Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Currently Reading, Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

"Sometimes the fluffy bunny of incredulity zooms round the bend so rapidly that the greyhound of language is left, agog, in the starting cage."
Well maybe not exactly 'incredulity' but some type of  similar,
more positive word which my brain has failed to conjure up
at this present time. Plus its five chapters in and I'm still
deliberately taking my time with it so 'zooms' may not be the
right word either. But it kinda fits.

So far, loving it.

Good, free flowing read, even when Mr. Mitchell intentionally
throws spokes in the reader's wheels. Big words or colloquial
language in the journal, french in the letters, or  the 'ruddy' made
up words of Tim Cavendish.

A running theme which I don't much care for though.

"Ominous, no? I had seen One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest with an extraordinarily talentless but wealthy and widowed poetess ......"

You cannot accuse me of imitation my friend, my bibliography is
right there, smack in the middle of the chapter or in a later one! -
He seems to be saying

I predict Mr. Cavendish never gets out of Aurora House! And
that may go someways to 'ease' my indignation at Mr. Mitchell's
attempts to outmaneuver me.

Friday, 22 February 2013

The State of The Nation - John Mahama : The Review

Opportunities For All
The first state of the nation address of the first
term of John Dramani Mahama, who went into
the election as the incumbent following the
unfortunatate passing of J.EA Mills.

The Concept
With no immediate past opposition government
to blame (like the last two departed presidents), Mr.
Mahama opted for a precarious mix of realism (we
are where we are and its not good), idealism (if we
can just pull together we'll solve all our problems),
and optism (just look into the future, you'll see a
fully fledged middle income country).

 The Story.
Its hard not to like the man, well spoken, nice, affable 
and an all round gentleman.  But he is still a politician,
and and therefore he almost had no choice but to take
us through the rigmarole of listing the 'great' projects
being undertaken - building roads, hospitals, schools,
- talk us through how the growth rate a few years
ago may have been the highest in the world, how we are
top ten in this or that list, etc., etc. so it was surprising and
refreshing to note that the theme of this speech seemed
to be Truth.

The speech came to life when he attacked (he didn't really but
I am into reading between the lines and seeing the second
or third derivatives) the opposition for sullying the hard
won reputation of the electoral comission who in his view
(and according to international and local election observers, had
conducted "by far the most credible, transparent, free and
fair (election) since 1992."

There were pot shots taken at public sector workers,
"This issue is even more significant because as we struggle
to settle the wage bill, thousands of public workers continue
to make demands for wage increases and threaten work
stoppage if we do not meet these demands ...... It is said “to whom much is given, much is expected.”"
 and even the clergy.

And then he stripped the meat off the bones, making 
it clear to Ghanaians that they had to pay the full price
for their fuel because their government couldn't afford
to pay it for them.

He even almost managed to scrape through the power and
water problems without bruises, but we've heard so many
excuses and deadline dates, that this time it didn't quite

The Writing
If you think of it as a technical document to present the
state of the nation in facts, figures and logic, it comes off as
well written in easy simple language, but if you think of it as
a speech to inspire the nation to some grand beckoning
future, then it lacked in flowery language and would be
just average.

The Resolution
The ending was really good. Quoting himself from his inauguration
speech and solemnizing the moment by invoking
God, he managed to make the ending quite touching.

To Read Or Not To Read
If you are looking for an introduction to the current goings-ons
in Ghana from an authoritative source, by all means you should
read it, otherwise quite frankly don't bother.

Click here to read the speech

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The Beautiful Redemption, by Kami Garcia and Margeret Stohl - The Review

The final book in the Beautiful Creatures series or the
Caster Chronicles if you like brings the series to fitting
if somewhat philosophical conclusion.

The Concept
Death isn't that bad but if you had a choice you should
choose life.

The book starts slow for me, mainly because I was still
pissed at how the beautiful chaos turned out, but also
because the logic of who is still in the otherworld and who
resides where, in the otherworld didn't quite convince me.

I liked that the authors were not shy of making him choose
between death and his mother on the one hand and Lena,
Amma and life on the other. Pretty easy to choose though.

The Story
The story picks up quickly though with Ethan's discovery
that there is a fate worse than death and Obidias 'Snakehands'
disclosure that his death is reversible. Not that we ever
entertained the thought that he would stay dead of course.
I always knew just didn't know how.

I liked the greek mythology style journey akin to Hercules' or
Perseus' complete with paying river masters and all.

