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Craig's Journal

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

11:02AM - Middlesex

I finally finished 'The making of the atomic bomb'

It was brilliant, but incredibly difficult, I found the science one of the most difficult and complex characters in the book, it comes on through the ages and from multiple places and due to lack of concentration and time, I read the book in very small chunks with large gaps in between, I just found it hard to keep up with it and it's developments.
I would like to read the book again when I have the time to sit down for a week or so and just chunder through and I would also like to see if there's a documentary film, tv series as it may be easier for me to follow.
I'm amazed by the quality of Richard Rhodes' research though, it was so well detailed ands thorough.
Some of the contextualization was incredible, the chapter about world war one set up the thinking of modern war, to kill as many of th enemy as possible, to create more terror and better weapons in the hope that it will shorten the conflict in the long run obviously is something that has stuck with the human psyche for tht last hundred years or has always been with us. So even though it's mostly a dry documentative book, it does offer insights into societies and the human spirit, with the conclusion stating that nuclear weapons could destroy notions of nationhood, only by having the capability to destroy ourselves do we look at ways to prevent ourselves doing so.
One thing that will stick with me for a while is the image of one the test scientist for the first nuclear bomb dropped on the planet covering himself in sun cream to help prevent damage to his skin from damage.

Have started Middlesex, by someone orother and as am going away and can't renew any more am also taking Hobbes' Leviathan with me too, have a feeling Middlesex, the story of an hermaphrodite will win through.

Monday, May 2, 2011

3:37PM - The making of the atomic bomb

by Richard Rhodes

how could I say not a book with a title like that, haven't even opened it yet but hoping it comes with full instructions and isn't too fiddly I reckon I could be putting the basement to better use.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

4:15PM - Voice of the Fire / Middlemarch

Well I finished The Shock Doctrine and it's truly one of the most chilling books I've ever read, it's so scary it makes running away to Sweden seem like a good idea.
The argument and ideas within it are very well spaced and expressed, it started with an idea of what a shock is and how to enforce one to an individual (and included links to CIA interrogation manuals, just have a wiki or google for Kubark and see where you end up.)
The book then progresses to explain how economic shock theory was praticed in reality starting with Chile and other southern American countries in the 1970's, progressing through to Britain in the 1980's, stopping of by China, Poland, USSR / Russia and finishing off in Iraq. I found it more informative then the Chomsky book I read earlier in the year as it was more incisive, though as teh Chomsky was a series of short essays and this a whole book that is to be understandable.
If you're of a left wing disposition I'd highly recomend reading 'The Shock Doctrine'. It just shocked me how people can do so much damage for money and then be have the front to say that they're doing the right thing.
I still want to follow it up with more economic theory and history as one thing I also realised when reading it is that certain phrases and words are bandied about so much that I only think I know what they mean, phrases such as free market etc.
Naomi Klein seems to be of similar economic vein as Keynes and Galbraith and opposing Friedman and the Chicago School, all of which I'd like to look into more, partly as said before to get a grasp of the history and also to see the other side of the argument.

Voice of the Fire, by Alan Moore
I saw this on my library shelf and was intrigued, I'm a fan of Alan's comics and having grown up on 2000ad in the 80's am also aware of work of his that hasn't made it into film, stories such as Halo Jones, Skizz, D.R. and Quinch etc. So having an opportunity to read some of his prose was too good to miss.
The premise of the book is a collection of stories centred on his home town of Northampton, it starts in about 4000 B.C. and ends with himself just finishing the novel. The first story was incredibly hard to read as it's written in first person narrative and from a cave man point of view so the use of language although limited is hard to penetrate, which made me think about the use of language itself, if there's fewer words and less vocabulary why is it harder to read and understand?
Once I'd finally broken through the first story I did enjoy the rest of teh book and like all his work it seemd well researched. There were lots of repeated themes and patterns through the stories which reminded me of some his future shocks (short 4 - 5 page strips in 2000ad) and to a certain extent the book came across as an exercise in writing, I have the feeling he wanted to push himself to prove he could do it. I did enjoy it and would have loved to have know Northampton more as he did a wonderful job in making the place and it's growth an intgral part of teh collection. I thinks fans of Moore and would enjoy it and it doesn't have to be read linearly.

