Print Story Living in Perfect Harmony
Diary
By TheophileEscargot (Tue Nov 25, 2008 at 09:40:18 AM EST) Reading, Listening, Consumerism, Web (all tags)
Reading: "Aya De Yopougon", "We Need to Talk About Kevin". Consumerism. Web.


What I'm Reading
Aya De Yopougon by Marguerite Abouet, drawn by Clement Oubrerie. Graphic novel about a group of young people in Youpognon, Ivory Coast in the 1970s, originally French-language. Pretty domestic plot involving dating and young love. Fairly light, heartwarming stuff.

Drawn in what I'm beginning to think is the French comic style (after The Rabbi's Cat for instance), with kind of rough, askew lines; which I'm gradually getting more used to. Nice bright pastel colours. Seems to work well here, with cute depictions of the youngster in glorious Seventies African dress.

Bit too domestic for my taste, so not sure I'll bother with subsequent volumes: there seem to be a couple more. But quite a decent read.

Listening
Finished the audiobook We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. Got quite a bit of attention a while back after winning the Orange fiction prize. It's about the mother of a high school massacrer Kevin, written as a series of letters by her to her ex-husband, documenting the history of their relationship and his upbringing.

Very well written, with mother Eva as an utterly convincing character. Has very realistic domestic detail. Captures their claustrophobic married life very well, with a remorseless inevitability to its slow destruction by their offspring.

Eva is a classic unreliable narrator. Found it a little frustrating that it's never clear exactly how bad Kevin is. Eva attributes an implausible level of evil to him, and there are strong hints that she's overstating how calculatedly sadistic he was at a young age: it's not really plausible for a baby. However, from the killings and some of the events he's obviously abnormal: it would be nice to know how abnormal he is.

Whether it's Eva or the author's view of Kevin, it's a bit blank and unconvincing, except insofar as he's a surly adolescent winding up his parents. The psychology depicted doesn't seem to make a lot of sense academically. In some ways he shows signs of psychopathy, being ruthlessly manipulative in achieving his own ends. He also displays flattened affect, appearing to experience few emotions. While that can occur in psychopaths, it seems hard to believe he could manipulate other people's emotions so deftly without experiencing them himself.

The plot is very carefully constructed. While the middle section of the book gets a little dull as patterns recur, towards the end the patterns break and it reaches a superb, riveting emotional climax.

Overall, well worth a read if you can tolerate domestic emotional drama. Some people seem to have taken a dislike to the unsympathetic narrator: while a little bit whiny, she didn't seem particularly bad to me; but apparently she's supposed to be emotionally cold.

Consumerism
Not sure whether to buy somewhere now. Just in the last month, local prices seem to have dropped into affordability. This looked tempting, but while the location is walking distance from my current job, I'd rather be closer to an actual Tube stop in the long term.

On the other hand, if prices are really going to drop 25% in the next year, it makes much more sense to wait and snap something up at £150k rather than pay £200k now. Or pay £200k and get something better.

It feels unlikely to me that they'll drop that much, but in price/income terms it makes sense. Even in London average income is only £30k, so 5x average income for a small house doesn't seem unrealistic.

Web
Lenin's Tomb, Anatole Kaletsky, David Smith, Polly Toynbee on the Darling Plan.

Articles. Thought this Effort Effect article (BB.) was interesting in its consquences.

It seems if you think of ability as an intrinsic quality you have, you refuse to risk failure, refuse to learn, and stay safely in a comfort zone where you can feel clever.

So, I wonder what the consequences are of the current trend to think of I.Q. scores as something genetically determined? People who believe that are likely to either stay smugly within unambitious limits, if their scores are high; or abandon all learning if your scores are low.

Misc. Natural Harvest: unusual cookbook. 20 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Stick In Your USB Socket. Cat chases. Old pic: Vis-o-matic shopping. I always do what Teddy says.

