Finished the Scavenger trilogy by K.J. Parker: Shadow, Pattern and Memory. This is the series she wrote before the superb "Engineer" trilogy I've gone on about before.
This trilogy is still very good by normal fantasy standards, though not quite as good as the Engineer. The plot relies heavily on fate causing a series of coincidences that would otherwise be completely unbelievable. The protagonist Poldarn is believed by some to be a god sent to cause the end of the world: however he's an amnesiac and unaware of who he is.
This means that Poldarn wakes up in a river surrounded by bodies, with no memory of how he got there. He then wanders around, leaving a trail of devastation and death behind him, without any intention of doing so.
There are a few fantasy elements, but they're kept mostly in the background. There aren't any dragons or elves or wizards or suchlike, which seem to me the MSG of fantasy: cheap way to boost the flavour, but gets boring once you're used to it. There's some good world-building, especially the society of the raiders' island and the guild town. Parker's also unsentimental in giving terrible fates to her characters here: not quite at Donaldson levels but she's trying hard to get there.
Plot-wise they're very compelling despite the repetition and coincidence: read them all in a few huge sittings.
Overall, very good immersive reading if you can suspend disbelief for the plot coincidences. Not best read by the easily depressed though.
Saw the Cranach exhibition at the Royal Academy. Have a feeling I've seen this before: I think I might have wandered through it in Madrid. I was heavily museum-swamped at that stage though and can't be 100% sure.
Some interesting stuff there. Seems to be kind of a bridge between medieval and Renaissance art: there are some pretty realistic oils but also some ornately gothic, cheerfully gruesome crucifixions and martydoms. He seems to have had a case of only-one-model syndrome though. (It's one of the tragedies of Renaissance: it could have been even better if they'd had more naked women to look at.)
About six small rooms. Moderately crowded. Mostly elderly art-farts not tourists. Worth a look, but not spectacular.
Not sure about everyone else, but for me the Everything link in the top right of HuSi has started working. If so, you can see diaries, holiaries and whinies without being cluttered up with amazon links as in scoop/section. Thanks!
On the other hand, couldn't get two of the YouTube links below to show up directly.
Food Fight: [5 min]
Birthday in the Metropolis (3 min)
Barack O'Bollywood (2 min)
Economics. Great depression and the UK:
As an aside, many people think the Great Depression was the source of the observation that, if America sneezes, Britain catches a cold. That was not the case. America’s gross domestic product (GDP) fell by about a third from 1929 to 1932, while Britain’s dropped by only 5%, followed by the long upswing to 1938.Is Ireland's luck running out?
The problem for Ireland is that, as part of the euro zone, it has no control over either interest rates or exchange rates. That leaves the country no room to maneuver its way out of recession via monetary policy.Somewhat technical: Mankiw on Deflation and the great depression
Articles. The Abu Ghraib photographer: "They couldn’t say that we broke the rules because there were no rules". (MeFi). Million Dollar Murray and the hockey stick homeless. Leave Paris Alone.
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