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What the world is reading

Automated flight technology has burst into the consumer realm in a big way.

Written by Aleesha Matharu | Published: October 29, 2013 1:38:23 am

IQ

The tech behind drones

“Drones aren’t just for the CIA anymore,” writes Nestor Bailly. Automated flight technology has burst into the consumer realm in a big way. Brands,scientists,government services and regular people are taking advantage of cheap and easy technology to control compact flight systems with decent lift capacity for cargo or equipment. Bailly points out how even former editor of Wired magazine Chris Anderson foresaw the drone trend and left Wired to become CEO of 3D Robotics,a drone-building company. Flying delivery robots are being increasingly experimented with by drone enthusiasts. “Via an app that taps the user’s GPS location,drone systems can zero in and deploy cargo by parachute or manual extraction,such as the beer-delivering drone in South Africa”. Pizza giant Dominos has also been testing drone delivery with its DomiCoptor. Bailly thinks drones may play a big role in the future — depending on government regulation — from simple surveillance to search and rescue,wildlife monitoring and geological 3D mapping.

The New Yorker

A great American novel

Writing about the few gratifying instances of belated artistic justice,Tim Kreider says he doesn’t understand how John William’s “chronically under-appreciated American novel”,Stoner,isn’t a sentimental favourite in its native land. The book became an unexpected bestseller in Europe after being translated and championed by French writer Anna Gavalda. Comparing Stoner to Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby,he points out the difference between the two protagonists. “Gatsby’s a success story: he makes a ton of money,owns a mansion,throws great parties,and even gets his dream girl,for a little while,at least. Stoner’s protagonist is an unglamorous,hardworking academic who marries badly,is estranged from his child,drudges away in a dead-end career,dies,and is forgotten”. Stoner,according to him,is an academic novel — old-fashioned and prewar. “Its prose,compared to Fitzgerald’s ecstatic art-nouveau lyricism,is austere,restrained,and precise”. The book isn’t easy to read as its antagonists are the problematic aspect; they’re essentially instruments used by the world to crush and smother anything that its titular hero,William Stoner,loves.

Foreign Policy

China loves 2 Broke Girls

The US sitcom 2 Broke Girls has drawn Chinese audiences by “depicting a modest dream: the chance to open a cupcake shop”,writes Liz Carter,“especially in comparison to the ‘Chinese Dream’ of national rejuvenation being promoted by President Xi Jinping”. The show’s first season appeared on Youku,China’s YouTube,in August 2012,and has risen to become the most popular on the site,with over 81 million views. “Perhaps Chinese viewers prefer 2 Broke Girls because they can empathise with the characters,who work hard for low pay”. Carter quotes a Weibo (China’s Twitter) post,where a fan says she wanted to be like Caroline and Max (the two protagonists) because “although they are poor,they work hard together to achieve a shared dream”. But,Carter notes,the show has not appealed to Chinese nationalist sentiment. Numerous officials have recently emphasised on the importance of entrepreneurial spirit,but in the service of nationalism. Even so,millions of Chinese,especially recent graduates facing a tough job market,admire the protagonists’ optimism and positive attitude in the face of adversity.

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