Daily Bafflements

The BafflerNovember 16, 2015
Oxford Blatavnik School of Government lures rich international donors with architecture that screams anonymity and cash. / Martin Cooper

Oxford Blavatnik School of Government lures rich international donors with architecture that screams (or whispers) anonymity and cash. / Martin Cooper

• University architecture has always laundered the reputations of “slave traders, ennobled gangsters, monk-robbers and tyrants’ stooges.” That time-honored tradition is carrying on into the twenty-first century, and not just at Harvard. Oxford’s new Blavatnik School of Government, sponsored by an associate of Putin’s, reads as:

something both confident in itself and from another world . . . It resembles a ministry in an architecturally astute petro-state . . . Come here, it seems to say to future administrators and rulers of this and other countries, and prepare yourself for life in an agreeable, culturally sophisticated bubble, an inward-looking society protected by a hard septum from the rest of the world. 

• Today in billionaires cuddling up to their Bond toys: Elon Musk owns the car that turns into a submarine in The Spy Who Loved Me (just wait until he hears about Duck Tours!), even though it doesn’t really work. And here is another rich person talking about his yachts, laboriously named after each flick from the franchise: “The name is exciting. Watching a ‘James Bond’ movie, you never know what’s going to happen next. And our boats always do the same.” Well there you go! So very surprising.

• A serial killer’s book rose to the top of Amazon Canada’s “Movers and Shakers” book list—it’s fiction but very violent, so should he profit? Amazon’s decided to put that moral conundrum to bed, and disappear the book.