~ Posted by Robert Butler, February 5th 2014
The first piece I wrote for Intelligent Life, in autumn 2007, was about a bunch of eco-bloggers. Seven years ago this month, a middle-aged New Yorker on Fifth Avenue had turned off the power supply to his apartment and set out to see if he could live for a year without making any net impact on the environment. He wasn't alone in attempting this as he had a wife and a two-year-old daughter; but he wasn't alone in other ways either. That very February, a young woman in Toronto was trying to take one green action a day—from banning all polystyrene to getting rid of her car—and each action she took had to stick. Another person was spending a year without using any plastic. And another had got rid of the freezer, and then the fridge. It was possible to follow each of these unusual adventures because the people involved were going online and chronicling their actions.read more » COMMENTS: Comments | ADD NEW COMMENT
~ Posted by Robert Butler, January 28th 2014
Emergency rationsread more » COMMENTS: Comments | ADD NEW COMMENT
Re: Have pudding, will travel (pictured)
As a 15 year-old Ohioan I backpacked the last 100 or so miles of the Appalachian Trail with my older brother. Otherwise well-prepared, we completely underestimated our caloric expenditure and, after the third day, food was uppermost in my thoughts. Steak. French onion soup with a thick Gruyere crust. Pound cake. For emergencies, we carried this stuff called Kendall Mint Cake—basically a block of sugar paste flavored with mint. I can still see the outline of the box in the rear pocket of my brother's backpack as we slogged mile after seemingly endless mile. I recall thinking at times that, should an accident unfortunately befall him, the box would be all mine.
~ Posted by Robert Butler, January 25th 2014
It started with the curtains. Viewers had noticed something odd in the first series of "The Bridge"; then in the second series, when the detective's wife Mette moved house, they noticed it again. Her bedroom still had no curtains. On the comments thread that runs below the Guardian's weekly blog someone explained, "Scandinavians don't use curtains in their houses. Source: I live in Sweden." This idea did not appeal to others. "Do peeping Toms not exist in Scandinavia?"read more » COMMENTS: Comments | ADD NEW COMMENT
~ Posted by Robert Butler, November 14th 2013
When Anthony Gardner attended an evening class for us last week on how to sleep better, he discovered there were four basic rules. He wasn't the only one keen to learn what they were: the class itself was very well attended and his blogpost was the most-read article on this site.
I was ready to follow his advice and when I woke at two this morning I remembered there was no listening to the radio, no switching on the computer, and no checking the phone. Instead I reached for a collection of short stories and picked the one which sounded as if it would be the least stimulating.
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~ Posted by Robert Butler, May 22nd 2013
It's often thought that people buy a book because they have read a rave review or had a nudge from Amazon. But, in my experience, a stray remark is just as likely to do it.read more » COMMENTS: Comments | ADD NEW COMMENT
Our Top 10 of 2013. No. 7: Can we change the world, one click at a time? Ricken Patel, a young Canadian, thinks so, and he has 20m followers to show for it. Profile by Robert Butlerread more » COMMENTS: Comments | ADD NEW COMMENT
~ Posted by Robert Butler, December 16th 2013
A wet Monday morning, a crowded tube train, and heads sunk in novels and newspapers: suddenly there's a long high-pitched scream. In the carriage, the passengers stiffen and inwardly groan.read more » COMMENTS: Comments | ADD NEW COMMENT
~ Posted by Robert Butler, December 12th 2013
The steely concentration is fixed by the large dark eyes, the delicate eyelids and the deep crease that runs at a sharp angle down his cheek to his trim beard. The face alone would make Millais's immaculate oil portrait of Disraeli arresting, but the resolute folding of the arms and the black bulk of his figure give this Victorian painting a daunting sense of purpose. For the first-time viewer, there's a small shock in store. The words next to the painting, which hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London, say that Millais was prevented from receiving more than three sittings for this portrait by Disraeli's "fatal illness". When he posed for Millais in 1881, Disraeli knew he was dying; the picture was completed after his death.read more » COMMENTS: Comments | ADD NEW COMMENT
~ Posted by Robert Butler, November 13th 2013
In the early Seventies, shortly after it was written, there was a staging of John Tavener's "Celtic Requiem" at Winchester Cathedral, and boys from the choir school—ordinary pupils like me, as well as choristers—took part.read more » COMMENTS: Comments | ADD NEW COMMENT
~ Posted by Robert Butler, November 12th 2013
Last night was the British Society of Magazine Editors' Awards, and this magazine was shortlisted for two of the 26 categories, which ranged from the straightforward "Scoop of the Year" and "Launch of the Year" to the almost unintelligible "Branded Content—Business" and "Brand-Building Initiative of the Year". As 500 guests filled the Grand Ballroom of the London Hilton—itself the size of a football field—the screens onstage displayed the covers of hundreds of magazines. A newcomer might be forgiven for imagining this was boom time for mags, but once people had found their seats and explored their goodie bag—copy of "Nigellissima", Caorunn gin miniature, Calvin Klein aftershave—Diane Kenwood, editor of Woman's Weekly, introduced the evening by saying that the industry had had "its toughest year ever". Shrinking circulations, digital challenges—the idea of the magazine itself was changing. Over the next couple of hours, two phrases kept coming up in the judges' citations: "brand extensions" and "multi-platforms".read more » COMMENTS: Comments | ADD NEW COMMENT