Posts from 16th November 2005

Nov 05

Books Under Review

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 202 views

I’ve had a particularly good run of non-fic reads over the last few months and I thought i’d share the list with you. I would like to do full reviews of these in later posts, but i’m in the middle of the third and i’d want to go back and have a quick flick through to recall just why they were so great. Then I can get back to Gravity’s Rainbow again…

The Watch on the Heath: Science and Religion Before Darwin Keith Thomson

A biography of Natural Theology – how a serious academic discipline jumped through amazing hoops before dying a natural death. The writing is a bit turgid in places, but it delves a bit deeper into the well known stories (Wilberforce v Huxley etc) with a large chunk dedicated to the ins and outs of William Paley’s book – the source of the most well known “suppose you found a watch” metaphor.

A Reason for Everything: Natural Selection and the British Imagination Marek Kohn

This is a superbly written – it initially caught my eye because i’ve read Kohn’s other books – biography of British Evolutionary thought. It’s constructed around biographies of the great chain of evolutionary thinkers SINCE darwin, with a final shortish chapter on Dawkins. Nazis, commies, tragedy, amazing characters, and an unerring belief that adaptation is king. Disappointed that it doesn’t really do what is declared at the outset, which is to explain the qualitative difference between US and UK evolutionary thought. This really complemented the above Watch on the Heath book, leaving a gap in the middle filled by Darwin himself.

Descartes’ Baby: How Child Development Explains What Makes Us Human Paul Bloom

Nearly finished this, but it manages to cram in all sorts of Alan’s hot-button topics, with a great range of pop-cult references. Stuff on art and modern art, emotions such as disgust, morality, why Natural Theology seems “natural”, Dan Dennett, autism. Child development has always been something i’ve been intensely interested in.

Memo To The Hairdressing Profession

Blog 7Post a comment • 999 views

Would it be impossible to learn not only the arts of scissor and comb but also the basic social art of knowing when somebody wants to chat to a stranger and when they don’t. Just because you have me trapped in yr chair with a blade near my throat does NOT give you the divine right to GAB ON at me.

Things you shd be allowed to say:

– “Hello.”
– “It’s your turn now.”
– “How would you like it?”
– “How does that look?”
– “There, finished.”

AND THAT’S IT. Anything else = £1/sentence off your EXTORTIONATE FEE.

(This petty irritation brought to you by my colleague G. but it is one I absolutely share.)

Is it just me…

Blog 7Post a comment • 942 views

or have the insults and heckles of teenaged hoodlums gone somewhat downhill recently? Here are some, entirely true, examples of abuse hurled at me recently on the streets of Glasgow.

4. “Here, mate, d’ye want a chip?”: This one puzzled me because, contrary to all expectation, it was not followed by a barrage of chips and gravy hurled in my general direction.

3. “Oooh, check out his sexy @rse”: Thanks!

2. 10 year old Ned, with posse of pals: “You got the time, mate?”
Me: “Yeah. Hold on (pause as I check my watch, in which we all wait patiently and silently) Ten past 4.”
10 year old: “Haha, sh1tebag!”

There goes my social conscience!

1. Ned One (to me): “Haw you! Get a haircut”
Ned Two: “Naw, ‘is hairs naw that bad” (thinks) (to me) “Haw, mate, your flies undone”
Ned One: “Aw, yeah, aye. Haha.”

Giving It The Fingers

Do You SeePost a comment • 201 views

I’ve never seen Fingers. I get the feeling not many people in the UK have, and therefore short of the press notes and the credit it gets in The Beat That My Heart Skipped, why should it be mentioned? Those who have seen Fingers, rate it highly: Keitel doing sterling work apparently. Lots of people who have seen The Beat That My Heart Skipped liked it too (me included). So shock horror? A decent French remake of a decent America film is made.

The niggle is there though. Is The Beat… good because Fingers is also good. It strikes me that it is a story that may be difficult to do badly: thuggish mobster also happens to want to be a concert pianist, can both sides of his personality be reconciled. You get obsession (v.cinematic), you get violence (v.cinematic), you get loads of passionate classical music (v.audiomatic) and you get tragedy. Maybe. But this remake trades on snobbishness I fear. It trades on the idea that a French movie is clearly better than a US one, not clear in this case, and The Beat… is by no means perfect.

It ends with a coda, set two years later, which waters down its own tragedy, and plays on the idea that music hath soothed this savage beast. But it hasn’t. At the end of the film out piano player gets a chance to avenge the murder of his father, but – after laying down a nasty beating cannot kill the man. The film suggests that this is now because he live sin a world of classical music. But nothing in the film before suggested he was a murderer. Suddenly the workings of the film become clear: classical music makes you a better person. And the edifice of the film falls down. I wonder if Fingers does this. I might try and find out.


Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 314 views

by which i mean: pret’s “big xmas lunch” sandwich, which they wheel out every year half way through november: turkey slices, stuffing, cranberry, some leafy thing (poss.rocket)

and i buy it EVERY MORNING i come into work, like the slathering all-the-trimmings zombie that i am!!

“fa-la-la-la-laa la la la laa”

yes yes i realise robbing banks is WRONG

Proven By SciencePost a comment • 222 views

but robbing four banks while talking on yr mobile = WAY cool (in an insane kinda way)