Print Story Who's got time to watch an explosion?
By TheophileEscargot (Thu Oct 25, 2018 at 04:18:18 PM EST) Reading, MLP, Watching, Me (all tags)
Reading: "Believe Me", "Mail Men", "Skin in the Game". Watching: "The Equalizer". Me. Links.

What I'm Reading
Listened to the audiobook of Believe Me by actor/comedian Eddie Izzard. Normally I don't distinguish written books from audiobooks, but in this case he reads it himself and ad-libs lengthy "footnotes" which aren't in the written version, even chatting to the recording crew and doing the odd Spitfire engine impression. I've never seen this before, seems like the written book readers are missing out.

The content is quite interesting, deals with the death of his mother at a young age, his struggles with being trans, and his tortuous journey to success. Apparently he always wanted to be an actor first, but ended up a street performer, then standup comedian before getting there.

The overall message of "believe in yourself" is a bit bland, but the presentation makes it worthwhile.

What I'm Reading 2
Mail Men by Adrian Addison is a history of the Daily Mail newspaper from its origin in the 19th century to nearly the present day, though it ends with Paul Dacre still editor. Curiously it seems to have remained fairly consistent since the start, combining prurient interest with superficial moralizing.

In early years it was pretty innovative, aiming to be more readable, to be of interest to women at a time when the other newspapers ignored them, and pioneering the tabloid size. More recently it retains the largest journalistic staff and does more active reporting than the other papers, one of the last big traditional newsrooms

The book doesn't sugarcoat the fairly abusive environment of swearing and relentless pressure. Unlike Flat Earth News (diary) which confirms a lot of it, this book doesn't mention the racial biases, concentrating on the Mail's social class biases instead.

Overall a good account, but not that surprising as most of this information is fairly well known.

What I'm Reading 3
Skin in the Game by Nicholas Nassim Taleb. Much like his "Fooled by Randomness", "The Black Swan" and "Antifragile" it takes an interesting idea and selectively beats it to death and beyond in an entertaining way. The basic point is good, that in a lot of areas people in power have no direct stake in the outcomes of their decisions which causes them to take overconfident risks: CEOs with golden parachutes, politicians with cushy jobs.

However he also beats a lot of standard conservative-curmudgeon drums which are linked quite tenuously to it: e.g. pro-Trump, anti-campus-snowflake. Also he's quite selective: he personally doesn't have any skin in the game when it comes to sexism or homophobia, so why should we trust his opinion over those who do?

Does make a few interesting points, like the ability of an intransigent minority to effect or block change.

Overall, quite interesting if you don't mind a quite of bit of boilerplate conservative ranting along with the good stuff.

What I'm Watching
Saw The Equalizer at home. Moderately OK action movie starring Denzel Washington as an ex-secret-agent taking on Russian gangsters whose special forces experience didn't include basic firearms tactics. The setup of his everyday life and the character is done quite well, but the action scenes are pretty formulaic including a cool guys don't look at explosions cliché. Wasn't quite sure why he mostly avoided firearms even when they're readily to hand, but then did at the end. Passes the time but not really worth seeking out.

Running is going better, still not back to pre-injury times but making solid progress. Work is OK, a bit of drag but not having to do massive overtime. Had first half-term which crept up on us: thankfully my wife is doing a great job of looking after him. I'm taking him for a quick visit to my mother's house this weekend, hopefully will be OK but near the tail end of a strike so might be problems.

Politics. The Left's forgotten women.

Sci/Tech. Not at all creepy: Human blinkers for open plan offices. Making a hash of data. Ovulating-woman science mostly fails to replicate.

Pics. Wildlife photo of the year.

Articles. It's okay to let your transgender kid transition. George Washington's swords, Why Kodak Died and Fujifilm Thrived.

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Who's got time to watch an explosion? | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden)
Taleb's an arsehole and a massive hypocrite by jump the ladder (4.00 / 1) #1 Fri Oct 26, 2018 at 05:17:06 AM EST
Very rude on twitter and blocks anyone who disagrees with him yet criticises liberal "snowflakes".

But some of his ideas are good and have some application but his politics and prejudices get in the way. Not sure about skin in the game though as people who have skin in the game have massive conflicts of interests as a result. Sometimes you need impartial judges who don't have any skin in the game.

He is certainly an arsehole by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 2) #3 Fri Oct 26, 2018 at 01:59:26 PM EST
See his ridiculous Twitter attack on Mary Beard for instance. I suspect he's the kind of guy it would be fun to share a taxi to the airport with, but you'd be horrified to find sitting next to you for the whole flight.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
i had a conversation with an uber driver once by aphrael (4.00 / 2) #5 Fri Oct 26, 2018 at 06:38:20 PM EST
in indianapolis, as i was going from my hotel to a convention.

she was a sweet old lady, talked about how she was driving to earn some vacation money and give her retired husband time alone at home.

i asked if she'd always lived there. this is a good conversation with strange drivers, because if the answer is no, it opens the door to talk about where else they've lived, etc, and if the answer is yes, there are other reasonable ways to direct the conversation to somewhere interesting.

she said they'd always lived in the indianapolis metro area, but when their kids were in school, they moved out of the city to avoid bussing.

(the context and implication may not be clear. when her kids were in school in the 1970s and the school district desegregated, they moved out of district to avoid their kids having to ride the bus to go to school with the black kids).

i was utterly stunned to hear such open admission of racist behavior, and i had no idea how to respond. and she was driving my car, so picking a fight didn't seem prudent.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
I hate the fucker by kwsNI (4.00 / 1) #4 Fri Oct 26, 2018 at 02:05:37 PM EST
For his attacks on ag technology

[ Parent ]
Blinkers by Herring (4.00 / 1) #2 Fri Oct 26, 2018 at 12:49:45 PM EST
Actually, when a person in my eyeline is chewing gum ...

But not exactly subtle.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

I quite liked The Equalizer. by me0w (4.00 / 1) #6 Sat Oct 27, 2018 at 03:14:35 AM EST
I really enjoyed Denzel's character. But if you don't like this one, don't bother watching the sequel. It's more of the same.

Who's got time to watch an explosion? | 6 comments (6 topical, 0 hidden)