Middlemarch by George Eliot
Took a while to get the beat of the book, but once done so have been flying along and hope to be done soon. I'm not sure what to make of it, it seems to be more of a look into provincial life in the 1830's (it was published in the 1870's? I think) and the chracters are quite believable but to a certain extent 'flat' in that they're not satirical like some of Dicken's characters or there's no melodrama i.e. Hardy. I'm curious to see how it ends and what happens to the good people of Middlemarch

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

10:24AM - The shock doctrine

By Naomi Klein,

I decided to read it as it seemed relevant to the current time of what is going on in Japan etc and it's a book I've been meaning to read for a while so as it was available in the library, why not.
Having only just started and got past the introduction it appears that the real inducer of the current economic practice is to "wipe the slate clean" and start rebuilding with contracts going out to major players and disregarding the public, by using shock and awe tactics it would seem that people are usually too bewildered to argue and even if they do aren't listened to anyway and if they continue to argue are usually pariahed or worse.
She has so far stated that this seems to be a method of free market capitalism endorsed by Milton Friedman, who has nominated himself as a follow up read, who seemed to think and pushed for crisis being one of the best catalyst's for economic change and if you can implement the change sooner then the better.
(An example of an early example of this is probably World War One, though so far the history has only truly extended back to the 70's and 80's with a glimpse of the first steps being taken in late 40's / 50's)
It would appear that Margaret Thatcher was an admirer of Friedman, hence, the deregulation of the market, cutting of social spending, privatization of services and helpful tax cuts to help government help corporations turn a profit, in the past a lot of developments have been gently urged along by the reduction of certain taxes. Thatcher, it is argued, probably exploited the fever of nationalism stoked by the Falklands war, which people also credit to her being re-elected whilst the country at the time was in such a mess; high unemployment, recession and literaly fighting in the streets (though to be honest my memory from the time is a wee bit sketchy, I was only 4 ish) and her chances of re-election were supposedly slim.
Now in this country we have the fever of reducing the deficit and keeping the country and the world secure and democratized by taking on those troublesome muslims, stoked by the biggest disaster of the 21st century, September 11th, an event so shocking that it appears to have a hit a level of consciousness that will probably be in time to come to be known as an era and phrase as well bandied about as "post war", if it hasn't already. And in ten short years it would appear that muslim has become a byword of racism, supassing p*** and n******, there's more surveillance and if we have nothing to hide we have nothing to fear and we are cocooned and kept in sensory deprivation by what passes for popular culture these days. Shocks are usually, inherently so, more shocking after a period of sensory deprivation.
As a bynote I was lucky enough to hear and watch the last three years or so of British number one singles, truly chilling and just ever so slightly homogenous, and I also noted that although the programme intended to play all the number ones from the 21st century there seemed to be a Rage Against The Machine gap. Most of the songs and the videos seemed to celebrate going out and having a good time, spending money and the usual pop dross of love and its pernickety ways, that is what pop music has always been about, I know, Motown, which to some is a byword for good music was run by Berry Gordy, in my opinion, a Simon Cowell for his day. Other then the occasional charity single I can't think of any recent chart single that critiques or makes mention of a recent global or local political event.
I just wonder what happens when we hit saturation, what new things will we be sold next, I have a feeling the counter culture is equally appealing to the market.

Anyway that's what I think after only reading the introduction.

Other books I'd like to read following from this are
The Wealth Of Nations,
Some Milton Friedman
and John Maynard Keynes

Sorry for the rant I just realised that my reviews were slightly monosyllabic and therefore pointless, I've realised that I tend to consume books rather than reading them, i.e. I wolf them down without savouring them or taking time to chew.

Bill Bryson's 'Home' was an enjoyable and rewarding read. I decided to read it after reading some parts of a serialisation in a newspaper, it appealed to my trivial knowledge aspect, though with a poor memory it seemed I've probably only remembered one or two pieces of trivia, I found some of his thinking a bit too lateral in that the subject discussed and the chapter headings seemed somewhat disparate to me. Being an American I think he strayed back home a fair bit and he obviously has a lot of respect for Thomas Jefferson, which is fair enough but as his starting point was a parsonage built in 1851 I feel he pursued his own interests a bit too much and possibly wandered away from what I though would be the principle tenets of the book, though I concede it would have probably been a much drier and less enjoyable read if he had stuck so rigidly to such a narrow subject matter.
I truly enjoyed the chapter on stairs which seemed to be a perfect mix of what I was expecting, quirky, informative and thought provoking with elements of the obvious, scientific and sheer wonder.

Other subjects I'd like to follow up with are
something about The East India Trading Company, which will probably tie up with the book above as it was one of the first global mega corporations.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

3:48PM - just A brief one

The english patient, very enjoyable, made em think about the malleability of national identity and is it worthwhile / pointless, not sure of the answer really.

Shooting an elephant, a collection of essays by George Orwell, I relly dig his essay's there's something about is writng that makes me want to add him to that list if anyone alive or dead for diner questions

up next Bill Bryson's, at home.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

8:54AM - Chomsky and Tacitus

Well, a reasonably quite weekend, meant I finished 'For Whom The Bell Tolls', which I found incredibly believable, whenever I opened it, it just sucked us into that world, a thoroughly good book and one I'd recommend.

