Tuesday 8 January 2019 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Tuesday. 8/1/2019

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images


That’ll teach you

It is widely accepted that for something to become history (and to be taught as such) time must pass, in part to distance us from its impact and create an objective understanding. Russia, however – looking to get ahead of the game and shape its narrative as it sees fit – has announced that the 2014 annexation of Crimea will become a mandatory part of all school syllabuses from autumn this year (as will Russia’s interpretation of the Ukrainian revolution the same year). It’s safe to assume that the textbooks will spin the idea of Crimea as an atavistic part of Russia – one that had no business belonging to Ukraine in the first place. This move by the ministry of education is part of president Vladimir Putin’s apparent plan to slowly reimpose the idea of a Russian empire.

Image: Getty Images


Costly exit

Leaving Japan just became slightly more expensive. Yesterday the government introduced a departure tax: visitors and nationals leaving the country must pay a nominal fee of ¥1,000 (€8) in addition to their air fares. Japan is doing everything it can to increase tourist numbers but the purpose of the tax isn’t to encourage people to stick around; the levy, which is anticipated to raise ¥50bn (€403m) every year, will go towards making Japan a more appealing place to visit. Some of the money, for instance, will be put towards the installation of facial-recognition technology in Japan’s airports, shortening queues and easing crowding. But some Japanese are wondering whether the experience is already too good: visitor numbers have risen dramatically in recent years and residents in key cities such as Kyoto are wondering when the temple crowds will finally disperse.

Image: Getty Images


Seeing is believing

The annual CES trade show, the biggest electronics showcase in the world, gets underway in Las Vegas today. Journalists will trudge across the sprawling soft carpets to see the latest devices that technology firms have to offer, including bigger, brighter screens. If you’re just getting used to 4K televisions being the pinnacle of screen resolution, expect 2019 to be the year of 8K sets (the resolution is actually four times higher). Samsung already has one 8K television on sale but will add several more; Sony is also expected to enter the market this year. If that’s not enough, Samsung has unveiled its own “micro-LED” technology, which claims to make the sci-fi staple of a screen that doubles as your living-room wall a reality. It will come at a price: a 146-inch wall of micro LED is likely to cost more than $300,000 (€262,000). Not to be outdone, LG is releasing the world’s first rollable OLED television, which can be stored out of sight when not in use. Elsewhere, voice assistants Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant will appear in every imaginable piece of kit, from navigation systems to – seriously – bathroom mirrors.

Image: Getty Images


A real difference

Buying fake goods is part and parcel of life in China but the market for counterfeit products looks set to dip in 2019. Popular e-commerce websites, such as Alibaba’s Taobao online shop, will now be held legally responsible for policing the sale of copycat merchandise on their platforms after a new law came into force this month. The legislation, which is aimed at tackling China’s reputation for knockoffs, is welcome news for intellectual-property owners at home and abroad but consumer pressure could also be behind the move: complaints last year about fake Dyson hairdryers led to a co-ordinated crackdown before Christmas. China’s middle-class shoppers increasingly want the real thing and react angrily to being ripped off.

Lookahead 2019

Robert Bound is joined by Peter White, Anna Smith and Gareth Harris to look at the year ahead in film, TV and art.

Monocle Films / Czech Republic

Sound of Prague

The Czech National Symphony Orchestra has struck an international chord, with its redoubtable musicianship attracting big-name pop and music-score clients from Ennio Morricone to Sting.


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