The too hard basket

Today's a one-off national public holiday to mourn Queen Elizabeth II. Since I'm no longer on Twitter I feel a bit insulated from the usual wave of discourse which events like this set off: the nearest I've come to it is seeing someone pose in a bandana on Facebook with …

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No One is Talking About This

No One is Talking About This, London: Bloomsbury, 2021

Patricia Lockwood

I finished this in a couple of days and it was funny and touching—people probably think of Lockwood as a Twitter phenomenon but she'd have been a good writer no matter what platform she'd made her own. Mostly …

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Spuds

A couple of months ago I got a bit obsessed with this recurring question on Metafilter from people who can't or won't learn to cook and are keen to know if a single food will supply all human dietary requirements. It's been asked so often that it gets its own …

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tl;dr 2

Thinking about yesterday's post and whether it really went anywhere, and whether the same criticism I levelled at the waffly IT blog post might be levelled at my own writing here, which doesn't need to come up to any real standards of coherence or clarity. That's what editors are for …

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tl;dr

Setting aside the question of whether LaMDA is sentient, or whether the Turing Test is valid, or whether general AI is possible or likely—there are a lot very strongly held opinions on the matter out there if you want to go looking for them—I've been thinking about what …

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Metaphysical Animals

Metaphysical Animals: How Four Women Brought Philosophy Back to Life

London: Chatto and Windus, 2022

Claire Mac Cumhaill and Rachael Wiseman

I bought this as soon as I saw it, after having read a review of it in the LRB - it follows the lives and careers of Iris Murdoch, Elizabeth …

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In Search of the Third Bird

In Search of the Third Bird: Exemplary Essays from the Proceedings of ESTAR(SER) London: Strange Attractor Press, 2021

D Graham Burnett, Catherine L Hansen and Justin E H Smith (eds.)

It is said that Zeuxis went back to work on that painting, in the hopes of improving the child …

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Hopscotch

Hopscotch New York: Pantheon Books, 1966

Julio Cortázar (translated from the Spanish by Gregory Rabassa)

I bought a copy of this a few years ago, and I'm not sure what made me start reading it this year. It's a self-consciously labyrinthine and ludic novel, following the anti-hero Oliveira's affairs and …

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Anniversaries

Anniversaries: from a Year in the Life of Gesine Cresspahl New York: NYRB Classics, 2018

Uwe Johnson (translated from the German by Damion Searls)

A novel which appeared in German in four volumes from 1970 to 1983, and which has only been fully translated into English in this NRYB Classics …

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