The other day, I was being criticized by certain people for posting a frivolous review of Er ist wieder da despite not having read it. Well, I am theThe other day, I was being criticized by certain people for posting a frivolous review of Er ist wieder da despite not having read it. Well, I am the first to admit that my behavior is inexcusable, but I was a little surprised not to have been arrested earlier. Ladies and gentlement of the court, I have been doing this for years. I'm a serial offender. I'm just glad that I've finally had a chance to come clean.
Here are some other reviews I've posted of books I haven't read (I'm afraid this is a mere sample):
On first looking into Chapman's Homer Bjørneboe's Bestialitetens historie
MUCH have I travell'd in the realms of gold, And many goodly states and kingOn first looking into Chapman's Homer Bjørneboe's Bestialitetens historie
MUCH have I travell'd in the realms of gold, And many goodly states and kingdoms seen; Round many western islands have I been Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold. Oft of one wide expanse had I been told That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne: Yet did I never breathe its pure serene Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold: Then felt I like some watcher of the skies When a new planet swims into his ken; Or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes He stared at the Pacific—and all his men Look'd at each other with a wild surmise— Silent, upon a peak in Darien*.
* After which they raped and massacred hundreds of thousands of Aztecs, plundered their country of gold and precious stones, and reduced the remaining people to slavery. The following is an extract from an Aztec account of one of the key incidents:
Here it is told how the Spaniards killed, they murdered the Mexicans who were celebrating the Fiesta of Huitzilopochtli in the place they called The Patio of the Gods.
At this time, when everyone was enjoying the fiesta, when everyone was already dancing, when everyone was already singing, when song was linked to song and the songs roared like waves, in that precise moment the Spaniards determined to kill people. They came into the patio, armed for battle.
They came to close the exits, the steps, the entrances [to the patio]: The Gate of the Eagle in the smallest palace, The Gate of the Canestalk and the Gate of the Snake of Mirrors. And when they had closed them, no one could get out anywhere.
Once they had done this, they entered the Sacred Patio to kill people. They came on foot, carrying swords and wooden and metal shields. Immediately, they surrounded those who danced, then rushed to the place where the drums were played. They attacked the man who was drumming and cut off both his arms. Then they cut off his head [with such a force] that it flew off, falling far away.
At that moment, they then attacked all the people, stabbing them, spearing them, wounding them with their swords. They struck some from behind, who fell instantly to the ground with their entrails hanging out [of their bodies]. They cut off the heads of some and smashed the heads of others into little pieces.
They struck others in the shoulders and tore their arms from their bodies. They struck some in the thighs and some in the calves. They slashed others in the abdomen and their entrails fell to the earth. There were some who even ran in vain, but their bowels spilled as they ran; they seemed to get their feet entangled with their own entrails. Eager to flee, they found nowhere to go.
Some tried to escape, but the Spaniards murdered them at the gates while they laughed. Others climbed the walls, but they could not save themselves. Others entered the communal house, where they were safe for a while. Others lay down among the victims and pretended to be dead. But if they stood up again they [the Spaniards] would see them and kill them.
The blood of the warriors ran like water as they ran, forming pools, which widened, as the smell of blood and entrails fouled the air.
And the Spaniards walked everywhere, searching the communal houses to kill those who were hiding. They ran everywhere, they searched every place.
Reading Bjørneboe's comments in Bestialitetens historie on Saint Paul and the way he reorganized Christianity, I was reminded of Monty Python's sketchReading Bjørneboe's comments in Bestialitetens historie on Saint Paul and the way he reorganized Christianity, I was reminded of Monty Python's sketch Interview with Vice-Pope Eric, which is kind of the short, comic version. For people who aren't familiar with this masterpiece, here's the relevant passage:
PYTHON: To return to sex. (CHEERING)
STALIN: What about Communism?
PYTHON: Later, later. Vice-Pope, did Christ himself say anything about sex being sinful?
VICE-POPE: Apparently not, no. This was obviously an oversight on his part, which fortunately we have been able to rectify, with the help of the teachings of Paul...
PYTHON: The Pope?
VICE-POPE: No, no, the saint. The woman-hater.