I didn't like that the bad  guys rarely matched their hype, and
unlike Hercules or Perseus, Ethan seemed a passive actor in
the drama - never winning any battles by virtue of his own effort.

The Telling
Ethan told his story just as well as he'd told Lena's - plainly
and simply. Very refreshing also, to have Lena take up the story
like she did in the final parts of the beautiful chaos . I wonder why
there wasn't more of a back and forth in the final chapters
leading up to the resolution of matters.

The Writing
They teach English after all, surely they should be able to write
well. Well they are.

For the more mathematically inclined however, you should find
plenty what-do-you-take-me-for moments where the logic just
doesn't sit right, e.g the queen of the dead battle scene, really??
Or at the risk of spoiling it for some, why would destroying paper
by fire have such drastically different results from destroying paper
with water? Not many I-knew-it or just-like-I-predicted moments

The Resolution
Despite Ethan's protestations that the end is really a bang, a bang,
it really feels like a whimper. From the river master through the gate
keeper and the queen of the dead to the challenge at the far keep.
Not enough drama.
All of it.

And that Amma thing. smh with a sneer on my face. I'll give it a
few weeks, see how I feel.

The Morale of
Know what you want - He wants life and Lena.
Keep going after it whether you have a plan or not.
No need to be tough, to be nice is usually enough.

Don't know if I necessarily agree especially not with three.

The Verdict
In respect of the series, definitely way better than the chaos,
but not as good as the first, about par with the darkness.
As a standalone, it surely isn't making me hoot and holler!

The Series
At the end Ethan philosophizes about how there may not be
a meaning to life, but definitely a meaning to living which is:
Living and Loving.

If that matches your worldview, you'll probably love it, otherwise
you'll find it frustrating at times and only just about like it!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Currently Reading: Beautiful Redemption - Maggie Stohl, Kami Garcia

Chapter 24 - The Hand That Rocks The Cradle
page 307 - Lena Narrating.

" Nothing seemed to have changed since he had called up the Vexes only weeks before the Eighteenth Moon."

 Author Critique:
                           Last I heard, the eighteenth moon was a reference to the moon that rises
                           or rose on the eighteenth birthday of John Breed. What therefore justifies
                           its use in such absolute terms, as though the order of things prescribes that
                           moons be numbered in direct relation to John's age. Previous references to
                           Lena's sixteenth and seventeenth (brought forward) moons would seem to
                           suggest otherwise.

                           I contend therefore that John Breed's eighteenth birthday surely coincides
                           with some other caster's or incubus' different numbered moon. It should
                           therefore not be right to refer to it as THE Eighteenth Moon. 

                           Set me Right if you can, please.

page 310

“She’s my cousin, Link.” Even as I said it, I wasn’t really sure of the answer. Ridley was a Dark Caster again. The last time she offered to help me, it was a trap, and she led me right to my mother and my Seventeenth Moon.
But I knew she loved me. As much as a Dark Caster could love anyone.

Story Critique:

I feel a shift coming on. My feeling is that Ridley despite being dark is choosing to be good, and if that is the case then

I contend that it smacks of hypocrisy (a little harsh I know), non-continuity (if that is a word) and a bending of the rules. The main reason advanced for Sarafine doing the things she did was that she went dark.

Of course the argument could be made that the main reason for the evil perpetrated by Sarafine was the influence of Abraham and not that she went dark. Some support for this assertion may be found in the beautiful chaos which if Ridley indeed chooses to do the light thing would tie the books in together and actually make them seem a cleverly written series.

smh. I don't know though.

I Must Love You

"Spare the rod and spoil the Child!"       -         An old Jewish Saying.

For many other reasons that have little to do ( I think)
with my overly-self-loved, incredibly huge, and super
analytical brain, I cannot help but pick out the faults.

Sometimes mine but mostly yours.

It is usually my forceful claim that it is a condition, an
affliction, a disease. Some people actually believe me
but my incredibly huge, in-need-of-constant stroking
grey matterish material finds me five new reasons every
month to ensure I cannot lie to myself.

Of course in the very near future, the people responsible
for disease-naming will find it is actually a condition worthy
of the term disease, (if they haven't already) and my
incredibly huge, finely tuned thinking apparatus will be
shamed while the rest of me gloats.

Well, condition or not, it is one of my best charateristics.
So when (not if) you find yourself the subject of its
indiscriminate application, know this:

If I choose to make you the beneficiary of my best
characteristic and spend the time that I and most living
people have not enough of to spare, I don't see why there
should be any other conclusion than this:

 I must love you!