Providence Lost by Paul Lay. History book covering the last years of Oliver Crowell's Protectorate. It's a corner of history that does seem to get overlooked: it doesn't have the drama and mil-nerdery of the Civil War itself or the salacious decadence of the Restoration.
Lay seems to think that the tyranny of the Major-Generals is overstated: that they didn't have the power to be completely tyrannical. He thinks that the Commonwealth was militarily powerful and respected, and that the fear of being overthrown was exaggerated. Ultimately however the disparate elements within it were held together only by the force and respect of Oliver Cromwell himself, and once he died it was doomed.
Apparently it's somewhat doubtful whether Cromwell appointed a successor at all. It could be that after his death the faction who wanted Cromwell to be a king put his name on his eldest son as a successor.
As with other recent books Lay stresses how much Cromwell had to balance disparate forces. The more radical elements of his coalition wanted far-fetched Utopian ideas like universal suffrage and toleration of all Protestant denominations. Apparently there was also a sizable fraction who wanted Cromwell in the theory that this would restore stability to the system. And of course the Royalists, while weak, never went away.
The downside of the book is that the gradual death of an an ideal is a rather depressing story to tell. Even if you're a Cavalier sympathizer it can't be that impressive to watch a bunch of plots and blundering assassination attempts fail until your antagonist dies of natural causes.
Overall though pretty interesting and definitely well written.
What I'm Reading 2
Listened to an audio version of the Superman fanfiction novel The Metropolitan Man by Alexander Wales. Priestess recommended the site to me when I was looking for new things to listen to while running.
It's a lavish, lovingly produced audio reading with a cast of different voices doing the dialogue and even some sound effects. Very impressive, not just for a fan effort, but better than the vast majority of professional audiobooks. The second-best audiobook version I've listened to I think: only Eddie Izzard's self-read autobiography with a bunch of improvised extra content is better.
The book is interestings. It tries to take the Superman mythos and make it plausible, with reasonable enough explanations for some of the unreasonable things in the original Like how come Superman looks human, and how X-Ray vision might work.
The heart of the book is the story of how Lex Luthor tries to plot against Superman and the difficulties of doing so against a being so powerful and with such surveillance capabilities. The measures taken are brilliantly thought through and the plot is efficient.
I was expecting a more conventional Superman story and was a bit disturbed by some of the things that happen to the characters. Also some of the characters are a bit diagrammatic, and as usual the philosophy seems to just assume consequentialism.
Overall though, thoughtful and interesting.
What I'm Reading 3
Read the Marvel comic House of M as it's loosely related to WandaVision which I liked. Quite interesting and well done as the Avengers and X-Men wake up in an alternate universe conjured up by Wanda Maximoff. However the plot in this volume alone doesn't come to much of a conclusion. Also I haven't read many Marvel comics so I'm presumably not getting the shocking effect of what this new universe is like, given that I don't have much idea what the old one was like. Pretty decent but more actiony and straightforward than WandaVision.
Kid's back in school which is a massive relief, I was really struggling doing the home learning. He's a lot happier too seeing other children again.
Running is going well. I had a lot of problems over the last couple of years where I couldn't seem to get up any speed despite trying a lot of different things. My legs just wouldn't seem to go fast anymore. Doing Strides and a dynamic warmup seems to have helped though, unless it was a coincidence. My speed has picked up again though I'm still slower than I was. Also I'm now able to get properly out of breath, beforehand it was as if my legs wouldn't move enough to challenge my lungs.
Work has been a struggle as I try to get my head around the front end new technology stack we've moved to. Our team was the last to move so I feel very behind, also I'm doing a lot of back-end work and don't get much experience of it. Gradually getting the hang of it a bit. The company has changed to a single release cycle which puts a lot more pressure on, we had a real struggle this cycle. I'm still Scrum Master though the company was planning to move to a model where the teams shared a dedicated SM instead of having a dev do it. Not sure how much longer that will last.
On the plus side moving from the travel industry to the healthcare sector was accidentally a good career move.
Put on more weight than I expected over the lockdown and Christmas. Been dieting since start of February, have lost a big chunk of it but plenty more to go.
Random. Music on a geocities style page.
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