PYTHON: Oh, the pouf.
VICE-POPE: So they say, yes. Anyway, we've managed to pass this off as Christ's teaching, rather successfully as I think you will admit.
ALL: Absolutely. First class job.
FRAMPTON: Had me fooled.
VICE-POPE: So that even where sex has been... well, permitted, the guilt's been in there, doing its job.
FRAMPTON: Does this necessity to sub-edit Christ sometimes worry you?
VICE-POPE: Not really. After all, you can't treat the New Testament as gospel. And one must remember that Christ, though he was a fine young man with some damn good ideas, did go off the rails now and again, rich-man-eye-of-camel for example, which is only to be expected, because he came from a difficult background... an under-privileged Jewish family, his father, God, God the Father that is, was all over the place, in addition to which He wasn't married to Christ's mother.
FRAMPTON: But Joseph was.
VICE-POPE: Yes, but Mary was a virgin you see, so the marriage could never have been consummated and so was not legally valid.
PYTHON: So, either way, Christ was a bit of a bastard?
VICE-POPE: Yes, an almighty bastard of course but... This sort of thing helps to explain, too, why he became polygamous in his after-life; all nuns being brides of Christ, as you know.
KRASZT: But with certain exceptions, you accept his teaching?
VICE-POPE: Oh yes, it's been an invaluable basis for our whole operation really. Of course people accuse us sometimes of not practising what we preach, but you must remember that if you're trying to propagate a creed of poverty, gentleness and tolerance, you need a very rich, powerful, authoritarian organisation to do it.
FRAMPTON: I'm afraid I must go now. I have to get Eddie's tea ready....more
If you haven't read David Mazieres and Eddie Kohler's already-classic "Get Me Off Your Fucking Mailing List", check it out now to find new angles on hIf you haven't read David Mazieres and Eddie Kohler's already-classic "Get Me Off Your Fucking Mailing List", check it out now to find new angles on how to become a published academic author. More details here, including the referee report. ...more
We were lured by the advance hype into watching this extremely disappointing movie. Don't be fooled like we were: this is no 2001.
Yes, they have maybeWe were lured by the advance hype into watching this extremely disappointing movie. Don't be fooled like we were: this is no 2001.
Yes, they have maybe got all the science right, but that's not the most important thing in what's supposed to be a piece of entertainment. The story is stiff, awkward and sometimes just plain embarrassing. The characters are uninteresting. Oh, how we missed HAL! The visuals are okay, but nothing special compared to Kubrick's astonishing cinematography. Above all, they've completely forgotten the principle of show, don't tell. There were sequences where people would go on telling you things for minutes at a time; it was worse than George Bernard Shaw. The movie is interminably long. And I will never again be able to listen to Dylan Thomas's "Do not go gentle..." without cringing.
I honestly do not understand how this turkey can currently be running a 9.0 rating on IMDB.
(We saw the movie version yesterday. I present this short scene for your amusement; unfortunately, I cannot guarantee that my recollection is perfect.(We saw the movie version yesterday. I present this short scene for your amusement; unfortunately, I cannot guarantee that my recollection is perfect.)
Sex me up now Give me a slinky negligée to wear That doth expose my boobs; I'll eagles tame And bid them bring to me fresh rattlesnakes; Bribe senators; hew down all Birnam Wood Taking the logs by rail to Dunsinane; If any man should dare oppose my will My trusty vassal shall dispatch him straight With his good switchblade. Ayn, lend me thy powers! Katniss come aid thy sister in her need!
[Enter BRADLEY COOPER]
Jesus Christ. What's going on here?
Oh... nothing, nothing.
[She steps out of the pentacle to put her arms around COOPER]
I love you so much. I was doing it for us. ...more
I spent Monday and much of Tuesday suffering from toothache, but luckily my dentist gave me an immediate appointment and amoxicillin is very effectiveI spent Monday and much of Tuesday suffering from toothache, but luckily my dentist gave me an immediate appointment and amoxicillin is very effective. As soon as I started to feel better, it occurred to me to wonder just why toothache is so painful. Okay, it's dangerous, but there are many other conditions that are much worse, up to and including 100% fatal, and hurt much less. Why should that be? I looked around a bit on the web without finding anything useful.
So here's a theory that I'd like to run by you. From the point of view of evolutionary psychology, a natural question is what selection advantage there might be to having toothache be so painful. And in fact there is a plausible candidate! Toothache, I argue, is unusual in the following respect: a) it is fairly dangerous, and b) it is often easily treatable by simply removing the offending tooth. People have known how to remove teeth for a long time, plausibly far longer than recorded history.
Given these facts, it seems to me that there might well be a positive selection pressure towards experiencing toothache as very painful. The wusses like me will moan and complain about how horrible it is until the people around them can't take any more, and just have to do something to stop it. In contrast, some of the strong, silent types who clench their manly jaws and block out the pain will get blood poisoning and die. Even if this only happens to a modest proportion of the strong, silent types, it's pretty clear which strategy is going to win.
Is there any prediction made by the theory which would allow us to test it? Again, to my surprise, the answer is yes. Hardly any animals except humans are smart enough to be able to remove teeth (in fact, I am not sure any animals are that smart), so there should be no corresponding selection pressure. Hence other animals should not experience toothache as being equally painful.
Is this true? I'm not sure. A little googling confirms that humans are far from being the only species that suffers from toothache - for example, it's claimed to be a common problem for elderly dogs. But I have spent a reasonable amount of time in the company of elderly dogs, and I've never seen one display the symptoms that in a human would suggest a toothache. Dogs are pretty good at conveying emotion, so I would thought it'd be noticeable. On the other hand, maybe I'm just not enough of a dog person to pick up the cues. I know even less about horses.
Does anyone in the amazing Goodreads hive mind have more information? ...more
Until this morning, my dull, old-fashioned advice to women PhD students was to read the literature, make a realistic plan and work hard. But now I seeUntil this morning, my dull, old-fashioned advice to women PhD students was to read the literature, make a realistic plan and work hard. But now I see that I had it all wrong.
Aware of my Knausgård-inspired interest in Mein Kampf (this man has a lot to answer for), a francophone friend yesterday showed me this fascinating poAware of my Knausgård-inspired interest in Mein Kampf (this man has a lot to answer for), a francophone friend yesterday showed me this fascinating poem. I must confess it reveals a side of the great Hugo that I had not previously been aware of:
Tu casses des cailloux, vieillard, sur le chemin ; Ton feutre humble et troué s’ouvre à l’air qui le mouille ; Sous la pluie et le temps ton crâne nu se rouille ; Le chaud est ton tyran, le froid est ton bourreau ; Ton vieux corps grelottant tremble sous ton sarrau ; Ta cahute, au niveau du fossé de la route, Offre son toit de mousse à la chèvre qui broute ; Tu gagnes dans ton jour juste assez de pain noir Pour manger le matin et pour jeûner le soir ; Et, fantôme suspect devant qui l’on recule, Regardé de travers quand vient le crépuscule, Pauvre au point d’alarmer les allants et venants, Frère sombre et pensif des arbres frissonnants, Tu laisses choir tes ans ainsi qu’eux leur feuillage ; Autrefois, homme alors dans la force de l’âge, Quand tu vis que l’Europe implacable venait, Et menaçait Paris et notre aube qui naît, Et, mer d’hommes, roulait vers la France effarée, Et le Russe et le Hun sur la terre sacrée Se ruer, et le nord revomir Attila, Tu te levas, tu pris ta fourche ; en ces temps-là, Tu fus, devant les rois qui tenaient la campagne, Un des grands paysans de la grande Champagne. C’est bien. Mais, vois, là-bas, le long du vert sillon, Une calèche arrive, et, comme un tourbillon, Dans la poudre du soir qu’à ton front tu secoues, Mêle l’éclair du fouet au tonnerre des roues. Un homme y dort. Vieillard, chapeau bas ! Ce passant Fit sa fortune à l’heure où tu versais ton sang ; Il jouait à la baisse, et montait à mesure Que notre chute était plus profonde et plus sûre ; Il fallait un vautour à nos morts ; il le fut ; Il fit, travailleur âpre et toujours à l’affût, Suer à nos malheurs des châteaux et des rentes ; Moscou remplit ses prés de meules odorantes ; Pour lui, Leipsick payait des chiens et des valets, Et la Bérésina charriait un palais ; Pour lui, pour que cet homme ait des fleurs, des charmilles, Des parcs dans Paris même ouvrant leurs larges grilles, Des jardins où l’on voit le cygne errer sur l’eau, Un million joyeux sortit de Waterloo ; Si bien que du désastre il a fait sa victoire, Et que, pour la manger, et la tordre, et la boire, Ce Shaylock, avec le sabre de Blucher, A coupé sur la France une livre de chair. Or, de vous deux, c’est toi qu’on hait, lui qu’on vénère ; Vieillard, tu n’es qu’un gueux, et ce millionnaire, C’est l’honnête homme. Allons, debout, et chapeau bas !