< A Balanced View of Darling's Pre Budget Report | Bad things really do come in threes >
Living in Perfect Harmony | 22 comments (22 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Buy Now! by Herring (4.00 / 1) #1 Tue Nov 25, 2008 at 09:57:12 AM EST
You can lead the recovery!

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky
Well by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #2 Tue Nov 25, 2008 at 10:01:02 AM EST
That would be the best time to buy: right at the very bottom just before the upturn. So by the time you've waited to see prices go up, you're already past the optimum time.

I'm not sure which way the weirdnesss of London will work. Prices went up higher, there's always a demand, so maybe they won't fall as far here. Or on the other hand, prices went up higher, so maybe they'll fall a lot further here...
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
It's a difficult call by Herring (4.00 / 1) #3 Tue Nov 25, 2008 at 10:20:27 AM EST
I've missed the optimum point for my scam. It was going to work like this:
  • Start a (limited liability) property company at the top of the market
  • Sell my house to the company
  • Wait for the market to drop
  • Wind the company up
  • Buy the house back from the company
I am sure there's a flaw in that plan somewhere.

I suspect that if unemployment continues to rise, then house prices will fall further. If your stats on average length of recession are right though you'd probably expect it to bottom out in the next 4-6 months.

No harm in looking.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

[ Parent ]
How would your company .... by Tonatiuh (4.00 / 1) #11 Tue Nov 25, 2008 at 07:55:26 PM EST
.... pay for the house?


[ Parent ]
BottomsI'm hoping for a perfect, quiet baby (gulp) by ucblockhead (4.00 / 2) #6 Tue Nov 25, 2008 at 11:25:29 AM EST
I suspect that in this case, the "bottom" will last for a fair period, as in, a year or so.  If I weren't already a homeowner I would be waiting until prices were stable for a year.
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
er by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #7 Tue Nov 25, 2008 at 11:26:06 AM EST
How the hell did that paste happen!?
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
This is England by Imperial Mince (4.00 / 1) #15 Tue Nov 25, 2008 at 11:52:04 PM EST
We haven't had stable prices since the great war. House prices are either going up up up up, or down down down down, or both, at the same time.

--
This space reserved for whining like a little bitch and being sanctimonious.
[ Parent ]
20 things by garlic (4.00 / 1) #4 Tue Nov 25, 2008 at 10:45:10 AM EST
I've seen other lists similar to this where they list 5 different sorts of memory sticks. Yes, we get it, memory sticks don't have to have any particular form factor. that doesn't make every new one interesting.


And I thought houses in NoVa were pricey by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #5 Tue Nov 25, 2008 at 11:19:33 AM EST
200k (about 400k American) for 500 sq. ft? Ye Gods!

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

That by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #8 Tue Nov 25, 2008 at 11:28:49 AM EST
Wouldn't be out of line in downtown San Francisco.  I imagine New York is much the same.
---
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
But by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #10 Tue Nov 25, 2008 at 05:18:41 PM EST
It's not downtown. I think.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
What counts as downtown New York? by Scrymarch (2.00 / 1) #17 Wed Nov 26, 2008 at 01:46:23 AM EST
Does it have to be Manhattan island? That flat is about a dozen tube stops west of the centre of town by the looks. Though like all great cities London doesn't really have a single centre.

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

[ Parent ]
Acton's not downtown. by ambrosen (4.00 / 1) #20 Wed Nov 26, 2008 at 06:08:04 AM EST
It's nothing-special suburbia, safe but not posh. And about 40 minutes from the city centre.

[ Parent ]
I know where Acton is by Scrymarch (2.00 / 0) #21 Wed Nov 26, 2008 at 02:00:44 PM EST
I don't know where downtown is.

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

[ Parent ]
That is nothing by Tonatiuh (4.00 / 1) #12 Tue Nov 25, 2008 at 08:02:22 PM EST
Comparable flats (not houses, those are 100% or more expensive)  more central or in posh areas are between 30% to 50% more expensive .


