Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Monday, 31 May 2010

The greatest spectator sport

Hay Festival, Woodstock of the Mind according to Bill Clinton, who spoke here several years ago, continues to throw pearls before swine.

As Chief Swine I fell in love with the interpreter to the last three French presidents, explored the Credit Crunch with Mrs Moneypenny of The Financial Times, watched Kazuo Ishiguro discourse gravely on his latest novel (?) Nocturnes, received instructions on being a philosopher from A. C Grayling, was disappointed by Lord Robert Winston on the downsides of science and am now waiting to hear the editor of The Guardian interview Harry Evans former editor of The Sunday Times. More follows.

The star turn was a double-header in which a steely lawyer, Philippe Sands, interviewed first Sir Jeremy Greenstock, former British ambassador to the UN, then Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, present French ambassador to the UK, both involved in the build-up to the Iraq war. The irrestible force meeting two immovable objects as Sands relentlessly yet politely questioned two of the world’s foremost diplomats. You’ve seen all that on telly, you say. Oh no you haven’t.

These weren’t a couple of politicos lying their heads off. In precise words they described how each did everything possible, within their professional remit, to forestall the outbreak of war. Dates, official documents and witness testimony were invoked and the answers arrived in language that was all the more forceful for being emotionless. Judicial theatre at the highest level. Hay – you done it again.

HAY, FINAL DAY (for us). Anthony Beevor: (Stalingrad, Spanish Civil War) How the modern historian works and why the digital age will make things harder. Harold Evans (former Sunday Times editor). Why still-photo journalism matters in this video age; what can and can’t be published. Mike Mansfield (Left-leaning lawyer known for defending unpopular clients). Fuming about that morning’s news re. Israeli attack on aid flotilla. Ian Stewart: An attempt to simplify and popularise maths – total disaster. Martin Evans (Nobel-prize-winning laureate). Why stem cell research matters and what it may lead to.