Friday

books I've read recently:

how mumbo jumbo conquered the world, francis wheen.
good, but i'm a bit suspect of the all-encompassing, ill-defined term 'mumbo jumbo' which starts with voodoo economics - a fraudulent ideology from the word go ('hey! i've got a great policy idea: tax breaks for me and my friends!')- and goes on to include just about anything wheen doesn't like. including john gray's straw dogs, interestingly. mainly because gray used to be an arch-thatcherite, in fact he used to be a lot of things and seems to change his mind as often as he can.
the irony is, of course, that by mumbo jumbo, he means the all-encompassing, ill-defined anti-sciences; so he ends up having to use of of those terms. i guess that makes it ok because the set of mumbo jumbo includes itself. what's the opposite of a paradox called again? not a tautology, but something that definies itself only because it defines itself? one of them.


A mind to murder, p.d.james.
hmmmm. if i say this book is poorly written, i mean the structure of the book glares through the narrative, and clues are painfully obvious even when the detectives take no notice initially. and the detectives are both characterised as characterless, which certainly helps. it gets good 200 pages in when they start doing some detective work, then stops 20 pages later, the twist being it was the most obvious suspect all along but you got distracted, so it's ultimately annoying.


The emperor's new mind, penrose.
i couldn't finish this, despite joyfully ploughing through the section on turing machines; it just seems i've read this book too many times already. there was a point where i'd a collection of about 5 or 7 books that meshed together into a coherent theory of reality, which i might write down one day. given all those, is one is superfluous. also it's premise, that given current science, we can't understand/replicate consciousness is a little flimsy, because what is future science going to be based on but current science?

Oryx and crake, Margaret atwood.
very good spec-fi, in a oh-that's-actually-quite-plausible, 'stand on zanzibar', kind of way. that should be reccomendation enough. i had, however, two problems with it: the statistical improbability of going out with a woman you saw in a porn film as a teenager (a completely unnecessary addition to the plot), and the open ending. wha' happened??


A goose in Southwark, one eye grey.
i found this modern penny dreadful disappointing. a bunch of people have 'spooky' (not really spooky at all) experiences, going to a cinema that's closed, seeing ghosts of cromwell and his mates discussing modern politics, meeting an 19th centuary whore in the south bank fog... i mean, smog and dead people, that was about it. the big with the horse was quite good though. still, maybe volume two is the wrong place to pick it up, and it's a great idea. it feels a bit like a zine, and that's a good thing.
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