[ Parent ]
The two dollar pound was months ago by herbert (4.00 / 1) #18 Wed Nov 26, 2008 at 02:34:30 AM EST
It's nearer 1.50 now.

[ Parent ]
IQ scores by chuckles (3.00 / 3) #9 Tue Nov 25, 2008 at 01:01:27 PM EST
I don't know of anyone who thinks that IQ scores are determined solely by genetics, but it is clear there is a large inherited component of intelligence. Once the inheritable components of intelligence are identified, I don't see that causing anyone to give up on learning. I know I don't have the genetic potential to be an Olympic distance runner, but knowledge of this doesn't stop me from exercising.

"The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin [...] would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities"
Prices are already down 15% by Tonatiuh (4.00 / 2) #13 Tue Nov 25, 2008 at 08:36:50 PM EST
Compared to one year ago. But state agents are saying such statistic (provided by mortgage lenders a couple of weeks ago) is too optimistic, they talk about a drop of 25% already.

This was all before the last round of redundancies in the City and other industries.

House building has stopped completely, it may very well be that the only construction going on in London is in the Olympics site (and even that is being scaled down, now the venue that was going to be used here in Greenwich will no longer be built. Bummer!)

In the other hand housing demand is still there. The needs for council housing haven't gone away, the net amount of population due to immigration grew in spite of Polish workers allegedly leaving by the droves.

I am buying now (I need the house now, not when the economic situation is right. The general public and the government should give us, people buying on this economic situation, an OBE,  a little Knighthood or something), the houses have gone down enough for me to afford something I couldn't have afforded one year ago.

Will the houses go  even further down? Most likely, I already know of bankers that driven by fear are getting rid of their London pads, which says something (oh no, it doesn't, that is how they normally operate :-) ).

Most likely you will understand that the market has bottomed once it shows signs to be going up, so buying once the market has gone substantially down is a reasonable bet (lets not kid ourselves, it is a bet), but if you are buying a house in which you are going to stay medium to long term I see no problem with it going down in price initially. Having gone down so much already I don't think they can fall much further.

I saw houses that went to to market for £600000 being now offered for £450000, which means you could realistically get them for £420000 or thereabouts. Just crazy.

In my case this may be the last house I buy in the UK, so I can afford to ignore a bit the current price, since this is not something that will matter to me for 15 or 20 years :-)

So go on, come to Streatham and join the fun, being a neighbour of posh Balham it seems that the gentrification of this area is only a matter of time. I have seen Apple laptops in coffee shops in Streatham High St. , that is a sure sign of were things are heading :-)

A note of caution: I think it is ulikely you will get a mortgage 5 times your salary, and better you have 20-25% of deposit, otherwise banks will not even look at your application :-(





20% deposit is pushing it by Imperial Mince (4.00 / 1) #14 Tue Nov 25, 2008 at 11:50:44 PM EST
And will mean a shittier interest rate. Plus they're cutting back the length of time they'll offer a fixed rate for. Getting an OBE for services to housing would be sweet though.

--
This space reserved for whining like a little bitch and being sanctimonious.
[ Parent ]
We need to talk about Kevin by nebbish (4.00 / 2) #16 Wed Nov 26, 2008 at 12:57:34 AM EST
If it were non-fiction I would be really interested, but as fiction I just think - Why?

--------
It's political correctness gone mad!

Recovery plan by Breaker (4.00 / 1) #19 Wed Nov 26, 2008 at 03:56:23 AM EST
A much better review can be found here.


Flat affect by Scrymarch (2.00 / 0) #22 Wed Nov 26, 2008 at 02:12:40 PM EST
I thought flat affect meant you didn't show much emotion, not that you didn't experience much emotion.

That achievement article rang true. Had heard of learned helplessness before but never really thought of putting the talented but slovenly in the same category.

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

Living in Perfect Harmony | 22 comments (22 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback