Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Two things, one of them a recantation

1. When my PhD supervisor left Cambridge he was given a farewell party in the English Faculty (under the auspices of which the Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse, and Celtic resides, in much the same way that Winnie-the-Pooh lived under the name of Sanders). At that occasion he gave a speech in which he was very rude indeed about the English Faculty. It was one of those speeches which is quite amusing unless you're actually there at the time. (So many Cambridge experiences are like that.) One of the accusations he made was that the English Faculty did not understand the excellent thing they had in the Research Centre for English and Applied Linguistics, and that the RCEAL should escape to MML if they could. So it's interesting to see that this has sort-of happened.

2. I have to take back everything I have said about the awfulness of estate agents, because my estate agent has just been extremely helpful indeed. And this despite the fact that he is good looking and has a certain amount of charm. I feel genuinely bad about my prejudices now.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Look, it's an owl

Off of kottke.org, a slow-motion owl:

Monday, 1 August 2011

What truth is and how to act on it...

... is a sub-heading in a book I am reading about the programming language C++. It contains no philosophical insights as such. (Unless you think that treating 1 (or any other number) as true and 0 or null as false implies agreement with the Augustinian vision of evil as parasitic on the good, having no independent existence.)

Anyway I thought I'd comment on a few good books I read in July.

1. Cathleen Schine, The Three Weissmanns of Westport. This is a modern retelling of Sense and Sensibility, which sounds like it could be awful, but is actually deftly and lightly done. It's amiable enjoyable reading of the sort which doesn't insult your brain but doesn't make you stretch it either. I shall look for more things she's written.

2. George R. R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons. Aaaagh! I am so addicted to these novels that it is not funny. I used to have opinions on them and now I just want to know what's going to happen next. I would recommend them very strongly except for the fact that the series will be a good few more years in the finishing. Perhaps wait until the last one's out and then you can splurge on them all at once.

3. Rhoda Janzen, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress. I already blogged about this. It's great. I want to be like her, only without marrying someone with BPD who leaves me for a man he met on gay.com.

4. Barbara Pym, A Glass of Blessings. So wry it almost hurts, like licking a cut lime. Even though her books are amusing and don't deal with anything too deep, somehow when I've finished reading them I feel like I've been lightly punched in the stomach. A brilliant author.

5. Chris Priestley, Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror, and The Teacher's Tales of Terror. These are very good. They're older child/young adult reading really, but sufficiently well done that they catch you out with little moments that are genuinely chilling. I shall read more in the series sometime when I want some spooky tales. Better than Susan Hill's ghost stories, as far as I'm concerned.