Landmarks by Robert Macfarlane. Unusual book focused on a glossary of unusual nature words that are falling out of use. Each chapter describes a particular nature writer and has a glossary of words related to their landscapes.
I found the glossaries a bit dull, but Macfarlane is a skillful writer and his passion for the outdoors really comes through. I'll be keeping an eye out for the books mentioned such as "The Peregrine" by J.A. Baker and "The Living Mountain" by Nan Shepherd.
What I'm Reading
Democracy: A Life by Paul Cartledge. Decent book with a rather misleading cover and blurb: the back cover claims it's "The 2,500 year story of democracy, from ancient Greece to the twenty-first century". It sort of is, but most of the book covers ancient Greece and only the last 40 pages are after Rome.
What he really does is go beyond the cliches of "Periclean Athens" and look at the whole history of ancient Greek democracy. He shows that it lasted a long time after the age of Pericles until the polieis were swallowed up by Macedon and then Rome. He also shows that it was in the later period that democracy spread widely beyond Athens, with a large fraction of Greek cities adopting it.
It's a good book as far it goes: lucid and knowledgeable. Even I found it got a little bit dull at times though, and I'm pretty much the target reader for this.
Well worth reading if you're interested in the wider history of Greek democracy.
What I'm Watching
Saw Avengers: Infinity War. Had pretty low expectations, as trying to cram too many characters in makes the plot unwieldy, and I didn't much like similar things like "Age of Ultron". Until the end it was doing better than I expected. Was decently paced with some time to recover between action scenes, and managed to avoid too many tone clashes by grouping the more comic characters and the more angsty characters together in their own subplots.
However, I didn't like the ending much. From reading comments other people managed to suspend their disbelief a bit better, but it didn't really work for me. Overall, OK entertainment as expected.
Ending discussion.So in the final battle, the baddie Thanos uses the Time infinity stone to reverse time and undo a minor Avengers victory. So naturally I expected that Thanos would apparently win, and then the goodies would reverse time themselves and undo it. Instead the credits start rolling after Thanos wins and kills a bunch of major characters. So now we presumably have to wait a year and watch another 2-3 hours before they pull the same stunt. I think there must be a sweet spot between jaded cynics who can't suspend disbelief that they'll really kill off the titular heroes of upcoming movies, and the younger kids who've apparently left the cinema sobbing hysterically at their deaths, but I'm not in it.
Some of these new private rental bikes have been appearing near where I live and where I work. Have taken two rides and been pretty impressed. The bikes are heavy but seem solid, have good brakes and three gears. Commuting to work cost 50p which is a third of the price of the bus ride: must be some kind of introductory deal as they surely can't make money at that level. Nice to get some fresh air and exercise on the way, hopefully they'll stick around. Everyone's already bitching about the bikes apparently being left blocking pavements etc (though I haven't seen that myself), hopefully people will be sensible and the bikes will stick around.
Still get some injury pain from running, but it seems to be fading. With the cycling and swimming I've been able to get a bit of alternative aerobic exercise. Found cycling even slow and short distance pretty hard on my legs: it must be working muscles differently somehow. Don't think running practice helps cycling as much as I'd hoped.
Socioeconomics. Gelman's Law: Economists will defend anyone apparently acting like a jerk, but argue anyone apparently acting nice is not really. Comic: Welcome to Liberty Island. The beginning of the end of tax havens
Sci/Tech. PC building simulator.
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