August 27th, 2011
I know that Wikipedia’s walls are generally only scribbled on by Anglotard religionist Asperger’s drenched loons, but this is taking the cake. The article on atheism starts out with a surprisingly lucid and short definition, which makes it so much easier to spot all the levels of wrong:
“Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities.”
August 10th, 2011
I read somewhere, a few weeks ago, that there is such a thing as Grisham’s Law. And although I could find only a single definition—once you’ve started reading a John Grisham novel, it is impossible to put it down—this reminded me I had an unread book of his lying around, The Testament.
What a disappointment. The first quarter of the book is used to introduce a huge ensemble cast of heirs, which is then used nowhere in the book, at least not seriously. What’s worse is that none of the heirs differ from each other. Not only could Grisham have scrapped them (almost) all, it would probably have made for a tighter story—one good guy versus one bad guy.
Every character is a parody. The lawyers in this book are all painted as greedy, law breaking miscreants. The alcoholics in this book are painted as being constantly on the rebound. And the believers in this book are being painted as labels. No matter how much I rack my brain, I fail to remember a single interesting character.
The protagonist, an alcoholic lawyer called Nate O’Reilly, manages to redeem himself and kick his habit by becoming a Christian (this would be a good time to cringe). He penetrates the impenetrable swamps of the Pantanal in Brasil in order to find the last heir, death lurking around every corner, except that as a reader you know Grisham won’t kill off his hero, not halfway the story. That neatly kills off any lingering suspense the book might have retained.
The rest of the novel is one dreadful string of self-contained events. In the rare occasion that Grisham seems to want to build up suspense, he tends to get bored with it and opts for a quick way out.
I still finished the book. Don’t ask me why. I felt like… like the writing must simply get better at some point. And then when it was clear it wasn’t going to get better, I had already invested too much time. Or perhaps I could not put it down because of a universal law at work.
Here is a tip: if you must read about believers, read Morris West.
Last second update: this is not a negative critique of Grisham, merely of this specific, auto-pilot work. I hugely enjoyed reading The Firm and The Client, and watching the film based on The Pelican Brief—all three novels, I might add, belonging to his earlier works.
July 3rd, 2011
I haven’t been hiking much recently, and that, coupled with a lifestyle that keeps me seated most of the time, meant I have gained quite a bit of weight. So I decided to strap on the old walking shoes and look for Holland’s country lanes again.
Yesterday I went to ‘s Graveland, where once rich Amsterdammers built their retreats. The grounds of some of these houses have been opened to the public and are now popular with ramblers.
The last photo is of the pedestrian bridge at the Bussum-Zuid railway station.
June 27th, 2011
A couple of years ago I posted a few seconds of an a-capella version of Aha’s eighties monster hit Take on Me AS SUNG BY PICKLES, and … you know? Youtube just keeps on giving.
Turns out this version was not made by pickles in jars, but by a group called UMD Generics, and their website lets you download all their albums.
June 2nd, 2011
(In case your screen is too dark, the photo shows fingerprints in the familiar 9×9 grid of a Sudoku puzzle.)
May 31st, 2011
This photo was taken with my good camera. It’s not a 100% crop—I scaled it down quite a bit—so it is slightly fuzzier than it could have been. Compare to this.
May 19th, 2011
Lots of sniggering on the web lately, emanating from the lesser tech journos. The much touted iPad2 camera is hardly being used at all if Flickr statistics are to believed. The photo web site reports it has only 24 active iPad2 users a day.
One of the photos below was made with my el cheapo, 100 euro, smartphone wannabe phone, the other with the 500 euro pinnacle of Apple’s engineering and marketing prowess. (Click for 100% crops, saved at the 85% JPEG quality level.)
Can you guess which is which? Should you have to?
(Sculptures from the upcoming open air Art Zuid exhibition 2011 in Amsterdam Zuid, which I will blog about shortly at 24 Oranges. Shortly is a week from now or so.)
May 16th, 2011
The Guardian has a nice (but short) gallery of an extinct cliché, photos of writers behind their typewriters.
Via Eamelje. Photo of JG Ballard by David Montgomery / Getty Images.