I have not read the book, but I have seen the movie. Let me explain how much I liked it.
As things turned out, I watched it on a cross-Channel ferry trI have not read the book, but I have seen the movie. Let me explain how much I liked it.
As things turned out, I watched it on a cross-Channel ferry travelling from Caen to Portsmouth. The trip takes about seven hours, and I was bored. I recall that I had packed Camus's La peste to read, and to my surprise I wasn't enjoying it at all. I was pleased to find that I had the option of seeing High Fidelity with Catherine Zeta-Jones, one of my favorite actresses. I paid my £3 and sat down to enjoy the next couple of hours.
Unfortunately, as often happens on this crossing, the seas were on the rough side. After a while, I found myself feeling rather queasy, but told my stomach that I wasn't paying any attention to its urgent messages. The movie was far too good to miss. Not only that, the beautiful Catherine hadn't yet turned up. But my stomach was unconvinced by these arguments and let me know that this was my final warning. If I didn't leave now, something extremely embarrassing was going to happen.
I got up, staggered to the bathroom, which luckily was right next to the theater, threw up as quickly as I could, and then rushed back. I think I only missed about three or four minutes. I then happily watched the movie to the end.
I suppose a skeptic will object that this story says nothing about Nick Hornby's novel and everything about my feelings for voluptuous brunettes called Catherine. I admit that the evidence is only anecdotal, but I submit it anyway for what it's worth. If you are able to expand my informal pre-study into a methodologically sound experiment that produces statistically significant results, I'll appreciate it if you mention me briefly in the acknowledgements section.
Hey, let's remember that the rule is innocent until proven guilty. It's quite possible that the author of this book was only ironically trying to killHey, let's remember that the rule is innocent until proven guilty. It's quite possible that the author of this book was only ironically trying to kill the woman who gave him a negative review. I'm waiting until all the facts are in before I make up my mind. ...more
This book, published in 1953 by Adolf Hitler's childhood friend August Kubizek, is frequently referred to in the sixth volume of Knausgård's Min kamp;This book, published in 1953 by Adolf Hitler's childhood friend August Kubizek, is frequently referred to in the sixth volume of Knausgård's Min kamp; Knausgård quotes long passages and also compares with Hitler's various biographers, in particular Ian Kershaw.
Kubizek was Hitler's best friend for about four years, and they shared lodgings in Vienna for several months. Knausgård's opinion is that Kubizek was the only real friend Hitler ever had, and the person who knew him best. He also thinks that the memoir is essentially honest. It was begun in the 40s, under the orders of the Third Reich, and completed after the war; during the first period, Kubizek was being pressed to write a hagiography of Hitler, and during the second he was expected to demonize him, but he did neither of these things.
The most surprising aspect of Kubizek's account, at least as presented by Knausgård, is that Hitler doesn't come across as an evil person; the worst that can be said about him is that he is egoistic and somewhat out of touch with reality. This is actually much more frightening than a portrait of an inhuman monster. It is easy to see how people you know yourself could turn into the creature Hitler later became, and Knausgård's book explores this theme in great detail. He strongly disagrees with Kershaw's reading of Kubizek's text, and suggests that Kershaw is overinterpreting the facts in the light of Hitler's future career.
I am curious to read Kubizek's memoir and decide for myself. ...more