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Diary
By TheophileEscargot (Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 11:14:27 AM EST) Reading, Watching, Me (all tags)
Reading: "Lint". Me. Web.


What I'm Reading
Finished Lint by Steve Aylett. Spoof biography of a fictitious surreal SF writer Jeff Lint, kind of a cross between Philip K. Dick and Michael Moorcock.

Captures the leaden-footed attempted zaniness of postmodern criticism very accurately.Also has a great section of colour illustrations showing Lint's covers across the decades, as well as comics and animation shots: very good retro pastiche there. The titles and quotes are well-done too.

Overall though, while it's funny at times, the joke wears a bit thin after a while. Maybe it could have done with more detailed satire of the various periods. Or maybe it's so specialized I'm just not getting the jokes.

Does have a bit of variety: there's some satire of the Beats as Lint hangs out with Burroughs, a comic book, a kids cartoon show "Catty and the Major", a never-filmed Star Trek episode, and a Trout Mask Replica-like concept album.

Overall, an interesting novelty : well worth flicking through, though not necessarily something to rush out and buy.

There's quite a lot of related content on the web. "Catty and the Major" YouTube, YouTube, videos. Wikipedia. Author's page, sample chapters, The Caterer comic. Review, review.

Me
Finally booked my winter holiday. Flying out to Athens, then to Istanbul, then home to see the parents for Xmas.

Have misgivings about it.. Should probably have just done one destination, but feels like a waste having booked the time, even though I feel more in the mood to just hang around at home and read.

Web
Not quite sure what's going on with these Onion News Briefs 1, 2, 3 but I do find them strangely amusing.

Unlocking an iPhone in Vietnam.

Last Psychiatrist asks: Are psychopaths charming?

The Health Halo

Just as Dr. Chandon had predicted, the trans-fat-free label on the crackers seemed to imbue them with a health halo that magically subtracted calories from the rest of the meal.

Experiments showed that putting a "low fat" label on food caused everyone, especially overweight people, to underestimate its calories, to eat bigger helpings and to indulge in other foods.

Sociology. Sampson & Laub's Age-Graded Life-Course Theory of Crime. Long PDF: Should crime be defined in terms of harm (via Bent Society).
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psychopaths by sasquatchan (4.00 / 1) #1 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 11:55:11 AM EST
are nuts. I was wondering if he would step out on the sexism jib-jab about how women like to talk, are more verbal than men, etc and that's how psychos pull 'em in.. He seems A L M O S T there in one paragraph, but doesn't leap into it, can't cross the finish line..

Lint sounds good by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #2 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 12:22:07 PM EST
Have you read Norman Spinrad's totally bonkers "The Iron Dream"? I wonder how much of an influence it might have been, though the subject matter is very different.

(Wikipedia link too)

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It's political correctness gone mad!

The Iron Dream is incredible by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #3 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 12:36:30 PM EST
I wrote a K5 article on it once.

"Lint" is pretty good, but gets a bit repetitive and the character of Lint is a bit too absurd to be believable.
--
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 ]
Oh yeah by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #4 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 12:46:20 PM EST
I remember now :)

I'm going to read Lint anyway I think, sounds interesting at least.

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It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
Athens and Istanbul? by clover kicker (4.00 / 2) #5 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 01:23:25 PM EST
I have no comment other then to say I'm jealous.

low fat by garlic (4.00 / 1) #6 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 01:33:33 PM EST
is code for high sugar. Because they're embarrassed, they'll show a serving as less calories. But look closely, and a serving is also less food as well. Especially for something like crackers, where they say "about 1.5 crackers" is a serving.


people looking to lose weight is desperate by bobdole (4.00 / 1) #7 Tue Dec 02, 2008 at 11:51:09 PM EST
and seems to cling to any straw.

My breakfast today was pretty much devoid of any fat what so ever, was it health?
God no! Good yes, healthy no.

-- The revolution will not be televised.
[ Parent ]
Istanbul is great. by Tonatiuh (4.00 / 2) #8 Wed Dec 03, 2008 at 12:54:41 AM EST
I am sure you will not regret it, it is one of the great towns of the world.


Can criminologists be unworldly? by Alan Crowe (4.00 / 1) #9 Thu Dec 04, 2008 at 01:28:55 AM EST
I'm finding Criminal Obsessions unreadable. On page 12

Successive governments over the last 20 years have made crime control a top priority.

If the author had written "For the past 20 years government has been bigging up crime, talking large, and using the fear to make ordinary folk their bitches." then I would be able to recognise the Britain he was talking about.

I don't understand how the language of priority applies to a heterogeneous budget. How can you assign a truth value to a claim about some-ones priorities? A single individual engages in mutually exclusive activities, so one can look at the one they do first. A civil service has multiple civil servants allocated to every function, so you cannot order by time. You could look at overall budget; if the government spends more money on the Army than the Navy you could say that the Army is its top priority, or you could say that Armies are more costly than Navies. The allocation of budget in a homogeneous environment reveals priorities, who got most, but in a heterogeneous environment allocations will naturally vary.

How is one to understand the phrase "a top priority"? Presumably it contrasts with "the top priority" which was education. So "a top priority"  is a way of saying that successive governments over the last 20 years have not made crime their top priority. WTF?

Next sentence


In the UK the amount committed to law and order has increased faster than any other area of public expenditure...

Citation needed. How can I check this? Over the last 20 years isn't a date, what years do their figures apply to? How does the "amount committed to" differ from the "money spent on".

...and, as a result, more and more peoples' livelihoods are dependent on crime and its control.

No. There are people who support themselves financially by acquisitive crime and people who earn their living by working for government crime-control agencies. If we are talking about the result of government commitment of money, we are only talking about more people depending on crime control, not more people depending on crime. The government is not spending money drafting people into the criminal classes.

All this has to be read against a background of well intentioned government action being conceived at a low intellectual level. Unintended consequences are often severe. Too high a minimum wage leads to social exclusion, and some argue that this creates an underclass who turn to crime. In this sense government action really is  resulting in more persons' livelihoods being dependent on crime. But this is not the result of the governments commitment to law and order, it is the result of the government commitment to fairness.

When the authors conflate livelihoods dependent on crime and its control was that what they had in mind? I suspect they are trying to talk about rising crime leading (through a chain of cause and effect that goes through political choices) to rising expenditure on policing, that is a rise in employment on both sides of the law, and that they are accidentally fudging the question of whether government needs a real rise in crime in order to shovel money to its chums in the biometric ID card business.

So far the text seems unworldly and confused. I'm giving up.

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