That pull request that’s 100 lines and’ll take you an hour to review? No.
That issue that’s requesting you to pull your project just in a slightly different direction? No.
That little opportunity that you’ve been waiting for but you just know you can’t do right now? No.
Again, I am sympathetic. I agree, mostly. Yet at the same time, I hate to imagine being the guy who spent multiple days on a PR to something of real value, only to have it insta-rejected with “Sorry, I don’t have time to review this”.
Like a lot of people, I am aware of the ecological impact of my diet, and for that reason I’m eating a lot less meat now than I did a few years ago. I’ve also moved away from beef specifically, which is three or four times as ecologically costly as pork and chicken. But then there’s this …
A workaday action novel about a counter-terrorism agent and his colleagues surviving a revenge attempt from a group of Albanian terrorists, number 3 in a series. There’s the seed of something here, but a lack of craftsmanship that renders most scenes plodding and most characters bland. Much is made of the lead character’s deep bonds of friendship with certain other characters, but nothing comes of it. Similarly someone else’s profound and detailed knowledge of guns doesn’t go anywhere. I won’t be going back for books 1 and 2, or 4 to 13.
Last Sunday, in a manifestation of the arrogance for which I am known and loved, I entered a painting competition. For a £15 entrance fee, I went with a friend to Pittville Park in Cheltenham, and spent six hours painting. The competition brief was to paint anything inspired by what you see in the park, representational or abstract. Here’s the view that caught my eye:
Lead — John Greenway, Andy Blacknell and Andy Coombe
This the densest and most economical business leadership I have come across. It’s a genre I am not particularly drawn to, and which is ripe for parody, but I read it because I know two of the authors. And I have to admit, I ended up finding it really helpful. That’s because, while most business books have One Big Idea, this one settles down (after an opening going over vision, values and goals) into an efficient format of four-or-five page chapters, each summarising the big insight from another book. So there are brief chapters on thing like the Four Stages of Competence and the Eisenhower Matrix, which give you the core of each of them without requiring you to plough through a whole book. Recommended.
I just got back from Hamburg, a ten day trip that is my first significant travel since the start of the pandemic. Among the many delights of that trip, I count this sushi:
It’s from Kōgai Sushi, Valentinskamp 89, 20354 Hamburg, Germany, and I highly recommend it. So much so that in fact I went there three times during my ten days: once with my colleague Jason Skomorowski, then again with a group of three or four other colleagues, and then on the last night with a group of 11 friends and collaborators from WOLFcon 2022, which had just finished.
The USA-specific counterpart to Bryson’s celebration of the English language, Mother Tongue, it’s about twice as long as the original volume because it also contains an episodic and selective history of the USA, viewed from a linguistic perspective.
To my mind, this makes it even more fascinating than Mother Tongue, because it ticks an important box for me: I am not very interested in history per se, but I am very much interested in the history of things: history of music, history of science, history of football, what have you. And what really fascinates me is seeing how these various History Of X‘s intersect. For example, Harry Govier Seeley published his classic paper “On the classification of the fossil animals commonly named Dinosauria” in the same year as the Football League was created, Edison’s phonograph was first demonstrated in London, and Erik Satie’s Gymnopedie was published — 1888. Bryson is really good at tying together such disparate threads, and what emerges is a kind of synthesized picture of a nation through nearly 400 years. Continue reading →
This is a novel that tries to get to grips with how things would actually work if there were anthropomorphic rabbits of the kind that turn up in fiction from Alice in Wonderland to Bugs Bunny. Rabbits are human-sized, walk upright and talk, and have a distinctive culture. They live uneasily alongside humans, using some of the same facilities but often pushed to the fringes of society, with obvious parallels to apartheid South Africa or some parts of the Deep South of the USA in the 1950s.
It’s an interesting setup, but Fforde doesn’t seem to know quite what he wants to do with it, so we end up with a plot that is half a story of Forbidden Love between man and rabbit, and half 1984-style surveillance dystopia. In the end it all rather comes crashing down. I feel like this could have been much better if the ideas has been left to brew for another six months before the actual writing began.