The $12 Million Dollar Stuffed Shark by Don Thompson. An economist looks at the economics and trading inside the contemporary art world. Nothing particularly revelatory, but rounds up the relationships between artists, dealers, collectors and auction houses reasonably well.
One surprise was that critics have almost no influence on prices, though an artist being included by a major museum or bought by a famous collector pushes the prices up. Also the art world doesn't like the idea that prices for an artist can go down, so when one falls out of favour either they stop selling completely or the prices are concealed.
This stuff is probably more shocking to an economist than a regular person who's worked in the private sector and doesn't expect magical efficiency over prices.
What I'm Reading 2
Frank by Jon Ronson. Short book about the journalist's time playing keyboard in the Frank Sidebottom Oh Blimey Big Band. (Frank Sidebottom was a cult comic-musician in the Eighties).
It's a very short book, novella length, possibly expanded from this Guardian article and doesn't add much to it. Ronson wisely doesn't try to get inside the papier mâché head, which leaves the book honest but without much to it.
It's strange how many people around them seem to have become famous: Chris Evans was apparently their driver, and Caroline Aherne spun off the minor character Mrs Merton into wider fame.
Overall, not bad, but doesn't add that much to the article.
What I'm Reading 3
Bête by Adam Roberts. Another great, disturbing piece of science fiction by Adam Roberts. Animal Rights activists develop an edible brain implant to give farm and domestic animals the power of speech and reason so they can plead for their lives, things go wrong.
The book is told from the point of view of a a stubborn, angry farmer/poet who is resolutely opposed to rights for the "canny" animals and has a fractured perspective on what's happening. He seems to me as good an antihero as Roberts has ever written, straddling a fine line between being appealing and exasperating.
Terrific reading if you like character driven SF, but wouldn't work for you if you don't like unsympathetic protagonists.
What I'm Watching
Finally got around to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as it made its way to my local library's DVD shelf. I have a soft spot for the much hated Zack Snyder, but in this case the reviews are pretty accurate. The conflict and its resolution just don't make even superficial sense, and having both Superman and Batman be grimdark removes the contrast. I think the bigger problem is that it's lugubrious: there's camp fun to be had in things like 300 but this movie takes itself too seriously.
Despite that it's reasonably watchable with decent pacing, effects and action. At home I have to watch movies in short segments when I have time these days, and I always wanted to get on to the next bit. There are some nerdy details to keep fans happy like familiar characters and nice visual references to The Dark Knight Returns. Also Wonder Woman is a promising breath of fresh air who at least seems to enjoy herself occasionally. Overall though, one for fans, completists or the desperate.
What I'm Watching 2
Cult comedy Bridesmaids ought to be a better film, but I always have trouble with the humour of embarrassment and that's what the movie concentrates on, with the characters being put through humiliation after humiliation. More physical and less psychological comedy than I expected from its reputation: some elements like the young couple seem to get forgotten about. Might be a good movie for some, but I found it a struggle to keep watching.
Socioeconomics. US job market not as great as claimed.
Articles. Capability Brown. Wild Cards to be TV series. Secret Polish "Flying University" that gave Marie Curie her start. My feminism will be capitalist, appropriative and bullshit merchandise. Charles Stross reworks novel as UK political realisy outstripped satire. 6 Tips for Successful & Gentlemanly Online Dating. What does the Latin actually say?
I still remember an eye-opening moment when some elderly professor of Greek, giving a visiting lecture when I was an undergraduate at Cambridge, boldly stated that the only Greek authors he could read fluently were Homer and Herodotus... Making sense of Thucydides or Tacitus is closer to making sense of James Joyce than Charles Dickens.Politics. Gunning for Corbyn, not the Conservatives, is Labour’s tragedy. "All major campaigns for social change have had their own media". Corbyn's Labour opponents should accept that their failures created him. Lawyer's comment on the appeal ruling. Why Labour's slurs are so misleading. How Paul Krugman made Donald Trump possible.
Pics. Tarot decks tumblr.
Local. Does London exist?
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