Tuesday, November 23, 2004

I've been coping with what I'm guessing is a low-grade flu/cold for the past two days - it started Sunday night with a sort-of sore throat, become a sort-of cough yesterday, seemed to get better this morning, and then transformed itselfed into desultory sniffles. Part of me wishes I would just go ahead and fall properly sick so I could at least get some rest, but there's too much work to be done anyway. We'll see if the Lemsip helps a bit.

With the advent of my new iPod, I took a look through my CD collection to see if there was any more music I hadn't downloaded yet, and to my surprise, I counted around 30 CDs. Most of them were stuff that I hadn't loaded onto the old 10GB iPod for lack of space, but with more room now, I',m slowly ripping them in. I have to resist my "completist" tendencies: whereas I've loaded every single Dave Matthews album in its entirety, I'm forcing myself to be more selective now. Some of the stuff is going in for sentimental reasons - as a child of the 80s, I feel obliged to have U2 represented on my iPod, for example. In fact, I've discovered quite a sentimental streak in me recently, manifested in the urge to buy these "Best of the Eighties" type compilation albums so I can listen to all the stuff I heard on the radio as a teenager, but never could own.

On the reading side of things, I've finally finished Trust Us, We're Experts, an examination of how big industry uses 'experts' and scientists to confuse, mislead, and befuddle the public. It confirms what I guess we've suspected all along - you can't trust profit motivated organisations to tell you the truth - but is equally damning in its critique of Big Science, and the culture of 'expertise' that's grown up around it. Highly recommended read.

Also highly recommended is The New Penguin Atlas of Ancient History, for those of you who (like me) absolutely need a map when you can't figure out where the heck the Hittites came from, where the Hurrians, Mittani, Phrygians and Kushites resided, and generally how all these wierd and wonderful sounding tribes, cultures and civilisations related to each other spatially. I love maps, I have a deep interest in ancient history (if coloured by a wargaming focus) and this book is an excellent reference. And the author's got a nice, droll sense of humour even when dealing with the driest of topics: here's his explanation of the superiority of tin-based bronze versus the earlier version:

Tin bronze improved on its arsenic-based predecessor in two ways: the alloying process could be controlled more easily (because tin was available as a metal) and the alloy itself was superior in strength and ease of casting. Also, it didn't kill you while you were making it.


I'm at 515 BC now, and I forsee myself reaching the next millenium before this night is over.

1 comment:

Tym said...

We'll go to Zouk on their Wednesday Mambo Nights --- that should cure your '80s craving right up.

I want to borrow that ancient history book! Right after I'm done with the Jonathan Strange/Norrell one, which I need to get from you before this week's out.