKER JUDGES, YOU HAD ONE JOB. Pick a sodding winner. One winner. That’s what the rules say. That’s what you’re formally empanelled to do, and paid to do, and trusted to do. That’s what the public are expecting you to do. That is the whole point of the prize.

According to reports of proceedings, the judges were deadlocked between the two eventual winners. They asked Gaby Wood, the literary director of the prize, whether they could split the prize. No, she said: you can’t. They specifically changed the rules in 1992, after the last time this happened, precisely to prevent judges wimping out and splitting the fifty grand between two. The rubric says in black and white: “the prize may not be divided or withheld”. The panel returned for another hour of deliberation. They asked, again, whether they could split the prize. Gaby this time booted the issue upstairs to Helena Kennedy, Booker’s uber-poobah, the chair of the foundation’s trustees. She, too, said firmly that, no: their job was to pick a single winner.

Did that do the trick? No.The panel ignored her too and insisted that they were going to split the prize anyway. “We were trying to accommodate the rules that were given to us,” the chair of the judges, Peter Florence, said afterwards. “How do you equably and fairly resolve something that seems irresolvable? You find a way of changing the game.” Fine words, but the first sentence is pure humbug. Rules aren’t there for you to “try to accommodate” — just ask Boris Johnson about his prorogation scheme.

But the nature of Booker is such that — given the final judging meeting happens on the day of the prize — the judges had the whip hand. I can’t speak for the Booker trustees, but you can make a pretty good guess as to why they had to cave. Public-relations-wise, firing the judges and/or cancelling the prize two hours before it was due to be awarded — with Katie Derham all done up to the nines and the Guildhall already filling up with tipsy blokes in black tie — would have been completely unthinkable. Cave they did. Shame on Peter Florence, who as chair had the power and responsibility to use his casting vote, for putting them in that position.

I don’t make this complaint from a literary point of view. Moaning that the judges should have picked a different winner is the traditional form of fatuous post-Booker comment; indeed, that’s the piece I’d rather be writing. For what it’s worth I’ve read Bernardine Evaristo’s book, Girl, Woman, Other and I think it’s terrific. I haven’t read Atwood’s The Testaments but I have every faith that it’s terrific too. Maybe there were better books; maybe not. The deal with the Booker Prize is that each panel of judges gets to choose the winner they damn well please, and literary pundits fill a quick few column inches and make a quick few quid grumbling about it or defending the decision according to taste, and the whole jolly cycle begins again.

And, yes, of course every chair of judges makes — as Peter Florence did at some length — a speech in which he or she formulaically laments the cruel artificiality of the prize process. Every chair, as Peter Florence did, wrings his or her hands about how, really, they wish they could have given every book on their stellar longlist a prize. Every chair, as Peter Florence did, says how hard it was to choose. That, too, is part of the game. It’s gracious and right and it’s expected.

But then you’re supposed to say: “But at the end of the day there could be only one winner…” Absurd it may be; unfair it may be; even philistine it may be — but that’s the game. That’s what you sign up for.

Here’s the problem. Within moments of the win being announced, I found myself in a conversation — I expect one that will have been replicated all over the hall in various forms — with some fellow guests. One wondered aloud whether the double win had been because the judges had felt sentimental about Margaret Atwood: they wanted to give the prize to Evaristo, she speculated, because hers was the better book, but they didn’t feel they could snub a writer of Atwood’s undoubted greatness and loveableness.


Well, possibly, someone else countered. But isn’t it equally possible that it was the other way around? Perhaps they thought Margaret Atwood had written the best book but they wanted to give Bernardine Evaristo’s profile a much needed and much deserved boost; that giving the prize to a book whose vast sales were already guaranteed and whose author was already as famous as authors get would be a waste of the power at their disposal.

Either of these positions might be true. And neither position might be true: perhaps, indeed, quite independently of any extra-literary consideration, the judges considered both books so equally good that you could not get a cigarette paper between them.

But by choosing both, they immediately open the verdict to that sort of speculation. That’s unfair on both authors. Bernardine, on stage, spoke very graciously about how thrilled she was to be sharing the prize with “the legend that is Margaret Atwood”. But as she was too gracious to say, it obviously would have been even more thrilling to have beaten that legend into joint second place.

The suspicion in the reading public’s mind will be that one or other of these considerable authors was being patronised; that something extra-literary had entered into the considerations of the panel, that the judges were trying to have their cake and eat it. Had they given it a single one, that would not have been possible in the same way. They could have said, simply: this book is first among equals. Pundits may say what they like, may accuse us of what they like, but we have made the hard decision that every panel of Booker is tasked to make — and this is the best novel published in English, in our opinion, this year.

That they did not presents a tremendous headache for the prize going forward. The rules were put in writing. They were reaffirmed, unequivocally, at the highest levels of institutional authority. And the judges demonstrated that they could, effectively, blackmail the organisers into ignoring them.

