Category Archives: Books

Literature sequels #2: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, part 3

Captain Corelli's Cello

Captain Corelli’s Cello

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Literature sequels #1: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Why I’m jealous of my eldest son

In his recent blog-post The pillars of tax wisdom, Tim Harford (author of The Undercover Economist) discusses “James Mirrlees — now a Nobel laureate — who tried to figure out what could be said about optimal income taxation. One of his conclusions, surprising to him as much as anyone else, was that an optimal income tax might impose flat or even falling marginal tax rates.”

1024px-UK_tax_NIC_percentages.svg

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How much are e-books worth compared with physical books?

We all have a good intuitive grasp for the value of a physical book. We grew up with them. We know roughly what they cost new (£5-15), what they cost in a second hand book-shop (about half that) and what you’d expect to pay in a charity shop (20p-£1).

We don’t really have a sense yet of what an e-book is worth. Continue reading

What I’ve been reading lately, part 9

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

The Man who Sold the Moon — Cory Doctorow

Not the Heinlein novel of the same name — which I assumed Doctorow would name-check, but he doesn’t. A pleasant enough near-future story of finding love in the midst of technology and music festivals. Passed the time painlessly enough.
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What I’ve been reading lately, part 8

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

Summer came, and I started to read a lot more books. But my diet became quite limited, because at any given moment while lying in the sun, it was more appealing to read another Agatha Christie to Terry Pratchett than to launch into something less comfortingly familiar. As a result, those two authors will dominate this installment, and I won’t have that much to say about some of the books. Wow, I really know how to sell a blog-post, don’t I?
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What I’ve been reading lately, part 7

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

I’m trying to move quickly to catch up with myself — I’m still a few months behind — so apologies if these books are not given as much coverage as they deserve.

Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words — Malka Marom

A truly fascinating set of three (very long) interviews, conducted many years apart, with the most endlessly fascinating singer-songwriter of them all. (If you don’t accept my assessment, ask David Crosby.) Malka Marom was a folk singer herself, so has a good angle on the issues that Joni is dealing with — personal, musical and poetic. They’re some of the most revealing interviews I’ve ever read, not in terms of salacious details but of slowly and effectively opening up essence of a person, revealing what makes her tick.

And I’d have to say that Joni doesn’t come out of it all that well, in the end. It’s apparent in all three interviews that she’s quite a self-focussed person, and that tendency becomes stronger and darker across the three interviews. Towards the end we read

I’m reliving old injuries. I’m reliving them and I’m telling the person off that I didn’t tell off. I’m trying to expel anger. And it hangs in the air and I go, ‘What that very satisfactory, when you said that to them? No.’ And then I kind of do it again.

For such a free spirit, she seems to find it hard to let go of old hurts and resentments. It’s a shame; but, no doubt, a part of what made her such an absolutely superb artist. And she really does stand alone.

Marom’s book is well worth reading for anyone who loves Joni’s work. Continue reading