Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Another year ...

So I measured my weight this morning. After two weeks of unrestrained gluttony I'm three pounds up (68.5 from target 67 kg) and showing all the signs of advanced sugar poisoning on my increasingly-blotchy skin.

Dr Michelle Braude - "eat carbs and lose weight (but ditch the red meat)"

The Times this morning has another brain-dead diet article from the latest pretty-young-waif with a book-to-sell (cut out red meat!) - but I'm on the Matthew Parris diet. I may even run this afternoon. If the rain stops.*


It's my birthday - soooo welcome as the years advance! - and a special commemorative photo shows off my birthday card!

Clare admires the skill of the photographer


In those few moments whilst not engaged in eating I was engrossed in books over the Christmas period. From Greg Cochran's list I chose:

Amazon link

Sajer's account of his years on the Eastern Front as a very young soldier takes the reader to new depths of human suffering. How did any of those guys survive? And as soldiers of a demonised regime who ended up on the losing side, their experiences have been erased from history - can't be spoken of in polite company.

So the clue is in the title.

Amazon link

I can see why Dr Cochran liked this pulp classic. The focus is on biology and directed evolution, and the plot is interesting .. and very fifties in style although dating from the late eighties. Chase's books have been described as clever, rather intellectual but a little flat. I found it so and would not recommend it.


I'm much more energised by the uneven but exciting Merchant Princes omnibus trilogy.

Amazon link

Amazon link

Amazon link

Don't want to go into the details of this vast sprawling saga - here's the Amazon summary.
"Miriam Beckstein is a successful reporter for a hi-tech magazine. So when she discovers a huge money-laundering scam, she thinks she's hit the big time. But when she takes it to her editor, not only is she fired, but she starts to receive death threats. And that's just the beginning.

"To distract her furious daughter, Miriam's adoptive mother unearths mementos from her real mother, murdered when she was an infant. But these reveal a secret that will ultimately throw entire governments into disarray. For what Miriam thinks is a simple locket has the power to fling her into an alternate timeline. In this less-developed world, knights on horseback wield automatic weapons, and world-skipping assassins lurk - all on the other side of our reality. Here, her true family runs a criminal empire - and they want her back. But Miriam has other plans.

Following The Bloodline Feud are two further omnibus volumes, The Traders' War and The Revolution Trade."
There is a follow-on trilogy: Empire Games and Dark State (with the third volume due in 2019). Charles Stross has 'crib notes' - beware spoilers.

Charles Stross is very bright and well-read across a number of disciplines, from physics to genomics to economics and contemporary politics. Some people have read this series as 'Economics Science Fiction' while for others it's a liberal-minded allegorical critique of US policy over the decades.

Stross is a good enough writer to leave his personal agenda largely to one side. All the factions have understandable motives. In a rather patchy way, it's an increasingly compelling read: recommended.

I particularly liked his Accelerando too.


* Update (1.45 pm): I last exercised back in September: the winter recess. I am amazed at how fast - and how completely - fitness rolls off you. Five minutes on the exercise bike left me gasping and wobbly - literally weak at the knees. Then a run around the block: 1.23 km = 0.76 miles.

(The full run up the hill and back is 3.22 km = 2 miles - and 55 metres vertical. Took me 18 minutes, back in the day).

Last time I did round the block (in September) it took me 6 minutes and 45 seconds. Today 7 50.

Upon this sorry baseline, fitness will be rebuilt in 2018.

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