Wednesday, 24 January 2001

Music, literature, comics, and hagiography

Listening to:

Beethoven, string quartet in E flat major, op. 127. This is one of Beethoven’s “late quartets”, and thus tarred with the brush of perhaps being rather difficult. Really though, it’s not so bad. The really difficult piece is the Grosse Fugue, a very long self-contained work that was the original last movement to one of the other late quartets. I still haven’t got my head around it.

A lost comic:

Calvin and Hobbes. The first of the commercial comics I was in the habit of reading. The author, Bill Watterson, stopped drawing this comic in 1995, and the United Comics site is gradually putting all of them online, revealing them one at a time, 11 years after the fact.

C&H is very well drawn, and features some very funny strips. My only criticism is that it occasionally gets a little preachy, particularly on environmental themes. It’s also sometimes gives Calvin a perception of his blissful childhood state that is both unrealistic (“youth is wasted on the young”) and a little irritating. All that notwithstanding, still a classic.

Holiday reading:

Patrick O'Brian, The Mauritius Command.

This is the fourth book in the Aubrey-Maturin series, and it’s very enjoyable. Instead of the relatively straightforward solo naval actions of the first three books, Jack Aubrey is given responsibility (as a commodore) for a group action in and around Mauritius. To make things even more interesting, he has to coordinate with the army. All this brings a new dimension to the storyline, and I really liked it.

Ever heard of Stephen Wolfram? He’s given a hagiographic write-up in this piece from Forbes magazine. I read this and got increasingly annoyed with it. It’s painfully short of detail, so that you aren’t told just what Rule 30 really is, and there’s no real attempt to actually discuss the issues. It all boils down to “Geez, that Wolfram guy is really smart”.