Saw the Ice Age Art exhibition at the British Museum. Excellent exhibition gathering up many artefacts from the ice age: mostly statuettes though with a handful of tools as well, the odd hand-axe and spear-thrower.
Ice age people were essentially modern humans, and the artwork is pretty sophisticated, though not realistic. There's one work which might be a portrait, but most of the works are stylized depictions: women of various ages, an impressive lion-headed man, and various animals.
Apparently it's incredibly hard to gather all these works together from so many different sources into one collection. So, not the sort of thing that's often repeated.
Definitely worth a look.
What I'm Watching
Saw The Imposter on disk. Documentary about a 23-year-old Frenchman Frédéric Bourdin who posed as Texas teenager who had been missing for years, and who lived with the family for months before being exposed.
Fascinating story, and a well made movie. There's no narration, just the interviewees talking apparently to camera to tell the story. They had good access to the subjects, and made good use of reconstructions and old video footage.
Girl B thought it was a bit exploitative, giving too much publicity to the imposter, who seems to be if not a psychopath, something like it. I think it could have done with checking his assertions more, given that he seems to be a malicious pathological liar who also caused emotional havoc from prison by ringing up yet more parents and telling them their missing children had been found. In particular it would be interesting to know whether he actually had an abusive childhood as he claims. His claim that the family murdered their own child seems dubious: why bother to take him in and attract more attention. Also not convinced that the main imposture was an ad hoc attempt to get out of trouble as he claims.
Overall though, definitely a compelling movie.
What I'm Watching 2
I liked the third and final Black Mirror best, though it felt a bit awkwardly autobiographical at times. A minor comedian who animates a bear character for a TV show very much like "10 o'Clock Live" drifts into entering a by-election as the character, where his anti-politics attitude becomes popular. Liked the way it went against the grain suggesting that actually real politics isn't so bad in comparison with anti-political rage hijacked by the powerful.
Interesting this one seems to have got the least favourable response from the blogosphere, who don't seem to much like the notion that digitally-empowered rage isn't actually that useful.
What I'm Reading
The latest Adam Roberts novel is Jack Glass, a self-conscious combination of traditional old-school murder mystery with science fiction. The background is a bit reminiscent of his book "By Light Alone", set in a Malthusian overpopulated solar system of impoverished masses and a tiny elite of the rich.
There are three linked mysteries, which are a bit of a mixed bag. The combination of SF and mystery is a bit tricky because of the extra possibilities of SF, though it's been done reasonably well, with Larry Niven's "Gil the Arm" for instance. It helps that Adam Roberts has taken some science advice with this book, from Stephen Baxter no less, so there aren't the wincingly bad inaccuracies of some of his other novels. (He used to think that orbits work like a rigid disk, not realising that inward objects move much faster).
The prison mystery I though was great: I had no idea beforehand, but once it was revealed, it all clicked into place nicely. The murder was a bit dull and predictable, the method being obvious early on. The locked room solution felt a bit arbitrary. the general method and the killer were obvious, but I thought it would be a tachyon bullet fired from the future. On the other hand, while I'm usually terrible at guessing whodunnit, maybe my SF reading gives me an advantage here. Overall seemed like a decent effort at setting up mystery.
The non-mystery plot is rather better, with some political developments that are more interesting than the mystery. The characters are also pretty good. At the start it seems like Roberts is back to his old habit of unremittingly loathsome characters, unlike the more sympathetic ones of his recent novels, but here they actually develop in interesting ways.
Overall, a good book, well worth reading if you like Adam Roberts or the mystery/SF combination,
Bonuses, once a way of stabilizing businesses, have now become a force for destabilizing them. "Middle managers...rather than creative innovators best explain variation in firm performance." An experiment in guaranteed income. Cameron questions: If the British government’s plan is working, what would a failing one look like? Why would £109bn or £119bn cause a market panic while £99bn is OK? Why would £89bn or £79bn stifle the recovery while £99bn is OK? Why not build a bridge to the moon?
Politics. What Conservatives can learn from comic books. Out of the sectarian trenches? John Boehner, political genius? Anti-abortion lobby's sham parliamentary inquiry. Secret courts law passes. Universal benefits system could be struggling? "Nudge unit" successful?
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