Also finished Noam Chomsky 'Interventions'; a collection of what the introduction called op-eds which I've assumed is an abbreviation of open editorials for newspaper publication. Essentially 50 short, easy to read essays with Chomsky stating George W Bush is a wrong'un and the war in Iraq is unjust. Not exactly groundbreaking to those of us with similar views but educational none the less.

Also finished Tacitus' 'Agricola and Germania' a Roman biography of a governor of Britannia and a short description of the Germanic peoples, very easy to read and quite short, but after reading about Civil War in Spain and an unjust war in Iraq it was still relevant and revealing.

Next up is
'The Pantomine Life Of Joseph Grimaldi: Laughter, Madness and the Story of Britain's Greatest Comedian' by Andrew McConnell Stott

Grimaldi is credited as being the first person to wear what we would know as clownface make up and there is a remembrance service to him once a year in a church in Dalston where the members of teh congregation also attend in clown face, something I found out from London Lore.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

8:11PM - For Whom the Bell Tolls

Ernest Hemingway

Been getting thru it pretty quickly, am quite enjoying it, wants me to learn more about the history of the Spanish Civil War, so straight to wiki from here.

The London Lore book was a bit of a dissapointment, not enough lore too many ghost stories, gets repetitive and not very informative.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

7:43PM - London Lore, The legends and Traditions of teh world's most vibrant city

By Steve Roud.

Just started a few days ago, quite enjoyable and fortunately in bite size chunks, quite enjoy knowing little things about my home town that ain't worth knowing.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

5:46PM - When We Were Orphans

by Kazuo Ishiguro

Just started, reminds me of Remains of The Day, as it's by the same author that should be expected, but set in an old gentle England, around the 1920's / 30's and a common theme between the wto books seems to be the discrepancy between how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

8:13PM - Shadow Of The Wind / Sum

Was ok, it was enjoyable, not brilliant but very enjoyable.
Haven't been reading too much this last week, been in quite a bit of pain with a mutant mouth abscess which I think spread into gland or somewhere, basically my bottom left jaw has been swollen and painful and the anti biotics seem to be just tickling it, though it has shown signs of improvement.
Was given a book called 'Sum' by David Eagleman, it was a gift from a friend and I did take it of the shelf from the shop last year and flicked through it before putting it back and thinkig I'll get it at another date then promptly forgetting the title and author etc.
It's very enjoyable and is compiled of short tales linked by the notion of an afterlife but more to make you think about what you do in this one. The ideas are quite well expressed and Mr Eagleman seems to be a thinker to have look into and see what else he thinks.

Monday, January 24, 2011

7:37PM - The Shadow Of The Wind

Next book is
The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruix Zafon, was lent to me by a colleague at work am slightly worried as it's recommended by Richard anD Judy's book club, but so far seems to be a good story.

Slight overlap with Musicophilia, which I didn't find as in depth as I'd liked, did learn some new things but don't know, was expecting more I suppose, it contains a reading list at the back which might be worth perusing, enjoyable but wasn't the bolt of lightning I was expecting.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

5:19PM - Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Finished it yesterday, personally I found it had a bit of a lull three quarters through, however I quite enjoyed it and although it scandalised people at the time I saw parts of it as little essays of what love is, even though the characters are using these descriptions to persuade others to their own ways of thinking, something I'm sure we've all been guilty of ourselves. I found it quite modern in some of its ideas and I doubt if it would be seen as scandalous in this day and age and enjoyed the idea of it being conveyed through a series of letters which I found a good narrative device in that it allows to see many viewpoints of the same events. May even watch the film at some point.

Next is;
'Musicophilia' by Oliver Sacks, which having just started doesn't seem to be as in depth as soem of his previous works but as it combines music and armchair neurology it should be educational if nothing else.

Friday, January 14, 2011

12:16PM - Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn

I was lucky enough to buy this in a volume containing both books.
Tom Sawyer, though predominantly aimed for the younger reader I found quite enjoyable for the descriptions and evocations of play, it took me back to playing on the streets and school and not having a care, though I'm sure I've not read it before I did seem to know what was going on, so have either read it or rememeber it from TV.
Huckleberry Finn, I really enjoyed though it did end oddly / badly, the end didn't quite fit the rest of the tone of the book.

