Friday, 14 November 2003

Granta 83

Listening to:

Christmas Carols ancient and modern, sung by the BBC Singers. I wouldn’t buy a CD of carols myself you understand, but this was a freebie with an issue of the BBC Music Magazine. And Christmas isn’t that far off either; the decorations are up in the shops around town.

Just read:

Granta 83: this overheating world (contents)

I was rather worried that this issue would be full of alarmist non-science at the level of Greenpeace’s generally incoherent propaganda. Pleasantly, with the exception of one piece of rather apocalyptic fiction, which put me in mind of John Wyndham, I enjoyed most of the material.

I particularly liked Matthew Hart’s The Greenland Pump, which described Hart’s experience of joining a scientific research vessel that was taking samples from various parts of the North Atlantic. The ship was trying to gather data to determine how the flow of oceanic currents that make up the Gulf Stream may be changing. If the Gulf Stream were to weaken, Northern Europe might become dramatically colder.

Continuing with the outdoors-y theme, I liked Philip Marsden’s description of his trip to Mongolia, Wayne McLennan’s description of rowing from Seattle to Anchorage (the length of Canada’s west coast in other words), and James Hamilton-Paterson’s philosophical piece Do fish feel pain?

Finally, there were three interesting essays about the situation in Iraq. These were all good, and interesting, and told from different perspectives. Christopher de Bellaigue discusses the looting incidents that happened in Baghdad’s museums, James Meek describes being an embedded journalist with invading American troops, and Nuha Al-Radi is very interesting on the experience of trying to live a normal life for a month in Baghdad.

Now reading:

Julia Glass, Three Junes.

If you happen to be feeling a bit nostalgic about your home-town, what better cure than to check out this selection of Wellington web-cams?