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By TheophileEscargot (Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 09:30:01 PM EST) Reading, Museums, Web (all tags)
Reading: "Darwinia". Museums. Web.

What I'm Reading
Finished Darwinia. Parallel universe novel with an interesting premise: in 1912 the continent of Europe disappears, replaced by a wild continent full of alien life-forms.

Has some pretty good pastiche of the period, with lots of Edgar Rice Burroughs and H.P. Lovecraft references. Fair amount of action, nice easy reading, a few interesting ideas.

Thought it was a bit lacking in terms of an overall plot though: more like several novellas loosely stitched together. It's not really clear what the individual actions are attempting to achieve, and the climax seems a bit perfunctory.

Also I had some problems with the gimmick behind it, which left the rules a bit unclear. It's never spelled out what impossible things are possible. And I found it harder to care what happened knowing that they were all in a simulation, and the real history of the Earth was unchanged.

Overall, pretty decent retro entertainment.

Dropped in at Tate Modern and had a look at the Cy Twombly exhibition. Last of the abstract impressionists. Thought it was absolute bollocks: semi-random daubs with no interesting form, no particular aesthetic impact.

However, he has a high reputation, so my opinion is probably wrong.

Also went back to the Street and Studio photography exhibition that I zoomed through. That seemed a lot better with more time to spare: has some interesting modern portaits as well as more modern stuff. One Dave Gorman-ish gimmick I thought was interesting was a guy who went round the world getting cheesy studio photos from various countries, so you could compare their styles.

From the vaults
With Gordon Brown in office for over a year, dug through the vaults a bit.

7 May 2005:

Still not convinced Brown has the charisma or political ability to be effective though: he doesn't speak or interview well, and would rapidly accumulate damage if in the Prime Ministerial firing line.
17 Jan 2005:
Can't see Brown getting more than one term though

He has very little charisma. His years in the Downing Street bubble have eroded what little of the common touch he had. Which was never very much: remember "neo-endogenous growth theory?" Notice that Brown tends to shy away from tough interviews even more than Blair: he's intelligent but not fast on his feet.

It's always the PM who takes most of the flak: faced with defensive press conference after defensive press conference Brown will look a little worse each time, unlike Teflon Tony.

My hunch: if Brown takes over late in the next term he'll get re-elected once. If he takes over early he'll be defeated in the subsequent election.

I still find it pretty baffling as to who exactly thought having Gordon Brown as leader was a good idea.

Fighting Fantasy covers with alternate titles.

Peter Tatchell: stop talking about the "gay gene". (Reminder for non-UKians, he's the guy who tried to arrest Mugabe).

Lego's vault of All Sets

Socioeconomics from Stumbling and Mumbling: Equality of opportunity without greater equality of resources is just impossible.

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Turn, turn, turn | 21 comments (21 topical, 0 hidden)
Should Labour get rid of Gordon? by jump the ladder (4.00 / 1) #1 Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 11:04:03 PM EST
There doesn't seem to be anyone else in the current cabinet that seems at all inspiring and would beat Cameron at the next election. David Milliband which is the name most bandied about looks even more wooden than Brown on TV.

The old 'I wouldn't start from here' thing by R Mutt (2.00 / 0) #2 Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 11:15:19 PM EST
Have foisted one non-elected hack on us as prime minister, they can't easily just try again with another.

Also, the media reaction will be "cool, we toppled one PM with our hostility, now let's do it again".

So I think they're pretty much stuck with Brown for the duration. He'll make a decent scapegoat for the economy anyway.

[ Parent ]
scapegoat brown by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #4 Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 11:43:37 PM EST
That's pretty much why I think he is in. Labour are unlikely to be re-electable for reasons that are and are not all their own fault so sacrificing Brown to that is probably acceptable. That and to give hope to time-servers in the party that they too could lead if they only be patient and follow.

[ Parent ]
He might have made things difficult by ambrosen (4.00 / 1) #5 Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 12:50:16 AM EST
Had he not been made leader. At this stage though, it's all a bit of a mess.

[ Parent ]
Yeah by jump the ladder (4.00 / 1) #7 Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 01:45:33 AM EST
And I can't see him going quietly into the night if they do a coup against him. It's a mess but one they thoroughly deserve by not having a proper election where Brown's defiencies couldf have been exposed earlier.

[ Parent ]
Tatchell by gazbo (4.00 / 2) #3 Tue Jun 24, 2008 at 11:39:23 PM EST
Not sure he's top of my list of authoritative source regarding genetics and human biology.  To be fair, most of what he's written is fairly reasonable, and to a very large extent I agree with him, but I think he's a) out of his depth ("I don't understand how genetics could do this, therefore genetics can't do this") and b) arguing against a straw man ("scientists are looking for the single discrete gene that is 100% decides whether you are 100% gay or 100% straight").

But he does seem to have become a little less insane if that article is anything to go by.

On the subject of gaymosexualists, I read something in Metro that made me roll my eyes and confirm my hatred of all activist groups (not just homosexuality-based ones):  Heinz show an advert involving two guys kissing, resulting in a large volume of complaints ("I had to explain to my children why two men..." etc.) so they withdrew the ad.  So the obvious response?

