All entries for May 2006

May 29, 2006

"Guy lit": books for the 'Top Gear' generation?

Writing about web page http://chronicle.com/temp/reprint.php?id=w5nt0m56vb6544g9t4nl592zb66h49v0

High Fidelity cover

Difficult not to agree with the thesis here about the gap between The Catcher in the Rye and much contemporary literature. However, apart from the Hornbys, both of which I've read and enjoyed (although High Fidelity is a much better read than About a Boy), I've never even heard of the books and authors mentioned which do rather sound like poor McInerney/Easton Ellis imitations.

Mind you, anything actually branded as 'guy lit', just really isn't going anywhere – who on earth will buy it? Literature for the 'Top Gear' generation?

Actually, now you look at it, this new cover for High Fidelity seems to have a touch of the Wendy Holdens about it rather than the classy feel of the original.


Scientists shouldn't get married?

Writing about web page http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/career_development/previous_issues/articles/2006_05_26/scientific_success_what_s_love_got_to_do_with_it

Scientific Success: What's Love Got to Do With It?

So, case proven: getting married (for men) is bad for your scientific research. There does seem to be something of a male orientation in this work

Action Einstein

"The productivity of male scientists tends to drop right after marriage," says Kanazawa. "Scientists tend to 'desist' from scientific research upon marriage, just like criminals desist from crime upon marriage. Kanazawa's perhaps controversial perspective is that of an evolutionary psychologist. "Men conduct scientific research (or do anything else) in order to attract women and get married (albeit unconsciously)," he says. "What’s the point of doing science (or anything else) if one is already married? Marriage (or, more accurately reproductive success, which men can usually attain only through marriage) is the goal; science or anything else men do is but a means.

Darwinism rules, it seems!


'A Faustian masterpiece'?

Title:
Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

Under the Volcano - Malcolm Lowry

This does seem generally to be regarded as a masterpiece, including by Burgess. Recounting the last day in the life of the former British Consul (Geoffrey Firmin) in a fictional Mexican town at the foot of Popocatapetl, it is a quite remarkably intense and stylistic exploration of an alcoholic descent during the celebrations on the 'Day of the Dead'. The Consul's ex–wife and his brother join the party but prove unable to divert Firmin from the inevitable and indeed Yvonne Firmin dies too.

Whilst not the most cheering of reads, this does deserve significant plaudits although I suspect the time of its peak popularity, the 60s, had more to do with some kind of druggy/mescal alignment than anything else.

Anyway, pretty great stuff and certainly one of the most compelling and hellish descriptions of extended drunkenness I have read.


May 28, 2006

Just how many universities are there in the UK?

Most amused by the entry on universities in the recently issued Indypedia (free inaccurate information from the Independent). The error about universities does rather undermine confidence in the accuracy of the other data on this page.

indypedia on universities

Anyway, this week, there are about 117 universities in the UK, since you ask.


May 27, 2006

David and Benny

Of all the choices for Desert Island Discs!

Benny Hill - still not funny
Ernie!!

If honest, then it's frightening. If not, and is intended to be some kind of ironic statement, then it's even more scary.


Self help scamming

Writing about web page http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa006&colID=13&articleID=000602B6-9280-1447-8ADE83414B7F0101

A nice wee piece this on one of my bugbears:

SHAM Scam: The Self–Help and Actualization Movement has become an $8.5–billion–a–year business. Does it work?

The key paradox in all of this is: if you need to pay for someone's help, why is it called "self–help"?

Surrounding SHAM is a bulletproof shield: if your life does not get better, it is your fault—your thoughts were not positive enough. The solution? More of the same self–help—or at least the same message repackaged into new products. Consider the multiple permutations of John Gray's Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus—Mars and Venus Together Forever, Mars and Venus in the Bedroom, The Mars and Venus Diet and Exercise Solution—not to mention the Mars and Venus board game, Broadway play and Club Med getaway.
SHAM takes advantage by cleverly marketing the dualism of victimization and empowerment. Like a religion that defines people as inherently sinful so that they require forgiveness (provided exclusively by that religion), SHAM gurus insist that we are all victims of our demonic "inner children" who are produced by traumatic pasts that create negative "tapes" that replay over and over in our minds. Redemption comes through empowering yourself with new "life scripts," supplied by the masters themselves, for prices that range from $500 one–day workshops to Robbins's $5,995 "Date with Destiny" seminar.

Chin up!


May 26, 2006

Remembering The Passions

Follow-up to I'm in love with a German film star: approximation of a playlist §15 from Prole Art Threat

Was delighted to discover:

link

Passions
thanks to a comment from someone on the previous entry (who I assume was the person of the same name from the band)

See also the TOTP performance of German Film Star here: link

Just great!


May 16, 2006

1001 books – at least several hundred too many

Title:
Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

I was given this book for my birthday recently.

I am slightly overwhelmed.

I reckon I've read at most 15–20% of these.

If I read one a week for the next 16 years I'll be there.


The all new Shipping Forecast

The all new Shipping Forecast seems rather different now in the early hours with Weather Forecasters reading it instead of newsreaders.

Something of the poetry of it has been lost and have been trying to work out why this might be:

  • Is it inexperience, ie they are yet to get used to doing it?

  • Do the Forecasters simply have too much professional interest? Is the news from North Utsira just too darned interesting for them to read it dispassionately?

  • Or is it that they are all much more used to winging it rather than reading from a carefully written and very precise script?

While we are on the broad subject of early morning radio, do I miss the Radio 4 UK theme? Not really, but once a week might be good.


May 14, 2006

Relatively speaking: Approximation of a playlist §16

Relatives:

Brothers in arms – Dire Straits
Sister Ray – Velvet Underground
He ain't heavy he's my brother – Hollies
Bob's yer uncle – Happy Mondays
Auntie – ELO
My perfect cousin – The Undertones
Grandad – Clive Dunn
Grandma we love you – St Winifred's School Choir
Mama – Phil Collins
Sisters are doing it for themselves – Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox
We are family – Sister Sledge
Take your mama – Scissor Sisters
Boomin' Granny – Beastie Boys
Come on Grandad –Mr Scruff


May 2006

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