At present I'm reading 'Les Liaisons Dangereuses' by Choderlos de Laclos

Yes, I did have to copy from the cover to make sure I got it right.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

11:22AM - Rebecca

Was finished last night, I quite enjoyed it, I liked the opening line and seemed to know it, I have a feeling it's up there with, "you can call me Ishmael" or whatever the exact opening line of Moby Dick is.
In case you're wondering the opening line of Rebecca is "Last night I dreamed I was back in Manderley"
Although I liked the start I did flag for the first quarter or so, it weren't until I did the next quarter in a sitting that I became hooked, it's quite tense and may I say film like in it's writing, by that I mean I found it easy to see the images being conveyed in my head. I think this is in part due to knowing there is a Alfred Hitchcock film of the book, so as I was reading I was seeing my own version of the film, albeit in a what I consider to be a Hitchcock style.
In terms of plot I had a feeling it was going to end how it ends but suspense is sometimes knowing what the characters don't know, you want to see how many turns the journey takes.
One thing about the book I must mention is that other then 'To Kill A Mockingbird' it's the only book I've had people / stranger's comment on, most of these were women and most said something along the lines "ooh dark / twisted and I won't tell you how it ends"
The next book is going to be Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, I've got a collected edition and I don't know why, propbably because his auto biography has just been released, I saw it in a charity shop yesterday and I vaguely remember watching it on TV during the holidays as a child, I could hear it calling, I'm pretty sure I've read Huck Finn, although I can't remember when, probably when doing my A levels.
I'm quite looking forward to it and hope to have it done by the years end though with all the visiting I'm not sure if that'll be achievable.

edit; the opening line of Moby Dick is: "Call me Ishmael"

Thursday, December 16, 2010

10:45PM - I've decided

That I'm gonna at least post about books I'm reading / have read.

I'm currently am reading

'Rebecca' by Daphne Du Maurier and so far I'm enjoying it

I also feel I should have more to say than that but I'm not.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

4:55PM - election 2010

Kept my Mayor, everyone else seemed to be critical of the fact that he publishes and distributes a local free magazine, ok, it's glossy but I can't help think it's good to know what's going on in the community and essentially it can't be all bad to know what the local theatre etc has to offer.
Changed my MP, don't know if this will make a difference, my main reason for voting against him is because his voting record in the house doesn't reflect my opinion, true not everyone's will but his was pretty much against everything I stood for, in future I must inform them of my wishes, although he does live local and the person I voted for doesn't and that very nearly swung my opinion, I don't believe I've backed a winner there anyway.
Was seriously underwhelmed about the choice for local councillors, 13 candiates representing labour, conservative, christian peoples alliance and the respect party with 3 choices each and 1 UKIP member.
My original intention was to vote for one of each party, labour, liberal and green but with no green candidates in there I was a bit flummoxed, still mixed it up a bit but wasn't entirely happy, but hey in politics nobody is ever entirely happy.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


There are times at work when I think "Do they think?"
14 hour shift before going on holiday is quite a good reason to go on holiday. The shift has been been extended due to an outside contractor coming in to do some cleaning this evening and I have to let them in and lock up after them, however, the venue's been empty and free both yesterday and the day before. Now is it rocket science, or would you have also booked them for yesterday or the day before?
It's only inconvenient because I've procrastinated the past two days in doing the few wee things I have to do at home, just means I get to piss of the neighbours by giving the place a quick hoover before I go, though that 0530 train doesn't seem as good an idea as it did when I booked it.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

5:40PM - How do

It's been so long since I've eveen looked at acomputer let alone touched one,
Work these last few months has been busy and made even busier by other members of staff twisting ankles having bereavements and holidays and things, this is good for the wages but not for the other things i have to do on the side line tough have managed to squeeze in dinner with friends twice in two weeks.
Have been DJ-ing at a regular basis and that's been good and going to France next weekend means I get to miss out on a myriad of other events going on over the weekend am pretty glad the options been taken out off my hands really.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

4:35PM - I've actually...

...booked a small holiday.
I'm leaving on a train and it's nothing to do with some work somewhere or anything like that.
One long weekend in March is all I've managed to squeeze in thus far but it'll be in a foreign country and everything.

I think teh last time I had a holidfay was about three years ago, I've been away but usually there's some work element involved, so to go to someones 60th in butt fuck France could be fun, to be honest I think I'm more looking forward to the train journey where I can either read or look through teh window and I've also got a few hours in Paris, wanna try and see the Orsay but don't think it'd be fair to myself to only do that for a few rushed hours.

Monday, February 8, 2010

8:04AM - Resolutions.....

I aimed for 2010 to both stop buying any more new books until I read all the unread ones on my shelf and I have failed in that, goona havta try and keep up

I wanted to see if I could go vegetarian, the idea being to try and do it for february to see if I could hack it and move on from there.
In the first week of Febuaray I've eaten, oxtail, sausages, duck, chicken and some beef.
I haven't bought any meat though.

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