Friday 2 November 2018 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 2/11/2018

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images


Strong words

Steve Bannon is working the speakers circuit with varying degrees of success. In September he was dropped from the schedule at the ‘New Yorker’ festival and on Tuesday he led a rally in Kansas that, reportedly, attracted a total of 25 attendees. Today he is expected to face off against David Frum of ‘The Atlantic’ at the Munk Debates in Toronto. The decision to bill Donald Trump’s former chief strategist in public discussions is seldom taken without outcry and this week has been no different. Many argue that his populist rhetoric incites intolerance and should not be countenanced; the counter claim is that silencing him would be to silence the debate itself. In this case, the organisers of the Munk Debates have rightly defended his inclusion by saying that the divides plaguing a polarised globe must be discussed to be resolved.

Image: Getty Images


Friends and foes

A meeting eerily reminiscent of the sides taken during the Cold War is to take place today in Moscow, as Cuba’s newly elected president Miguel Díaz-Canel meets Vladimir Putin. While the pair are expected to discuss ways to deepen economic ties (and cut one or two weapons deals) the meeting is as much about posturing to the US as it is about shoring up a partnership. “As relations with the US have deteriorated, this sends a signal that Cuba still has friends,” says Dr Aglaya Snetkov, author of ‘Russia's Security Policy Under Putin: A Critical Perspective’. “It’s also a way for Russia to let the West know that sanctions are not hurting them – it can bolster trade relations beyond its immediate borders”.

Image: Calle Huth Studio


Flashing the cash

In a world where physical cash is becoming less common, Norway’s celebration of the humble bank note shows its enduring symbolic value. This week the second batch of a series of beautifully designed new notes (courtesy of Norwegian studios Snøhetta and Metric) were put into circulation. Featuring imagery reflecting the seafaring culture of the Nordic nation, the NOK50 and NOK500 notes are as much handsome postcards as they are transactional devices. While Norway is one of the world’s most debit-card-driven nations (fewer than 10 per cent of transactions here are made using cash), its government has been clever in harnessing the power of physical currency to drum up national pride and highlight the nation's design-minded chops to visitors.


Wrong fit

The Zozosuit has officially gone out of fashion. This week Japan’s biggest ecommerce company announced that its polka-dotted spandex bodysuit would be canned. Long heralded as the solution to poorly fitting internet purchases, the idea was that the outfit would allow wearers to scan their body shape and then shop through an app to buy perfectly proportioned suits, jeans and button-down shirts. But in a surprise announcement on Wednesday, Zozo CEO Yusaku Maezawa (pictured) said that he would be phasing out the invention. The reason? Zozo now says that it can get an equally accurate measurement of your frame just by knowing your height and weight, thanks to the mystifying capabilities of AI and big data. Customers and investors are justifiably puzzled: did Maezawa ever want it to catch on or was it just a finely tailored PR ploy?

Image: Shutterstock

Trump’s predictable October surprise

Although the group of asylum seekers travelling towards the US from Central America is real, the threat they pose to American citizens is not. With only a few days until the midterm elections, it doesn't take a political scientist to work out why Donald Trump has decided that now is the time to react – by sending more than 5,000 troops to the border with Mexico. Andrew Mueller asks why voters keep buying Trump’s lies.

Monocle Films / Sweden

Stockholm: The Monocle Travel Guide Series

Set in a glittering archipelago, Stockholm is one of our favourite summer getaways. Monocle's travel guide will help you locate Stockholm’s best hotels and most delectable restaurants, and show you what else to discover tucked away from the Swedish capital’s charming waterfront. Published by Gestalten, The Monocle Travel Guide to Stockholm is available now at The Monocle Shop.


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