The Monocle Minute

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Today’s top stories, opinion and opportunities
Monday 23 October 2017

Urbanism

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Pedal protests

The mayor of New York has stuck a bureaucratic rod in the spokes of the city’s e-bike trend.

In New York the bicycle lane has become the fast lane. Souped-up electric bikes have been racing up and down city streets at more than 30km/h for years but now mayor Bill de Blasio has put the brakes on. He is planning a crackdown to target businesses that use e-bikes to deliver goods around the five boroughs. By going after them with aggressive fines, De Blasio hopes to convince them to abandon their e-bikes that, thanks to a loophole, are legal to own but not use in New York. In recent years complaints of zooming electronic bicycles have spiked; it remains to be seen whether a new ticketing scheme can slow them down.

Business

Image: Getty Images

Made in Japandemonium

As Nissan suspends domestic car shipments, what will become of the country’s prestige?

Japan’s reputation for quality has taken a beating lately. Automaker Nissan Motor’s decision to suspend domestic production of all cars last week, due to improper vehicle inspections at its factories, was the latest blow to the credibility of “Made in Japan” products. It came weeks after Nissan first admitted that uncertified inspectors have been checking vehicles on assembly lines for years – and despite pledges to prevent a recurrence. Just two weeks ago Kobe Steel, Japan’s third-largest steel-maker, apologised for shipping tens of thousands of tonnes of aluminium, copper and steel that weren’t tested – or didn’t meet industrial standards – to hundreds of companies that produce Shinkansen, cars, aircraft and flat-screen displays. Regaining the public’s trust won’t be easy.

Manufacturing

Image: Getty Images

Denim denizen

Instead of shutting up shops, manufacturers should explore new ways to keep up production.

Opened in 1905 and once lauded as the world’s largest textile plant, Cone Denim’s famous White Oak mill in Greensboro, North Carolina, will produce its final pair of jeans by year’s end. The announcement came from Cone’s parent company, International Textile Group, blaming rising manufacturing costs and changes in demand. Greensboro’s mayor has offered employment support and resources for the 200 workers who will now be out of a job but perhaps the city should also hunt for a can-do maverick in the spirit of David Hieatt, the former advertising copywriter who built his Hiut Denim brand in the Welsh town of Cardigan, once home to the UK’s biggest jeans factory. Market forces are tough to beat but Hieatt’s example shows that with the right vision, legendary manufacturing hubs can find a new lease of life.

Literature

Saunders in the studio

We meet the US author who has won this year’s Man Booker prize for a chat about his debut novel – and some interesting career choices.

Fresh from the announcement that his novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, had won the Man Booker prize, US author George Saunders stopped by Midori House for a chat on Monocle 24; listen now to learn why he was scared to write his extraordinary long-form debut. He explains how working as everything from a Chicken Unlimited delivery boy to an exploration geophysicist shaped his literary career, and confesses that he always thought he’d be a rockstar rather than a writer. Oh, and he once had a mullet.

From Monocle 24

*Dina*

The Monocle Weekly

New film Dina won best documentary at The Sundance Film Festival recently; it’s been praised for its sensitive portrayal of the everyday life of its subjects, couple Dina Buno and Scott Levin. Dina and the film’s makers, Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles, join us to discuss it.

From Monocle Films

Cosy Homes: Hellerup Estate

In the first of two films to celebrate the publication of The Monocle Guide to Cosy Homes, we visit the residence of Knud Erik Hansen, managing director of Carl Hansen & Søn and grandson of the company's iconic founder. Hansen has transformed an impressive Danish estate into a comfortable family home, filling it with beautiful furniture and preserving the property’s charm.

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