Saturday, October 20, 2012

What I’m reading #83

The New Statesman on Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin, how the protagonist of Lucky Jim is a mash-up of both, and why their friendship petered out for a bit. Quote unquote:
Larkin may have had less noble reasons, too: Having published two novels of his own without anything like this kind of response, he may have found his friend’s sudden success a little hard to take.
Regular readers will remember Brian Pigeon, last seen – sorry, referenced – here in March. It is the funniest blog by a pigeon I have ever seen. Here he is on possible hobbies for bored pigeons. The comments are outstanding. Quote unquote:
Dove bombing – dropping substances of your choice on the flouncy bastards from the air. More points for hitting them from height, or if they’re also moving.
Paragliding. Ok, it may not sound like an obvious hobby for pigeons but Sid from Richmond is passionate about it. I am not sure I approve as it is, well, a little violent. Sid says there are far too many parakeets around plus he hates them. He says you find a dozy ‘para’, fly up behind it and then land as heavy as you like on its back and hope to glide somewhere rough, like a tree or a fence, or even better a compost bin. The parakeet takes all the strain and you can hop off any time you like.
Via Chris Bourke, Rolling Stone’s 500 Worst Reviews of All Time (work in progress), a withering appraisal, snarky and funny, of the magazine’s ever-changing appraisals. It’s great: the writer quotes the original review, then how the album was rated later in the now-defunct book series of Rolling Stone Record Guides, and adds his own review. Executive summary: everything by Bruce Springsteen is a return to form. See also: Neil Young,  the Rolling Stones. Too many gems to quote, but #403 gives the flavour:
To be honest, the whole time I was listening to Me and Mr Johnson I kept thinking how awesome it would have been if, instead of the Robert Johnson tribute everyone was expecting, Clapton had blown everyone’s mind with a song cycle about his penis.
Stats Chat dishes it out to the Herald for its story headlined “Skipping breakfast makes you gain weight: study”.

Could the universe be a simulation? Let’s ask Keanu Reeves. No, let’s ask some scientists:
To find evidence that we exist in a simulated world would mean discovering the existence of an underlying lattice construct by finding its end points or edges. In a simulated universe a lattice would, by its nature, impose a limit on the amount of energy that could be represented by energy particles. This means that if our universe is indeed simulated, there ought to be a means of finding that limit. In the observable universe there is a way to measure the energy of quantum particles and to calculate their cutoff point as energy is dispersed due to interactions with microwaves and it could be calculated using current technology. Calculating the cutoff, the researchers suggest, could give credence to the idea that the universe is actually a simulation.
The question arises: a simulation of what?

Along similar lines, why does the universe exist? Stupid question, if you ask me, but Jim Holt has a go at answering it in Why Does the World Exist?: an existential detective story by asking a bunch of philosophers, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” Freeman Dyson is caustic in the New York Review of Books. Quote unquote:
Holt’s philosophers belong to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Compared with the giants of the past, they are a sorry bunch of dwarfs. They are thinking deep thoughts and giving scholarly lectures to academic audiences, but hardly anybody in the world outside is listening.
They don’t make philosophers like they used to: and they don’t write crime novels like they used to. Who is the Sydney A. Porcelain de nos jours?

Oh, to be in England now that the BBC Symphony Orchestra is performing all four of Michael Tippett’s symphonies.

Finally, Ben Stiller before he was a famous actor, just a humble shearer in Iran.


Stephanie said...

Fell about laughing at 'and you can hop off any time you like'

Stephen Stratford said...

Me too. Do look (peck?) at the previous posts - they are all gold.