Category Archives: Books

Ill Fares the Land by Tony Judt

An exceptional book, articulating and echoing long-held sentiments and provoking new ones. Summary Out of the disasters of 1914-1945 arose key attitudes: Scepticism of unregulated market and willingness to intervene Commitment to social supports and a universalism in their provision Relative equality These then broke down between mid 1970s and early 90s Why did it […]

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War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

I read War and Peace – and subsequently Anna Karenina – many years ago now. It is one of the greatest and most extraordinary I had – and have – ever read. He is the Beethoven of literature. Here I’m excerpting pieces. “And by old habit he asked himself the question: “Well, and what then? […]

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Books Recently Read

Read recently (i.e. last couple of months) The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes by Janet Malcolm. (Feb 2014). Brilliant, thought-provking and insightful. A fascinating narrative, raising interesting and complex questions and all delivering in lapidary prose. The Unwinding by George Packer (May 2014). I picked this up by accident in bookstore in DC […]

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Lombard Street: A Description of the Money Market by Walter Bagehot

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure to read Lombard Street: A Description of the Money Market by Walter Bagehot (1873, my edition a reprint of the 1910 Dutton Edition). Insightful, incisive and straightforwardly written in the kind of limpid but expressive prose that seems to have gone out with the 19th century. It […]

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Citizens by Simon Schama

Brilliant, especially strong in the sections dealing with the lead up to revolution and the period around and just after the ‘constitutional’ revolution of 1789.

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Slouching Towards Bethelehem by Joan Didion

Read some time ago Joan Didion’s extraordinary set of essays Slouching Towards Bethlemem1, a book filled with the sense of dislocation and anomie that seems so essential to the experience, at least in literature, of America itself. The most penetrating of the set was that which lends its title to the book2 and I marked […]

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Howto Install 4store

My experiences (with the assistance of Will Waites) of installing 4store On Ubuntu Jaunty. No packaged versions of code (there is one in fact from Yves Raimond from mid 2009 but now out of date …), so need to get from github. Recommend using will waites fork which adds useful features like: multiple connections triple […]

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Flexible Dates in Python (including BC)

I’ve had occasion recently to frequently work with “dates” that come in a lot of shapes and sizes including: Dates in distant past and future including BC/BCE dates Dates in a wild variety of formats: Jan 1890, January 1890, 1st Dec 1890, Spring 1890 etc Dates of varying precision: e.g. 1890, 1890-01 (i.e. Jan 1890), […]

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Cosmopolis by Don DeLillo

7.5/10. Spare, stark and beautifully written but hampered by a plot (and characters) that seem but weakly thought out.

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Quartered Safe Out Here

6/10.

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