This sets a rotten, rotten precedent. The handshake agreements that have previously governed the judging could well firm into legal contracts; the valuably theatrical tradition that the final meeting takes place on the day (also practical since it helps prevent leaks) might well go by the board. And even with such notional safeguards established, what’s to prevent judges throwing a similar strop in future years. You let them split the prize two ways: why can’t we split it three ways this year?

Epic fail.
:ultra:
Let's bomb Russia!

Syt

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Re: The Off Topic Topic
« Reply #71986 on: October 16, 2019, 03:55:37 am »
So apparently a family has lived for years in the basement of a farm in the Netherlands after thinking the world was going to end.

And of course it involves an Austrian  :lmfao:

(Though it's not yet clear how he's connected to the case).)
“There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.

There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”


― Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Liep

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Re: The Off Topic Topic
« Reply #71987 on: October 16, 2019, 04:02:59 am »
So apparently a family has lived for years in the basement of a farm in the Netherlands after thinking the world was going to end.

And of course it involves an Austrian  :lmfao:

(Though it's not yet clear how he's connected to the case).)

I'll take a guess and say he had the keys.
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Sheilbh

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Re: The Off Topic Topic
« Reply #71988 on: October 16, 2019, 07:38:22 am »
So the parents of the boy accidentally killed by the American driving on the wrong side of the road have met Trump. Bloomberg reporter:
Quote
Trump met yesterday with parents of 19-year-old Harry Dunn—then told them the person driving the car that killed their son was in a room nearby.

Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn declined Trump’s offer to meet with Anne Sacoolas.

"We didn't want to be railroaded...into a meeting.”
:blink: :bleeding:
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Camerus

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Re: The Off Topic Topic
« Reply #71989 on: October 16, 2019, 07:48:34 am »
NRPI?

Syt

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Re: The Off Topic Topic
« Reply #71990 on: October 16, 2019, 10:46:45 am »
“There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.

There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”


― Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Valmy

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Re: The Off Topic Topic
« Reply #71991 on: October 16, 2019, 10:56:20 am »
France and Germany BFFs

I am amazed Russians like Germany so much.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2019, 10:58:29 am by Valmy »
If we can hit that bull's-eye, the rest of the dominoes will fall like a house of cards. Checkmate!

Valmy is practically french. :frog:

Honorary gay award from Martinus

The Brain

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Re: The Off Topic Topic
« Reply #71992 on: October 16, 2019, 10:56:34 am »
They buy our iron ore and ball bearings.
You are gay.

Richard Hakluyt

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Re: The Off Topic Topic
« Reply #71993 on: October 16, 2019, 11:10:12 am »
Italian figure stands out imo. Twice as high as in UK, France or Spain for unfavorable  :hmm:

Tyr

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Re: The Off Topic Topic
« Reply #71994 on: October 16, 2019, 12:04:40 pm »
Pleasantly surprised the UK isn't that dumb
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viper37

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Re: The Off Topic Topic
« Reply #71995 on: October 16, 2019, 02:05:11 pm »
Monty Python found!
Lingk

Quote
Monty the ball python went missing on June 13, the same night the Toronto Raptors won their first NBA Championship in franchise history.

How he ended up escaping from inside his terrarium is still a head scratcher, but his owner has tossed around a few ideas.

"Either he escaped on his own or he had some help from a very happy Raptors fan -- we're not sure," laughed Samantha Sannella.

Sannella's son discovered the snake on Thanksgiving while opening a cupboard in the basement of the family's Toronto home. Monty had been missing since June and the family was getting ready to post his terrarium online for sale when the snake decided to come out of hiding.
[...]
I need a sig.  My kingdom for a sig!

Tyr

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Re: The Off Topic Topic
« Reply #71996 on: October 16, 2019, 02:23:13 pm »
I've had a car again for a week now.
And I can officially redeclare based on updated experiences : driving absolutely sucks and cars are one of the worst inventions in the history of humankind.
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Tonitrus

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Re: The Off Topic Topic
« Reply #71997 on: October 16, 2019, 02:37:27 pm »
Speaking at least for around here...you blokes, while very polite most times in terms of giving way when appropriate...suck at driving.  And drive like maniacs on these narrow/poorly maintained "roads".

Richard Hakluyt

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Re: The Off Topic Topic
« Reply #71998 on: October 17, 2019, 02:08:49 am »
Road death rate in the UK is far lower than the USA though :

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_traffic-related_death_rate

Tamas

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Re: The Off Topic Topic
« Reply #71999 on: October 17, 2019, 05:15:00 am »
Apart from the noted reckless bravery on the tiny pedestrian pathways jokingly declared two-way roads for cars by some drunk Victorian 200 years ago, drivers here are much better on average than in Hungary. Far from everyone, of course, but still okay.