Comic book Transmetropolitan: Lust for Life. I'd been avoiding Warren Ellis on the grounds that he has a decent blog, and writers with good blogs tend to do bad books, and vice versa. However he seems to be an exception: the book was pretty good.
Covers various stories from a cyberpunk future city, from the point of view of gonzo journalist Spider Jerusalem. Quite wittily told with some interesting ideas. Wonder if the author might be identifying a bit too much with the protagonist though.
What I'm Reading 2
The Ghost by Robert Harris. Light but compelling thriller with satirical touches. After the sudden death of his predecessor, a hack ghost-writer is hired to finish the autobiography of former Prime Minister Adam Lang, who is almost exactly like Tony Blair.
The plot rocks along, and the protagonist is amusing and sympathetic. Good satisfying ending.
The satire doesn't amount to much, though at least there's no Alastair Campbell-alike for once. Maybe I'm reading it a little too late: in the Brown era it's harder to believe that Blair was uniquely bad. Also the normally impeccably thorough Harris seems a little weak on the details: there are some convenient coincidences and some dubious tradecraft.
Overall though, definitely a good read.
Went to the National Gallery a couple of weeks back but don't think I mentioned it.
Saw The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting and Sculpture 1600 - 1700 It's mostly about the painted wooden religious sculptures, which are displayed alongside equivalent paintings.
Found it fascinating: painted sculpture was the major art-form of antiquity, but is hardly seen now that bare marble is preferred. The sculptures have a lot of impact, especially the hideously tortured Jesuses. Worth seeing.
They're also making a foray into modern art with Kienholz: the Hoerengracht, a replication of part of the Amsterdam red light district, populated with mannequins with frames around their faces.
Seems quite realistic, even down to litter and leaves, but also a bit pointless. We know what it looks like, so it pretty much falls in the all-concept-no-impact category for me.
What I'm Watching
Rented the DVD of the 1960 Inherit the Wind to compare it to the Old Vic production I saw recently.
The movie's more sympathetic to the anti-evolutionists, less black-and-white than Spacey's production. Some of the townsfolk side with the schoolteacher: his students and a farmer. Brady and Drummond have more dialogue together, reminiscing about the old days, and Drummond talks to Brady's wife.
Also looked up the real Scopes Monkey Trial. Thought that the play would be completely different: it was apparently written as an allegory for McCarthyism, criticizing it by associating it with a ludicrous dead controversy. However, large chunks of it were the same, including the bizarre incident when denied testimony from his experts, the defence lawyer Drummond/Darrow cross-examined the prosecution lawyer Bryan/Brady on his knowledge of the bible. Also the townsfolk weren't quite as dumb as they were portrayed. The trial was largely a set-up to garner media attention.
Good grief. I'm now on my fifth coffee machine since 2006. My previous Russell Hobbs Stainless Steel Thermal Coffee Maker just stopped working Saturday morning after two years: a shame as I liked it, it worked well, and Argos don't stock it anymore. I got the 3-year warranty though, which paid for the new Russell Hobbs Filter Coffee Maker. Nice and compact, though I miss the thermal jug. Still fiddly to fill, and the cone's a bit small.
Previous attempts included the Morphy Richards Graphite Complements Filter Coffee Maker, the Cookworks Signature Aluminium Coffee Maker, and an ultra-cheap no-name jobby, though none was a good as my trusty old second-hand 8-year-lasting Braun.
Is it just me who has these problems? Why are coffee machines so fragile?
Housing market thoughts
Was thinking, or possibly assuming, I'd buy a flat at some point. Got asked at work about at wasn't sure, so I want to think it through.
The problem is it's impossible to know what's really going to happen, in spite of all the confident predictions. There are some possibilities.
- 1990s UK. Quantitative easing money and accelerating recovery lead to a surge in inflation. Interest rates are raised to double-digits to cure it. House prices fall as the apparent cost of borrowing rises.
- 1990s Japan. For 15 years or so, the economy stagnates. Interest rates remain low, growth is also low, house prices fall throughout
- No housing bubble. The recent house price rise was mostly driven by demand, so the modest recent fall was all that's going to happen, and prices are going to keep rising for years.
Since there's no way to know which option is right, or if any of them is, I think I may have to wait a couple of years to see what happens.
The thing is, each of those options seems unlikely. 1 seems unlikely given that we now have an inflation-targeting independent central bank alert to the possibility of stagflation. 2 seems unlikely given that we still have a growing population due to immigration, though that could change. And given that the post-1989 decline was both longer and greater than the post-2007 one, 3 seems unlikely too.
Only zoomed through this year's exhibition so didn't write it up. Richard Wright won. Didn't have any strong opinions about it: it's an abstract wallpaper-like pattern painted in gold on the gallery wall. It looks quite pretty. If you went around to your hippyish friend's house and they'd painted that on the wall, you'd definitely say "oh, that's nice".
So, it's not the totally-conceptual no-aesthetic-impact stuff that I hate. But it's not something I'd get excited about.
Economics. Pirates cause inflation in Somalia.
Random. Gambler sues casino after losing $127 million. Moebius bagel cutting. Bloggers Anonymous Prosecutor, Deal with Disability answer questions. 1960s Executive colouring book. Eight Tips to Know If You're Being Boring.
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