Die Trying by Lee Child. Second Jack Reacher novel, in which the superhumanly strong, fast, and intelligent investigator/killer is accidentally kidnapped alongside a superhumanly fast, intelligent, rich and hot female FBI agent, since he happens to be standing outside while she's picking up her dry-cleaning. Things don't go too well for the kidnappers.
A bit silly but entertaining.
What I'm Reading
Finished Adventures of an Accidental Sociologist: How to Explain the World without Becoming a Bore by Peter L. Berger. Autobiography of an apparently famous sociologist covering his professional career.
The first half of the book is most interesting, describing how he more or less accidentally fell into sociology. He wrote the famous and influential book The Social Construction of Reality as well as a couple of textbooks, which led him to be very successful.
The second half is less interesting. He gradually became more and more divorced from the mainstream of sociology in several ways. Berger favoured qualitative studies, rather than the quantitative methods that became more popular in the field. He also seems to have become gradually more right wing while his colleagues became more left wing. He believes the ideas of "The Social Construction of Reality" were taken much further than he wanted: he always saw the book as about groups' perceptions of reality, but believes others have taken a more postmodern approach, and stopped believing in reality itself.
It's hard to judge the accuracy of his later perceptions. He doesn't claim to have been very personally affected by any politically correct censorship, successfully attracting funding from mainstream foundations as well as the deliberately right-wing institutions.
It's also a bit of an odd combination that he insists that he's a strong believer in objective reality, but doesn't believe in quantitative methods, which seem to be more objective. He's also hostile to economists, who he sees as too dogmatic, though his later work is in similar territory to development economics.
Overall, a somewhat interesting account of a successful academic career, but not unmissable.
What I'm Watching
Saw Nostalgia For the Light on disc. Curious multistranded documentary following different groups in the the Atacama desert: astronomers studying the stars (the arid air is good for observations); archaeologists studying pre-Columbian mummies and art; and women searching for the bodies of their loves ones "disappeared" by the Pinochet regime.
Sometimes the connections seem a little bit forced, but there are some haunting images and the women's story is very moving. Worth a look.
Saw the Seduced by Art: Photography Past and Present exhibition at National Gallery. Collection of photographs alongside classical paintings that inspired them.
Fairly good. The paintings and the photos are all fairly minor works, but it is interesting to see how they've influenced each other. Many early photographs used classical-looking nudes to carefully navigate the border between art and porn, so there are some appealingly erotic images here.
£12 seems very steep for what you see here though.
Also popped in to the Taylor Wessig Photographic Portrait Prize at National Portrait Gallery. Tiny exhibition but only £2 to get in: some good portraits here but not much in particular stood out.
Politics. Is the UK undergoing multiple institutional crises? Ashcroft and bookies on odds for next election, UK Polling Report. Overseas student numbers fall, students deterred by government? Turkey's Sledgehammer case. Torture claim redactions 'show dangers of secret courts' Skivers v strivers: the argument that pollutes people's minds. SWP crisis over sexual assault allegations.
Random. Bookselling: the Fortsas Catalogue. Alastair Reynolds posts Interzone rejection slips. How to Tie a Shemagh/Keffiyeh. Tea in The Hobbit. Contactless debit cards can be used on London buses now.
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