Reading in the rain

2006-07-05

in Books and literature, Daily updates, Oxford

Grafitti near the Oxford Canal

Between bouts of thesis reading and lecture preparation, I finished the copy of Milan Kundera’s Immortality that I was leant during the Walking Club expedition to The Weald. It is very much like his other Czech books: full of observations about how human beings think, how they interact, and how they continually misunderstand one another. Reading it had become essential not because I really had time, but because I was embarrassed about having borrowed it for such a long time. I am to return it to the mailbox of a certain name at Queen’s College – the owner of which almost certainly does not remember my name.

For the thesis, I am wading through The Skeptical Environmentalist again. It is a long and opinionated book. The difficulty of establishing whether Lomborg’s figures are used well or badly make the wander through the book a somewhat exhausting one. Alongside it, I am reading Clapp and Dauvergne’s Paths to a Green World. The RDE reviewers were critical of me for calling it philosophy – “a book about political economy.” At the same time, the critical part of the book is undeniably philosophical: it lays out four different environmentalist strands, or world views, on the basis of their assumptions and prescriptions.

For Friday’s lecture, I have re-read a couple of short books and articles on security cooperation between Canada and the United States. With only an hour to speak, that probably wasn’t terribly necessary. Far more important, though more difficult to develop, is the general speaking skill that good lecturing requires. In that respect, I miss no longer being part of the UBC debate society. Nowhere now do I have cause to speak for more than a minute or two without interruption: hardly good training for one hour lectures.

PS. Antonia has reminded me that I should re-read Orson Scott Card’s Alvin Maker series, which wasn’t finished when I last read through them. They are an engaging depiction of an alternative version of America, with many fantasy elements and the general good craftsmanship that marks Card’s earlier work.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

B July 5, 2006 at 9:25 pm

This is brilliant

It’s a damn shame Ken Lay died before he could serve his sentence. A lot like Slobodan Milosevic, really.

Milan July 5, 2006 at 9:31 pm

I actually don’t see much connection between the crimes alluded to in that video and movie piracy. Just because one part of America is doing something morally objectionable, you can’t launch an attack against every other campaign in the nation.

I disagree with Guantanamo, sure. And I disagree with the more fervent pushers of aggressive copyright protection. That doesn’t mean they have anything to do with each other.

Milan July 6, 2006 at 5:25 pm

The bibliography for my 7 July 2006 lecture on Canada-US Security and Defence Cooperation is now online.

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