Embracing Complexity. Craving Simplicity

More a caution than a critique, I was fascinated and left to ponder Peter Liu’s time-based spatially informed map presented in the MapBox Blog this week. I think that the concept is absolutely sound and the implementation is skilful, thoughtful and very efficient. It’s an impressive conceptualisation of how to rethink data representation for a particular decision-making process. That being said, it is probably important to realise that it calls for considered appreciation of the thought behind it and how we can take advantage of interactive way finding technology and not lose sight of the varied ways we get from A to B. Liu’s blog post is a very well articulated explanation of the thinking behind the reconnection and we need more of this sort of thing. But it raises some serious questions about technological dependence and critical engagement with the data we rely on today. Continue reading

Report on A Man Called Ove

A smaller than normal group convened for ruminations on a Man Called Ove last Wednesday and thanks for the submissions in advance of the meeting.
Ove sparked great discussion both via email and also in person so in that was certainly a good choice for provocation. As the final votes will show it cast a divided appreciation. I think Joe’s remarks occupied that middle group of enjoyed but not moved and set a marker of 5/5.5 for such a performance.

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Report on The Naked Swiss by Claire O’Dea

And so the Swiss…..
The Naked Swiss were well received into the Waterloo Bar ;-)
The general appreciation of the book was quite positive – some reading to substantiate or illuminate their own feelings and connections with the Swiss – most reading purely for general interest. The use of anecdotal injection was appreciated and did enliven what was otherwise relatively dense recitation of statistics. This certainly substantiated that the author did a fine job of marshalling research to address the myths that she aimed to address, but left a sense with some that it may have been somewhat tending to the journalistic in this regard. Good journalism though.

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Report on Norse Mythology by Gaiman

As with the past few novels, ‘Norse Mythology’ was generally well received. The overarching question asked was: Where was Neil Gaiman’s contribution to the canon. There was a sense that tales were well told and that length, language and introduction made for both an accessible and enjoyable read. The Gods are patently malicious, arbitrary and outright capricious. In that the author catches the sense and delivers.
Mortals are mere playthings and the nature of the Gods and their traits explains much about how a culture can perceive the natural world. Continue reading

Report on the HillBilly Elegy by JD Vance

Reporting back on our discussions I reflect that Hillbilly Elegy was not badly received, so first off thanks to Mike and Fergal for that coalition recommendation – again escaping the dreaded penalty round of drinks. Thanks to Joe for his round of drinks to allow for a brief visit.
The Elegy did have mixed reviews and the general pronouncement seemed to be that it did not actually tell us anything we did not already know – but they we are such and erudite and well informed group ;-)

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Report on the Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInnerney

I am reporting back on our April Book Club Meeting – a cosy snug at the Waterloo Bar shared by four stalwarts. Thanks and apologies to those who could not attend, but submitted such thoughtful reviews – our work seemed done before actually arriving to meet ;-)
There was not a general consensus on the novel other than (I think) that Lisa Mcinnerney was well deserving of the awards she received for this first work. We had mixed reactions towards the characterisation in the novel. Some found empathy for the characters and others not – but all agreed this was a very character-driven piece. Admittedly actually finding hostility rather than empathy towards some of the characters suggesting she did accomplish something. Ryan did stand out as the character most evoking of this empathy and particular notion of vulnerability and cloaking being particularly well captured.

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Report on a Gentleman in Moscow

“If one did not master one’s circumstances, one was bound to be mastered by them.”

Was also thrilled that everyone enjoyed the read of A Gentleman in Moscow and it fared so well in the ratings.
It was praised for the deep, rich and effective characters and setting and for engaging storytelling. I hope that those still to finish enjoy it right to the end. The parallel to Hotel Budapest was well pointed out – something that I freely admit to having missed. The setting and the tale was totally alive for me and I quite enjoyed the twists, turns and was left with a most satisfied feeling on having been invited into the Count’s world. Continue reading

Report on a Shrinking Violet: A Field Guide to Shyness

As always a great discussion and a book well considered.
Thanks to those who thoughtfully provided their reviews in advance.
Mike did the leg work clearly and there was general agreement with his assessment.
Adding to Mike’s quite comprehensive and thoughtful treatise:
All attending completed the book and agreed that the quality of prose was quite good, anecdotal, but well told little snippets. The book itself was full of great anecdotes and Jim aptly described it as a Trivial Pursuit sort of novel. Lots of great little nuggets. A parallel was drawn between this work and those we have enjoyed from Bill Bryson. 

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