Flood by hard-SF master Stephen Baxter. Not what I expected. I thought it would be a comprehensively-researched climate change book, but the flood here is deeper and faster than the models suggest. Was a bit skeptical, but he cites research at the end suggesting that rocky planets can have huge amounts of water embedded in the crust, though I'd have expected more earthquakes and continental collapses if it was released.
Takes place over a few decades starting in 2016. Found the beginning gripping as London is overwhelmed with gritty plausibility. Also stayed up late to race to the end. Baxter's really thought things through and there are some impressive set-pieces as well as a sense of grim inevitability. Liked the raft-dwellers mining the plastic Pacific gyre, the Great Red Spot-like perpetual storm, and the sea-life living off the bodies in drowned cities.
However, the middle part of the book sags a little bit. We've seen the world end more spectacularly and the swarms of refugees are pretty familiar. Also the plot relies on some unlikely coincidences and motivations,
Overall, superb in parts, but could have done with some tightening-up. Worth keeping an eye out for. There's apparently a sequel Ark, but I'll hold off for a while.
What I'm Watching
Saw Scarface for the first time on DVD, have somehow avoided it till now.
Found it a lot more Eighties than I was expecting. Knew it was pretty Eighties, but the over-the-top drama and synth soundtrack seem a bit overwhelming. Fairly decent if you don't mind the drama.
Had another walk down the canal, took some pics.
Have had the Ixus 80 since early December last year. Still seem to be taking photographs, mostly casually when out and about, so tempted to look for a new camera. The Ixus is fine for its size, but could do with more than the 3x zoom: keep seeing good things in the distance but find them pixilated when I get home. Also find things a bit blurry in low light: a bigger aperture might help. Still need something pocket-sized though, I'm rarely motivated enough to lug an SLR about.
Any thoughts? Is it worth doing this, or is there not much improvement till you get to a proper SLR?
Saw the Lenny Henry Othello at Trafalgar Studios. Been curious about it for a while. For Americans: Lenny Henry is a comedian who was big in the Eighties, so at first the concept sounds a bit like Eddie Murphy playing Othello.
It was originally a production in the Yorkshire Playhouse by Northern Broadsides, who take pride in using their real accents. Having lived in the North, suspect I wouldn't have noticed so much if I'd seen it up there, but watching it in this context it did seem a bit disconcerting that Venice seems to be somewhere near Leeds.
Conrad Nelson does a great job as Iago: seemingly bluff and honest with Othello, cynical and not too heavy on the hatred in the soliloquies. The rest of the cast do pretty well too. Jessica Harris is winsomely tragic as Desdemona, Maeve Larkin makes the most of a slim role as Iago's wife Emilia.
Lenny Henry does well too. Was a bit skeptical as to whether he'd be able to handle the verse, but he's actually very lucid and fluent. He's a little awkward at some of the physical stuff: there were a few snickers of laughter when he hurls a knife into a drawing board; but his charisma and presence carry the performance. He plays the role with great conviction, is obviously taking it seriously.
Overall, maybe not the greatest Othello you'll ever see, but definitely watchable.
Articles. The passive smoking heart attack myth.
Economics. Excel spreadsheet lets you Conduct Your Own Spending Review (via). Brown's Cunning Deficit Plan. G5, G103, G60? How I became a Keynesian. Mansion tax. Even Thatcher didn't cut like this. Kaletsky on spending plan:
According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the "eye-watering" squeeze needed to bring Britain’s public finances back into reasonable balance translates into a reduction of 8.6 per cent in departmental budgets spread over three years. If the directors of any private company sent their line managers an instruction to reduce costs by that amount over three years, with no loss of customer service or output, this would not be considered an insuperable challenge, still less a managerial nightmare.
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