I was caught up in books this week which is always a good way of passing the hours. The main one I was reading was The Boys in the Boat, one of these occasional books about sport that turn out to be about so much more. This is about personal character, teamwork and the drive to achieve an ambition. But it’s also about the fall out from the United States depression, the portent of war in Europe, the rise of Hitler and Roosevelt’s “New Deal”. It becomes an analogy about a team, and a country, pulling together in tough times. It’s been a great read.
Reading books means less time for other things. I always wish I could listen to more podcasts, and Kevin Kelly (author and journalist at Wired) posted his Top Fifty Factual Podcasts list via Twitter this week. It’s heavily biased toward the US, but good to see a couple of British ones in there. I can certainly attest for his top three picks, all of which I’ve listened to over the years, on and off. (If you are unaware of Kevin Kelly, I can thoroughly recommend his book, What Technology Wants, which I read last year.) I did manage to listen to a fascinating Radiolab podcast about surveillance techniques, Eye in the Sky, which I can recommend. I will set a goal to try and listen to a few of the others on his list.
Talking about books on technology, I found this interesting list via a podcast. In the interests of frugality, I’ve managed to reserve three of them via my local library.
As I perused my bank statements this week (almost a daily routine for me!) I noticed that my car insurance company had nipped in and direct debited an amount for the forthcoming year. Fair enough, I was dimly aware of this, but maybe an advance e-mail would have been nice? I was therefore interested to see this article posted in The Spectator, entitled The Car Insurance Industry is a Disgusting Racket. I bet almost everyone reading this has had a similar experience to that of the columnist. I know I have.
I see there was a kerfuffle about whether or not Germaine Greer was going to be allowed to speak at a University debate. As many of you will know, all of life is encapsulated in The Simpsons (Series 1-9 only!) so Germaine should take comfort from the fact that Lisa Simpson has been there and got the exclusion T Shirt.
I noticed that the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow visited my neighbourhood this week. Seemingly they discovered their “most valuable item” at the show. I’m not surprised, Harrogate is full of very quietly rich Yorkshire folk. It made me think of what I have in terms of “collectables” that could be a worthwhile “investment”. I didn’t have to think long: sod all.
Finally, in the week that saw Talk Talk give us all the shivers about web security and with both Amazon and Trip Advisor struggling with the problem of fake reviews, our regional paper highlighted a review written by a man about his stay in a local hotel:
“Everything about the hotel was great.
Except in the morning, I was unable to get access to the wife”.