Boycott Heinz!

I recommend always assuming 7th normal form where items in a text column are not allowed to rhyme.

Join People Against Activist Groups by Herring (4.00 / 1) #6 Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 01:34:24 AM EST
However, as someone observed, progress depends upon the unreasonable man.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
Brown thought it was a good idea. by Tonatiuh (4.00 / 2) #8 Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 02:05:57 AM EST
And he is obviously a very good political operator: he kept Blair in fear for 10 years, kept his job for same time, and manoeuvred every other political figure out of the scene or took them under his wings as supporters.

Shame for him that he lacks presentation skills,  in these days of idiotic media, image is everything over substance.

The Deal by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #9 Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 02:17:20 AM EST
When Blair and Brown were thrashing it out in opposition Brown probably looked pretty good compared to some of the other potential leaders around them. Then despite how much things had changed, Blair was pretty much obliged to pave the way for Brown's leadership when his was coming to an end, and in the interest of unity no-one in the Party stood in the way.

That's the last time anything like that will happen.

It's political correctness gone mad!

Twombly by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #10 Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 02:22:19 AM EST
I'm not a massive fan either.

An artist friend reckons you need to paint yourself to understand a lot of abstract impressionism, it's very meta, all about paint textures and properties etc.

It's political correctness gone mad!

Probably true by spacejack (4.00 / 2) #20 Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 08:04:12 AM EST
Some painter stared at their palette for a while and thought hey, this could be a painting too...

[ Parent ]
GTLSB by Breaker (4.00 / 1) #11 Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 02:32:13 AM EST
I bet Tone's laughing his tits off right now.  The problem is that Tony didn't want anyone else with talent or charisma in his cabinet.

Now that GTLSB has inherited the mantle of Glorious Leader, there's a dearth of talent in the cabinet to threaten him, and no motivation within the party to foist another unelected anointed one on the populace.  From some of the left wing blogs I've read, many hardcore lefties want Brown gone, a 4 year electoral wilderness, and a return to Old Labour.

Of course, one could argue that New Labour has indeed lived up to "classic" Labour values, namely high tax, high proportion of voters employed by the state, and completely fucking up the economy.

classic labour values by Merekat (4.00 / 2) #12 Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 02:37:07 AM EST
Not quite. They've had classic labour impact without having to actually bother with the values. Streamlining I think. Next, they should even outsource that bit too. I think the conservatives are stepping up for that contract.

[ Parent ]
They will. by Breaker (4.00 / 1) #13 Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 02:43:56 AM EST
CallmeDave's sharpening up in the PMQ's; I don't know if he can take it as well as dish it out though.

[ Parent ]
Interesting by Herring (4.00 / 1) #14 Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 05:45:34 AM EST
that Labour got in in 97 promising to continue Tory taxation and spending levels, and, IIRC, Cameron is promising similar.

They have mis-spent a fuckload of money on some damned stupid things, but when it comes down to it the UK cannot have European levels of public service and American levels of tax.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
I still cannot fathom by Breaker (4.00 / 1) #15 Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 05:47:39 AM EST
Why GTLSB borrowed so much money when the economy was booming.

[ Parent ]
Was he borrowing that much? by Herring (4.00 / 1) #16 Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 06:24:27 AM EST
I genuinely don't know.

Also, was the economy really booming? I am not convinced. When you take things like buy-to-let activity out of the GDP was there much real growth?

We do know that spending on the NHS has increased hugely since 1997, but that's from about 8% of GDP to about 12% (I am pulling these numbers out of my bottom) so it doesn't account for everything.

I geniunely think that if you took the current Tory party, transported them back to 1997 and put them in power, we wouldn't be in a very different economic situation than we are now.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
Yup. by Breaker (4.00 / 1) #17 Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 06:36:32 AM EST
And Gordo fiddled his own indicators so he could borrow more.  BOM has an entertaining video report.

[ Parent ]
No video at work by Herring (4.00 / 2) #18 Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 06:50:02 AM EST
Excessive, mysterious borrowing ... untraceable spending ... I think I've had this conversation recently.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
"Gay gene" by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #19 Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 06:55:17 AM EST
The trouble I have with the talking about a "gay gene" in a political context is that it completely misses the real issue. I don't care if homosexuality is changed by nature or nurture; either way, men should be free to do anything they want with their dicks as long as it only involves consenting adults. Why a man might want some other man to touch is wiener is completely irrelevant to the question of whether he has the right to do so.

(It doesn't help that most people who blather on about such things from either side have little understanding of biology. People who talk about "genetic predestination" don't understand genetics.)
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

Equality of opportunity thing by Herring (2.00 / 0) #21 Wed Jun 25, 2008 at 10:31:50 AM EST
Just got around to reading this (blocked at work). It makes a reasonable point.

When you hear people baying for grammar schools, they are very quiet about the fact that they are also baying for Secondary Moderns. Better schools for the brighter/more privileged kids means worse school for the less able/less privileged.

Note on the Lego: does the set of all Lego sets contain itself?

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

Turn, turn, turn | 21 comments (21 topical, 0 hidden)