Monthly Archives: January 2017

What I’ve been reading lately, part 18

[See also previous and subsequent posts in this series.]

Evil under the Sun — Agatha Christie

Like And Then There Were None, this is set on a smallish island off the south coast of Britian — in fact, apparently, it’s a slightly differently fictionalised version of the same island.

The real Burgh Island Hotel, with the rest of the island behind it. From the hotel's own website.

The real Burgh Island Hotel, with the rest of the island behind it. From the hotel’s own website.

This time, though, it’s a bit more civilised, the island is connected to the mainland by a causeway at low tide, and Poirot is there to sort out what’s going on before too many victims succumb. Lots of very neatly laid false trails, well-planted clues, and a resolution that I didn’t at all see coming but which made sense once it was explained. One of the better Christies, though not in the very top rank.
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Very basic politics #5: why the rich tend to get richer

Whenever one talks of raising taxes and increasing benefits, a lot of people have this quite understandable reaction: “Why should people who work hard to earn money give it to people who don’t?”


But there is a good reason that every civilised country in the world[1] has a progressive tax system — one where people with high incomes pay a higher proportion of that income in tax[2]. It is that, other things being equal, there is a tendency for rich people to become richer and poor people to become poorer — and progressive tax systems are intended, at least, to ameliorate that tendency and prevent it from running wild.

But why does this tendency exist?

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Stranger Things: well worth watching

If you’ve not yet seen the Netflix series Stranger Things, I recommend it — especially if, like me, you grew up in the 70s and 80s, with the films of Steven Spielberg and his contemporaries.


Here are a few reasons.

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What I’ve been listening to in 2016

Here is my now-traditional top-ten list of the albums I’ve listened to the most in the previous calendar year. (See this list of previous entries.)


I listen much more to whole albums than to individual tracks, so each year I pick the ten albums that I listened to the most (not counting compilations), as recorded on the two computers where I listen to most of my music. (So these counts don’t include listening in the car or the kitchen, or on my phone.) I limit the selection to no more than one album per artist, and skip albums that have featured in previous years. Then from each of those ten objectively selected albums, I subjectively pick one song that I feel is representative.

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My new-year’s resolution: write a bad song every week

A little over two years ago, I cracked the problem of how to write a song: let go of the idea that it needs to be a perfect, precious jewel, such as Paul Simon or Joni Mitchell might produce. As I put it at the time: “write a bad song. It doesn’t matter. Just write a song.


So, needless to say, in the intervening time, I have written absolutely no songs at all.

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Happy Days: I finished season 2, and I’m about done

I was surprised and delighted by the early episodes of Happy Days, and still enjoying it by the mid-point of season 2. A while back, I finished watching the 23 episodes of season 2. The second half of the series was … OK.


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