Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What I’m reading #99

Why you should buy a Lotto ticket, even if you are mathy enough to know how pitiful the odds are. According to current quantum mechanics thinking, you will win, possibly many times over. Just not on this planet. (Via Tim Worstall.)

This just in from 7News in Oz:

The Bland Shire in central western New South Wales is considering putting its fame as a dreary destination to good use by associating itself with other negatively named towns.
The local tourism committee is in the early stages of investigating sister city relationships with Dull in Scotland and Boring in the United States. […]
Bland Shire already has one sister city - the seaside town of Whitby in England.
However Councillor Lord says the relationship has not generated a lot of interest over the past decade.

Fancy that. Perhaps they could twin with Palmerston North.

Geographic nominative determinism in the Shetlands. Quote unquote:

A remarkable number of places have monosyllabic names. It’s as if we’ve stumbled on the Pompeii of toponymy. We witness how people practised their name-giving skills, learning to vocalise before they could improvise. You can almost hear them scraping their throats as they point to specific locations, baptising them Woo, Too, Bu, Ha, How and Pow. A second set of monosyllabic place names is already more complex, self-aware. The key one is Yell, summarising what went before. A few seem bent on defining primary places, Ur-locations: Fleck, Nest, Junk, Loot, Grid, Gear, Wart. But what about Snap, or Sung? Maybe these are a third, even more evolved set of monosyllabics, one-word poems that transcend the places they denote.

Maxine Alterio’s wonderful novel Lives We Leave Behind, about New Zealand nurses in World War I but also so much more, is being published in France and this is the cover:

Unusually for international publication this is, apart from the French text, the same as the New Zealand cover. I was going to review the novel here but it went straight into the top 10 bestseller list and stayed there for months so it didn’t need me. Do read it if you haven’t already — it is a wonderful evocation of the time and places, and every bit as good as her unforgettable 2007 debut novel Ribbons of Grace, still the best novel about transvestism among Chinese goldminers in Arrowtown.

Thomas Jones on rules for writing (via Josh Easby): good advice on metaphors and some very amusing comments. Set the comments to Oldest First to read the best ones, about elephants in Samoa.

Keith Richards (via Brent Parlane) gives a masterclass on how to be tight and loose – this YouTube clip gives his rhythm guitar part for “Can You Hear Me Knocking?” from Sticky Fingers in splendid isolation, followed by Mick Taylor’s solo, likewise solo. Charlie Watts is all very well but listening to Keith isolated you can hear exactly why the Stones sound like the Stones:

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